Molly Sabourin

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When Christ Appears on Earth

Posted by on Dec 24, 2010 in Reflections | 1 comment

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God is with us, understand all ye nations, and submit yourselves, for God is with us

 

When the Christ appears on earth, God is truly with us, all of us; not only with the Jews but with the gentiles, not only with the Orthodox Christians and Christians generally but with all people, including those who do not ask for Him and do not seek Him. All peoples and nations are called to understand this and to submit to it, not for God’s sake but for their own. It is their honor, not their humiliation. It is their dignity, not their degradation, It is their freedom, not their enslavement. It is their very life. 

 - Father Thomas Hopko, from “The Winter Pascha” 

 

Dear ones,

I wish for you, all of you – you who love me, who hate me, who don’t know me at all, you who are sick, you who are lonely, you who are frightened about the future, and you who are clinging with every ounce faith you can muster onto this Incarnation of Christ – a clear view, on this Feast, of our Mystical, fiery, indomitable Salvation. Christ is Born! Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

With all my love and gratitude,

Molly

p.s. I’ll meet you back here after the New Year

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kneel down and look upon your Life

Posted by on Dec 22, 2010 in Film | 13 comments

 

 Hand copy


A Christmas Card

by Thomas Merton

When the white stars talk together like sisters 
And when the winter hills 
Raise their grand semblance in the freezing night, 
Somewhere one window 
Bleeds like the brown eye of an open force.

Hills, stars, 
White stars that stand above the eastern stable.

Look down and offer Him. 
The dim adoring light of your belief.
Whose small Heart bleeds with infinite fire.

Shall not this Child 
(When we shall hear the bells of His amazing voice) 
Conquer the winter of our hateful century?

And when His Lady Mother leans upon the crib, 
Lo, with what rapiers 
Those two loves fence and flame their brilliancy!

Here in this straw lie planned the fires 
That will melt all our sufferings: 
He is our Lamb, our holocaust!

And one by one the shepherds, with their snowy feet, 
Stamp and shake out their hats upon the stable dirt, 
And one by one kneel down to look upon their Life.

 

I usually take the naysayers' rants and cuts in stride; I know  full well it seems crazy to  believe in what cannot be comprehended with our finite minds.  Yesterday, however, I heard on the radio a comedian mock with breezy irreverence the virgin birth of Christ and I was surprised by my own strong internal response of not anger, but sadness.  I cannot imagine approaching Christmas, or any other moment in my life for that matter, detached from faith in Eternity and in the consistency of God's unbiased mercy. Along with the privilege of our free will  come some  inevitable and heartbreaking consequences, including abuse, manipulation and a misunderstanding of the Truth. This season elicits such a variety of emotions as we are confronted once again by the manger containing God in the flesh. For some of us the Nativity evokes joy, hope, peace - for others disgust, resentment, indifference.

I get chills when I  read the above poem:

Here in this straw lie planned the fires 
That will melt all our sufferings: 
He is our Lamb, our holocaust!

And one by one the shepherds, with their snowy feet, 
Stamp and shake out their hats upon the stable dirt, 
And one by one kneel down to look upon their Life.

 It's not my job, as one on my knees in awe of the God-man miracle unfolding among us,  to convince anyone of anything. It's not up to me to heal the damage brought on by tragedy, or  skewed interperations of the Gospel. It would be foolish to imagine I could ever make perfect sense of the Mystery that is salvation. No, I am  not the Holy Spirit,  who alone is capable of enlightening our darkened reasonings. I have but one responsibility on this Feast of Christ's birth: to be bold as the shepherds, the angels, the wisemen in living out my humble gratitude and amazement, loving everyone (because I am loved) all willy nilly, regardless of their scars and mine. This Christmas, with so much competing for my attention,  with so much effort put forth to muffle the meaning behind the carols played in shopping malls and grocery stores, I'll need the Church to guide me like a star back to the stable.

One of my favorite hymns we'll sing is:

"What shall we present unto Thee, O Christ,
For Thy coming to earth for us men?
Each of Thy creatures brings Thee a thank-offering:
The angels — singing; the heavens — a star;
The Wise Men — treasures; the shepherds devotion;
The earth — a cave; the desert — a manger;
But we offer Thee the Virgin-Mother. O Eternal God, have mercy upon us".

Isn't that just gorgeous? 

It's almost time.

