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[The Creation of the Chicken]

An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
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Monday, April 02, 2007

More farm stuff and piety

Well, with Lazarus Saturday, Palm Sunday, and now Holy Week upon us (2+ services a day), I'm not sure that much farm/ranch work is going to get done this week. Though with weather permitting I will still try and squeeze some work out in between services/choir practice/etc.

Sue has been busily digging and applying Emu Compost with the help of many of the kids...it was a little joy on Friday to come home and see Kelsey and Charissa, covered in dirt, pulling up sod to make room for the growing garden, and giving it to the chickens - who gladly devoured it. Sue has also located a local farm from which we will be getting an adult Nubian and (hopefully) her soon to be born Doe. The Farm also offers homeschooling classes on raising farm animals, which the girls will attend.

Part of what makes this little adventure of ours exciting is seeing the whole family behind it with at least a little sweat and enthusiasm. Nothing makes a Pa more proud than to see his sons standing in Emu Compost in the bed of the old farm truck shoveling it into a wheelbarrow for mom.

Saturday found us helping my sister move to their newly acquired acreage, which was nice. In an attempt to still make services and be there as early as possible to help (they live on the east side of the pond) we decided - spur of the moment - to go to our old Parish. It was really nice to see old friends...but it was rather clear to us that it was truly no longer home...not sure I can describe why it felt this way, but it did: we were visitors who required no greeting. During Communion, our little Joe stood dutifully at the chalice waiting for the deacon to present it to him to kiss. Seeing that it was apparently not going to happen and being of short enough stature he took matters into his own hands, lifted the cloth and leaned in the kiss it himself. HA HA! Good for him! Ah, but James....what if he caused a spill!!!!! Blah...if we worry about that as opposed to stifling a child's simple and beautiful act of veneration then I'd say we are to be pitied. Of course I am reminded of the disciples trying to keep noisy and bothersome children away from our Lord. And He in turn directs us to such children as an example.

I've been thinking a lot about external piety lately and how dangerous of a trap that can be. In one case (e.g. ME) it can make us feel like we are doing JUST FINE, and in another case it can be a means of judging others (e.g. "He's not doing it right" or "She's not dressed properly." etc) It can indeed drown the heart of the matter...and even if Joe had spilled the Chalice I would NEVER NEVER have told him it was wrong for him to do that. Quite the contrary.

Let the chalice spill and the child be praised. I know from experience how BAD it can be for a child to feel like they did something terribly wrong at the chalice...do not go there. Outside of a deliberate attempt to spill it, a child can do no wrong there.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 7:21 AM [+]



I got to your 'blog via This is Life!, and I've been reading your 'blog for a few weeks, enjoying it immensely. I get the sense that you and I hold very different beliefs, whether politically, socially, or theologically, but you're absolutely right.

What your son did was un impeachable, and you're right to say that nobody should have told him to do otherwise, even if he had spilled the chalice.

When my son was much, much younger, about a year old, I held him as the chalice was being given to me. His grandfather had taught him during a recent visit that clinking glasses over dinner was a nice thing to do.

Well, as the chalice neared, I had this feeling that the Little Guy was going to clink his sippy cup with the chalice. And he did. Somehow, he knew this was a special occasion, and he clinked glasses with the Lord.

It's amazing how little kids can be so reverent —sometimes in unusual ways— but always in a way that clearly shows that they recognize that holy things are, well, holy

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:07 AM  


Be careful James - We don't want to be celebrating the Eucharist with pizza and koolaid because it's what the little nippers understand. There is a place for reverence & restraint, even among the preschool set. Spilling the chalice isn't it.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:14 PM  


Yes, sf, I do agree with you. James needs to be careful as to how this appears , a little too nonchalant on the post...BUT...I do believe that Joseph was VERY reverent as he carefully lifted the cloth and GENTLY kissed the Chalice. It's something he does EVERY Sunday. He didn't dive at it or carelessly peck it. It didn't even move...Dn. didn't even know what happened.

By Blogger Susan Sophia, at 12:37 PM  


He knew what was right and correct, and that he should kiss the chalice, so he did. I think that's wonderful. I love that kind of straightforward faith. good for him.

By Blogger Victoria, at 2:13 PM  


I knew very well that someone would take my point to the extreme...

I patently DISAGREE that I am being nonchalant, quite the opposite actually...it is BECAUSE Communion is so important that I make this point....it is far more important than our rules and regulations. Thus, I will say it again...let the chalice spill rather than scold a child for trying to sit in Jesus' lap.

When rules and regulations stifle simple faith, or make simple and pure faith ashamed, hurt, or confused, then the rules ought to sit down.

I'm not talking about letting the kids do cartwheels up to the chalice, there is a time for training...BUT, if Joe had caused the chalice to spill and someone scolded him, I would have rebuked the scolder in no uncertain terms.

To have a child run crying from the chalice because they have been told they have done something wrong is not in my simple mind something I think our Lord would wish to be a part of.

By Blogger fdj, at 3:42 PM  


At least you acknowledge there are limits - I too would be horrified if the kid was harshed for his part in a chalice spill. On the other hand, as a parent, If I'd not instructed my kids on the proper reverence, then bad on me. I'm falling down on the job and I need to get my act together. (bad on me if I harsh the kid too).

Your characterization of Chalice etiquitte as "our rules and regulations" is bogus however. The guidelines are there as a manifestation of our corporate response to the very presense of the living God. The role of the priest is to guard that presense with his life. To suggest that the guidelines are merely juridical is to do a disservice to the Holy Spirit working in the Church. It is the command of our Lord to do this in rememberance of Him - this rememberance is special stuff, pay attention. If you screw up, ok do better next time, but pay attention, be attentive, this is God we're talking about here.

