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.

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.

“On the Crucifixion” by St Romanos the Melodist

In the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete (written about 725 AD) there’s a break after the 6th canticle, and then there’s something labeled “Kontakion.” It’s memorable to anyone who’s attended the Great Canon (Orthodox sing it during Lent), because this verse breaks in and seems so different, like it comes from a different source. “O my soul, O my soul, arise; why are you sleeping? The end is drawing near and you will be confounded. Awake and watch that Christ God may spare you, Who is everywhere present and fills all things.”

“Icon” by Georgia Briggs – Conversation with the Author

Frederica: Hi, Georgia! Let me introduce my granddaughter Hannah Parker, who is a senior in high school. She’s a consistent honor roll student, with a longtime interest in fiction, particularly YA [young adult] fiction, and she’s a real book collector. She must have all the YA fiction of the last few years in hardback. Hannah knows a little about publishing through me, and would like to be a book editor as an adult, editing in particular the YA fiction she loves. We hope to learn from you a bit about the process of writing, the decisions an author has to make when shaping a work of fiction, and if possible something about how an editor can help or hurt the process. Georgia: Hello, Frederica and Hannah! It’s nice to meet another fan of YA fiction! I have lost touch with the genre in the past couple of years (I don’t like to read anything similar to what I’m currently writing because my voice starts sounding like someone else’s), but now that I have more time for reading, I’m going back to that section of my library to look for books.

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.

How to Revive a “Dead” Church

Here’s something I hear from time to time: “I’d like to join the Orthodox Church, but I visited a local church and it just felt dead.” When I hear this it’s about Orthodox churches, but that needn’t be the case. It could be any church or denomination; it might sound good on paper, but the local church on Sunday morning feels empty and drained. It’s tempting to say, “That shouldn’t make any difference. Focus on your own prayer life.” But, actually, I know what these people mean. Sometimes, when you visit a church, something just feels “off.” It makes you really eager to get out of there.