The Battle You Are Already In

[2022-4-4] I was invited to give a talk on Cross Veneration Sunday, and it happened that the preceding Friday was the Feast of the Annunciation. So it was like a parenthesis of the whole Christian story, with the Annunciation of Christ’s Incarnation on one side, and the Crucifixion on the…

Rage and Statues

In June 2015 my husband and I went to Charleston, SC, to visit family. The shooting at Emanuel AME Church had just taken place and everyone was in shock and grieving. We walked around the area and saw the many, many flowers, crosses, and other tributes laid there.

Thomas Sunday

So think about the fact that “Thomas” means “twin” in Hebrew. (And I always wondered, what did they call his brother?) Thomas might have been *very* familiar with the fact that one person can be mistaken for another. A way to make certain is to check for scars.

An Eerie Dream

Frederica Here and Now podcast recording of this dream One aspect of getting older, for me, is that I don’t remember my dreams as well as I used to—there are just little scraps of dreams that fly away when I wake up. But last spring I had a dream that, even while I was having it, I knew it was important to remember it. Even as the dream was ending, I was already counting up the points I needed to recall. In my dream, we all knew we were going to die. Everyone in the world was going to die. A cloud of air bearing very fine, sharp particles was slowly encircling the earth; when people inhaled, it infiltrated the lungs, piercing the cells and destroying them. There was no way to stop the advance of this fog, and its effects were incurable. Wherever this fog had gone, it had killed the entire population. This cloud was gradually encircling the entire world, and eventually it would reach America.

Tearing Their Garments

You know how, in the Bible, sometimes it says people tear their garments? Matthew 26:25, “The high priest tore his garments and said, ‘He has spoken blasphemy!’.” I always thought that the women present must have breathed a quiet “Noooooo” at that moment. Think of how hard it is to weave fabric. Look at the sleeve of whatever you’re wearing, and notice how many horizontal lines it takes to make up even an inch of vertical fabric. In that high priest’s time, a person (probably a woman) would make such a garment at a wooden loom, passing a thread carefully over and under, back and forth, through the lengthwise threads. Making any kind of fabric took forever!

Mother and Child

This is the earliest image of the “Madonna and Child,” the Virgin Mary holding her son. It’s found in the Catacomb of Priscilla in Rome, and dates to the early 200’s. At the time this image would have been so new that people might have wondered what it was, so the artist depicted a prophet standing beside her, pointing to a star. Perhaps this is the seer Balaam, who said “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17-19). As familiar as the mother-and-child image is now, I was thinking how rare it would have been before Christ came. There’s usually no reason to depict a mother and nursing child. It’s not a heroic image, not particularly glorious or amazing; it’s as everyday as a mother kneading bread or hanging out the wash. And yet we put it in our worship

The Example of St. John

 In church I stand up front, on the right, facing the icon of St. John the Forerunner. He is standing on a desert landscape, rainbow wings extending behind him, while a bowl at his feet displays his severed head. One hand is lifted imploringly toward Christ, and from the other a scroll tumbles open:O Word of God,See what they suffer, Those who censure the faults of the ungodly;Unable to bear rebuke,Behold, Herod has cut off my head,O Savior.

An Egyptian Christian’s Tattoo

Dear Frederica, Thank you so much for coming with me to get the Cross tattoo, it was a blessing. Yes, a meaningless tattoo is a terrible idea, especially if it will take you away from the Lord. The tattoos we’ve gotten were Cross tattoos, which are meant to remind us of the Lord every time we look at them. Mine reminds me of the Coptic Church, which I love dearly. Reminds me of Egypt. Reminds me that when I set a foot in Egypt, I will be looked at, known, recognized and distinguished as a follower of Christ, the God.

Who’ll Eat this Ice Cream? Let It Be Me

It’s that time of year again… Cheesefare Week, when Orthodox Christians start to ease into the Lenten Fast, giving up meat but still eating eggs, milk, cheese, etc. Here’s my son David Mathewes’ tender farewell to all that is dairy and glorious, “Let It Be Me.” Now that our time is waningOnly one day remainingWho’ll eat this ice cream?Let it be me.