Thursday, September 25, 2014

I think I'm going to stop celebrating my birthday

It seems that my birthday is full of sorrow and sad memories. These are not the "oh I didn't get any gifts," or "nobody really cares and didn't wish me a happy birthday," kind of saddness. No, this saddness and sorrow run so much deeper.

I guess you could say this all started around my 18th birthday, just a few days over 10 years ago. I was a senior in Highschool when I received word that my maternal grandfather was in the hospital and going to soon pass. My mother got everything ready so we could make the trip down from middle Tennessee to southern Mississippi. I told her I didn't want to go and see my grandfather lying sickly in the hospital; I wanted to remember the strong determined man i had known my whole life, not his empty, hollow shell. We had an argument but I reassured my mother that I would drive down for the funeral.

Later that day my aunt came by and picked me up. My grandfather was technically dead - his brain no longer working and machines keeping him alive - and they wanted the whole family to be present when they pulled his life support. I stood in his hospital room staring into empty eyes as I slowly watched him die.

Two days later I turned 18. Two days later I buried my grandfather.

Friends and family would say, "Happy birthday, sorry about your grandpa," but it was all meaningless to me.

Now, every year on my birthday I remember my grandfather passing away and putting him in the ground.

Fast forward 9 years. That would be 2013. My paternal grandfather passed away just two days after his birthday. His birthday was the day before mine. I dropped everything and made my way down to Miami; the last time I had been down to see my grandparents was in the winter of 2006 after I had married my wonderful wife.

I almost got fired from work because of some miscommunication. As a result I was able to attend my grandfather's memorial service, but not his grave side service. I had wanted to be in uniform and present his flag to my grandmother after military honors had been rendered, but I was busy driving 14 hours back home.

At work I was repeatedly penalized for taking that time off - they never came out and said it, but it was heavily implied - and thus I never got a pay raise nor was I eligible for promotion. My finances also still haven't recovered from taking that time off.

Now it's my birthday yet again. Shortly after arriving to work I received a message that my paternal grandmother is not doing so well. I knew she had been in and out of the hospital as of late. She hasn't been doing well at all since her husband, my grandfather - passed away. The doctors don't know how much longer she has to live, but they do know that she will pass soon. It could be a few weeks, or months (hopefully), but it doesn't look good.

In all honesty I don't think I can celebrate my birthday anymore, instead I will set this day aside to mourn the loss of my loved ones. It is good to mourn the fact that the ones we love are no longer with us. It is escapism to deny yourself a time to mourn and pretend that everything is awesome - a homecoming - because it doesn't and shouldn't make the hurt any less real.

But everything thing is not all gloom and doom in this post. I have obtained a day to mourn, yes, but I still have a day to celebrate. In the Orthodox Church people choose a saint to be their patron. This saint's name becomes their baptismal name and the name they use when receiving the Eucharist. They also usually celebrate their saint's/name day - the day their saint is commemorated - as one would a birthday. In many Orthodox countries the name day is celebrated instead of a birthday.

I propose that from here on out I will only celebrate my name day, setting my birthday aside as a day of remembrance so my loved ones' memories may be eternal.

Now, here is the tricky part... Most people have a chosen a saint that is celebrated on the same day every year. So if their saint is commemorated today then every year they would celebrate on this day. I, however, seem to have been odd. My patron saint, the Prophet King David, does not have a set date of commemoration.


The Church commemorates him together with all the ancestors of Christ on the Sunday of the Forefathers (December 11-17, depending on the day on which the Nativity falls) and also on the first Sunday after the Nativity, along with Joseph the Betrothed and the Apostle James the Just. OrthodoxWiki


So I actually have two days I can celebrate, but I usually choose the first. But as can be seen in the above quote the date can vary; this year it happens to fall on the 14th of December.

