Update: Chrismation, Communion

Orthodox paraphernalia from the night of my chrismation

Another period of silence on this blog. I’ve been posting in fits and starts, ignoring the first rule of blogging, which is that it should be treated as a broadcast, continuous content, &c. Oh well. The big news is that I was chrismated, tonsured, and received into the Orthodox Church earlier this month. Wednesday, October 7, to be precise. I received my first communion the following Sunday—my first communion in many, many years, and my first ever taste of a true Eucharist, except for the time I received communion as a boy in a old fashioned Lutheran church (my first taste of wine) and the time that I snuck into a communion line at a Catholic Church in Iowa City.

The chrismation service was beautiful. I was anointed with oil on my forehead, my mouth, my ears, my hands (both sides), my neck, my shoulders, my feet, all over. My priest and spiritual father presided while his wife and another priest served as the cantors. I received the Orthodox name Seraphim, after Seraphim of Sarov, about whom I will write more in another post. From my wife and my priest I received two icons of Seraphim, in addition to the one I had already purchased. My wife gave me a lovely carved icon of the life of Seraphim made on Mt. Athos from beeswax, mastic, and incense, as well as a book of Seraphim’s sayings published in the United States in the 1970s that amusingly identifies Seraphim as an “Eastern Christian yogi” (ah, the ’70s).

An unreformed collector (some might say hoarder), I have amassed a sizable icon collection already (see photo below). A few of the icons are not what stricter Orthodox Christians would identify as “canonical,” but these are displayed in a private home and not a church, and they are all based on actual Orthodox icons that appear in Orthodox churches, so I continue to venerate them with a clear conscience. The icon of the Theotokos (Mary) is based on a Russian icon that is based on an Italian statue; the icon is said to have “the grace of giving…wisdom, intelligence and good knowledge and helps in educating children, in healing…feebleness and disorder of mind” (source).

Today I woke up to a meteorological insult: despite the date (October 20), it is snowing heavily in eastern South Dakota. This is the view from my window this morning as I said my morning prayers:

Hopefully I will have more to say soon on this blog. I’ve been reading Alain Badiou’s Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism, a fantastic work of theory that I haven’t read since graduate school, one which has new resonance given my newfound Orthodox faith. I’ve also been reading Manning Marable’s biography of Malcolm X and Frank Dikötter’s history of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, neither of which pertain directly to Christianity but either one of which I may write about soon.

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