Extreme Prep: The Long Triodion Warm-up for Lent

[An earlier version of this post was first published in February of 2020, and I’m reusing the content for the Walking an Ancient Path podcast as well as here. Because preparation for Lent. — LH] Every act of physical hardship requires preparation. Nobody of right mind sets out to run the New York Marathon without serious endurance training. Even for a shorter race, to qualify for one of the early waves in…

Stumbling Stones on the Orthodox Road: Canned Prayers

My religious background might be described as “motley Christian.” I grew up in a United Methodist Church that was quite evangelistic and also included a cross-section of charismatic members. When I was in high school, some of my classmates were Episcopal, and occasionally I would hear references to their Book of Common Prayer. I thought that was odd. Why would anyone need a book to pray? Don’t they know how to talk…

Stumbling Stones on the Orthodox Road: Four Sunday Morning Struggles

[An earlier version of this post was first published on January 23, 2019. But I think the message fits this series about “stumbling stones,” because our inner attitudes and expectations about worship definitely affect our ability to enter fully into Orthodox Faith and practice. — LH] Sunday morning in an Orthodox parish can be a confusing experience of culture shock for newcomers. Even those who have done a bit of homework in…

Stumbling Stones on the Orthodox Road: Learning to Love Liturgical Worship

Sometimes the major obstacle to becoming Orthodox isn’t theological at all—it’s the worship service itself.    My husband Rob and I both grew up in a United Methodist Church with stained glass, pews, hymns, a pipe organ, and a choir singing anthems. We had to go forward to receive communion at an altar rail at the front of the church, and the pastors wore academic-style gowns. So we were familiar with a…

New Podcast Begins with a Series on “Stumbling Stones on the Orthodox Road”

For the past two years on this blog, we’ve been exploring the experiential side of living and learning Orthodox Christianity. This focus on Orthopraxy, the day-to-day practice of Orthodox life and worship, will continue here biweekly. And next Wednesday, January 13th, my companion podcast will debut, also called Walking an Ancient Path. (What I lack in imagination, I make up for in consistency.)   With our busy lives, many of us like to…

The Solitude of Silent Nights

I have a confession to make. Not the sacramental kind, but the admission of an unpopular opinion, a minority stance.   I’m enjoying the quiet of this year’s Nativity season. I don’t miss the cancelled office parties, community events, and noisy “holiday” celebrations that crowded the days of Christmases past. I’m even relieved by the lack of extra events at my parish. (Shhh—don’t tell anyone.) Instead of frenetic activity, many of us…

Giving Thanks for the Waiting

As I begin preparing the Thanksgiving meal a few dishes at a time—making cranberry sauce and pie dough on Monday; assembling pies, baking cornbread for stuffing, and brining the turkey on Tuesday—the importance of giving thanks in all things is at the forefront of my mind.  I’m thinking about thankfulness because my supply is running low.   This holiday season the sadness of dashed expectations is present daily, humming in the background.…

Clearing the Cobwebs

  Readers of this blog have noticed the irregular schedule of my postings over the summer. My bi-weekly blog began featuring new material every three weeks, and it’s now been about a month since my previous post. To be honest, I’ve been facing a time crunch. Blogging requires the mental and spiritual space to think, pray, write, revise, and revise again. We’re all volunteers over here on the Ancient Faith platform, and…

The Peace of the Virgin Mary in an Era of Anxiety

Even an hour before service time, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted drive to church on Tuesday evening. The Paraklesis service, in its Small and Great forms, is a supplicatory canon to the blessed Virgin Mary that is chanted almost daily during the first two weeks of August. The services are beautiful, but they’re seriously inconvenient.   Around here, the Paraklesis takes place at 6:00 or 6:30, smack in the middle of…

Faith and Fear, Parish and Practice during the Pandemic

Last week I posed a question to some fellow parishioners as well as Ancient Faith folks: “What are you finding most difficult spiritually during this pandemic season as it drags on and on?” I meant struggles in faith and practice, not the annoyance of standing in a socially distanced queue outside of Home Depot on a hot day. Interestingly, nobody talked about wrestling with prayer or doubt. Instead, people are struggling with…