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Sunday, June 22, 2014

There's a strange man out there... and prayer

Schaduw op het BuurkerkhofCC BY-SA 3.0view terms
Victor van Werkhooven - Own work
There's a strange man out there. I've likely never met him. I have no idea where he is.  I know he has a beard, because I know my daughter.

I worry for him.

He is swimming in sea of secular corruption and struggling with a society that is not God affirming. He has pornography at his fingertips and is faced with the task of achieving professional success in an economy that is hardly promising. He is surrounded by women who have been suckled on a hook-up-culture.  He has the challenge of honoring his parents while emerging into manhood.  Although he has likely not yet set eyes on her, he holds the heart, security, and the hopes and dreams of my daughter in his hands. He will raise my grandchildren.

I've been praying for him for years.  His parents rest in my heart's embrace; I understand their task and their worries. Daily, they enter my prayers.  Three unseen people - a mystery - held close, are the focus of so many supplications. The nucleus of years of soul-yearning before God.

We've been preparing her these twenty years.

She's learned to love family and home. She's trained her gaze on our Lord. She's entered college at 16, so that she might exit equally quickly to nurture an entrepreneurial spirit. She's dug deeply into child development. She's learned to show kindness and to give mercy and to struggle against passing judgement. She's learned to respect and value men and to honor their strengths and their differences.  She's learned not to worry like her mother does. She's learned to pray and to set boundaries and to prepare her family's tax returns. She's struggled with taming emotions and has tackled skills for making rational decisions. She's learned to manage customers' orders and create beauty and ship her creations all over the world. She's poured over instructions for perfect madeleines. She's learned to laugh at the silliness of it all. She's learned to how to love.

She's learned that she's only scratched the surface and that her growth and development must never end. She's learned that she must overcome her parents' vast inadequacies.

Ніжний ранковий світлоCC BY-SA 3.0  Balkhovitin - Own work, National park "Sviati Hory" (Holy Mountains),Donetsk OblastUkraine
I cannot raise him, though.

I can only trust that he is growing strong and righteous and prayerful in a warm and solid family embrace. I can only hope that they have taught him to respect her and protect her and provide for her. I can only anticipate that he smiles at toddlers who scream in church and puts one on his knee once in a while.  I can yearn to trust that his father has taught him to be a man and to love a woman.  I can have faith that his mother holds him warmly and tightly-- and that he knows that she believes in him. I can be optimistic that he understands that pornography will train him to respond to streaming images rather a warm, breathing woman who loves him; and that it will place a chasm between him and his beloved.  I can only hope that he has extraordinary strength.

I can only pray.

I'm sure my concerns seem obsessive to some, - premature, unnecessary.  I don't think I'm alone though. I think that for those for whom family is held above all other earth-bound concerns, the awareness that our children will transition into families of their own weighs both joyously and anxiously heavy.

And so we pray.

"Remember (him), O Lord our God, and the parents who have reared (him), for the prayers of parents confirm the foundation of houses."
(~Orthodox Service of Marriage, adapted)

God bless our children this day and always,
Pax Christi dear ones,
~Michelle

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Monday, June 16, 2014

A Bright Spot in a Deteriorating Culture

Family Excursion (4199790470)CC BY 2.0
Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia - Family Excursion Uploaded by russavia
A friend told me this morning that her atheist husband accompanies her and their boys to church each week. I'm sure she had no idea how strongly that would strike me. I actually texted my husband about it.

We have a thing around here about men taking their families to church, whether they buy into it or not. We've always felt that a good man, a good father, takes his family to church. It's his role. Whether he falls asleep for the whole service, or his mind drifts far away, his bottom ought be in a pew as leader of his family -- if that's where his wife feels that she and her children should be.

It doesn't happen often. It's a rather common occurrence for moms to cart their children to church each week, struggles and all, while dad sits in front of the television.  Granted, situations are individual and it's easy to make a blanket statement, but not necessarily appropriate to apply it universally.  Each family must find their own way.  Still, here's to the man who takes his wife and boys to church at the expense of his own comfort. Here's to a leader and protector who merits respect. He's made our day. May their family be held ever in the arms of Almighty God.

