Let’s Quarrel

This is a 7 Quick Takes post now hosted at the The Ain’t The Lyceum Blog.


“There were two old men who had lived together for many years, and they never quarreled. Now one of them said: ‘Let us try to quarrel just once like other people do. And the other replied: “I don’t know how quarrel happens.’ Then the first said: ‘Look, I put a brick between us, and I say, “This is mine” and you say: “No, it is mine”, and after that, a quarrel begins.’ So they placed a brick between them, and one of them said: ‘This is mine’, and the other said: ‘No—it is mine.’ And he replied: ‘Indeed – it is all yours, so take it away with you.’ And they went away unable to fight with each other.” Sayings of the Desert Fathers.


I learned something on Christmas Eve, at Mass.. Perhaps I should say I re-learned a hard truth – be careful what you pray for, you might get it. In this case, my desire for better, really good, music with the weekly Sunday Liturgy. Well, at the Cathedral for Christmas Eve Mass, I got it. They had about a half an hour of organ recital before the Mass and it was quite good, a generous portion of Bach’s fugues and other classical pieces; I was in seventh heaven. Then they had a girl, I don’t think she could have been in her mid-twenties, who sounded pretty close to being a professional opera singer, sing an Ave Maria and a couple of classic Christmas carols. She had a beautiful voice. I immediately began wishing every Mass could be accompanied with music like that; it truly was one of the most beautiful Masses I’ve been too. Adding to it, Fr. David, a priest with a fine Irish tenor voice, chanted the entire Mass, beginning to end

Afterward though, the next morning it dawned on me: the music was so beautiful that I was completely distracted, to the point I remember very little else besides the music; I was completely oblivious to everything else going on. That isn’t a good thing and it set me wondering if this wasn’t a case of far too much of a good thing; I didn’t go to church on a very cold Christmas Eve night to listen to a concert, I went to offer worship to the baby Jesus. Even in the best of circumstances, my ADD makes concentration on things right in front of me difficult, this was an ADD overload to a lover of classical music. I’m embarrassed, I should have known better than to get sucked into it.


I start the New Year with a cold, not a serious one, but enough of one to make concentration difficult, and writing this post even more difficult. The cold comes from going to Mass on Christmas Eve, I’m quite sure of it; people insist on going out in public when they are sick and, therefore, spread their contagion far and wide. In my case, it was the fellow sitting in front on me, coughing and sneezing his way through the liturgy that did me in. I really wish people would stay home when they are sick.


The weather has been COLD here in Colorado this week. Just before Christmas we had temperatures in the 40s and 50s. On Tuesday, the high was something like 8º, the low -12º and a wind chill of something -23º. At least we should get into the 30s next week and we should be able to get out a little more. I’m getting cabin fever


Word Press, the hosting service I use for the blog published a year end wrap up of statistics thereby putting the meagerness of this effort into full perspective. Among the interesting facts: I had 2,200 visitors/page views during the year and I learned that, if my blog were a cable car, it would take 37 trips to fill it up. Interesting way of putting it. A little more interesting, the blog had visitors from 51 countries in 2014. It’s odd how such a little thing can be so far reaching. I thank all of you who stopped by here in 2014 and especially those who have become followers of the blog. It is much appreciated.


I saw an interesting article on the Crisis website earlier this week about the Sign of Peace in the liturgy and it’s placement therein. The headline asked the question – Move or Remove? Since I’m sure that the contagion of this cold of mine was confirmed during that little exercise, my immediate answer to the question was REMOVE. However, the right answer, according to the author was, move. I can understand his thinking, have the sign of peace where it is now completely changes the tenor of the moments just before and just after it occurs. It should come just before the presentation of the gifts, or perhaps even earlier. It’s an interesting article that you’ll find HERE.



And finally, I have made my choice for a 2015 wall calendar to hang over my desk. It’s the beautiful calendar from Our Lady of Clear Creek Monastery. Normally, this is a big decision and I try to choose from several possibilities but this year, since it’s the only one I received in the mail, it made the choice easy. Please support the monks of Clear Creek with a donation this year if at all possible.

And that’s all that I have the energy to write about; please pray for a quick recovery for me from this blasted cold.


