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Saturday, July 03, 2004

Thanks to St. John

Abayea has a new post on her blog concerning how quickly she has incorporated Orthodox practice into her life, in particular prayer to Saints. I thought I would share an email I sent my Priest just this morning that would seem somewhat relevant.

Father, bless!

While I don't suppose this counts as a miracle, I wanted to write this to give thanks to St. John for answers to my prayers. I had every intention of attending the festal liturgy for St. John Friday morning. I had the day off with nothing requiring my attention until the afternoon. I went to bed still in the spirit of prayer from Great Vespers Thursday evening. When I awoke Friday morning about 6:30 AM, however, I noticed something odd about the water pressure in the shower.

After finishing showering and getting dressed I went outside to check for leaks. Sure enough, the water line in our front yard had burst. I went back inside and called the water company to get them to turn off our water and then started calling for a plumber. I knew it was going to be an extended task because our subdivision was originally built using a type of water pipe that was recalled and is prone to leaks and bursting. I anticipated having to replace the line and I was not mistaken.

Having called a plumbing company I had used before and left a message I began to pray. Of course I prayed to our Lord and the Theotokos, but I also prayed to St. John the Wonderworker. When I was done praying I felt compelled to look in the yellow pages for local plumbers other than the one I had already called. I came across one ad that caught my attention, but put it out of my mind as it didn't look all that promising. However, I kept coming back to that ad and finally placed a call and left a message. By this time it was 7:15 AM or so and no one was in the office yet and, since it takes me 35 minutes to get to Church and I knew I needed to be available to talk to a plumber, I knew I would miss divine liturgy. I prayed some more to St. John and apologized for not being able to go to his liturgy. Finally, about 8:15 I got a call from the second plumber, the one I found in the yellow pages. The lady I talked with was very nice and explained some options given my situation. She said she could have someone out there that morning to look at it and give me an estimate. What a blessing, as I had not yet heard from my other plumber (and still haven't, more than a day since I called). About 9:00 AM the plumber showed up, assessed the situation and gave me an estimate. A couple hundred dollars lower than I had anticipated. More importantly, he said he could get the job done the next morning. After quickly thinking it over, I gave my assent and he was on his way.

The whole day I was nervous, however, and kept praying the Jesus Prayer interspersed with the Lord's Prayer, prayer to the Theotokos and praying to our Blessed St. John. Having to do some things for work all afternoon, I had plenty of opportunity for prayer while driving. At one point, after some earnest prayer to St. John, I felt as if a burden were lifted, I knew St. John had heard my prayers and everything would go well.

This morning, the plumber came about 9:00 AM and began the job. Everything went smoothly, without a hitch. Two and half hours later a new waterline was functioning, the water was back on in my house and, glory to God, no leaks, everything seems to be fine. When the water was being turned back on I quickly crossed myself and told St. John I would give him the credit for everything working out well. So, I knew that the parish website had a place for comments, especially testimonies concerning St. John, and said I would write this out. It might seem insignificant to others, but I think it shows that God and St. John care about our concerns.

Glory to God!

When I read this over, part of me feels especially foolish. It does seem so insiginficant. And yet, in my thanks to St. John I felt I had to let others know of this glorious intercessor we have among the saints. Since his feast day is just past, I can think of no better way to honor him.

Glorious apostle to an age of coldness and unbelief,
invested with the grace-filled power of the saints of old,
divinely-illumined seer of heavenly mysteries,
feeder of orphans, hope of the hopeless,
thou didst enkindle on earth the fire of love for Christ
upon the dark eve of the day of judgment;
pray now that this sacred flame
may also rise from our hearts.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Saints Barsanuphius and John

A recommendation on the Convert List and a perusal in my parish's bookstore turned up a wonderful little book, Guidance Toward Spiritual Life, by Saints Barsanuphius and John, translated by Fr. Seraphim Rose (of blessed memory). It is not the entire work by the Saints, but those Questions and Answers that Fr. Seraphim believed to be most helpful and needful for the modern believer. I would highly recommend it as well.

Many of the comments by the saints are short and right to the point and extraordinarily pithy. An example I just read this evening:

Judgement of another after asking a question happens to you because self-justification has not yet died in you: judge yourself and you will cease to judge others.
Now this may affect you the way it does me, but it simply blows me away. "Self-justification has not yet died in you..." Ah, no kidding. I recognize (and confess constantly) judgementalism and a critical spirit in me all the time, but had not considered it an aspect of self-justification, but of course it is. I am right. I am smart. Those around me, especially in authority over me that I have to put up with, are not nearly as smart and right as I am and I can demonstrate it. Okay, I don't ever say that, or even think those words, but I look over my behavior, my judgementalism, my back-biting, and I see that is what it is. Justifying myself at the expense of others.

This book is full of sayings that make you think of such things.