Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Death of the Old, the Birth of the New

Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the Holy Lord Jesus – the only sinless One. We venerate Thy cross, O Christ, and we praise and glorify Thy holy Resurrection; for Thou art our God, and we know no other than Thee; we call on Thy name.

Come all you faithful; let us venerate Christ’s holy Resurrection. For behold, through the Cross joy has come to all the world. Let us ever blessing the Lord, praising His Resurrection, for by enduring the Cross for us He has destroyed death by death.

Jesus has risen from the tomb, as He foretold, granting us eternal life and great mercy.

There has been so much to be awed at, so much to say – but I have been absolutely drained. The last week has had me in a constant state of preparation – to be received into the Holy Orthodox Church by the sacrament of holy baptism, to receive the Body and Blood of Christ for the first time and of course, for the great and holy feast of our Lord’s Resurrection.

At 7:20 a.m. on 22nd April 2006, I stepped out of my home as an Orthodox catechumen – one not fully in communion with the Church. Ten hours later, on the same day, I returned as an Orthodox Christian.

I thank those who attended and witnessed this important event of my life – and my most profound gratitude to those who kept me in their prayers in the days leading up to baptism. I also want to thank again those who have given me gifts to mark that day.

I awoke for good at 7 a.m. (I awoke a few times during the night – I was not able to sleep) upon receiving an SMS text message on my mobile phone. It was Royston – congratulating me on this momentous occasion. I managed to obtain my mother’s blessing before I left (none of my family members would be present). Though, admittedly, she was in a state of being half-asleep at that time. My father, on the other hand, willingly gave his and asked that I show more love toward my family after baptism.

I arrived at church late – but only because I had to wait for a friend (I could never be late on a day like this). Unfortunately, Carmen my godmother was not able to be present that day but fortunately for me, Maria was willing to stand in for her. I was incredibly tense before the baptism – there was a little voice inside of me telling me I was not and never will be worthy for holy baptism. I prayed to our Lord and Lady, as well as to my patron saints for mercy, peace and the courage to face my inner demons.

Reciting the Nicene Creed with Maria

Anointed with the Blessed Oil before baptism

"Water destroys a form of life but produces another; it immerses the old man and makes the new man to emerge."
Nicolas Cabasilas

Incorporated into Christ through baptism, I now receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and become a member of the people of God

At 11 pm at the same day, I arrived at church for the celebration of the most holy feast of the Resurrection – I was positively tingling with anticipation (Pascha makes every other celebration of any sort look bland by comparison). Not to mention the fact that this was the only time of the year I meet certain friends (yes, the once-or-twice-a-year Orthodox).

The Paschal Vigil
I was called to serve at the altar that day. For me, this was a dream come true – I had always wanted to don the sticharion and serve at the altar. Being directly in front of the altar filled me with awe to the point that it was almost frightening. This was the holy place – the place no woman may enter, the place no layman without a valid reason may enter and most importantly, the place where bread and wine becomes the Body and Blood of our Lord.

However, as I learnt after that experience – I was more useful being part of the congregation rather than serving in the altar. As a server, I was to remain silent (though I wasn’t for a good part of the Liturgy, shouting responses to the Paschal greetings as well as singing quietly along to the hymns). As part of the congregation, I could guide visitors as well as Orthodox-who-don’t-come-regularly through the Liturgy. Times like these really make you want to re-examine your purpose, or rather, what you thought your purpose in life was.

There were many quirky happenings during the Liturgy that I definitely had to blog about:

The Paschal Hymn was sung in the most number of languages this year - English, Greek, Slavonic, Arabic, Latin (yes, even Latin) and Romanian. I'm especially happy that the Slavonic was sung in the Znamenny melody (instead of the usual Obikhod, which I find difficult to sing along to) this year! =)

Proclaiming the Resurrection to the World

As the Third Antiphon (around 12:30 a.m.) was sung, the first line went: “Let God arise! Let His enemies be scattered…” – the vast majority of Greeks were leaving. There is something mildly amusing about them leaving when that particular line is being sung…

Latin visitors (left to right): Ernest, Norman, John and Anthony

Anthony, one of our Latin visitors, was a riot with the filioque. He accidentally blurted “and the Son” – force of habit though (it was his first visit to an Orthodox church after all); no malice intended. It received a raised eyebrow from those who noticed - nobody went ballistic, thankfully (hehehe). The other Latins had no problem reciting the creed of AD 381.

The Paschal Greeting - it looks as if I'm kissing Olesya in this picture

During the Paschal greeting, as members of the congregation went up to greet Father (along with other members after that) as well as to receive the triple kiss, many of them kissed my right hand as though I were priest. I let one or two go, but after that, I was either pulling my hand away (mock screaming “Nooo!”) or hugging the parishioner before he/she could take my hand.

Alright, end of amusing events during Pascha.

A close friend was not able to attend Pascha. She was, however, an ever-present sight during Great Lent and especially so during Holy Week – which begs the question: which was better – to be present throughout Great Lent and Holy Week and miss Pascha, or to miss everything and be present at Pascha (as it is with most people)?

I choose the former.

I will remember her in my prayers.