Happy Thanksgiving

I hope you all have a very blessed and Happy Thanksgiving. In this difficult time for our nation, I once again post George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation as a reminder of the long tradition of this great national holiday.

George Washington

October 3, 1789

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Geo. Washington


Who’s on First?

The Vatican Council I
The Vatican Council I

There are arguments being made in the Catholic world over what happened in the recent Synod. The fear on the part of “conservative” or “orthodox” Catholics is that the Synod, both this year’s and, even more, next year’s session, will change Catholic teaching over, essentially, admitting practicing homosexuals and couples in “irregular” marriages to Communion. Basically, the fear is that this pope will unilaterally make a decision to do this in spite of a Tradition teaching just the opposite that’s lasted for 1,500 years or more.

The fact is, even after the pronouncement of papal infallibility by the first Vatican council, this should be impossible. With that pronouncement, the assumption was that the pope was a steward of Tradition and could do nothing outside of it, and this is the substance of one line of argument going on over the rather sloppy actions of the Synod: things that have been taught always and everywhere and accepted by the entire Church, i.e., all the bishops, cannot be changed, even by a pope.

Yet, it’s clear that there is a large number of Catholics who follow the second line of argument, that divorced and remarried couples and active homosexuals should be admitted to Communion and that Francis can make the changes necessary to bring this about.

All of this brings some focus on my reasons for deciding to pursue Orthodoxy once again. The fact that such a split can exist in the Catholic Church, one that may lead, if not to actual schism, then to one in practice, worries me. It means that the Catholic understanding of what the Church is, is mistaken. It would mean that the pope isn’t infallible and that matters of faith and morals are issues that can be decided on the whim of just one man. It would be no different from the Presbyterian church I left 20 years ago except that such questions were decided by vote at the whim of a committee.

There are interesting points underlying all this centering around the fact that we are seeing, or may be seeing, an ever so slight move of the Catholic Church closer to the Orthodox view of things. At the conclusion of the Synod, Francis may have bowed to the truth of the “orthodox” Catholic position by recognizing that the teachings of the Church cannot be changed without substantial assent by the assembled bishops. There was no such assent shown in the Synod for such a move. It struck me that, this is, in effect, a living out of what the Orthodox have been saying all along, that the Church is governed through the communion of all bishops meeting in council. We may have seen a chink in the armor of papal supremacy. This might have resulted in a transfer of some power over doctrine back to the assembled bishops and out of papal hands. It’s too early to tell for sure, but this may have happened.

The other point is that, in the Catholic understanding of things there is a distinction between doctrine and sacramental practice. I won’t go into all the gory details at the except to say that, in terms of marriage, it’s possible to envision a situation where, on a limited basis, Catholics who were married in the Church and then divorced and remarried to different spouses in civil ceremonies, all without benefit of annulment, could be admitted once again to communion. All this would happen through a change in sacramental practice and would, in effect, bring the Church closer to the Orthodox view of things on divorce and remarriage. It might be possible, as a result of the next Synod of Bishops to see this step being taken, perhaps as a sop to those like Cardinal Kasper, who were so roundly defeated in the meetings earlier this month. There could be no change, as far as I can see, on the question of practicing homosexuals receiving communion.

All this leads me to the question I’ve been asking myself: If the Catholic Church is going to begin moving closer to the Orthodox view of things, could it be that the Orthodox had it right all along? Looking over the book of Acts and letters of St. Paul in particular, it seems that argument could be made.

And Now, Breaking News


It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything here and there’s a reason for that: I thought I had abandoned the journey east. There were several reasons for doing so but mostly because I thought that my age and physical condition (which is good except for my feet) were making things impossible. I thought that, since I couldn’t attend the Divine Liturgy and stand through the whole thing, and since I was unlikely to be able to observe the fasting rules in the strictist manner, I shouldn’t try to become Orthodox, it would be hypocritical. And so, I thought it necessary to turn aside and continue with the Catholic Church.


While there has been a lot going on in my life, there’s been even more going on in the life of the Catholic Church, much more. As you’re probably aware, the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops convened early in October and met for two weeks under varying degrees of secrecy and intrigue. That was unfortunate, but stuff happens. When the dust settled and all the bishops went home, we’d seen doctored documents released, Cardinals making racist remarks, some walking back of committe appointments, banging on tables, and, oh yes, the Russian Orthodox bishop at the meeting dumping all over the Ukrainian bishop, also present at the meetings. It was certainly lively but, in the end, changed nothing.


