Our assignment in the exercise today is St. Andrew, who is a natural topic for any priest of the Metropolis of Boston – he is the patron saint of the Metropolis. Our clergy brotherhood group is named after him. I have blogged on this before, but I have recently gained a new perspective. We have monthly clergy meetings that usually feature a guest speaker in addition to our monthly business. The meetings function in many ways as continuing education seminars with the addition of the social aspect of us seeing each other. A friend from another Metropolis where everyone is far flung told me to cherish every moment with the other guys. In his area, they see each other once a year and are so excited to talk amongst themselves that they spend the first three hours of their annual gathering catching up and talking, and then they get down to business. Geographically, we are blessed – no one is more than a few hours away from the Metropolis center and at most 3-4 hours away from each other.
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November 30th, 2013 by Fr. Greg
Today’s topic is avarice – the Latin word for greed – and I imagine we were assigned this topic today because it is “Black Friday” – the biggest shopping day of the year. The fashion, from what I have discerned from reading Facebook posts, is to decry Black Friday shopping and the commercialization of our holidays. I tend to take a contrarian stance. Some thoughts:
-If you don’t like Black Friday, don’t participate. Lord knows there are plenty of other things to do. An understandable dissent to this is that Black Friday madness induces people to work on Thanksgiving evening. This is unfortunate, but…
-…Black Friday does put many stores in the black. The economy is important and helps us pay our bills. Is there room for improvement or remaking the economy? Absolutely. I am a true Jeffersonian – unleash the inner yeoman farmer within all of us! But for now…
-There are plenty (or maybe really just a few, from certain high-crime areas?) stories of problems at stores, but I get the sense that most people shopping on Black Friday are really out to make the most of their dollar and are not actually greedy Scrooge McDuck types who frolic in piles of hoarded money. What is wrong with finding the best price for a laptop or TV and waiting in line for it?
-People who get into Black Friday genuinely enjoy it. My friend Deepali is out there every year at 3am and she loves it. What is wrong with that?
-I have noticed a trend of people talking smack about how bad Black Friday is, and then bragging about ordering stuff online. Really?
I don’t participate in Black Friday shopping. I actually need to get something from the local music store but held off going on principal. But I have no problem with the idea in general. My main dissent is really in the drive to buy Christmas gifts. I am a huge advocate of degiftifying – not focusing on giving gifts for Christmas. This becomes the be-all and end-all of the holiday. Take a step back and enjoy it for the spiritual triumph that it is.
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November 29th, 2013 by Fr. Greg
We had liturgy tonight in anticipation of Thanksgiving Day tomorrow. Receiving communion is our greatest experience of Thanksgiving, and besides the act itself there are several prayers throughout the service on this topic. Here is one that we say right after putting the gifts back at the prothesis from the altar:
We thank You, loving Master, benefactor of our souls, that on this day You have made us worthy once again of Your heavenly and immortal Mysteries. Direct our ways in the right path, establish us firmly in Your fear, guard our lives, and make our endeavors safe, through the prayers and supplications of the glorious Theotokos and ever virgin Mary and of all Your saints.
There are several ways to look at holding liturgy to celebrate the American holiday of Thanksgiving. I feel very strongly that we should take time to come and participate in the liturgy in anticipation of the day – it is a great melding of Orthodox and American traditions. By the same token, the (at least) weekly celebration of liturgy at most parishes gives us an opportunity to be thankful on a regular basis, not just on the holiday.
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November 27th, 2013 by Fr. Greg
Here in the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston we have a set of Metropolis vestments (today’s blogging exercise subject) that we wear when we are together for services (see the picture below, from the opening of the Retreat Center at the camp). Currently we have maroon and gold on white, and before that the Metropolis set was blue on white. We are in the process of getting a new blue on white set – I have not found any photos online – most of the guys are just now getting their set – and I don’t have mine yet. Many of us wear the Metropolis even when we are by ourselves – it has come to be the standard for serving (though not required) unless otherwise called for liturgically. At the moment I am wearing a set from Romania – the cut of the phelonion (the cape-like vestment worn on top) is noticeably different and points to the Romanian tradition.
I have no idea if other Metropoles or other Orthodox presences (our Metropolitan’s preferred term rather than jurisdictions) have a “uniform” but we love it. We all match and it is rather like a sports uniform in that it aids in a spirit of unity and teamwork. It is also recognized and respected by the faithful.
UPDATE: I am having trouble uploading a photo of the vestments. Will keep trying…
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November 26th, 2013 by Fr. Greg
Today’s blogging assignment for the 40 day exercise is turkey – the bird, not the country or other meanings. Fr. John has again given us a whimsical topic to offset the heavier ones we have tackled. I initially thought about writing on the terms for turkey in different languages or Zito, the turkey who lives on the campus of Holy Cross seminary (whom I discovered one morning sitting on my convertible roof – he nearly collapsed it and left footprints all over my car!). But I have posted on those subjects previously and I don’t want to recycle another post. So…well, get ready. This won’t be pleasant.
This article has an excellent breakdown on the turkeys you will find in grocery stores. Please read it – it is very short and very horrifying. To sum it up, grocery store turkeys are raised in cruel environments where they never see the sun and eat things they are not meant to eat. They are physically maimed as well. The end product that we eat does a number on our well-being and how we feel, and likely leads to cancer and other issues. It also is bland tasting (unless pumped up with tons of salt and other additives).
It is worth seeking out pasture-raised, grass-fed turkey. It will taste better and be better for you, and you will know the animals have been humanely treated (the article has a link to a directory of farms and stores). There is a theological aspect to this as well. Orthodoxy is very clear that our bodies are God’s creation and we need to take care of them. Also, we ingest the body and blood of Christ every Sunday, so whatever goes down our gullet should be clean. Finally, we are the stewards of God’s creation. Knowing this and what we learn from the article, how can we ever eat such commercially raised turkeys again?
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November 25th, 2013 by Fr. Greg
Today is a blogger’s choice day in the 40 Days of Blogging exercise, so I thought I would post the set list from my jam session tonight with Brian and Dave. This is Orthodoxy-related; we were rehearsing for the next Orthodoxy On Tap, where we will play in the background during the social part of the evening before and after the speaker.
We are going to play an acoustic set (with my bass lightly amplified). I figured we would just work out versions of songs we play with Liquid Fuel but we actually took on some new ones. Here goes:
Elderly Lady Behind The Counter…
Mr. Bright Side
House Of The Rising Sun
Have You Ever Seen The Rain
Queen Jane Approximately
Jam in B Dorian
Expect to hear these and maybe a few others at the next Orthodoxy On Tap.
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November 24th, 2013 by Fr. Greg
I feel that I may be violating the spirit of the 40 Days Of Blogging exercise by reposting something from several years ago, but when I saw that the Sabbath was today’s topic I could not resist:
A few years ago I was at the Jewish Home in Worcester visiting someone and took the stairs at the same time as a young man who turned out to be a devout Jew. We had a great discussion about riding elevators on the Sabbath – it was an issue he struggled with but ultimately he decided he would ride the elevator if someone else was getting on (his job there had him constantly going up and down to different floors). I thought of him yesterday when I encountered this sign at Children’s Hospital in Boston – they have embraced the idea of a “Sabbath Elevator”, which in a very small way brings a little comfort to some of the people who work and/or have children who are patients there:
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November 23rd, 2013 by Fr. Greg