POETRY WEDNESDAY

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Anticipation

Posted by on Dec 19, 2010 in Reflections | 9 comments

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The kids are out of school. The packing has commenced. After practicing with our choir this morning for our Christmas eve and Christmas day services, I’ve got those Feast of the Nativity hymns in my head. I am anxiously anticipating that angelic announcement proclaiming, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!”  All is not hopeless, or pointless! I am hungry for elation untainted by earthly cares. Come as you are, in whatever sorry state you are, to the manger.  No one is excluded from the love of Christ; teach that to your children; live like you believe it with all your heart!  Be gone with you fear, callousness and timidity! Prepare, my soul, to rejoice!  

 

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Preparation

Posted by on Dec 16, 2010 in Reflections | 3 comments

Confession
 

Go to Confession and Holy Communion regularly. Participate in the Church's sacramental life.

- Father Thomas Hopko

(Maxim number twelve)

 

I didn't grow up with Confession.  It wasn't until I converted to Orthodox Christianity in my twenties that I first became aware of the incredible healing and resorative effects of participating in this sacrament. You can read more HERE  about my personal experience with not only coming to terms with but learning to embrace Confession as an essential tool for staying focused on, and moving forward down, that narrow path towards salvation.

Anyway, while saying evening prayers yesterday with my older two from this wonderful little prayer book compiled by Christina Taylor (camptaylor@surewest.net) called "Growing in Prayer," I glanced ahead at the "Preparation for Confession" section before turning in for the night myself. This afternoon, I read it again, a tad more slowly. It is, being  written for kids and all, clear and simple, and yet how strongly I could relate to the insightful questions being asked, based upon the, dare I say, sometimes overly familiar Ten Commandments.  Those questions made me think, made me squirm in a good way.

Things are hoppin' around the Sabourin house: gifts are being wrapped, cards mailed, plans nailed down; tomorrow I'm volunteering for my daughter's class Christmas party. This is a festive season, for sure, but should also, for those of us anticipating the birth of Christ, be one of deep introspection.  I'd like to share with you in this post the entire text of that Confession preparation section of our family's "Growing in Prayer" book. I pray it inspires and challenges you (to Love ever more both God and your neighbor), as it has me:

 

 

Preparation for Confession 

from "Growing Prayer: a Child's Orthodox Prayer Book"

copyright 2009 by Christina Taylor

 

First Commandment

"I am the Lord Thy God; Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods before Me."

Have I tried to love God? Have I tried to remember Him and pray to Him daily? Have I forgotten to ask God for help? Have I thought more about myself than about God?

 

Second Commandment

"Thou Shalt Not Make Unto Thee Any Graven Image"

Have I put God first in my life? Do I care more about the way I look, my clothes, my friends, having fun or anything else more than God? Have I been scared of people making fun of me for my faith? Have I tried to prepare for receiving Holy Communion?

 

Third Commandment

"Thou shalt Not Take Thy Name of the Lord Thy God in Vain"

Have I treated the Lord's name with love and care? Have I treated holy things properly?

 

Fourth Commandment

"Remember the Sabbath Day, to Keep it Holy."

Have I tried to make Sunday special and holy? Have I gone to Church on Feast days? Do I complain about going to church?

 

Fifth Commandment

"Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother."

Have I shown respect and thankfulness towards my parents? Have I disobeyed them? Have I been helpful? Have I shown respect to my priest, teachers, grandparents and elders?

 

Sixth Commandment

"Thou shalt Not Kill"

Have I been angry or wished someone to be hurt? Have I hurt others with what I say or do? Have I helped those who needed help? Have I been mean or talked badly about anyone? Have I forgiven those who have hurt me? Have I been kind to all?

 

 Seventh Commandment

"Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultry."

Have I wanted to be admired by others? Have I been vain about my body and clothing? Have I been loyal to my family and friends?

 

Eighth Commandment

"Thou Shall Not Steal."

Have I stolen anything? Have I cheated in my schoolwork or in games? Have I kept anything that did not belong to me? Have I given to the Church and to the needy? Have I been generous, or do I hide things away for myself?

 

Ninth Commandment.

"Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness."

Have I lied to anyone? Have I kept the truth a secret? Do I judge other people for the sins that I also do? Have I been fair to all, especially those younger than me?

 

Tenth Commandment

"Thou Shalt Not Covet."

Have I been happy with what I have or do I want what others have too? Have I been sad when others receive gifts? Have I complained? Have I been thankful to God for all His blessings to me?

 

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