There’s also been much speculation that, even though Church teachings haven’t been officially changed, many are trying to say they should be changed through an update in “pastoral practice” which means they’ve been changed in practice. Many priests are reporting that people in “irregular” living arrangements are coming to them demanding to be admitted to Communion because the Pope said it was OK, or something along those lines. It seems the main fruit of the Synod has been confusion, and little else.


None of that is directly responsible for my renewed quest to learn more about Orthodoxy. I know there is no perfect Church, not on this side of the roots at least. By becoming Orthodox I’m not going to pretend I will find heaven on earth, not in the most practical sense anyway. Notice, I said “directly.”

What the Synod did highlight for me is the nature of the Church and the problems that can arise in a Church structured as the Catholic Church is, i.e., as a hierarchy with one person vested with supreme authority. That situation is a disaster waiting to happen. That became abundantly clear in the Synod this month. The teachings of the Church didn’t change, but the widespread fear was, it could change if the Pope decided it would. Vatican Council I declared the Pope infallible when teaching on matters of faith and morals and by doing so, made it theoretically impossible for the convened bishops to override him if things got out of hand. Not good, and quite clearly, not what the Fathers ever intended.

By the time all was said and done, my whole attitude towards the Church changed and I realized that the only place for me might well be the Orthodox Church; at least they have a solid idea of what the Church should be. I made contact with my local parish late last week and have attended Great Vespers on Saturday and the Divine Liturgy on Sunday and felt, once again, at home. And yes, I had to sit during much of both liturgies. For you purists out there, I’m sorry, I mean no disrespect, I’m a wimp. But I hope, someday, to be an Orthodox wimp, I hate feeling like the rug could be pulled out from under me at the whim of just one man, no matter how infallible he is.




Still Learning

imageI haven’t posted in a little while and I guess the reason is that I’m going through the Orthodox learning curve. For a few years I kept a Catholic blog and had the routine pretty well in hand; keeping up the thing had gotten pretty easy. Right after I decided to try an Orthodox blog and set up An Easterly Direction

Even so, I know I’m not yet Orthodox, I have a lot to learn and to experience before I can make that claim. I expect, at times, to write things that either sound dumb or are just plain mistaken according to Orthodox teachings. But, I’m learning and it helps me to learn to try to think things through on “paper”, so to speak and I hope you’ll bear with me. The freeing thing, for me, though is that I can continue to write here not only about my journey to Orthodoxy but also about other things I’m interested in and enjoy writing about; there’s really no reason I can’t do that here. Being Orthodox doesn’t mean being cut off from the rest of the world.

In fact, one of the first contrasts I noticed about Orthodoxy, as compared with Catholicism, is that, unlike Catholicism, it seems much more open to ideas. When I first went to the Orthodox book store/coffee shop here, I immediately noticed books by both C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton. I was a bit shocked because, if you were to go into a Catholic bookstore you would not see books by more modern Orthodox writers like, perhaps Schmemann or Frank Schaefer, or even Frederica Matthewes-Green; in a certain sense, Catholicism is a bit of a closed system. I think that’s a shame; I loved C. S. Lewis as a Protestant and had read nothing of his in the 20 or so years since I became Catholic. I think that’s kind of sad thought truth can’t be sought where ever it can be found. It’s one of the things I really, really like about Orthodoxy.

Anyway, the point is, I’ll try to be a little more regular in posting here and I ask your patience while I figure out the way ahead for the blog.

Do You See What I See?

imageOK, I know it’s not Christmas anymore, but I had to use the title; read on and maybe you’ll understand.

On Friday night, we stopped by the coffee shop run by our Orthodox parish and the priest from the parish was there, as usual, working as the barista. We hadn’t spoken to him in a week or two and the coffee shop was actually kind of busy, so we didn’t get much chance to really talk. He asked us if we were still interested in Orthodoxy, we were, and he also asked a question that took me by surprise and left me slightly at a loss for words. He asked, “what are you seeing?”

Had he said, what do you think? I might have been able to give him an answer instead of mumbling something more or less nonsensical and not really answering his question. I’m still not sure I can provide a sensible answer to the question and I can think of a number of reasons for that.

