As of December, 2009, this blog is inactive at this location. All posts have been transferred to the new location here. You are very welcome to read and comment.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Water of life; Oil of gladness


The Spirit of the Lord is upon me
because he has anointed me!


Behold how good and lovely it is
when brothers live together in unity!
It is fragrant as oil upon the head,
which runs down over the beard;
Fragrant as oil upon the beard of Aaron,
which runs on the collar of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
like the dew that falls upon the hill of Zion.
For there the Lord hath ordained his blessing,
which is life for evermore! - Psalm 132

Nearer and nearer draws the time.

I'm more or less at peace now that I know what's happening and when, and can focus on the spiritual now. I had planned to prepare myself with a fast for a week but, as I'm dieting anyway, I find myself observing most of the fasting rules without necessarily intending to.

However, on the 18th, I plan to make a personal pilgrimage to the tomb of St Bertram from where Fr Paul has asked me to bring back some water to add to the font. I'll go straight from there, bottle in hand, to Fr Paul's house, where I'll join my fellow catechumen in spending the evening in quiet reflection and prayer. We shall make our confessions, and say the hours. Then in the morning, some friends of mine are arriving and I shall be baptised and chrismated before the Liturgy. The weekend should be a thoroughly spiritual experience and I can't wait. I still have a few nerves about the confession but I'm sure that these will pass.

Goodness! In a fortnight, I'll be Orthodox!

The photograph above is my baptismal Cross, which arrived in this morning's post. It is a replica of the Cross found in the tomb of St Cuthbert at Durham Cathedral.

I'd like to thank everybody who has read and contributed to this blog in any way. You have all be so very inspirational and helpful to my formation so far. It is now almost one year since I started this and I have gained so much. I hope that you have received something here as well. I ask for your continued prayers.

32 comments:

Eric John said...

May St. Cuthbert's prayers be with you for this fortnight and many, many more to come. Amen.

Ian said...

I wish I could be there. It's been a great blessing to share this journey with you, and I pray we can share the journey afterwards as well.

God bless, and be assured of my prayers.

Joe said...

Prayers of course. It is a momentous occasion, but don't worry--the anxiety of the first confession soon wears off.

Joe Zollars

Anonymous said...

Why is there required any confession at all, since, as I understand, you are to be recieved into the Orthodox Church by baptism, and not by Chrismation (in which case I would understand a confession being required)?

Michael said...

As I understand it, baptism cleanses us from sin and returns us to our pure state of innocence. Absolution does the same thing. In the same way that we confess before receiving absolution, it makes sense for an adult to confess before baptism as well, before receiving the sacramental benefits and grace of Baptism.

That's just my understanding though. It seems to make sense to me.

I would hate to think that I would not be properly prepared for my baptism by not approaching the Sacrament in a properly penitential state.

Many thanks to all for your continued prayers and support. They're much needed and appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the Orthodox Church (just a little early).
- Landon

Anonymous said...

Welcome, with love and prayers,

Leetle M.

Barnabas said...

Best of luck Michael! May God bless you and Strengthen you.

Your cross is very nice, I've been trying to get one of those for ages, could you let me know where you got it from?

Aristibule said...

I wear the same cross, and got mine from GalleryByzantium.COM

Of course, Michael is still getting Chrismated - the East retains the ancient practice of Baptism being immediately followed by Chrismation. For adult members there is confession (the same way for infant baptism, where the sponsor would be practicing, and thus recently have confessed.) For years as a Westerner I read various Western theologians calling for a return to the practice of having chrismation (confirmation) at baptism. The only reason the two were separated was because of a period of trauma where bishops were few and far between (which is abnormal as well - every large population should have its own bishop.)

Anonymous said...

I asked about the Confession because, being myself an Easterner I have witnessed several conversions from Pentecostalism to Orthodoxy and the converts were simply baptized, chrismated and then given the Holy Communion, without any prior Confession.
However, I know that the Didache requires that the cathecumens should confess and fast before receiving the Baptism.

ferijen said...

Prayers ascending, Michael, as you make your journey.

Bless your servant, Michael, Lord.

