Thursday, March 25, 2010

"How does it become a man to behave towards this American government to-day? I answer that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it."
~Henry David Thoreau

Mine is not a political blog, others follow the mood-swings of Washington far better than I, but I do want to write a bit on the recent historic decision to force health care onto the American people. "Forcing health care" itself doesn't sound so very bad. Health care is very good when someone is sick, and the "issue of health care" has been harrassing the nation for a long while. But forcing health care on the citizens of the state is like forcing vegetables on an adult - you may have the best intentions, but you are making an ass out of yourself and insulting you guest, who is quite capable of seeing to his own diet. The state goes beyond this insult, by not only insisting on health-care, but also insisting that the people pay for the health-care they don't want.

I'm not incredible informed politically, but I know enough to see that Washington is taking all my decisions out of my own hands, and I resent the intrusion. Washington insists I have health-care, whether I choose to or not. It will decide how best to keep me healthy and it will pay for it with money taken from me. Is there no where I can hide from the greedy arm of the state?

Our nation has lost it's regard for the individual. Looking at man it sees only a crowd of ingnorance with no individual dignity. The state treats man as a greedy child to be cared for, directed, and punished; and man allows himself to be degraded until he can't remember how to stand on his own two feet.

"I please myself with imagining a State at last which can afford to be just to all men, and to treat the individual with respect as a neighbor; which even would not think it inconsistent with its own repose, if a few were to live aloof from it, not meddling with it, nor embraced by it, who fulfilled all the duties of neighbors and fellow-men. A State which bore this kind of fruit, and suffered it to drop off as fast as it ripened, would prepare the way for a still more perfect and glorious State, which also I have imagined, but not yet anywhere seen."
~Henry David Thoraeu

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"Ready for godliness, O namesake of preparedness, thou didst inherit as a dwelling a faith worthy of thy name. O prize-winning Paraskeva, thou dost pour forth healing and art interceding for our souls."

~Troparion of St. Paraskeva, tone 1

Friday belongs to Paraskeva, whose name refers to that day - the day of Christ's death. She is a Lenten saint, one who reminds us to hold to the fast in preperation for the coming of the Lord.

In old Eastern Catholic tradition, she was the saint of women, and the home. It was said she blessed those who kept her day by fasting or by abstaining from common "women's work" such as spinning, sewing, and weaving. Those who did not honor her day were punish by the neglected "Mother Friday" with damaged eyes or swollen fingers, which kept them from working until they repented.

While I am not too concerned that she will come to afflict my recently perfected eyes, I do keep her day with fasting. I'm attracted to St. Paraskeva, the common women's saint, who aids in daily life and keeps us focused on the coming Christ. She is the saint who gives generously in little things, like my own busia, who would scrub the stove while visiting, or make a huge pot of soups just to have avaliable. She is decidedly female saint as well - Blessed Mary is the Mother of all, but Paraskeva belongs especially to the women, it is on them she lavishes her attention.

Tomorrow her day falls on the Feast of St. Joseph, whom I love, and I will have to balance the fasting and the feasting. There is an evening liturgy though, which we will attend, and until the end of the Liturgy, I will keep Paraskeva's fast; afterwards, we will celebrate St. Joseph, who I'm sure won't mind a late supper in his honor.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"The Lenten spring has come. The flower of repentance begins to open."
~the Tridion

The Lenten spring certainly has come - at least for the week! It is warm and windy this morning, the air feels like late April and the heavy clouds promise spring rain. Tomorrow, we have been warned, may give us a foot of snow, but today is springtime.

I have been reading through the Byzantine prayerbook and enjoying the Church's obvious enjoyment of the Lenten season. We are constantly reminded that Lent is a time of "joyful sadness" and "bright mourning." Throughout Lent we "fast with joy" with the knowledge that Easter is on it's way, Christ will rise again to save us from our sins. It has been an encouragement to me in these middle weeks of Lent, when the novelty of the fast has passed and only the difficulty remains. It also helps me decide on how to observe celebrations within the season.

Yesterday, my husband and I celebrated his brithday, which took some creativity on our part to keep within the fast, without loosing the "party" spirit. We managed well, I think. I bought purple tulips to decorate the tables and altars, fresh fruit and champagne (fortunately his birthday fell on a day which allowed wine), gifts, cards, and - after careful search of menus - out to dinner. We have our anniversary to celebrate this Lent as well, which will be difficult to plan: it falls on a Monday, a day we can have neither oil nor wine; but we are looking forward to the challenge.