Reader Christopher’s Guidelines for Conversion to the Orthodox Church

Reader Christopher’s Guidelines for Conversion to the Orthodox Church are a demanding set:

1. Take a Long Time.
2. Catechumens are Expected to Learn.
3. After your Baptism/Chrismation, Add Regular Confession and Communion to Rule #2.
4. The Grass is Never Greener; or, Never Know Too Many Priests.
5. Don’t be a weirdo.
6. Worry About Yourself.
7. You Aren’t a Monk, You Aren’t a Priest, Don’t Plan on Being One.
8. No One has Screwed Your Life up More Than You: Listen to Others First.
9. Don’t Play House.
10. Don’t Look Back; Don’t Look Back in Anger.
11. Don’t Write or Speak About Your Conversion Publicly.
12. Whether Cradle or Convert, We Must All Convert Everyday.

Read all the pertinent commentary on the above at the link leading this post.

Kansas Roads

The roads in Kansas, black-top, gravel, dirt, smooth, winding and rutted, can stretch to the horizon and wind and curve around hedgerows out of sight. The roads of northwest Kansas are illusions which make a man believe he can see to the ends of the earth as they unfold in a seeming infinity of straightness. The roads of the flinthills wind and wend along as though on massive sea billows while the rust and blood of the setting sun sets the prairie grass on fire. The road from the farmhouse, through the narrow gulley and to the open pasture will pull and strain at the axles of the tractor. And it will invite the reckless youth to propel his bike down and through it with the fastest speed he can muster, his heart in his mouth, a prayer on his lips to the God of gravity to give him the wings of angels.

The roads of Kansas will take a man where he wants to go, and bring him someplace he never imagined. Built on a county square mile, they will bound and fence in the fertile earth, the lonely prairie farm house and a man’s destiny. A man will wake of a morning, the cold frost on the window, the slumbering harvest buried beneath the crystalline white, and look out to the east, with the dark black of night giving way to the lightening purple of dawn, and know his place in the world. He will not trouble himself with romance and adventure, knowing that his soul will be tested that day in ways he has not foreseen. He will sip his coffee, while the sounds of his breakfast sizzle in his ear, and the song of his wife as she intones a hymn of faith will fill his heart whether he knows it or not. When he looks out on what those Kansas roads enclose, he sees his life and it is a salvation for him.

But the roads of Kansas can stretch away into the wide open sky in a way that invites a man’s soul beyond the limits of his vocation. He knows intuitively that these roads will take him away from what he has known, if he lets them. And if he is not careful, the tempting seduction will enter his heart and his mind, and it will give him illusions of a grander destiny than this humble foursquare of earth that has been given to him for the saving of his soul. That horizon beckons like a siren song, and that song can, if he succumbs to it, become the sounds of a curse. The dust that the wind tosses up into his nostrils and mouth, loses its sweet and damp and becomes bitter and hateful. The rain which he sweats and which courses through his blood, loses its vitality and strength and becomes a barrier to his work and life.

Still, even if a man succumb to the temptation of the open stretches of Kansas roads that kiss the horizon, that dusty trail will stretch out behind him like an anchor. That brown cloud that he kicks up will cling to him. And, if he takes time and thought when he gets to where he’s going, he will know that he has brought with him that destiny he foreswore. And, by God’s grace, that destiny which the foursquare county road enclosed will find him again. Instead of the verdent pastures of the prairie, it will be the black asphalt of the city which bounds his world. But God is a gracious God, and a conservationist, and he will not let go to waste the life a man makes, but will, when that man finds again his journeying clothes, when he inhales again and tastes again that dust of the earth which is in him and from which he was made, remake that destiny. A man will find again that self he thought he left behind as those dust trails billowed out behind him on the Kansas roads.  And he will learn to give again all his soul and all he has for that treasure found in a field.

Other Kansas Meditations:

The Fatherhood Chronicles CVIII

The Boorish Vomits Visit the Healy Domicile

Ugh. First Delaina. After the first dozen, we lost count of how many times Delaina had to throw up. But almost twenty-four hours to the minute, Delaina was hale, if not hearty, again. Her first desire was to drink tons of liquid. Poor thing couldn’t keep down even small sips of water. And she was so hungry. We’d give her a bit of a popsicle, only to have that come back up within half an hour. Delaina’s poor little tummy was visibly diminished.

