Archive for December, 2004

O Virgo Virginum

O Antiphons

O Virgo virginum,
quomodo fiet istud?
Quia nec primam similem visa es
nec habere sequentem.
Filiae Ierusalem,
quid me admiramini?
Divinum est mysterium hoc quod cernitis.

O Virgin of virgins,
how shall this be?
For neither before was any like thee,
nor shall there be after.
Daughters of Jerusalem,
why marvel ye at me?
That which ye behold is a divine mystery.


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O Emmanuel

O Antiphons

O Emmanuel,
Rex et legifer noster,
expectatio gentium,
et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos,
Domine, Deus noster.

O Emmanuel,
our King and Lawgiver,
the one awaited by the gentiles,
and their Savior:
come to save us,
Lord our God.

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I have been thinking about suffering, prayer and death.

There is a part of me that has wrestled with how to pray for Delane. More and more I have just settled on “Save Delane” and let God work out what that means for Delane. I know what I wanted. I asked for it. But is what I wanted (restoration of health, restoration to his wife and children, to his family and work) the sort of salvation God is working out for Delane? Is Delane a co-worker in this? I don’t know the answers to these questions. So I just pray on my prayer rope that the Lord would have mercy on Delane, and through the intercessions of the most holy Theotokos, St. John the Wonderworker, St. Herman and St. Spyridon (whose feastday it was Sunday), Blessed Seraphim, and all the saints, that God would save Delane.

But the prayer I want answered is one that has involved more physical suffering for Delane. There is no one on whom I would wish Delane’s plight these past three and a half years. And yet, his family loves him, his wife and children need him, and we don’t want to let him go. But thus far, short of full restoration to health, our prayers have meant daily suffering for Delane.

Mind you, my wife and I are Christians. So we reject any and all pagan notions that any suffering is an unmitigated evil. But neither do we ask for it, nor embrace it apart from the permissive will of God. It is necessary for us to be brought to salvation through suffering. Why this is so will remain a mystery to us, at least until the Parousia, if not beyond. It is a terrible mystery, to be sure. And so we plead God’s mercy and grace, even as we recognize that in this awful darkness God’s good will cannot be frustrated from bringing good from evil.

It seems less clear in suffering than it is at other more blessed times, that God’s wisdom, goodness and power are so great that all things work together for the good of those who love him. Providence is for the Christian a blessed hope, an interpretive key, and the paradigm for faith. Still, we see through a glass darkly, and can only rest in the faith of Christ and his Church at these times. God knows my own faith is not enough.

But most of all I am thinking about dying. Delane’s death, yes, but mostly my own. I spoke with my priest about this on the drive back home last night. (What else would you speak with your priest about on the Ohio turnpike in a snowstorm?) I do not want to die outside the Orthodox Church, nor without having brought my family with me into the Church. Memento mori. It is a time-tested discipline. But not an easy one. It is too easy to say that one must live as though the next step would lead one into eternity. It is unutterably hard to do it.

“Batter my heart, three-personed God,” sings Donne. But I would rather God flirt–a playful, carefree “shave-and-a-haircut” suits my fancy much better. I’m with Eliot: “Humankind cannot bear much reality.” But here’s the reality: I’m not even guaranteed this moment. This now is not eternal. And each future moment may be the silent harbinger of my end, a now that will bring to cessation all my nows. Only God knows. “Teach me to number aright my days,” is the plea.

I’m tired and sleepy. I have a final exams and papers to grade. My wife is sick. Her brother is dying. And I’m confronted once again with the utter inability of human wisdom to confront death.

Pray for me a sinner.

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O Rex Gentium

O Antiphons

O Rex Gentium,
et desideratus earum,
lapisque angularis,
qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem,
quem de limo formasti.

O King of the Nations,
and the one they desired,
who makes both peoples one,
come and save mankind,
whom you shaped from the mud.

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My good friend Tripp sends me evidence that I’m right again: Men and women are different, and that difference runs very, very deep. As a Christmas gift, the Rev sends me this link about how men and women handle stress differently.

From the announcement:

“We found that men often react to stress with a fight-or-flight response,” Taylor said, “but women are more likely to manage their stress with a tend-and-befriend response by nurturing their children or seeking social contact, especially with other women.” . . .

“The tend-and-befriend method of coping with stress seems to be characteristic of females in many species,” Taylor said. . .

The UCLA study also found that women are far more likely than men to “befriend” in response to stress – seeking social contact when they are feeling stressed, with befriending methods ranging from talking on the phone with relatives or friends, to such simple social contacts as asking for directions when lost.

“This difference in seeking social support during stressful periods is the principal way men and women differ in their response to stress, and one of the most basic differences in men’s and women’s behavior,” Taylor said. . . .

“When the typical father in the study came home after a stressful day at work, he responded to stress by wanting to be left alone, enjoying peace and quiet away from the stress of the office; when office-related stress was particularly acute, a typical response would be to react harshly or create conflict with his wife or children,” Taylor said. “When the typical mother in the study came home from work bearing stress, she was more likely to cope with her bad day by focusing her attention on nurturing her children.

I think I’ll go home and kick the cat and yell and scream a bit, while my wife changes Sofie’s diapers and calls her friends.

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Baby Number Two

What?! Two Fatherhood Chronicles in one day? What gives?

Well, Anna has been very sick in the last couple of weeks, and without going into details, after relating some of her experiences with her doctor, he rescheduled her first sonogram for today, to make sure everything was okay.

As it turns out everything is okay. We have a very healthy baby (sex to remain unknown till birth), who kicked and wriggled “his”* way all over the place. We could see the heart beating, the spine, and umbilical cord. And it even looked as though “he” tried to suck “his” thumb. (Do they do that this young? I can’t remember.)

We also found out we were two weeks off in calculating Anna’s last cycle. The baby is eleven weeks along, not eight or nine. So instead of 8 July, our new due date is 28 June. (Justin and Mae breathe a sigh of relief!)

Praise God!

I also found out this fatherhood thing doesn’t get any more bland or stale the second time around. Watching our baby on the monitor, I got all sniffly and gooey. I’m such a marshmallow.

But I’m ecstatic. I’d taken the rest of the day off, in case it was going to be bad news, but instead I get to celebrate by playing hard with my daughter and giving Anna a chance to take an undisturbed nap.

*Again, we don’t know the sex of the baby, and do not choose to know until the baby is born. But I really want a boy, and Anna has an intuition that the baby is a boy, even though all her “symptoms” are the same as when she was pregnant with Sofie. But she had an intuition Sofie was a girl, and she was definitely right about that. We’ll see. God knows. And whoever the baby turns out to be, she or he is already welcome and being prayed for.

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The Fatherhood Chronicles LVI

More on Sofie’s Faith

Another post on Douglas’ blog, set me to thinking about Sofie and our raising her in the Faith, and what the differences would be between where I was in my faith a few years ago and now.

Previously, as a Restoration Movement Christian, my faith revolved around two things: right belief and right behavior. (It was the same for me during the relatively short time I was an Episcopalian, though that may have been a reflection more of my Restoration Movement background than the Episcopal Church.) I believed that it was God who saved me, not I, myself, through my own efforts. But I believed that salvation was synergistic: God worked and I cooperated with him. It was important, then, that I believe rightly and live rightly. God would take care of the rest.

What was missing out of all that, however, was the heart.

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