The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.  ~G. K. CHESTERTON, The New Jerusalem

Pax Christi dear ones,
~Michelle

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Silence Broken

I sat in a church wreathed in incense this weekend, yet it wasn’t a high holy day.  Their processions run backwards – or ours do.  My textile hungry eye has been trained on the brocade of a phelonion instead of a chasuble these past weeks.  Funny thing is, we spend more of the liturgy sitting, here in this place, than we did in our Anglican church--although the people sitting near me wouldn’t suspect much standing from folks with their toes not far from the Tiber. We live in Christian neighborhoods different, yet inexorably tied to a past unity.  One thousand years of precious unification- did they know, those first millennium Christians, that they lived in a golden age?


We were here, in this same place, some eighteen years ago.  Elyse was about two, I imagine.  She played in the aisle, under the gaze of icons, with a boy child, a bit older than she, as his older sister looked on.  I’m pretty certain I’ve spotted him—towering over his preschool height, although I don’t see an older sister, so the accuracy of my recollection is anyone’s guess.   Much time has passed, yet, here we are.  I knew we would be back, but I hadn’t known my face would be quite so lined by the time that occurred, or that my toddler would be twenty before we passed through these doors to pray through an Orthodox liturgy again.

I reflect upon my husband’s fortitude.  Born into the security of Mormon culture, with clear expectations for how his life would unfold, he surely wouldn’t have expected that a crazy girl with an obsession for historic Christianity would turn his orderly world upside down.  He surely never expected, while an ocean away and knocking on the doors of annoyed English people,  to receive the anointing of Confirmation at the feet of an Anglican bishop one day.  And yet, we married on the seal of an agreement that we would seek after truth like a wolf pack upon prey.  I don’t think he realized incense would be on the air as a predator's nostrils sought their treasure. 
   
Eternity Veil EVM19 in Cream on Black Embroidered Net

About six months ago, my very Anglo-Catholic fingers typed a quick note to someone, to ensure that she was aware that we were not Catholic. She had set up a group that required Catholicism for entry, and had invited me to it.  We have always been aware that Anglo-Catholicism can look an awful lot like Catholicism, and have regularly spoken about the nature of our religious affiliation on the blog, to provide clarification for those who would be concerned about such things.  Still, we occasionally run into a customer or reader who is surprised to discover that we were Anglican.  Usually, it doesn’t impact the relationship negatively.  Certainly, lace is lace, and spiritual reflections are spiritual reflections—regardless of whether the fingers that weave them lean toward Rome or Canterbury, or as in our case at the time, hang somewhere in a balance between the two.  This particular relationship though, took a distinctly different turn once the revelation was clear.  Since then, I have wondered whether sharing of our personal lives is beneficial to readers.  I have also wondered whether I had anything at all to share, if it were not myself. And so, I've been silent – for about six months now. 


As I reflect on those six months, though, I see clearly that they were not a happy ones.  I am nothing if not a writer and a crafter of thoughts and of swaths of lace that fall on the heads and hearts of praying women as they grapple through the dark forests of life, grasping for God.  I would like to be someone stable, with a secure foundation and a straight path, that others could follow.  I am not though.  I am a woman who has been on a long trek full of twist and turns.  

Copyright Elyse Bychek, 2013
And so, I cannot lead.  I can barely keep my closets organized.  But, I can continue to stand beside you on this journey.  I can continue to pray for you by name as my fingers glide over lace that will rest lightly and embrace you, as you seek God in prayer, across continents and languages.  I can continue to share our lives with you as we work out our salvation.  I can continue to walk alongside you in a desperate search for union with God.