Some pictures taken after the Paschal service:

Edward, visibly tired after 3+ hours of chanting

Norman and I, looking very dapper!

Elizaveta with her mother

Edward, Mary and I

Pascha this year was marred by a few unfortunate occurrences that took place after the service. However, I wouldn’t be so unkind to do myself and others the disfavour of reminding myself and others about them. As the Paschal atmosphere slowly dies down (it’s been 4 days already and I’m still not over the joy of Pascha as well as baptism), I try to recall a time when Easter was not Pascha.

You know what I mean.

Christ is Risen, truly He is Risen.

Friday, April 21, 2006


You have delivered us from the curse of the law with Your Precious Blood; nailed to the Cross and pierced with the lance, You poured forth immortality to all. Glory to You, our Saviour.

On This Day

On this very day, O Lord, You graciously granted Paradise to the Good Thief. By the wood of the Cross, enlighten me and save me!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Comments Made In The Year 1957

I'll tell you one thing, if things keep going the way they are,
it's going to be impossible to buy a week's groceries for $20.

Have you seen the new cars coming out next year?
It won't be long before $2000 will only buy a used one.

If cigarettes keep going up in price, I'm going to quit.
A quarter a pack is ridiculous.

Did you hear the post office is thinking about charging a dime
just to mail a letter?

If they raise the minimum wage to $1, nobody will be able to
hire outside help at the store.

When I first started driving, who would have thought gas would
someday cost 29 cents a gallon.
Guess we'd be better off leaving the car in the garage.

Kids today are impossible. Those duck tail hair cuts make it
impossible to stay groomed.

I'm afraid to send my kids to the movies any more. Ever since
they let Clark Gable get by with saying, "damn" in "Gone With The
Wind," it seems every new movie has either hell or damn in it.

I read the other day where some scientist thinks it's possible to
put a man on the moon by the end of the century. They even have
some fellows they call astronauts preparing for it down in Texas.

Did you see where some baseball player just signed a contract
for $75,000 a year just to play ball? It wouldn't surprise me
if someday they'll be making more than the president.

I never thought I'd see the day all our kitchen appliances would
be electric. They are even making electric typewriters now.

It's too bad things are so tough nowadays. I see where a few
married women are having to work to make ends meet.

It won't be long before young couples are going to have to hire
someone to watch their kids so they can both work.

Marriage doesn't mean a thing any more; those Hollywood stars
seem to be getting divorced at the drop of a hat.

I'm just afraid the Volkswagen car is going to open the door to
a whole lot of foreign business.

Thank goodness I won't live to see the day when the Government
takes half our income in taxes. I sometimes wonder if we are
electing the best people to Parliament.

The drive-in restaurant is convenient in nice weather,
but I seriously doubt they will ever catch on.

There is no sense going to Lincoln or Omaha anymore for a
weekend. It costs nearly $15 a night to stay in a hotel.

No one can afford to be sick any more; $35 a day in the hospital
is too rich for my blood.

If they think I'll pay 50 cents for a hair cut, forget it.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Catechumen No More

Gently whisking you with my twig,
So that you may have good health in the coming year.
Please then, take this twig and give me a token sum in return.

Happy Palm Sunday to all!

...behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass...
Zachariah 9:9

It is the custom in Slav countries to use pussy willow branches instead of palm fronds because palm fronds were not easily available in the north - hence, according to the Slavic custom, I received pussy willow branches today. They had lots of lovely white-coloured buds before the Liturgy, but for some reason, they all fell out after that (must be a commentary of some sort).

Anyway - it has been confirmed. I will be baptised this Saturday (22nd April), at 9 o'clock in the morning. I'm still settling other (minor) issues, like who will be representing Carmen, my sponsor (who has migrated to Romania), on that day. All who are able to come are invited to do so =)

Baptism will be held at 9 in the morning at Holy Resurrection Church (#301 River Valley Road, opposite the AA building).

Note: For convenience's sake, I will not be changing this blog's address. I will, however, change the name of the blog to something that reflects my new status.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

After a Couple of Beers...*hic*

Alright folks, I've just returned home after having a couple of beers - I'm not *exactly* capable of coherent thought right now. I'll just be jotting down whatever comes to mind...

For some reason, I'm unduly troubled by my supposed inability to get a date. No, not the sort one sees on calendars; I was referring to romantic engagements - an activity the vast majority of my peers are involved in (which, for some rationale, I have been deprived).

Don't ask me why this preoccupies my mind - I haven't got a bloody clue myself either. It just doesn't seem fair that the most undeserving (at least in my opinion) of males seem to be going out with just about every girl in town, whereas I am ostracised by every single female of marriageable age.

So I've got people telling me I ought to change certain aspects of myself before any girl would be willing to commit an entire evening to me.

Cut your hair, I've been told - but get this, prior to my 17th year, my hair was short and neat - but that didn't attract girls by the busload, mind you.

