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Archive for August, 2014


Back home again

Sunday morning exploded with the colors of late summer, the air crisp and cool whispered intentions of a day meant for parks, gazing at clouds, and just relaxing.

We rose early, had a quick spot of coffee, soaked in the morning sun and headed out, the day filled with promise. The countryside, and city streets flashed by our windows as we quietly made our way across town.

As we pulled into the parking lot, others who had made the same journey could be seen, smiles on their faces, greeting friends, all making their way to the heart of our morning.

The building reminded me of the schools of my youth, cool cement steps, brickwork laid by skilled hands, a large entrance with rows of warm wooden doors. Buildings like this are rare in the modern world of concrete and steel, but my heart sang at the shadows mixed with brick, mortar, cement and timelessness. At one point I was a six year old boy walking up the steps of my local school, the day rich with promise.

At the doors we were warmly greeted, we quietly made our way inside, once in the nave, sunlight beamed and danced on the water of the baptistry. We each dipped a finger, and crossed ourselves, as we were taught, a reminder of the water that brought us here.

The inner chapel greeted us with a warm glow, one that only wood can give, it called to us, come, deeper, deeper…

The room was filled with people, from the front to the rear, we found a little spot in the back, and turning to bow to the altar sat and waited. The silence of a room filled with people is deafening, a reverent hush was in the air.

As the priest ascended the Altar we stood as one body.

The mass had begun.

Each piece of the liturgy sang from our hearts, the words coming without effort. The liturgy of the word seemed to flow by like a fast moving river, sweeping us along, until finally we had reached our reason for being here, the liturgy of the Eucharist had begun. The words were familiar, they spoke of devotion, love, sacrifice, and mercy. The priest intoned the sacraments, the bells rang, and we knew the time had come, everything rested on our next decision and steps.

As I approached the Eucharist, I bowed and crossed myself in respect, and then I was there. “The Body Of Christ” was stated, and I replied “Amen”, taking the wafer and as I was taught, consuming, and then crossing myself. Two more steps, “The Blood Of Christ”, “Amen” and I drank. After almost a year, filled with pain, doubt, anger, and uncertainty, it all faded. I received a gift timeless, immemorial, my heart sang, and my soul was satisfied. I crossed myself and made my way back to the little pew.

And just like that, the Deacon made the call, the Mass had ended, it all seemed so quick, yet so reverent.

As we made our way our out, we realized that we had come home. That here we could heal, we could receive a precious gift, and give ourselves time to find ourselves again.

A warm summer morning greeted on the way out of the nave, and we knew that this day would be different.

This day we had come back home, and we could now move on with our lives, and the day full of possibilities embraced us…


A Change Of Seasons….

I’m never satisfied, I’ve resisted any attempt to bring my life under authority. It’s been a constant churn for many years, more than I can even really remember…

But I never knew why, I could never find the source of my unrest, that is until I gave in and spent some time with a therapist. In the past I’ve been dismissive of the benefits of talking to a therapist, and maybe that was because everyone I talked to never seemed to be much more than someone with a college education making guesses about my life, but never understanding me.

But all that changed when I met Dr. Steven, he never analyzed me, he never tried to figure out what made me tick, instead he helped me figure that out for myself. When you finally tear apart the dark parts of your life, you learn that so many things that seemed to never matter, actually have a tremendous impact on how you see the world. In fact once we started laying out what was driving my unrest, my distrust of authority, and my constant searching for authenticity, I was finally able to start dealing with those issues head on.

I’ve been struggling to figure out what to do with my faith, all I could find was churches run by men who could not even be honest about the weakness of their positions, holding close to their morality as if it would save the masses from themselves. The higher their position, the more it became a burr under my skin, I abhor dishonesty in the priesthood, and I’ve found it to be a kind of universal fault of men.

What I have finally realized is that my bar was being raised to unrealistic levels, because of my past, where trust in those above me was abused. In many cases those I trusted most, hurt me the most. Some where intentional and others were never meant to cause emotional scars, but they did regardless. And it unknowingly pushed me to become hypercritical, skeptical, and untrusting…

Quite frankly it sucks, it’s not a good way to live your life…

Throw on top of that two years of losing our home, going through severe financial hardships, losing my best friend in the worst of possible ways, and you have the recipe for a free fall into utter despair…

I’ve dealt with it through alcohol, anger, frustration, depression and trying to isolate my life from emotion.

And none of it has worked, I walked away from my faith, but it never fully left me…

My heart is starting to come back to me, and through many long discussions with Michelle we have finally realized that we need to practice our faith or our lives feel hopelessly empty. But there’s a twist that I hesitate to share…

In our conversations the one constant we have found, is a desire to go back to the Catholic church. It’s not that we don’t love Orthodoxy, it’s that the Ascetic nature of the Orthodox life gets overwhelming. I’ve long wanted to see the two churches come back into communion, and I find incredible beauty in each, I’ve not been timid about my opinions in that area. But this week we had some time to kill and stopped by a little Catholic store, I picked up a little wooden cross and a picture of Pope Francis who I admire greatly. Michelle got a little card on her saint (Michael the Archangel), and a St Joseph cheaters guide to the mass.

It was unexpected, and it felt like coming home.

Now we are facing a horrible decision. It was a little over a year ago that we became Orthodox, and now our desire is to go back into the arms of the Catholic church where we understand the lifestyle, and structure. There are still issues to deal with, but I’ve come to understand that to settle in, I have to come to grips with some tension over belief. I actually can find fault in either faith if I look hard enough, which isn’t going to help my soul heal from this long journey. My biggest regret is that I don’t want to hurt anyones feelings, I’m still just as much in love with both churches as I was when I joined.

But when we finally started being honest with each other, the Catholic church never fully left us, and it’s a faith lifestyle we understand and have an easier time living with.

I never renounced my Catholic faith, and I have no intention of doing the same with the Orthodox church, I will be always be a man who is part of two worlds…