It is then, time to write again.  I’ve missed you.  I suppose you’ll be hearing a very different sort of story.  The teacher of Western liturgical tradition that used to visit with you over a cup of tea is now lost, an infant, somewhere near Jerusalem and wondering how to relate to all of the Catholic garden statues lovingly gazing at her through her kitchen window with one eyebrow raised and smirks on their faces.  Some of you will leave, surely; each of us must be true to our journey.  The rest of you ought buckle up, I suppose – it may be a bumpy ride.  Nonetheless, I’m glad you’re here to share in the experience.

Pax Christi dear ones,
Latin or not—I've been sending you my love with those words for too many years to be changing that signature.
~Michelle


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Whom, at Liturgical Time, are we?

~~~


Our Lady of Walsingham, how we have loved you. Pray for us.




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Whom, At Liturgical Time, Are We?

A few weeks shy of two years ago, I wrote a post entitled "Are We at Liturgical Time Catholic?".  That post was one of myriad results of a bit of a scandal in the Christian head covering world that involved some dismissive statements made by  a veil maker about the faith traditions of her sisters in Christ from a different neighborhood of Christianity than her own.  I'm sure that those of you who were there, and know what I'm talking about, do not want to resurrect that painful time any more than I do.

I've not really directly addressed the question since then, thinking it unnecessary.  Regular, and especially long-time, readers of this blog know well my particular Christian affiliation and my stance on ecumenical issues.  After all, the very point of this blog is, and has always been, to serve as a meeting point among adherents of the various expressions of Christianity.  A place where we might learn to understand and respect one another's doctrinal views and devotional practices, while acknowledging the significance of our differences and the essential nature of truth.  I am far from a relativist.  I believe that relativism is the scourge of our era.  Still, I believe that the various expressions of Christianity have much in common-- not the least of which clearly is our deep love for our Lord Jesus Christ and our commitment to following Him.

As I have participated in online life through blog link-ups and the like, I have always shared my non-Catholic status with bloggers who have hosted such events.  I have never, with one lone exception, met with any negative response from others, whether bloggers, writers, shopkeepers, or customers. None-the-less, a revisiting of whom we are seems timely.

~~~~


It's a huge question, isn't it?  Whom are we?  Surely, I ought answer for myself alone, as I am the one at the keyboard.  How does one begin?

I am a sinner.  A horrible one.  Full of pride and intolerance. Prone to laziness and gluttony.  Quite overflowing with ugliness, really.  I tend to be impatient with others and am much better at the keyboard than with the spoken word.  I am a creature wholly dependent upon the mercy and grace of my Lord Jesus Christ.  Why He would to deign offer me salvation, I haven't a clue.  I am, though, oh so grateful that he has.


I am a person who was deeply shaped by her parochial school upbringing, and, while I have stepped on from parts of its Lutheran doctrine, I will be forever grateful for the positive force it was in my young life. I will never forget moments spent in a cool, cavernous, Lutheran chapel drawn in by flames atop candle wicks and pulled deep into prayer and communion with my Lord as rainbows of light streamed from stained glass in that place.  It was there that I first met my Lord.

I am a person who is proud of her Mormon pioneer heritage and, although not accepting of Latter Day Saint doctrine and teachings, I am grateful for the values of self-reliance, self-determination, and hard work that it bestowed.  From these forebearers who followed men they believed to be prophets nearly from one ocean to another, and who lost babies and loved ones in frigid snow at Winter's Quarters, I learned resilient faith and a martyr's spirit.

I am a person who feels a heart tie to a Catholic paternal grandmother and a Catholic great grandmother.  They wrote their stories on my heart.  Memories of statues in cool stone churches, echoes of whispered prayers, and glimpses of aged fingers over clicking beads will never leave me. I learned awe and devotion there.  I am a person who has shared closely related and often identical history, tradition, and practices with Catholic women who have embraced me as sisters.  From Catholic women I have learned acceptance and love.



I am a person who has, for the past 25 years, awakened to the face of a man who bears the image of immigrants who brought religious faith and traditions from east to west as they left Ukraine and made a home in North America.  I learned from these immigrants of blessed memory-- whom I have never met-- that Christianity is universal.  They have taught me that flickering votives, the sign of the cross, Creeds, head covering women, and hungering after God are woven throughout an enormous net of worldwide Christianity and its family customs.  From them I learned how small the Christian world is, in all its myriad splendor.

