Sunday, March 5, 2017

St. Mina and the Third Week of Great Lent

Hello my dear friends.  We are beginning our third week into Great Lent (or second week) and it is such a blessed time for me.  It's Sunday night here and I wasn't planning on writing a post but I ran across an Orthodox group tonight when I was reading knitting patterns on Ravelry.  It is called OrthoCrafters.  There was a discussion on the forum about conversion and the diet or I should say fast.  It got me thinking about this and my mind traveled back 40 years ago when I had the opportunity to visit a monastery.

 It was back in 1976 and it way my first trip to Egypt and the first time I had ever visited a Coptic monastery.  I grew up in a Protestant home and I love and cherish my Protestant background.  It was summer and we had traveled to the desert outside of Alexandria to visit St. Mina's Monastery.  This is where Saint (Pope) Kryllos is buried.  St. Mina was an Egyptian soldier in the Roman army and was martyred for his Christian faith.  Looking back, I knew nothing about the teachings of Orthodoxy at that time. 

It must have been during a fast as I remember that the monks served us fool (fave beans) and bread.  It was a most delicious meal and we were not in want of anything.  I recall the monk saying something about how our churches are different.  It's been too many years to even remember but I do know that I shared that yes, I believe in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and baptism and communion.  As a Lutheran, we were taught that communion, the body and blood of our Lord, by way of the bread and wine is a mystery.  Whereas, in the Orthodox church, it is truly the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. It might sound odd, but this difference in thinking does not bother me.

I've gotten off track of what I truly wanted to share. . . Back to the Ravelry forum and the convert's statement about fasting.  The way I understand the fast is that it is something we should want to do.  Yes, I'd love to have a slice of cake or maybe that glass of wine during the week.  But, I need to overcome my desires and focus on the big picture.  I cannot do this fast by myself.  My church family is with me as we go along on our journey together.  I'm not out there all by myself.  That's the beauty of Orthodoxy.  We are seeking our way together. 

At church services this weekend, one of my dear friends who is from Egypt, spoke about how the monks back in her home country may balk at how we fast.  We have so many vegan options today as many people follow this lifestyle every day.  So when we're eating that bagel with non dairy cream cheese, are we really fasting?  I don't have an answer for that.  To me, it's the small things that  hopefully I can try to overcome and with time and prayer and fasting, learn to overcome all things with our Lord's help.

If you have found this blog post today and we are a new convert, please don't be overwhelmed.  Be like a sponge and take everything in.  Although I took the inquirer's class before I became Orthodox, it was like scratching the surface.  I continued my studies at home reading everything I could.  My dear friend Irene who is cradle Orthodox said it is a rich (not in the money sense) faith.  There is so much for the soul to absorb and learn.  And, that's why this lenten season, I feel truly blessed to have found a parish and participate in Great Lent and anticipate the glorious Feast of the Resurrection.

Thank you for visiting my blog today.  I know there are a few glitches with this blog site that I still need to get worked out.  And, if you wish, please feel free to leave comments.

Asking for your prayers,