But she kicked it, and aside from still being pretty sleepy is just about back to her fighting self. And her tummy–we call it her “Buddha belly”–has almost returned.

Momma felt a touch of it Friday, and spent much of the afternoon and evening on the futon in the office. But she seems to have escaped the ravages of the flu for now.

Sofie, however, drew the lot for next in line. She was pretty lethargic this morning, which didn’t, but should have, triggered a caution in me. Then when I invited her and Delaina to head out to the kitchen to eat breakfast, Sofie said she couldn’t eat breakfast because it would make her throw up. But she said it in her matter-of-fact, explanatory tone that she takes with Delaina, so I thought she was just saying stuff. I no sooner got Delaina in her booster seat, bowl of cereal in front of her and prayers said when I heard Sofie getting rid of the contents of her stomach (which was pretty much nothing).

So, Anna stayed home from Liturgy with Sofie, who got to watch her Backyardigan video, while Delaina and I went to pray for them.

The way these things usually go, I’m the last to get it. I hope I escape it this time. Yuck. That’s one thing I really, really, really hate to do.

Mr. Mom Weekend III Likely the Ultimate Update

Sofie Preaches to the Babysitter

A little bit of humor this morning as I was heading off to work, and leaving the girls in the care of our babysitter. The sitter is one of Anna’s friends, and was raised Jewish. I suspect, though I do not know for sure, that she does not worship regularly anywhere. Certainly not in a Christian church.

So this morning as I was getting Sofie dressed, Sofie said to the sitter (a propos of nothing): “Jesus takes care of me.” It didn’t register with the sitter. “What?” she asked. Sofie said again: “Jesus takes care of me.” Sort of taken aback, the sitter replied, “Right now?” I clarified, “All the time.” “Oh,” the sitter said. It seemed to me she didn’t quite know what to say.

At supper this evening, Sofie offered, “Jesus died for me, but not again.” I said, “No, he died once for all.”

I have to wonder just what Sofie did today. I can imagine a whole bunch of preachin’.

‘At’s mah girl!!

The Amicus Curiae Submitted to the Supreme Court by the Holy Orthodox Church

An Orthodox View of Abortion:

The Holy Orthodox Church respectfully submits this brief amicus curiae on behalf of itself and its members.


The Holy Orthodox Church was founded by Jesus Christ and the Apostles, and bears witness to that continuous and unbroken faith. The precepts of the Orthodox Christian faith mandate the protection of innocent human life, especially that of unborn children. The Church regards abortion as murder, and as such, takes a very active role in opposing legalized abortion. That the issue of abortion has both a moral and a legal dimension to it, is indisputable. However, this cannot in any way be equated to an assertion that the two aspects are disparate, or unrelated. Rather, the two have historically been intertwined; it must be recognized that laws have traditionally been positive expressions of moral norms.

The Framers of the Constitution discerned a divine presence not only in daily living, but as reflected in the Constitution itself. “It is impossible for any man of pious reflection not to perceive in it a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolutionary.” That is, a law must of its very nature have a moral component to it, which cannot be divorced from the law itself.

Legal precepts, particularly those of constitutional proportions, simply cannot be judged in a vacuum. This notion not only predates the Constitution; it is at the very heart of our civilization. The foundations of our morality can be found in the dawn and early morning light of the Judeo-Christian tradition, of which the Orthodox Church is a unique custodian. From its inception nearly two thousand years ago, it has never deviated from its condemnation of abortion, based on numerous scriptural references and the teaching of the Holy Fathers of the Church. The Church regards the Roe v. Wade decision as a gruesome turn on the road of judicial activism, having resulted in a holocaust which has claimed at least twenty million innocent lives.


Amicus curiae adopts the statement of the case and the statement of the facts as set out in the Appellants? Brief.


In this case, the Holy Orthodox Church seeks to restore to our nation’s law the highest principle which a civilized society can espouse?the recognition that all human life is sacred. In Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), the Supreme Court relied heavily upon its presentation of historic Christianity’s teaching and practices. The assertions made in Roe were erroneous, and have no foundation in the church’s traditions. Rather than being ambivalent, or even condoning abortion, as suggested by the Roe Court’s opinion, historic Christianity has always condemned abortion as murder, without regard for any distinctions as to fetal development or viability.

