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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
               Thursday, September 26 2002 

Memory eternal

We had a tragic death in our small parish last week. Thirteen-year-old altar boy Thomas was taken to the allergy clinic for a routine shot Tuesday evening. But when it was administered he went into what was described as cardiac shock. He was rushed to the emergency room and worked on, but nothing availing...he was gone. Though our parish is only about 100 people, they are a cross-section of a metropolitan population of over two million, so I know only a dozen or so of the members on a first-name basis, fewer by both first and last names, and know almost no names for the large subpopulation of parish children, so I wasn't sure which altar boy Thomas was until the viewing and Trisagion Prayer (see today's Inspiration) service on Thursday evening.

That service, in a borrowed Greek church because ours isn't big enough, was full of mourners, and understandably more mourning in the highly visible and audible sense was going on than any other event I've been to since, perhaps, the death of my 19-year-old brother Gary and two of his close friends in an auto accident 45 years ago. As I was 15 when Gary was killed and knowing how profoundly it has affected the rest of my life, my attention kept returning to Thomas' slightly older brother and the many friends of about the same age in the congregation. None of them will ever forget.

It was moving to see the brother serving the altar two days after the funeral and it was comforting that the whole family were in the service; "church" was being depended on to do the most vital ministry it performs in human life: sustaining faith in God and eternal life in unspeakably difficult circumstances. They had not chosen to grieve alone, nor did they feel they had to hide their vulnerability, and by their presence they were ministering to the rest of us.

It was obvious after Sunday's service that the whole congregation was deeply affected. We usually spend a half hour to an hour after the benediction having coffee and a snack in the fellowship hall while catching up on our acquaintances' lives, patronizing the parish bookstore, and possibly greeting visitors. But this Sunday, the "fellowship hour" was informally extended and people who are never seen conversing with certain others were ardently engaged. Others went from the church to dinner with others they've never before broken bread with.

Like Protestants, we Orthodox don't pray for the salvation of those who have passed, knowing no purgatory, but we do pray for their "safe conduct," as it were, from this world to the next (the prayer is usually no more than "Lord have mercy on [name]"). This week I realized I wasn't praying as much for Thomas as I'd intended to. Then while reading in the life of one of the Russian elders, it struck me that, under these circumstances, probably I should be more concerned for asking Thomas to pray for me.

("Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God," —Matthew 5:8.)

Thomas, please pray for me, a sinner.

May his memory be eternal.

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Blondes

Two blondes are walking down the street. One notices a compact on the sidewalk and leans down to pick it up. She opens it, looks in the mirror, and says, "Hmm, this person looks familiar." The second blonde says, "Here, let me see!" So the first blonde hands her the compact. The second one looks in the mirror and says, "You dummy, it's me!"

—Sent by Mike Harrison

Thought for today

The Trisagion (thrice holy) Prayer

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy immortal, have mercy on us,
Holy God,
Holy Mighty, Holy immortal, have mercy on us,
Holy God,
Holy Mighty, Holy immortal, have mercy on us,
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages, amen.
Most Holy Trinity,
have mercy on us, O Lord, cleanse us from our sins. O Master, pardon our transgressions. O Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities for your name's sake. Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages, amen.

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