First, thinking back on the question, I wasn’t sure if he meant it literally or figuratively. I took it literally in that I thought he was asking what we saw at Church. I guess that’s what threw me for a loop, the Orthodox liturgy and vespers are so different from anything I’m used to, my senses are still overwhelmed by the experience. It’s hard to describe, much less make real sense of. Services in an Orthodox parish involve every one of your senses, sights, sounds, smells of incense, touch, hearing, the whole nine yards. Just standing for anywhere from 45 minutes to nearly 2 hours eventually dulls my capacity to notice much of anything except the pain in my feet. Not that I’ve been able to stand during an entire 2 hour Divine Liturgy, but even making the attempt is a painful experience.

I can say, I see a liturgy that is obviously ancient, there’s no compromise with modern sensibilities and preoccupation with comfort and convenience; there’s little attempt to make it enjoyable or entertaining, that’s not the idea. I hadn’t realized how much the Catholic Mass after Vatican II had made such compromises, but I see it attending Divine services. In an Orthodox Church, you stand out of reverence for God, there’s little direct, or maybe obvious is a better word, participation by the congregation but still, it’s apparent those in attendance are part of a worshiping congregation, not an audience. There may or may not be a homily or sermon because that really isn’t the point of attending Orthodox services; the point is to worship God in the Eucharist.

One other, incidental, thing I see in the parish I’m attending, is that there are a lot of young and young(er) people there, more than I think you’d see in the typical Catholic parish. I don’t know if that’s my imagination or not, but if true, I’d conclude that this indicates that by not catering to modern cultural whims and attitudes, orthodoxy is able to strike a chord that young people are still able to respond to. I think that’s something few people in our society are willing to admit, or are even capable of understanding.

So, that’s brief summary of what I’m seeing. The truth is, though, I’ve only described the surface of things and haven’t touched the depths of what’s really going on. To do that I have to answer the question I might have expected from Father A when we saw him on Friday. What I’m thinking is we are much closer to what we have been looking for for a long time. When we began the search that ended in our joining the Catholic Church, our primary objectives were to find a Church faithful to everything that represents the truest and best of Christianity and to find a Church that didn’t change with the wind, trying to conform itself to whatever happened to be popular or politically correct at the moment. For all the blank spots in our understanding so far, I think we’ve found that in the Orthodox Church. I think I’d like to keep going in our quest.

So, maybe it’s fair to say that what I see and what I think, so far, is that the Orthodox Church is one that is obviously very ancient and, as far as we’re concerned, fits the bill.

So, I know it’s not Christmas but sometimes it sure feels like it.

What Year was That?

1957 Beetle 2
My VW was just like this one

Who can remember their sixteenth birthday? I barely do, probably wouldn’t except for the fact that on that March day or within a couple of days of it, I took my drivers test to get my license. I’m pretty sure it was as close to the day as I could have made it. I took it, on a cold, snowy March day, probably in my 1957 Volkswagen beetle, with all of 36 hp and sheet metal similar to what they made tanks out of. In Michigan, you had to go to the nearest police station, for me the one on Conner and Gratiot, and bring paperwork, I think proof of having taken the training, a car, and in my case, my mother, who never drove a day in her life. I’m not sure how we got down there to the station since I don’t remember my father being there; he was probably working because it was around 3 or so in the afternoon.

We went through the formalities inside the station and some big, gruff cop was the poor schmuck assigned to administer the test. I wasn’t at all sure I’d make the grade, especially because I wasn’t at all sure how I’d get him in the car. Thinking about it though, I realize my mother was probably left behind to wait in the station while we went out for our drive and the old VW was actually pretty roomy and easy to get into, as far as the front seats were concerned. Anyway, despite what I remember to be nearly blizzard conditions, we went out for our ride and 20 minutes or so later, I was a newly licensed driver in the great state of Michigan. I remember being a little nervous for the test but not overly so, I was sure I was a pretty good driver. Now, looking back on it, I’m quite sure the fact that I took it in my trusty ’57 V dub, already a vehicle with much experience, painted a funny beige color, was a major contributing factor. Had I taken it in, say a new Ford Falcon Sprint, the one with the 260 cu. in V8 and straight line acceleration out the wazoo, I’d have been very tempted to show off and, therefore, failed the test. No question about it, those 36 hp saved my bacon.