I am a person who found, with my family, a 15 year temporary home in high church Anglo-Catholicism, where my hunger for beautiful liturgical worship and observance was well fed.  There I learned the concept of (capitol "T") Tradition and learned to love the Church Fathers.



I am a person who is, with my family, embarking upon a journey- that has been about 20 years in the making-- East to Orthodoxy.  It is where I have always suspected we would end up, and now it is time to embark upon the trek.  I am excited to learn what lessons this, our final home, will bestow.

I am a person who believes that women -- so many women -- are blessed by the practice of covering their heads at prayer, in worship, and in the Real Presence of our Lord.. I have, through our shop, had the tremendous privilege of being a party to the experiences of Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox who have found communion with our Lord, under gentle cover of lace, while bowing at the feet of the Savior of the world.  I am a woman who prays for these women as lace runs through her fingers, and as each stitch -- a prayer--binds the hearts of Christian women in their common hunger for the Living Bread and shared thirst for the Water of Life.  I am a woman who loves these women scattered across the United States and in countries all over the world.  Women that I will never meet in person.  Women for whom I have tucked lace into envelopes dispatched with prayer and blessings, to far flung places.  Women with whom I will never share the physical passing of the peace, yet women who live in my heart. They cannot know how they have touched me.  Each woman-- a prayer whispered over lace.



I am a maker of coverings.

I am a woman unworthy of such blessings.

I am a Christian.



+
Pax Christi dear ones,
Your are loved by an almighty and ever merciful God,
(and by the sinners at Liturgical Time, which is not nearly so immeasurably wonderful),
~Michelle

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Palm Sunday: Triumphal Entry of a King -- A Repost from the Archives

We're almost there.

Today, on Palm Sunday of the Passion of our Lord, Christians around the world will jubilantly celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.  Consistent with ancient Near Eastern custom, the people welcomed Jesus by covering the road before him and the donkey he rode, with their garments and rushes.  In John's gospel, we learn that in this case, they used palm fronds, which were a symbol of victory in Jewish tradition.  The donkey represents that he is coming in peace.


He was being greeted as a king,
but, soon, they would turn against him.



Chania - Katholische Kirche - Innenraum
By Wolfgang Sauber (Own work) [GFDL
 (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)  via Wikimedia Commons








That, though, is a subject for later.

Today, we celebrate and shout with the people: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!" ~Ps. 188:25a














Pr. Lucian Mic at the Palm Sunday Procession in Resita- March28 2010 2
By Oana P. [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/
licenses/by-sa/3.0)   via Wikimedia Commons
In many churches, palm fronds are blessed on this day, and then carried by the people in procession.  In colder climates, other types of branches, such as willow, are used.  There is a tradition of making palm crosses with the fronds, which are often kept throughout the year, until the following Lent.  It is from the blessed palm fronds that the ashes, for the following years Ash Wednesday service, are made.

Kreuz mit Palmzweig
By Rabanus Flavus (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Traditions vary somewhat.  In India, flowers are strewn about the church by the worshipers.  In Latvia, Palm Sunday is referred to as "Pussy Willow Sunday" and, you guessed it...pussy willows are blessed and distributed to worshipers.  In the Philippines, full scale reenactments of the triumphal entry, with a statue or priest seated upon donkey in the procession.

Woven palm leaf cross
By BrokenSphere (Own work) [GFDL
 (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)  via Wikimedia Commons

Instructions for making Palm Crosses are here:




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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Pearls and English Net and a Future

I put the finishing touches on a bridal veil today. My thoughts were a scatter of distractions -- until I began to sew the freshwater pearls onto the comb.




Pearls on ivory English netting and memories... 

My mother gave me her string of pearls to wear on my own wedding day some 25 years ago.  And so I began to imagine...