Apropos that sentiment we try to coach B & P to be alert at St. E's knowing that the steps of the dance are different. Note: I'm not in any way faulting you or Joe -


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:11 PM  


I think that's a cute story, but I also believe very much the rubric of St. Ambrose to St. Augustine, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do.", has definite applications too. Meaning, one should attempt as best as possible to observe the liturgical piety of others when visiting and not become a pious distraction insisting that your own particular forms be upheld.

I know this wasn't what your sweet boy was attempting, but I witness a sort of pious insistence from those of longer tooth from time to time and find it a little disappointing.

Forgive the tangent, and a possible short-sightedness on my part, just wanted to get your thoughts.

By Blogger Munkee, at 4:14 PM  


Munkee I agree. That is why when we are at St. Paul's we TRY to remember to prop our mouth open like a little bird vs. closing our mouth on the spoon. Each visit we've instructed our children (those old enough) to remember to do this as well.
BUT ...I have seen Fr. James lift the chalice for some visitors to venerate. And Fr. Thomas always lifted the chalice for a few select members he knew preferred this (He himself was an advocate of it.)

By Blogger Susan Sophia, at 10:01 PM  


At least you acknowledge there are limits...

LOL...you expected or thought otherwise?

to suggest that the guidelines are merely juridical is to do a disservice...

But you see, I do not suggest this at all...what I do suggest is that some things trump the guidelines...some things are of greater importance. So much so, that I take liberty in downplaying those guidelines for the sake of showing the extent of that trump. I firmly believe this. I have a hard time imagining a child ever running from Jesus crying because they did something "wrong", should the chalice be different?

Yes, yes, instruct the kids...without question. But let us say the child were to spontaneously decide to embrace the chalice. Of course this is a risky sort of veneration and one we would all rightly discourage, but how we REACT to this at the moment of its happening is CRITICAL. Shock, horror, sharp rebukes...in the presence of Christ? May it never be so.

With our guidelines - our rules and regulations - and those things we deem to be "proper", we may sin in them.

"When in Rome, do as the Romans do."

Yeppers...unless of course they do it wrong or improperly. [grin]

By Blogger fdj, at 7:29 AM  


I think we're in vhement agreement here but what you SAID was "Let the Chalice spill and the child be PRAISED" (emphasis mine) I don't buy that. No one yelled at P the last time he caused an "event". I was talked to, as was the Dn. holding the chalice - but neither did anyone praise P for what he'd done.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:18 AM  


I do not know what P's "event" was so forgive me for assuming it to be anything other than an innocent reverence, but I do believe that we may be talking about 2 different "events". There is a difference between a child who is acting up or outrightly not wanting to do something they ought to and a child who accidently(innocently) does something or is being reverent in a different way.
If Joe had ran into the chalice, hit it in way other then out of reverence then we would have had a talk with him, gently explaining to him what he should not be doing.

If Joseph accidently spilled the chalice as he venerated it, there is no doubt he would have been rebuked. And I would have had to pick up the pieces for months after that. No doubt!

YES...they need to be trained, we all agree.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:57 AM  


Context, Steve.

P was not attempting an act of veneration was he? If not that removes it somewhat from the context of my point. However, even in the context of normal everyday childhood clumsiness and calamity, we ought to take care not to make the kid feel bad...heck as a patently rotten father I need to learn not to yell at the kids for normal kid mistakes...how much more with regard to something so important as the cup of Christ.

Either way, I stand by my statement...in context...it does not necessary imply that a discussion about protocol and restraint is in order after the fact.

Two things are critical here: 1- the child does not have a spirit-crushing experience at the chalice and 2- that the child does not feel his/her intentions are wrong.
If these two take the back seat to protocol...then yes, better the chalice spill and the child be praised.

Later one may say to the child, "In the future you probably ought to refrain from trying to hug the chalice...just in case it might spill."

I really think the example our Lord makes of children for us adults is quite fitting here. Rules, Regs, protocols, etc take a back seat to causing a little one to stumble.

Where'd I leave that millstone?

By Blogger fdj, at 8:57 AM  


If Joseph accidently spilled the chalice as he venerated it, there is no doubt he would have been rebuked. And I would have had to pick up the pieces for months after that. No doubt!

Well, I'm not sure he would have been rebuked...but he might have and he might not have. But I wonder if we shouldn't train our chalice and napkin holders to respond with a certain amount of decorum to minimize the trauma?

I've seen instances where blame has been instantly asserted and I don't think this is healthy for kids.

However, my MAIN point is in regards to the our overall spirit and how rules and regs and protocol can be dangerous when we yield to them for their supreme importance.

The beauty of simple childlike love is far far far more important than the horrors are of communion elements ending up on the carpet - for which we have a protocol to deal with. There is no easy protocol to deal with the wrecking of the former...perhaps we should strive to note this and practice accordingly when the situation arises.

I should also note, this lesson is for me...not just those serving.

By Blogger fdj, at 9:08 AM  


I'm not for traumatizing a kid for causing a spill, especially when it's just an obvious Miscarriage of Reverence. Innocent mistake, and all that. However, there is another practical side to all this, too: Whatever the chalice spills on has to be burned or dealt with in ways very specifically provided for in rubrics. (As one who has administered the Eucharist thousands of times as an Anglican priest, I can tell you that the more realistic your sacramental theology is, the more problematic things like this can become, and it's not always reducible to mere legalism or superstition.) So if I were the administering clergyman, I would have applauded the kid's obvious love and desire for the Lord, and simply offered a very gentle caution for future reference. Why? Because it IS the Body and Blood of Christ. 'Nuff said, I'd think.

By Blogger Patrick, at 12:51 PM  


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