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Friday, April 9, 2010

Altar and Aquatic Adventures

Today, it was just Teddy and me for the Liturgy. This meant that I took him in the altar as I was helping Fr. James with the service (on weekday Liturgies one of us serves and the other helps in the altar). I was surprised. Granted, Teddy has grown up in church, but he is only eighteen months old and he occasionally will get a bit restless or talkative. Not so much today.

As we were getting ready for the service I took him around, told him about the candles and the censer, lit the charcoal in front of him and explained that it was "hot, hot." Then we put incense in and I had him smell as the smoke began to rise. We went to get cut-up bread to be blessed and, as I was putting that in a bowl, Teddy went and looked at some of the flowers that decorate the church in this Paschal season. I went to get him just as he was getting to the chanters and smiling at them.

The Liturgy started and I realized that I had forgotten to check on the water in the kettle. We went and checked that, then returned to the altar, where I sang softly along with the chanters to keep Teddy interested. As the small entrance came, we added a little more incense to the censer. Then, I turned on one of the electric candles and, with it in one hand and Teddy in the other, went out to accompany the Gospel book. We came back in, handed the censer to Fr. James, then took it back when he was done censing. Teddy took this in quite attentively.

I continued to point out what Fr. James was doing and shortly it was time for the Gospel reading. I had Teddy help me turn on the candle and we went out together to stand by the side as the gospel for the day was read. I turned the candle off (again with Teddy's help) and then it was time to prepare the censer again, so I put Teddy down again, took a couple of pellets of incense and put them on the charcoal. A parishioner came in to help with the great entrance and, as Teddy was beginning to get a little vocal, we went to look at a couple of icons, crosses, and flowers.

Very shortly thereafter, we came back in and, with me pointing out what was going on, we got through to the consecration. We prepared the censer again and went to get the water ready. I asked Teddy to help me turn the kettle on, which he did. As the water was getting warm, I pointed out the steam to Teddy and reminded him: "hot." I asked him to wait for me in the vestry, where the kettle was, while I took the hot water container to Fr. James. He did and I was quickly back with the empty container. As it was getting close to communion, we went back in the altar, took the cut bread out, and waited until Fr. James had received communion. Then we went up together and he received as he usually does - quietly and attentively.

At that point I gave him a couple of pieces of bread (which he very much appreciated) and the service was soon over. There were a couple of requests for "down" after which he climbed to sit or stand on a bench on the side of the altar and a couple of attempts to say 'hi' to Fr. James, but in an hour that is all there was. I cannot complain about that and I enjoyed spending that time with Teddy in the altar. Yes, I know he's a little young for an altar boy, but he was less distracting than some of them :)

In other news, today he decided that he will dive into the pool. Caught me by surprise. He'd only recently started lunging in from a seated position. I guess he needed extra excitement, because after the first dive, from the side of the pool, he did it again, from the first step as you walk into the pool. He was also quite amusing as he imitated a lady who would put her head under water for a few seconds, then come up for air. He was standing on my knees and holding on to my hands when he started putting his head under water, then coming up for air every five seconds or so. Finally, his complaints at being put on his back and dragged along (while, occasionally, being left to float for short periods of time) were minimal.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. God bless and thank God for this little boy.


Athanasia said...

Christos Anesti!
Father bless.
It is sooooo cool to read about how you are teaching your son about the sacredness of the altar and Liturgy. What a blessing on both sides of the proverbial coin.
I am sharing your joy. Thank you.

Elizabeth said...

That is really sweet. I have to admit: I have never heard of anyone taking a baby into the altar except during churching. Can I ask you a question? And I hope you don't take offense. I'm wondering what you would do if you were caring for your child, just as you were caring for Teddy, and Teddy happened to be a girl, rather than a boy. I just have never heard of this, and of course think we need to be able to take care of our children, and you needed to be able to do this in order to provide for the needs on two sides. What do you think?

Virgil Petrisor said...

Elizabeth: I take no offense. However, I will take a cop-out by saying that it's not something I've thought of and there are enough problems to solve in the real world that I don't feel I have the energy to deal with hypothetical ones. If we have a girl in the future and such a situation will arise, I will cross that bridge then. I may even post a blog entry about it :) I apologize for the cop-out and wish you a blessed weekend.
+Fr. Peter

Elizabeth said...

I understand that it is hypothetical for you. Yet it is not a hypothetical question, at least in the broader sense. I will ask you to keep it in your mind, think on it, mull it over, because it is a very important question for some. I have blog post of my own swirling in my head about this and the lecture on Womanpriests in the Catholic church that I attended the same evening as I originally read your post. And my own experiences of having to go the long way 'round as a chanter, from sacristy to chanter's stand, where the male chanters just cut through the altar.

Virgil Petrisor said...

The last thing I'm going to say on this subject for now is that the altar is not a place to go traipsing about. If you don't have a reason for being in there it seems to me you should not be in there, which would lead me to say that the male chanters should take the round about way as well.

Pres. Kathy said...

Christos Anesti! I can't believe how quickly your little guy is growing!