Jack the Lass said...

Praying for you Michael - and looking forward to hearing all about it.

Aristibule said...

I'm not sure where anonymous saw baptisms without confession - all of us ORU converts sure did confession before baptism (often the night before) and that was at an Antiochian parish. I won't name names, but one of our fellow bloggers actually brought a computer printout of his sins to his first confession the night before his baptism (you now who you are! :) .) I wouldn't be so sure about converts not being confessed - likely it isn't done *immediately* before the baptism, often the night before or a few days before.

Ian said...

Mine was done the night before.

Anonymous said...

Baptism being the first sacrament one receives, I can't see that confession before baptism as sacramental, since, having not recieved the baptism yet, how could someone make a sacramental confession?
And then, if before baptism someone could receive the sacrament of confession, he wouldn't need to be baptised anymore since the effects of both of these sacraments are basically the same. But now, I suppose I have become "scholastic".
The Romanian Orthodox Church, as far as I know, does not require any confession before baptism of adults. The whole procedure is exactly the same as in the case of infant-baptism, except, maybe, for the Creed and the "renunciations", that are recited by the catechumen himself, instead of the God-father.

Aristibule said...

It is because they are catechumens that they can receive that first confession - it is part of the preparation for the sacrament. How can that confession be sacramental? Because it is a component part of the whole sacrament - the Church required that confession of the catechumen (along with fast and vigil) before the baptism and chrismation. And for the first few centuries, they required it longer than anyone today requires.

Anonymous said...

You may be right. It seems then, that our Romanian Church (or it might be only our parish priest) has given up this practice altoghther.
But anyway, baptism has the same effects, with or without prior confession, namely the remission of sins, both original and personal.

Joe said...

My first confession was the night before, but then again I wasn't recieved via Baptism but rather Chrismation.

Joe Zollars

Ian said...

Me also.

Continued prayers Michael. God bless.

Eric John said...

I was Chrismated, but before that I did a life confession--all the sins I could remember from my youth. I wasn't absolved. As my priest said, my absolution was my first communion, which we receive also for the remission of sins. I think pre-reception confession is a pastoral thing. Your confessor/spiritual father who will be receiving you into the Church becomes a witness to all your past sins as well so that your conscience can be relieved.

Anonymous said...

A new light to show up in Manchester, Glory to God.
For Confession & Baptism, the explanations by saint Hippolytus of Rome, in his "Apostolic institutions", are clear on the direct link between the several parts of the Christian Initiation.

http://www.amdg.be/files/croixpierre5.jpg

Holy week to all
JM

Ian said...

I'm assuming you have now been baptised, chrismated and received the Eucharist, the fountain of immortality.

God grant you many, many years!

Anonymous said...

Mnogaya Leta!

Leetle M.

Eric John said...

Congratulations, Michael! Is your lucky day to be baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church! [Theologically, they're all "Greek," as in Byzantine, but I just love to quote that line from the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."]

Anonymous said...

Leetle Masha's gentle warning to the newly illuminated ones:

If your feet are not yet touching the floor, mind how you go!

Leetle M.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, I hope all went well yesterday.

kingsfold

Anonymous said...

"Thou hast been justified,thou hast been enlightened, thou hast been hallowed, thou hast been washed...in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost."
May the Lord grant you many years.
In Christ,
C. Ille.

Joe said...

God Grant you many years!

Joe Zollars

choirfiend said...

Many years!


(for those wondering about the confession, as I understand it, you confess, which is a great unburdening and relief to many before entering the waters of baptism or before receiving the grace of chrismation, but the priest's part of confession takes place during the actual sacrament, not the night before when the person confesses).

Michael said...

Many thanks to all for your felicitations, prayers and welcomes. I'm home!

A report will be forthcoming in the near future, once photographs and a video clip come my way.

Now the journey begins!

M xx

Joe said...

glad to hear it went well Michael. Check out my blog.

The journey is old but ever new, pitted with sorrows but filled with joys.

Joe Zollars

Ben Johnson said...

Dude, what happened to your blog? Did you lose so much weight you wasted away? Where are you, Holmes? We miss you!