Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Significant Milestone

My home church (the St. Nicholas Orthodox Church) covered in snow.
Photo by Gilmore.

This morning, I attended the Liturgy of the Orthodox Christian church. It was a very special Liturgy for me, because in the middle of the ceremony, they accepted me to become a "catechumen". I stood in front of the church hall.  The priest laid his hand on my head and said a few certain words, and then everyone at the ceremony prayed for me. As I walked back to my spot, I was moved to tears. It was such a sacred and touching moment. In a sense, I have been a catechumen already since last year, but only now it's official. What does it mean?

According to the OrthodoxWiki: "A catechumen is one who is preparing for baptism in the Church. In modern usage, catechumen can also refer to one who is preparing for chrismation (or another form of reception) to be received from a heterodox Christian communion. In the ancient Church, the catechumenate, or time during which one is a catechumen, often lasted for as much as three years and included not only participation in the divine services but also catechesis, formal instruction from a teacher, often the bishop or appointed catechist. Catechumens are understood to be Christians upon beginning their catechumenate, and should they die before baptism, they are traditionally given an Orthodox funeral."

 «An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him...»

The catechumenate (Russian: оглашенные) period is a long process. At times, I have been frustrated, and I've been asking myself: "Why they make it so difficult and slow to join the church?" I have had to be patient... God has strengthened me by sending me an "angel" and spiritual guide (cf. the Gospel of Luke 22:43). Without her, I would have given up long ago. Like she used to say, "We are instruments in the hands of God". Amen to this. Afterwards we can understand the Divine providence. No matter how you feel, there is the guidance of God behind it all.

Today, I also found a "godfather" (Finnish: kummi, Russian: крёстный) for me, and he even lives on the same street as I do. That's really great because I had no idea who could be my godfather when I am going to be accepted to the church on April 19 (may God grant it). Now all these problems seem to have been solved...

Indeed, this was a great day for me! Thank God for the guidance, in spite of my weak faith. Thanks also to my "Russian angel" and to my friends.

Peace and blessings to all. (^—^)


The St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Vaasa. Православная церковь
Св. Николая Чудотворца в Вааса. The church was completed in
1866, and was originally built for the Russian population of Vaasa.
Photo by Teisuka.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Parcel from Russia

The Vladimirskaya icon, as Russians call it.

Last week, I received a big parcel from my dear Russian friend. The parcel included many kinds of items: a great religious book called Everyday Saints and Other Stories written by Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov), four CD's full of Russian Orthodox music sung by the Sretensky monastery choir, three T-shirts (very beautiful), sacred images (out of which one was a refrigerator magnet), an Orthodox bookmark, the Vladimirskaya icon, and a wonderful handmade Easter egg. Wow!

This was the best birthday gift I have ever gotten in my life and it made me really happy. I feel that the whole content of this parcel is caused by the guidance of God. I mean, I can recognize "the God's hand" or Divine providence in these gifts and it strengthens my weak faith. Thank you very much, my dear friend. Большое спасибо, мой ангел! You really are an angel sent to me by God. (^—^)

Blessings to all of my friends!


A handmade Russian Easter egg.

One of three Russia T-shirts (all different).

Four CD's, full of Russian Orthodox music sung by
the Sretensky monastery choir.

A religious book (Everyday Saints and Other Stories),
sacred images, a refrigerator magnet, and a bookmark.