What else do I remember about that day? Truth be told, very little. It was early in 1963, several months before President Kennedy was shot and before Pope John XXIII died. The Cuban Missile crisis was five months in the past and although that event made me realize that very soon I’d probably either be drafted or have to join the service, and that that might mean actually seeing combat, that fear was passed by March of ’63. Life was pretty good.

I don’t remember what songs were popular early in 1963, probably Surfin’ USA by the Beach Boys and He’s So Fine by the Chiffons, the big news is that the Beatles were still nearly a year away from their first hit record in the US. I had just started high school and was probably attending the East Side Design and Engineering School after high school classes in order to really get into the mysteries of mechanical drawing and design. I was just beginning to give some thought to what kind of career I might get into, the odds were high I’d end up a tool and die maker, just like my father. Learning as much about mechanical design and drawing would help me land an apprenticeship if things worked out that way.

It was a very different time, comparing then to now. I didn’t become a tool and die maker, thank God, and I haven’t owned a VW beetle in 30 years or more, but I owe that car a debt of gratitude. The thing was about as uncool as any car could possibly be, and most of my friends in high school spent a good deal of time laughing at me whenever I drove it, but of all the things that happened to me in March of 1963, it’s that car that sticks out in my mind. Who woulda thunk it?

(Note — I try to write about 800 to 1,000 words per day and sometimes I like to use the WordPress Daily Prompt to help me get going.  This is something I wrote today in response to a prompt a couple of days ago.  I may post these exercises of mine from time to time, just to vary the content of the blog.)


Polite Company

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe other night I was looking for a writing prompt to get the old creative juices flowing and came across one about discussing religion and politics in polite company, especially with strangers, and whether or not raising such topics was a good idea. I wrote down some stray ideas but didn’t come to any satisfactory conclusions, except that discussing politics with anyone these days is never a good idea. I thought I was done with the topic but it keeps coming back to me, so this is a further working out of some these thoughts on the matter. I still don’t think I’ve come to any satisfactory answers, but perhaps someone might come across this and be able to fill in the blanks.

The reason I don’t like discussing politics with anyone, not even strangers is because minds are made up, or rather, opinions are set in stone. There isn’t any longer any common background among people in the country that grounds the discussion in some core set of principles. Unlike the situation that prevailed in the U.S. until the end of the 1940s, the common Christian culture wasn’t openly called into question. It was assumed that prayers to the Christian God would be prayed in schools and before the opening of Congress. After that, not so much. And there’s nothing to replace it in the way of supporting moral, virtuous behavior among the people. Nor is there any educational background in classic philosophy and theology to provide a basis for discussion. In other words, one persons idea, however ill informed or poorly thought out is considered to have the same authority as Plato or Aquinas, or anyone else for that matter. Intellectual anarchy prevails and in that kind of situation, there’s no point in having a political discussion. There’s no changing of anyone’s mind.

Religion on the other hand, presents a slightly different picture. I think one result of what’s happened as a result of the every worsening political and cultural situation is there is some underlying hunger for Truth and some level of sub-conscious recognition that that Truth must be found in the spiritual realm. The ever growing interest in eastern religions, meditation, yoga, etc is certainly an indication of it. But I’ve seen some personal signs of it too when I bring up my journey eastward.

Every once in a while, in the past, I’ve tried to bring up the subject of faith when talking to friends. I’ve done this both as a Presbyterian and even more as a Catholic. In most cases, the atmosphere grows chilly and my discussion partner quickly finds some way or other to change the subject. It’s obvious they just don’t want to talk about it. But, in the four or five times I’ve mentioned growing interest in Orthodoxy, the reaction’s been different — people have actually been a little bit willing to let the discussion go on. My wife has had the same experience; in one case even getting a chance for a second discussion and having the person even ask some questions. Now, I’m no John the Baptist, I don’t go crying out in the wilderness, so this is an unusual and unexpected experience, to be sure.

Why the difference?

There’s a few reasons I can think of. First, curiosity. Orthodoxy is strange, quite unfamiliar to most people. I think it’s perceived as being exotic, not something you read or hear about every day. It’s natural that, if you bring up a novel topic for discussion, people get interested. When that topic is something within the spiritual realm, their interested in piqued even more, and their open to going a little deeper.