From now on I will celebrate only on my name day, leaving my birthday as a day to mourn and remember. If anyone a has trouble remembering when the date is just ask me and I'll let you know.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Euphemia the Great a Martyr

On September 16, we commemorate Euphemia the Great Martyr:

Read more at GOArch.org

Ninian the Enlightener of Scotland

On September 16, we commemorate Ninian the Enlightener of Scotland:

Saint Ninian was born in Cumberland in Britain around the year 360, about a half century after the Emperor Constantius Chlorus died in the British city of York, and his son Constantine, who was with him when he died, was proclaimed Emperor. Ninian was born of Christian parents of noble lineage, at a time when paganism was still strong in his native land. As a young man he went to Rome, where he spent many years in study and ascetical struggles. At Rome, Saint Ninian was consecrated some time after the death of Pope Damasus in 384, and was sent back to his native island about the end of the fourth century. On his return journey, it is likely that he passed through Tours and met Saint Martin; what is certain is that many churches and cells associated with Saint Ninian, including his own cathedral in Whithorn, were named in honour of Saint Martin. When Saint Ninian returned to Cumberland, he established monasteries that fostered both the life of prayer and missionary labours. By his preaching, his godly life, and his miracles, he ministered to his own countrymen, the Britons, and also converted many of the pagan Picts, who inhabited the northern regions (in today's Scotland). He reposed in peace at his see of Whithorn in Galloway in 432

Read more at GOArch.org

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Elevation of the Venerable and Life-Giving Cross

On September 14, we commemorate The Elevation of the Venerable and Life-Giving Cross:

Saint Helen, the mother of Saint Constantine the Great, when she was already advanced in years, undertook, in her great piety, the hardships of a journey to Jerusalem in search of the cross, about the year 325. A temple to Aphrodite had been raised up by the Emperor Hadrian upon Golgotha, to defile and cover with oblivion the place where the saving Passion had been suffered. The venerable Helen had the statue of Aphrodite destroyed, and the earth removed, revealing the Tomb of our Lord, and three crosses. Of these, it was believed that one must be that of our Lord, the other two of the thieves crucified with Him; but Saint Helen was at a loss which one might be the Wood of our salvation. At the inspiration of Saint Macarius, Archbishop of Jerusalem, a lady of Jerusalem, who was already at the point of death from a certain disease, was brought to touch the crosses, and as soon as she came near to the Cross of our Lord, she was made perfectly whole. Consequently, the precious Cross was lifted on high by Archbishop Macarius of Jerusalem; as he stood on the ambo, and when the people beheld it, they cried out, "Lord have mercy." It should be noted that after its discovery, a portion of the venerable Cross was taken to Constantinople as a blessing. The rest was left in Jerusalem in the magnificent church built by Saint Helen, until the year 614. At that time, the Persians plundered Palestine and took the Cross to their own country (see Jan. 22, Saint Anastasius the Persian). Late, in the year 628, Emperor Heraclius set out on a military campaign, retrieved the Cross, and after bringing it to Constantinople, himself escorted it back to Jerusalem, where he restored it to its place.

Rest from labour. A Fast is observed today, whatever day of the week it may be.

Read more at GOarch.org

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Eucharist: It's Meaning and Place in our Salvation

The earliest title of the main Sunday service of the Christian Church is “the Eucharist”, from the Greek word eucharisteo, meaning, “to give thanks.” As early as about the middle of the second century, Justin the Philosopher (later known as “Justin Martyr”) wrote that the bread and wine which the Christians received sacramentally was “called among us ‘the Eucharist’, of which no one is allowed to partake but the ones who believe that the things which we teach are true” (Apology, chapter 66). The ritual service would also later be called “the Divine Liturgy,” and “the Mass.”

The Lord Jesus commanded His disciples to perform this ritual on the night on which He was betrayed. Before noon the next day, He would be crucified and hanging on a Roman cross, offering Himself as a voluntary sacrifice to take away the sins of the world, and by supper-time, He would be dead. He therefore instituted this ritual as the way of insuring that His sacrifice would be powerfully present and effective among His disciples. By doing so, He transformed what was a simple judicial execution into an enduring sacrifice. The recurring ritual of the Eucharist was the means whereby His disciples could benefit from that sacrifice.

Read more at myocn.net

Thursday, September 11, 2014

What to do with Saint Ignatius?

Of all the saints of the Church, Ignatius maybe had the biggest impact in leading me towards Orthodoxy. Saint Ignatius threw several wrenches into my Protestant Evangelical machinery.

After discovering him, I was faced with the question:
What do I do with Ignatius?

Read more at myocn.net

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Moses the Prophet and Godseer

On September 4, we commemorate Moses the Prophet & Godseer:

Read more at GOArch.org