Monday, December 27, 2010

Our Baptism

Our Priest Father John says: In Your Name, O Lord God of Truth, and in the Name of Your Only-Begotten Son, and of Your Holy Spirit, I lay my hand upon this Your servants who have been accounted worthy to flee unto Your Holy Name and to be sheltered under the shadow of Your wings. Remove far from them that ancient error, and fill them with faith and hope and love that is in You, that they may know that You alone are the True God, and Your Only-Begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and Your Holy Spirit.
Grant them to walk in Your commandments, and to observe those things that are acceptable before You; for if a man does such he shall find life in them. Inscribe them in Your Book of Life, and unite them to the flock of Your inheritance. Let Your Holy Name be glorified in them and that of Your well-beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and of Your Life-creating Spirit. Let Your eyes look over them in mercy, and Your ears be ever attentive unto the voice of their prayer. Let them ever rejoice in the works of their hands, and in all their generation, that they may give thanks to You, worshipping and glorifying Your great and Most High Name, and may ever praise You all the days of their life. For all the Powers of Heaven praise You, and Yours is the Glory, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
We turn and face west then Father John says: Do you renounce Satan, and all his works, and all his worship, and all his angels, and all his pomp?
Us: I do renounce him.

Father John: Have you renounced Satan?
Us: I have renounced him.

Father John: Then blow and spit upon him.
And we do. We then turn around and face East.

Father John: Do you join Christ?
Us: I do join Him.

Father John: Have you joined Christ?
Us: I have joined Him.

Father John: And do you believe in Him?
Us: I believe in Him as King and as God.

The Creed is said then, then...
Father John: Have you joined Christ?
Us: I have joined Him.

Father John: Then bow before Him and worship Him.
Us: I bow down before the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; Trinity One in Essence and Undivided.

Father John: Blessed is God Who desires that all people should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the Truth; both now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen. Let us pray to the Lord.

 Priest: Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

In peace let us pray to the Lord.

For the peace from above; for the salvation of our souls; let us pray to the Lord.

That there may be sent down upon it the Grace of Redemption, the blessing of the Jordan; let us pray to the Lord.

That this water may be hallowed by the might, and operation, and descent of the Holy Spirit; let us pray to the Lord.

That there may come down upon this water the cleansing operation of the Supersubstantial Trinity; let us pray to the Lord.

That we may be illumined with the Light of Knowledge and Piety through the descent of the Holy Spirit; let us pray to the Lord.

That he (she) that is about to be baptized herein may become worthy of the incorruptible Kingdom; let us pray to the Lord.

That he (she) may prove to be a child of Light, and an inheritor of eternal blessings; let us pray to the Lord.

That he (she) may grow in, and become a partaker of the Death and Resurrection of Christ our God; let us pray to the Lord.

That this water may be for him (her) a laver of Regeneration unto the remission of sins, and a garment of incorruption; let us pray to the Lord.

Form the Image of Your Christ in him (her) who is about to be born again through my humility. Build him (her) on the foundation of Your Apostles and Prophets. Cast him (her) not down, but plant him (her) as a plant of truth in Your Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Pluck him (her) not out, that, by) his (her) advancing in piety, by the same may be glorified in Your Most Holy Name, of Father, and of Son, and of Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen

The Blessing of the Baptismal Waters
Do you yourself, O loving king, be present now also through the descent of your Holy Spirit and hallow this water. And give to it the Grace of Redemption, the Blessing of Jordan. Make it a fountain of incorruption, a gift of sanctification, a loosing of sins, a healing of sicknesses, a destruction of demons, unapproachable by hostile powers, filled with angelic might; and let them that take counsel together against Your creature flee there from, for I have called upon Your Name, O Lord, which is wonderful, and glorious, and terrible unto adversaries.

 The Blessing of the Oil
Sovereign Lord and Master, God of our Fathers, Who did send to them in the Ark of Noah a dove bearing a twig of olive in its beak as a sign of reconciliation and salvation from the Flood, and through these things prefigured the Mystery of Grace; and thereby have filled them that were under the Law with the Holy Spirit, and perfected them that are under Grace: do You Yourself bless this Oil by the power and operation and descent of the Holy Spirit that it may become an anointing of incorruption, a shield of righteousness, a renewal of soul and body, and averting of every operation of the devil, to the removal of all evils from them that are anointed with it in faith, or that are partakers of it. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Blessed is God that enlightens and sanctifies every man that comes into the world, both now and ever, and to the ages of ages.