The Roe Court also blurred the factual question of when life begins with the distinct legal question of what constitutional value attends to that life. The resulting confusion has tied the hands of legislators, and elevated abortion to the status of a near-absolute right. Unless this Court takes judicial notice, the factual question of when life begins is properly a subject for legislative findings. The strictly legal question of a life’s constitutional value is the clear issue before this Court, as the State of Missouri has made an appropriate factual determination.

Science and history both mandate a conclusion that human life and constitutional personhood are coextensive, and any other result is without foundation in American jurisprudence. Consequently, the Holy Orthodox Church urges this Court to overrule Roe v. Wade, and accord full constitutional protection to all human life beginning at conception.

Read it all at the link above.

Office for the Victims of Abortion

The Order of the Office of Prayer and Supplication for the Victims of Abortion
Prayed to our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ

(The Priest and Deacon take their places before the Icon of Christ placed in the center of the Temple or other suitable place. The Priest is vested in Riassa and Epitrachilion and the Deacon in Sticharion and Orarion.)

Blessed is our God always, now and ever, and unto ages of ages.


Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

All-Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. O Lord, cleanse us from our sins. O Master, pardon our transgressions. O Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities for Thy Name’s sake.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory: of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.
Continue reading “Office for the Victims of Abortion”

The Church Fathers and Ancient Councils on Abortion

[Note: This is also posted here.]

The Canons of the Council of Ancyra (which canons were accepted and received by the ecumenical synods)
Canon XXI.
Concerning women who commit fornication, and destroy that which they have conceived, or who are employed in making drugs for abortion, a former decree excluded them until the hour of death, and to this some have assented. Nevertheless, being desirous to use somewhat greater lenity, we have ordained that they fulfil ten years [of penance], according to the prescribed degrees.

The Constitution of the Holy Apostles
Book VII.
Concerning the Christian life, and the Eucharist and Initiation into Christ
Sec. I
III. Thou shall not slay thy child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten; for “everything that is shaped, and has received a soul from God, if it be slain, shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed.”

The Didache
(The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles)
CHAP. II.–The Second Commandment: Gross Sin Forbidden
And the second commandment of the Teaching; Thou shalt not commit murder, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not commit paederasty, thou shalt not commit fornication, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not practise magic, thou shalt not practise witchcraft, thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten.

Athenagoras of Athens
Apology for the Christians
Chap. XXXV.–The Christians Condemn and Detest All Cruelty
What man of sound mind, therefore, will affirm, while such is our character, that we are murderers? For we cannot eat human flesh till we have killed some one. The former charge, therefore, being false, if any one should ask them in regard to the second, whether they have seen what they assert, not one of them would be so barefaced as to say that he had. And yet we have slaves, some more and some fewer, by whom we could not help being seen; but even of these, not one has been found to invent even such things against us. For when they know that we cannot endure even to see a man put to death, though justly; who of them can accuse us of murder or cannibalism? Who does not reckon among the things of greatest interest the contests of gladiators and wild beasts, especially those which are given by you? But we, deeming that to see a man put to death is much the same as killing him, have abjured such spectacles. How, then, when we do not even look on, lest we should contract guilt and pollution, can we put people to death? And when we say that those women who use drugs to bring on abortion commit murder, and will have to give an account to God s for the abortion, on what principle should we commit murder? For it does not belong to the same person to regard the very foetus in the womb as a created being, and therefore an object of God’s care, and when it has passed into life, to kill it; and not to expose an infant, because those who expose them are chargeable with child-murder, and on the other hand, when it has been reared to destroy it. But we are in all things always alike and the same, submitting ourselves to reason, and not ruling over it.

