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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

More "Michael" time

I love my church. I went through a really difficult time last year and, after three months of not going anywhere after leaving my last church, and on some Sundays even subjecting myself to that great bastion of liturgical excellence that is Manchester Cathedral (HA!), I settled at my current church. They have been warm, loving, welcoming and open to having me and my oddities there.

The church is the higher side of middle, but only just, but they are open to smoke on Principal Feasts, prayers to the Saints and for the departed, pricket stands and the use of icons. These have been recently introduced through the efforts of the new rector, one of the assitant priests and me, and it works well.

However, I find my journey towards Orthodoxy hindered by my responsibilities there, in that the most recent trips to my Orthodox church have had to be cancelled because of things going on at my Anglican church. My Orthodox priest has, perhaps wisely, informed me not to go burning any bridges yet, but it's so frustrating. I don't want to fall into the trap of being too academic about this journey by doing nothing but reading and discussing theology - I want to worship and engage in conversation and shared food and drink with other Orthodox Christians, and see the Faith lived. I feel deprived of that.

I have now decided that, so as to get my regular dose of Orthodoxy and not to grow to resent my Anglican church, I shall allow myself at least one Sunday a month where I will have no responsibilities at my Anglican church, and be free to travel.

This seems like the best way forward for now, although I know that my regular absence will raise questions, as I am the sacristan, only regular server and a chorister, as well as being on the PCC.

Does this sound sensible or am I moving too fast?


Huw Raphael said...

The 3 months before joining the Orthodox Congregation I was Master of Ceremony at my EPiscopal Parish's Holy Week. This involved training, directing, etc etc, and, of course, serving at every service. It was exhausting.

Luckily I managed to get to mid-week services at the Orthodox parish where I set there against the back wall and said "what am I doing?"

Finally, on Thomas Sunday (Western) I went to the Orthodox Cathedral where it was the Sunday of Orthodoxy. I never looked back.

I don't offer this as an encouragement to go against the advice of your Orthodox teacher. But rather to say we've all been there! It is hard. Go for it!

With my unworthy prayers...

Michael said...

Thank you for your words of encouragement, Huw Raphael, and for your prayers as well.

Because my Orthodox priest also takes care of two other chapels (which are actually closer to home but more difficult to get to), the liturgy is only served at the church once fortnightly, so if I miss it, I can easily go a full month without being able to get along there.

I must set this time aside. I don't know what else to do.

Ian said...


First -- what are "pricket stands"?

Secondly -- my prayers are with you. I think it sounds eminently sensible. I, after investigating Orthodoxy for several months at a Friday night Bible Study and the very occasional Vespers on Saturday, returned to my Anglican church to see out the rest of my service on the Parish Council and give my Anglican church my full service for the rest of year. I told my Anglican priest my intents, and while I had his blessing, he agreed that it was right for me to serve out my time at St Mark's.

While I didn't go to an Orthodox service for nine months, I was blessed to be in contact with those from the parish.
If you can get the once-a-month visit that could be helpful. It seems you are blessed with a wise priest. I'm with you on the "too academic" fears: I spent two years reading about Orthodoxy before finally getting the courage to go to an Orthodox church. It is a faith best lived and explored through its services. The catch-cry I hear from the Orthodoxen [thank you LM for that great term!] is "Come and see."

God bless you Michael. My prayers are with you.

Elizabeth said...

Hi Michael
You are being sensible. Orthodoxy has to be experienced and lived, not just read about.
It might be wise to train up a reliable new server to act as your "second string" in your Anglican parish, so they are not left in diffiulties on the Sunday you attend Liturgy.

Alternatively, stay and convert the whole parish to W-R Orthodoxy.... whole churches have converted to Orthodoxy before now :-)
You`re in my prayers.

Mark said...


I echo everyone is saying your idea is sensible. You need to be pragmatic like your orthodox priest suggests. Ensuring there are set boundaries regarding time and demands will allow you to be objective as regards both Orthodoxy and the Anglican church without resenting either. (It's even possible to resent a new thing, so be warned! ;-)

Elizabeth, good one! :-)

Take care, and 'swim' slow. It uses less energy and you don't get any heartburn. ;-)

Joe said...

1. What are pricket stands?

2. yes your idea is sensible. May I also suggest trying to attend Great Vigil on Saturday evenings?

The important thing is to take things slowly--don't rush about head strong, which is sadly the temptation of many converts including at the time myself.

Prayers from the colonies for you.

Joe Zollars

Michael said...

Goodness! All these replies. Thank you, all.

A pricket stand is a stand for votive candles, usually of wroght iron or other black-painted metal. It is uaually linear and terraced, but often can be circular as well. The more traditional ones are designed to accommodate slender candles, which would be held in place by a pricket (a little metal spike), hence the name of the stand. Many modern ones take little votive lights in a glass or plastic container, with no spike, and so would perhaps be more accurately called "votive stands", but you know how language works - the original name has stuck, even for those that do not have prickets.

Ian, it's good to know that I'm not alone in this - thank you.

Elizabeth, a wonderful suggestion! :-D I shall begin discreetly replacing Common Worship with copes of the Sarum Missal on Sunday. ;-)

Joe said:
'Prayers from the colonies for you.'

It's good to see our colonial brethren acknowledging this. :-p

More seriously, the church is 40 miles, and three train journeys away, and I don't drive. The only possibility would be to stay over, and I wouldn't want to impose on Father's hospitality like that.

I'm greatly encouraged by all of your affirmations though. Thank you.

M x

Joe said...

the nearest Orthodox Church is a little over 95 miles from here--and its only a small mission. The nearest big parish is about 145 miles away. So I sympathize with your situation. Just thought Saturday Vigils might be a way to fulfill your desire to attend the services of Holy Orthodoxy and still fulfill your obligations at the Anglican Parish.

Joe Zollars

Ian said...

Candle lit for you today.

God bless.

Michael said...

Thanks Joe. ;-)

Ian, thank you. I needed to read that. I was going to just sit in a pew today, but it was the last Mass of one of the priests in the team before he goes off to pastures new, and so it was a rather large do and a server was needed. I really wasn't up to it but gave it my best, but then found myself unable to receive the Blessed Sacrament. I wasn't sure that it was the Blessed Sacrament - I hate being in that position, I really do.

Ian said...

Words seem insufficient, so let me just say you are in my prayers. God bless.

Joe said...

I think Ian summed it up best. I shall remember you in my Icon Corner this evening.

Joe Zollars