The sign of the cross is made on the forehead with oil... Father John: The servant of God is anointed with the Oil of Gladness, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

 And he signs his (her) breast and between his (her) shoulders, saying: For healing of soul and body.

And on the ears, saying: For the hearing of Faith.
And on the hands, saying: Your hands have made me, and fashioned me.

And on the feet, saying: That he (she) may walk in the paths of Your commandments.

We then step into the baptismal waters and Father John says,

The servant of God is baptized in the Name of the Father. Amen.
And of the Son, Amen.
  And of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

While we change into our dry baptismal garments Psalm 31 is read:
Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whom the Lord imputes not sin, and in whose mouth there is no guile. Because I have kept silence, my bones waxed old through my crying all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy on me. I was turned into lowliness while the thorn was fastened in me. My sin I have acknowledged, and my iniquity I have not hid. I said, "I will confess against myself my sin unto the Lord." And You forgave the ungodliness of my heart. For this shall everyone who is holy pray to You in a seasonable time; moreover in a flood of many waters shall the billows not come nigh to him.

We are anointed with Holy Chrism: Father John: Blessed are You, Lord God Almighty, Fountain of Blessings, Sun of Righteousness, Who made to shine forth for those in darkness a light of salvation through the manifestation of Your Only-Begotten Son and our God, granting unto us, though we are unworthy, blessed cleansing in Holy Water, and divine sanctification in the Life; effecting Anointing;
Who now also has been well-pleased to regenerate this Your servant newly illuminated through Water and Spirit, giving him (her) forgiveness of his (her) voluntary and involuntary sins: do You Yourself, Sovereign Master, Compassionate King of All, bestow upon him (her) also the  Seal of Your omnipotent and adorable Holy Spirit, and the Communion of the Holy Body and Most Precious Blood of Your Christ; keep him (her) in Your sanctification; confirm him (her) in the Orthodox Faith; deliver him (her) from the Evil One and all his devices; preserve his (her) soul, through Your saving fear, in purity and righteousness, that in every work and word, being acceptable before You, he (she) may become a child and heir of Your heavenly Kingdom.

For You are our God, the God of Mercy and Salvation, and to You do we send up Glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and to the ages of ages.

Every spot that we are annointed Father John says: The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit.
And the congregation relpies: Seal!

Father John: The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit
The Congregation: Seal!

 We are led in a circular procession around the baptismal waters 3 times while the congregation sings, "As many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. Alleluia."

Then Romans  6:3-11 is read followed by the Gospel of Matthew 28:16-20.

Father John: You that through Holy Baptism have granted forgiveness of sins to this Your servant, bestowing on him (her) a life of regeneration: do You Yourself, Sovereign Master and Lord, be pleased that the Light of Your countenance evermore shine in his (her) heart; maintain the shield of his (her) faith against the plotting of enemies; preserve in him (her) the garment of incorruption, which he (she) has put on undefiled and unstained; preserve in him (her) the Seal of Your Grace, being gracious unto us, and unto him (her) according to the multitude of Your compassions, for glorified and blessed is Your all-honorable and majestic Name: of Father, and of Son, and of Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and to the ages of ages.

Father John: You are baptized; you are illuminated; you are anointed with the Holy Myrrh, you are hallowed; you are washed clean, in the Name of Father, and of Son, and of Holy Spirit. Amen.

Father John: Sovereign Master and Lord our God, Who honored man with Your own Image, providing him with reason; endowed soul and comely body, that the body might serve the reason; endowed soul; for You did set his head on high, and therein planted the greater number of the senses, which impede not one another, covering the head that it might not be injured by the changes of the weather,
and did fit all the members serviceably thereunto, that by all it might render thanks unto You, the excellent Artist; do You Yourself, O Sovereign Master, Who by the Vessel of Your Election, Paul the Apostle, to do all things unto Your Glory.  Bless this Your servant, who is come now to make offering the firstlings of hair shorn from his (her) head; and bless his (her) Sponsor; granting them in all things to be diligent followers of Your Law, and to do all those things that are well pleasing unto You, for a merciful and loving God are You, and to You do we send up all Glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and to the ages of ages.

Four bits of our hair is snipped off in the form of a Cross, front, back, and over each ear, saying, "The servant of God (Name) is shorn in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." It is then burned in the fire of our own candles.
Again let us pray for mercy, life, peace, health, and salvation for the servants of God, the newly illumined (Name), the Godparents, and all those who have come here together for this holy Sacrament. For You are a merciful and loving God, and to You do we send up all Glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and to the ages of ages.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thank You

How did this happen?

