The Spiritual Journey Embodied: Prostrations

The Orthodox culture shock had been manageable so far. A decade ago my husband and I finally put down our introductory books on Eastern Christianity and approached the living, parish reality of Orthodoxy during something called the Triodion period before Great Lent. Because we had prepared ourselves, the kissing of icons didn’t shock us. The chanted hymns weren’t exactly hummable, but a few random melodies stuck in my mind (“Through the prayers…

Great Lent: Out with the New, In with the Old

A longtime parishioner, dreading the rigors of Great Lent, approached his priest with a question. “Father, is there anything special I can do to deepen my spiritual life this season?”

“Yes,” the priest replied. “Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.”

“Every year it’s the same thing,” the man complained. “Isn’t there something different I can do?”

The Lenten Journey Begins: Forgiveness Sunday

Our two younger children sat alone, stone-faced, in a forest of pews while the other parishioners gathered at the front of the church. We were lining up for the final portion of Forgiveness Vespers, the evening service on Cheesefare Sunday (as in, “Farewell to dairy products!”) that ushers the Orthodox faithful into the season of Great Lent.   With a little bit of parental bribery (dinner at Red Robin), the kids, who…