The Epistle of Barnabas
Chap. XIX.–The Way of Light
The way of light, then, is as follows. If any one desires to travel to the appointed place, he must be zealous in his works. The knowledge, therefore, which is given to us for the purpose of walking in this way, is the following. Thou shalt love Him that created thee: thou shalt glorify Him that redeemed thee from death. Thou shalt be simple in heart, and rich in spirit. Thou shalt not join thyself to those who walk in the way of death. Thou shalt hate doing what is unpleasing to God: thou shalt hate all hypocrisy. Thou shalt not forsake the commandments of the Lord. Thou shalt not exalt thyself, but shalt be of a lowly mind. Thou shalt not take glory to thyself. Thou shalt not take evil counsel against thy neighbour. Thou shalt not allow over-boldness to enter into thy soul. Thou shalt not commit fornication: thou shalt not commit adultery: thou shalt not be a corrupter of youth. Thou shalt not let the word of God issue from thy lips with any kind of impurity. Thou shalt not accept persons when thou reprovest any one for transgression. Thou shalt be meek: thou shalt be peaceable. Thou shalt tremble at the words which thou hearest. Thou shalt not be mindful of evil against thy brother. Thou shalt not be of doubtful mind as to whether a thing shall be or not. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain. Thou shalt love thy neighbour more than thine own soul. Thou shalt not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shalt thou destroy it after it is born. Thou shalt not withdraw thy hand from thy son, or from thy daughter, but from their infancy thou shalt teach them the fear of the Lord.

St. Basil the Great
Letter CLXXXVIII.: (Canonica Prima.) To Amphilochius, concerning the Canons.
VII. On the other hand acts done in the attacks of war or robbery are distinctly intentional, and admit of no doubt. Robbers kill for greed, and to avoid conviction. Soldiers who inflict death in war do so with the obvious purpose not of fighting, nor chastising, but of killing their opponents. And if any one has concocted some magic philtre for some other reason, and then causes death, I count this as intentional. Women frequently endeavour to draw men to love them by incantations and magic knots, and give them drugs which dull their intelligence. Such women, when they cause death, though the result of their action may not be what they intended, are nevertheless, on account of their proceedings being magical and prohibited, to be reckoned among intentional homicides. Women also who administer drugs to cause abortion, as well as those who take poisons to destroy unborn children, are murderesses. So much on this subject.

The Canons of St. Basil
Canon II
Let her that procures abortion undergo ten years’ penance, whether the embryo were perfectly formed, or not.
Canon VIII
But the man, or woman, is a murderer that gives a philtrum, if the that takes it die upon it; so are they who take medicines to procure abortion; and so are they who kill on the highway, and rapparees.

St. Jerome
Letter XXII: To Eustochium
13. Some go so far as to take potions, that they may insure barrenness, and thus murder human beings almost before their conception. Some, when they find themselves with child through their sin, use drugs to procure abortion, and when (as often happens) they die with their offspring, they enter the lower world laden with the guilt not only of adultery against Christ but also of suicide and child murder.

St. John Chrysostom
Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans
XXIV: You see how drunkenness leads to whoredom, whoredom to adultery, adultery to murder; or rather to a something even worse than murder. For I have no name to give it, since it does not take off the thing born, but prevent its being born.(2) Why then dost thou abuse the gift of God, and fight with His laws, and follow after what is a curse as if a blessing, and make the chamber of procreation a chamber for murder, and arm the woman that was given for childbearing unto slaughter?

Treatise on the Soul
Chap. XXXVII.–On the Formation and State of the Embryo. Its Relation with the Subject of this Treatise
Now the entire process of sowing, forming, and completing the human embryo in the womb is no doubt regulated by some power, which ministers herein to the will of God, whatever may be the method which it is appointed to employ. Even the superstition of Rome, by carefully attending to these points, imagined the goddess Alemona to nourish the foetus in the womb; as well as (the goddesses) Nona and Decima, called after the most critical months of gestation; and Partula, to manage and direct parturition; and Lucina, to bring the child to the birth and light of day. We, on our part, believe the angels to officiate herein for God. The embryo therefore becomes a human being in the womb from the moment that its form is completed. The law of Moses, indeed, punishes with due penalties the man who shall cause abortion, inasmuch as there exists already the rudiment of a human being, which has imputed to it even now the condition of life and death, since it is already liable to the issues of both, although, by living still in the mother, it for the most part shares its own state with the mother.

The Canons of the Council in Trullo (The Quinisext Council)
Canon XCI.
Those who give drugs for procuring abortion, and those who receive poisons to kill the foetus, are subjected to the penalty of murder.