Here I will try to connect the dots of what I am aware of that transpired to get Laura and I to this point.

Both Laura's parents and mine raised both of us to love and pursue God. It is because we were raised in such a way that we are able to make the journey we are on now.
Thank you Ken, Evie, Donn, and Michelle.
Around 1995 I went on a tour of the Holy Land with my church. Orthodoxy was all around me, but I noticed very little. My brain was already geared to avoid things that I assumed were not Christian practices.
In February of 2008, Laura and I went with Bill Thompson and Julie Foster to Balboa Park in San Diego. One of the museums was showing art for free. On of the displays was a series of Russian icons. We didn't fully understand what they were, but we couldn't keep our eyes off of them.
2 months later we would meet up with Forrest Fallows in Tucson and he would take us into an Orthodox Church for the first time. Without this initial interaction Orthodoxy would likely still be unknown to us.
Thank you Forrest.
A month later we would be in John Day, Oregon for 6 months. During that time I would watch this video on Pascha, investigate the early church, and decide that we would go back to an Orthodox Church when we arrived in Califonia.

In November we would go to Saint John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Buena Park, CA. The church was beautiful but the service was all in Greek, so we looked elsewhere for an Orthodox service in English.
A week later we would go to Saint Barnabas Antiochian Orthodox Church in Costa Mesa, CA and keep going for months. Friends both in and out of Barnabas were willing to spend hours with us answering our questions about Orthodoxy. Because of their willingness to answer our questions, give of their time, and let us in to their lives we were able to move forward towards Orthodoxy. We stayed until Pascha of 2009.
Thank you Devon
Thank you Drew
Thank you Garten
Thank you Garrett
Thank you Jared and Claire
Thank You Gary
Thank you Josh
Thank you Drew
Thank you Will
Thank you Valeska
Thank you Turbo and Juliana
Thank you Mark
Thank you Keith
Thank you Jonathan
Thank you Kevin and Colleen
Thank you Robert
Thank you Christine
Thank you Gabe
Thank you Father Wayne
Thank you Father Michael

We then headed to see Bill and Julie in Pennsylvania by plane. At the airport in LA a girl smiled at us. That same girl would be on our flight, and give up her seat so Laura and I could sit together. That same girl was Orthodox. The unlikelihood of the experience was incredibly uplifting. More on this story can be found here.
Thank you Heather.
We came back from Pennsylvania and took to the open road for a couple of months then stayed in John Day, OR again. While in the Northwest, we had the opportunity to stay with Matthew Gallatin in Idaho for the night. We had been listening to his podcasts about Orthodoxy when we were on the road. While talking to him one on one he was able to put me at ease with some doctrinal issues. So, we decided to make it back to Saint Barnabas so we could start catechism by September.
Thank you Matthew and Alice.

After starting catechism we realized we needed to find a town that we could settle down in and had an Orthodox church. And any city in Orange County was not it. One day while looking at Facebook Jonah Van Tyl  (in Prescott, AZ) complained about long lines at In-N-Out Burger. I responed by, "What?! They have an In-N-Out in Prescott?" Laura jokingly said, "Wouldn't it be great if they had an Orthodox Church too?" So I looked, and they did, and here we are in Prescott.
Thank you Jonah and thank you In-N-Out.
When we first came into Prescott, Shaun let us park in his driveway for three weeks for free! We couldn't have made the trip without him. We had no money, no jobs, and no car. His little piece of driveway was all we had.
Thank you Shaun.
After the three weeks were up, Virgil and Jody let us stay in their house and have continued to do so. They have quickly became friends and I don't know how we could have stayed here without them.
Thank you Virgil and Jody.
Immediately after arriving here we were greeted warmly by our new church family at Saint George. We were able to spend 3 days with them right away working in the Gyros booth. This new church family has made leaving our family at Saint Barnabas easier. We are blessed with a new church family, friends, and two wonderful priests.
Thank you Father John and Father Bill.
Thank you George and Lola
(Laura's Godparents)
Thank you Raymond and Jill
(Kenny's Godparents)
My Uncle Brett's role does not fit nicely in this timeline as he has been in most of the various stages. But I am eternally grateful for his willingness to discuss with me all things Orthodoxy throughout this entire journey. An uncle who is closer than a brother.
Thank you Brett Scott.
Thank you to everyone who has helped us in both big and small ways to aid us on this journey.