I am reminded that many girls have found my interests and habits either abnormal, peculiar, repulsive or all of the aforementioned. Going by the sort of guys they're going out with - I suppose being Satanist, a heavy metal rocker, a smoker, a drinker, and a stunning inability to commit to a single relationship would be very attractive qualities to find in a man. What is so abnormal about a passionate love for books, "dead" languages and the Holy Orthodox Church? Something terribly nauseating/abhorrent/detestable about dilettantes, pedants and devout men? If there is, TELL ME NOW.

I'm at the point that I'm going to resign myself to either of these options - 1) acquire a mail order bride or 2) banish myself to some remote monastery. My father is telling me almost on a monthly basis to use a condom if ever I am unable to control my passions - but what is the point of telling me that when I've never even held a girl's hand (2 year old Mara doesn't count)? Even if I never had that much of an interest about entering into a relationship, the immense pressure from the thrice-cursed media and society is greatly influencing me to think otherwise.

I am forcing myself almost daily to recognise celibacy as a far more superior state than marriage could ever dream to be - this in order to maintain my sanity. I confess that I do have a great desire to be married and have children; but looking at things the way they are now, it would seem that dream (being in line with most other dreams I've had) isn't meant to be fulfilled.

You tell me that I am still young, that I am only 18 with many years ahead of me. Please don't expect me to tell myself that until I'm 28. I've seen real people who have - it isn't pretty. And with almost everyone around you involved in a romantic relationship at least once, you really feel that good ol' biological clock ticking away.

When I was 12, a fella told me everyone would have experienced a romantic relationship by age 14. So I waited - my 14th year came and went - nothing happened. So I went back and asked him, he did say 14 might be a little too early for some, but by 16, *everyone* would have had experienced a romantic relationship. My 16th year came and went with nothing of that sort happening. Now that age has been revised to 18 - who wants to wager that it'll end up as 14 and 16?

The nocturnal fantasies that visit me every night is causing me great distress. I feel that they are in every way, sinful and are an abomination unto the Lord. Yet I know, deep down, I desire them, for they satisfy, to some extent, my carnal desires. I admit that on more than one occasion, I have been tempted to solicit the services of a prostitute - financial strains has stopped me from doing so, however. I shudder to think what could have happened if ever I had plenty of cash to spend.

O Blessed Lord, who hast set up for us an example of ideal purity, strengthen me, I beseech thee, when temprations besets me, and when strong passions seek to overwhelm me, that I may remain constant in virtue and innocent in thought, word and deed, doing such things only as are well-pleasing unto thee; grant me growth in wisdom and understanding, that I may serve thee in holiness all the days of my life: through the intercessions of thine all-immaculate Mother and of all thy saints, especially my patron saints Constantine and Anastasia. Amen.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Some Survey

The //

Last Cigarette: Don’t smoke them!

Last Alcoholic Drink: 15th March, before Great Lent

Last Car Ride: This evening

Last Kiss: Forgiveness Sunday

Last Good Cry: Ages ago

Last Library Book: Been years since I was at a library

Last book bought: Do notebooks count?

Last Book Read: Ghost Stories of Old China (finished it in 15 minutes)

Last Movie Seen in Theatres: V for Vendetta

Last Movie Rented: Il Decameron

Last Cuss Word Uttered: Damn (trying to kick the habit)

Last Beverage Drank: Tap water

Last Food Consumed: French fries

Last Crush: I’m not saying… but she has green eyes =)

Last Phone Call: Shortly before midnight

Last TV Show Watched: Desperate Housewives

Last Time Showered: This afternoon

Last Shoes Worn: Sunday, to church

Last CD Played: Peter Neumann, Mozart Masses

Last Item Bought: French fries

Last Download: Alsou’s Always on My Mind music video

Last Annoyance: My mother

Last Disappointment: Myself

Last Soda Drank: Coca Cola

Last Thing Written: My Easter card-making schedule

Last Key Used: Eh?

Last Words Spoken: “No, I’m washing my fan now. Bye.”

Last Sleep: Last night

Last Ice Cream Eaten: Vanilla, I think

Last Chair Sat In: Office chair – the type with wheels

Last Webpage Visited:

Monday, April 10, 2006

My Past Life Diagnosis

Your past life diagnosis:
I don't know how you feel about it, but you were male in your last earthly incarnation. You were born somewhere in the territory of modern Ukraine around the year 1775.

Your profession was that of a leader, major or captain.

Your brief psychological profile in your past life:
Timid, constrained, quiet person. You had creative talents, which waited until this life to be liberated. Sometimes your environment considered you strange.

The lesson that your last past life brought to your present incarnation:
It always seemed to you that your perceptions of the world are somewhat different. Your lesson is to trust your intuition as your best guide in your present life.

Do you remember now?

Probably died fighting the French invaders...

Singapore, My Homeland

Browsing through blogs at this unholy hour, I found this:

I've been surfing Friendster and I'm constantly amazed by the number of people who, under the "favourite books" section, proudly announce "Books? Yuck!" or "Who needs them? I don't read!". Who'd have thought anyone would consider illiteracy a badge of distinction? Ah yes, but then I live in Singapore, an island with less culture than a pot of yoghurt, and where the vast majority of citizens are dumb illiterate cattle without the capacity to think and reason, without common sense, without manners or any graces at all.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

April 1st

A fool in April is likely one year round.