Continuing On to Antioch

It’s time to take stock once more of the developments of the last few months. The last entry in the series, brought things up to mid-March (although I added this mid-April post summarizing our activities during the Triduum and Pascha, since that was also a significant step along the journey toward Orthodoxy). At that point, the Healy’s as a family were going regularly to Sunday Liturgy, Anna had gotten involved in the moms-and-tots group, and I was reading St. Theophan the Recluse’s The Spiritual Life with some of the men of the parish.

And in the last few weeks, I’ve been granted some significant glimpses of Anna’s journey.

In the last month, Anna and I have decided that Sunday Liturgy was not enough. I mentioned to Anna that we should also go to either the Wednesday Vespers service, or the one on Saturday, and any of the major feast days. She agreed. But while I suggested only one of the two Vespers service, she decided on her own that we should go to all the services each week. So we have done so. It’s been great. Anna’s been exposed to more Orthodox worship and teaching–and she gets the added bonus of deeper connections with the women of the parish.

Back on 18 May, I noted how one of the prayers of St. John the Wonder-worker for us had been answered. At the time, I had blurted out to Sofie and Anna, “See the saints do pray for us!” Anna remarked later that the thought of praying to the saints just “sort of creeped her out.”

However, only a couple of weeks later, riding home from a Memorial Day gathering, we talked again about the saints and prayers. I had in the previous week made mention to Anna that I wanted to obtain an icon of St. Michael the Archangel to have blessed and put outside our front door. On the ride home from the celebrations, she asked me about how large was the icon I had in mind. I told her. She then asked me who the patron saint of fertility was. I told her I didn’t know. She replied that I should find out, we should get the icon, have it blessed, and send it to our friends–themselves traditional Christians–who are trying to conceive. From “sort of creeped out” to “let’s get an icon of the patron saint of fertility” in a couple of weeks.

Also recently, there have been some things I’ve noticed, though I’ve not approached Anna about them. Coming home from work one afternoon, Anna and Sofie were taking a nap, so I decided to sit down at the computer and check email. Anna had left open the browser she’d been using to surf the web. The last site she’d viewed was Traditional Byzantine Iconography. (This past week in the Liturgy, she said to me that according to what she’d read on the web, the blessing of an icon was redundant, since all sorts of holy preparations and prayers of blessing go into the making of an icon. I cocked an eyebrow and said, “Oh, well, we’ll have them blessed anyway.” Besides, I didn’t know if this applied to reproductions of icons pasted on wood–which is the only sort of icon we have at home, and can afford, anyway.)

I also noticed that after the last moms-and-tots group, she’d come home with a Conciliar Press pamphlet on infant baptism. This was apparently something she’d wandered into the nave and over to the tract rack to pick up (though she may have gotten a copy of it from Khouria). Sofie’s baptism is something we’ve discussed before, and something to which she is open. Though the last time we talked, she wasn’t convinced of its practice. Perhaps that is changing.

This last item I am about to note, however, I did not, myself, witness, but was told it by Father when I met with him last week. That same day of the moms-and-tots meeting, he’d come into the church (to, I presume, pray the hours). He told me that he noticed Anna kneeling in prayer before the Royal Doors. She was alone, and apparently unaware that Father was there. I have no idea for what Anna was praying–healing for her brother, the ability to conceive a healthy child for our friends, adequate income to pay our bills, wisdom for us to know when to conceive our next child, the truth of Orthodoxy? And while Anna is a deeply faithful woman, she’s not given to kneeling as a bodily posture for prayer.

So the Holy Trinity is working in the Healy family both in ways I can see and in unseen ways. Though part of me wants very much to talk to Anna about all these things, by the same token, given my ham-handedness in dealing with delicate matters I am holding off lest I snuff out a smouldering wick. Anna is very honest and forthright. She won’t hesitate to ask me questions when she’s ready. But I suspect that Khouria will be the one to help my wife with her particular journey.

Still, that image of Anna praying before the Royal Doors, much as our holy mother Hannah did in the tabernacle, is one that will live in my imagination.

7 thoughts on “Continuing On to Antioch

  1. Hallelujah, indeed, JamesOTN!

    I don’t want to give the impression that Anna is further along the journey than she is, or even that she has any conscious desire or intent to become Orthodox. To be forthright, in our last explicit discussion on the matter, about a month ago, she quite clearly said she did not want to become a member of any other church. But in the meantime, the events I noticed in my post have occurred.

    I don’t want to give false impression, but I do want to note these recent developments, as they are, to me, good indications.

  2. Y’all are ever in my prayers. This post is a very blessing to read, as is your love for each other. Thank you for sharing it here.

    Fr V (in SF) said much the same thing, btw, about the icons. The “blessing” rite is, as he explained it, the way that priests gave imprimatur to the various things that might have showed up as “holy” (sic) icons. “Mmm. Icon of St Basil the Great, yes… ‘Bridge Building Icon of Harvey Milk’? No.” In fact some of mine are signed on the back by the “blessing priest”… almost as if the priest doing the blessing wanted to say “Because I said so.”

  3. I want to tell you how impressed I am at the strength of character, and understanding, that I see you showing in giving Anna the space to come to a decision about faithful practice on her own terms. From my own marriage, I have some idea of how important this is for you; and knowing how much you’ve come to value Orthodox worship and tradition, I imagine it must sometimes be hard to resist the temptation to push, to hurry the process along. You honor both your wife and your faith when you walk this patient path, my friend; bless you for that.

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