Thread looping pearls and silver needle through cotton net and a future. Two young souls at the precipice of life. Joys to come -- and sorrows, surely,-- and hope. Babies and then grandchildren. -- She probably isn't thinking that now.  She likely isn't thinking so far into the future because the future appears to be so far.

I smile. 

Twenty-five years ago, to a girl of twenty one,  twenty five years had seemed a huge canyon of time. Now, I look back over my shoulder and twenty five years was a second.  A pearl and a knot and a pearl and a knot and netting gathers.  And the angels will look down to witness the first steps of husband and wife. The genesis of generations--and the Heavenly host will rejoice.



May God bless their journey.  May godly generations follow.  May there be comfort when sorrows come.  May they hold fast when waves rock them. May sorrows be short and may faint memories of sad times be overwhelmed by a lifetime avalanche of joys.

Pax Christi,
~Michelle

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Peanuts and Prejudice on the Mountain

Outside my window I hear a cacophony today. The squirrels and Stellar's Jays are fussing at one another. You see, we've created a ruckus -- we've put out peanuts.

Squirrels and Stellar's Jays are fond of peanuts. Bears are too, which is why we are breaking the rules of forest life by placing them on our deck rails.  We are watching though.  Taking periodic glances out the windows -- making certain that the forest creatures attracted by our peanuts are of the winged and bushy tailed varieties only. No traces will be left behind. Let's not let forest dweller scrupulosity rob the little creatures of their treats.  Don't you agree?

By Julietfiss (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Peter Trimming [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Oh yes -- the ruckus:

Peanuts are a delicacy, and both birds and squirrels think they are the only ones who know it. The Jays are belting out their raspy screeches in symphonic sound. The squirrels are returning their characteristic piercing chirps. Each feels ownership, you see.

Generally, the squirrels and Jays tolerate one another, and play at an image of coexistence.  They are both forest dwellers, of course. They both love the trees and feel at home amongst their branches -- so one must maintain some image of forbearance.  It's only proper.  But when the peanuts come out, all bets are off.

I wonder if they see it?  That they are both peanut lovers? That they both feel the majesty of the tall Jeffrey Pines that are their common home? That each is overcome with reverence when she gazes down from a 200 foot evergreen perch? That each is a creation of God?  That God speaks to each as she regards the forest's beauty and silence?




Now, the differences between them are not to be minimized.  A squirrel is a squirrel and a Jay is a Jay. Surely. But I wonder?  What if they capitalized on those differences to dialogue? What if they shared a branch instead of hopping higher or lower to keep distance when the proximity grew too great? What if they discussed the glories of peanuts and pines? Perhaps the Jays would learn something spectacular about the forsight of the squirreling away of said delicacies.  Perhaps they would have a peanut epiphany?  What if the squirrels learned from the Jays that a good tapping of the merchandise on the deck rail reveals those peanuts that are a bit too light to be worth the work expended to carry them to a branch for the devouring?

Perhaps?

They would still be squirrels and jays, of course.  Different. Separate.  Unique in their sameness.  Special. With a characteristic culture and history and methodology -- Yet, precious creations of God with a heightened awareness of his gifts and of the tools to live with greater gratitude in his grace.  Children of God, all.  And so terribly much in love with Him.

Yes?

Helsinki Orthodox Cathedral
By Zairon (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Cathedral of St. Michael and St Gudula, Roman Catholic, Belguim
By Pbrundel (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Saint Pierre de Jeunne, Protestant Parish of Strausbourg
By dierk schaefer (Baptisterium) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

St. James Cathedral, Anglican Church of Canada
By paul (dex) from Toronto (St James Cathedral  Uploaded by Skeezix1000) 

[CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


~~~~~~

Third Sunday after Epiphany, Year A, the epistle:
 1 Corinthians 1:10-18:

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe's people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, "I belong to Paul," or "I belong to Apollos," or "I belong to Cephas," or "I belong to Christ." Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Pax Christi dear ones,
Live in Peace? Shall we?...We've so much to share.
~Michelle