Second, both Protestant and Catholic Christianity carry a lot of baggage. Both imply a certain level of judgement against the sinner. The common conception is that, if one becomes a Protestant or Catholic, from that point on life as we know it stops. The future holds nothing but a diet of bread and water and contemplates never being able to laugh or do anything fun again. A Christian is a dull, sad, person. Orthodoxy carries none of that baggage; nobody knows anything about it.

I’m inclined to think that this represents a real opportunity for Orthodoxy, but when I consider that, I see it’s putting too much of a marketing spin to the thing. What it does represent is an opportunity for some to find an easy way into Christian faith. If there is the real spiritual hunger out there, and if both Protestant and Catholic Christianity, might not Orthodoxy provide a new way into the Church?


Well, concerning politics, I never discuss it with strangers and try to limit discussions even with friends. I hate talking about it. About religion, I’ve been really surprised how relatively easy it’s been to discuss religion when the topic is Orthodoxy but I’m not at all sure where it leads.


The question that has me stumped is, what exactly might this openness to Eastern Christianity really mean, both for me and for Orthodoxy? I know Orthodoxy isn’t in the business of just growing numbers, it’s much more about individual repentance, and so what does this mean? Should I even think about it as some sort of opportunity for me or for the Church? I don’t know, do you?

Who’s a Wimp?

Abba PoemanThere’s a Catholic blog titled Diary of a Wimpy Catholic and I’ve often wished I’d thought of that title because I was a really wimpy Catholic. Oh, I managed pretty much to stick with eating fish on Fridays during Lent and tried to do that on most of the rest of the Fridays of the year, with less success. But, truth be told, I usually took full advantage of the excusal from the fasting rules in Catholic tradition provided for those who are over a certain age, which I certainly am. I still suffer from having grown up being a Presbyterian, part of a church that actively frowns on such things as fasting and abstinence, or anything else that smacks of trying to earn your salvation through a works mentality. Yet, here I am thinking about becoming Orthodox, of joining a Church that encourages fasting for nearly 6 months out of the year. What am I thinking?

When I first read what the Orthodox idea of fasting is, my first reaction was, “C’mon man!! You gotta be kidding!” Nobody does that kind of thing anymore, do they? I mean, Carthusians might, but everybody knows they’re a little off. How could any Church expect people to go with what amounts to being even more vegan than the vegans? Do people really do that? This could be a deal breaker.

But, apparently, they do. One way I know this is that, after doing a web search on fasting, I found a number of cookbooks full of recipes suitable for use during the fasts. That would indicate somebody’s doing it. Also, there are several sites offering guidance for when, why and how to fast, another indication that there’s an audience for such things. I was getting worried, could I really do this?

Then, I began to think about it and about where I am in my spiritual journey. One thing these strict fasting rules show is that to be Orthodox is to take your faith seriously. In order for people to deny themselves like this, they either have to be nuts, or see something in their Church that I haven’t seen before. They see that this faith of theirs is worth some self-discipline and self-sacrifice. That’s something I’ve been searching for, and for a long time, but haven’t found; finding that kind of thing, something worth dying for, was what inspired us to look into the Catholic Church in the first place. But the Roman Church makes it quite easy to avoid such things, especially to those, like me, who tend to a certain lack of self discipline. It struck me how truly unique this kind of faith is today. There must be something to any faith that can inspire their followers like that.

It’s easy to read the typical rationale behind fasting and why it’s a good thing to do. You know the usual explanations; it leads one to true spiritual growth and union with God. It’s necessary to live the Christian life, is done in commemoration of Jesus’ betrayal on Wednesdays and his Crucifixion on Fridays, and helps us to learn to control things in our lives that we don’t often try to control. Those are all true and helpful to remember. But for me, the thing that makes me want to at least try to follow these rules is the example of living out their faith, the willingness to sacrifice their own pleasures and comfort, that is most impressive. For them, it’s real and I want a part of that. That’s all I need to know.

So, I may be a wimp and may fail in my attempts to fast like a real Orthodox, but I’m going to give it my best shot. Oh, one more thing, this blog will not be named, Diary of a Wimpy Orthodox, not if I can help it.