Monthly Archives: November 2013

Words of Wisdom

Think of your life as if it were a banquet where you would behave graciously. When dishes are passed to you, extend your hand and help yourself to a moderate portion. If a dish should pass you by, enjoy what is already on your plate. Or if the dish hasn’t been passed to you yet, patiently wait your turn.

Carry over this same attitude of polite restraint and gratitude to your children, spouse, career, and finances. There is no need to yearn, envy, and grab. You will get your rightful portion when it is your time.

– Epictetus, The Art of Living

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Turkey Favors!

Orthogals will be taking the remainder of this week off due to Thanksgiving festivities. Blessed feasting to all and Happy Names Days to all the Katherines and Andrews out there!


These little guys bring back great Thanksgiving memories for me – mostly because my siblings and I loved to eat the leftover ingredients not used! Anyway, here are instructions on how to make Turkey Favors to dress up the holiday table:

1. You need “glue.” Chocolate frosting to be precise. I would suggest that this is such a trivial amount that unless you have leftovers from a homemade cake, just buy a can at the store. Place in a zippered bag with about 2 millimeters of the tip snipped off for easy squeezing.

2. You need a base. I chose cinnamon graham crackers. You could do shortbread or anything else square and delightful.

3. You need “legs.” My mom’s original instructions had the Brach’s chocolate stars, but Hershey’s Kisses with the point sawed off work just as well.

4. Glue “legs” to base. Like so:


Again, for better balance later on, saw off the top like so:


5. You need a “body.” Again, mom’s original instructions used the Brach’s Bon Bons, however, I couldn’t find a candy display or time to hunt one down. I chose the cordial cherries. Glue body to legs. For those with particulars, get this on the diagonal for extra presentation pizzazz.


6. Now the finishing touches – face and feathers. For the beak, use candy corn. The “feather tail” can be any sort of cookie with a ruffle that you can break in half.. I found some ginger crisps and was please with the final product:


And the whole gaggle from this evening of fun:


Blessed Thanksgiving, or as my priest reminded us this past weekend – the closest secular holiday to our Orthodox Eucharist. See you in December!

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Linkage: On Gratitude

With Thanksgiving coming up, as beautiful as the holiday is, we know that not every dish served up is a pleasant one.  We thought we’d give you a little more than Bingo and Seraphic’s points game to get you through awkward comments, loneliness, dysfunctional families, meeting your significant other’s family, worries, woes, and whatever else is on your plate next to the turkey.

St. Gregory of Nyssa [OrthodoxPhilokalia]

Science of Happiness: An Experiment in Gratitude [Soul Pancake]

The George Bailey Technique [Art of Manliness]

Trading Fear for Gratitude [APW]

We Asked Syrian Kids: What Makes You Happy? [MercyCorps]

And our favorite, the Akathist of Glory to God For All Things.  [written, audio]


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Words of Wisdom

Really, the best rule to follow here is one that will serve you well in all areas of your life: if you feel you have to cover up what you’re doing, even a little, that’s a sign you shouldn’t be doing it at all.

via Art of Manliness

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Q&A: Matushka Material

Q: I feel like I’m running across a number of young men who want to be priests but would like to be married first. If you don’t have a clear and certain calling to being a Matushka, would it be foolhardy to consider it?  What are some things we need to consider when trying to decide if we want to take on the possible responsibility of being a Matushka by dating (seriously) a seminarian who is open to the priesthood? ~Could-be Khouria

(Note: In answering our reader’s question, I will continue with the use of “Matushka” through this answer. This is not discrimination against those who go by “Khouria”, “Preoteasa”, “Presbytera”, or which ever title your priest’s wife prefers.)

A: Well now, this is a loaded question, Could-be Khouria. None of us Orthogals are Matushkas, so we are pooling our resources to answer your questions.

First, it is worthy to mention that like-minded people tend to meet each other. If you are seeking growth in your faith, you will probably meet others who are seeking the same. For the men, seeking growth might mean they entertain the thought of, or attend, seminary. Thus, it is not foolhardy for a woman, herself interested in a growing faith, to acknowledge that she could be called to marry one of those men.

On that note, I asked a Matushka and a seminarian separate from one another, “What is your advice for dating a seminarian?” Both said the same answer: Don’t! Run away! Run far, FAR away! Their collective point in the ensuing conversation: DO NOT, under any circumstance, seek out a life that is glorified by many, yet a HUGE target for spiritual warfare. If you know that in no way, shape, or form you would EVER want to be a Matushka, don’t date a seminarian and run far away if the guy you’re dating says, “I might consider seminary at some point in life.”

I personally have reservations about a woman with a “clear calling to be a Matushka” for herself. Red flags instantly go up for me on whether or not she sees a “calling” or rather a power trip to fulfill her control-freak nature. Honestly, I don’t know of any woman who has said, “I’m called to be the wife of a(n) _____.” Why do we suddenly let her off the hook for a symptom of crazy if she fills in the blank with “clergy”??

But what if you do end up seriously dating a seminarian? Remember that the best people to dialogue with when things become serious are your Priest and his Matushka. You need to talk about the future in a positive way, but one which acknowledges the struggles to come. Here are a few questions to consider in those conversations:

– How do you feel about staying in the same community for 10, 20, 30+ years?
– Your life is not yours; are you ready for the sacrifice that you and your spouse are each others’ top priority, yet he is given to serve others?
– What does he think your contribution to his and the parish’s life should be? What do you think your role is?
– Is he getting married solely so he doesn’t have to be a celibate priest or is he marrying you?
– How do you deal with others’ expectations of you?

That all said, being the wife of a priest or member of clergy can be rewarding. The Matushkas we asked expressed love for their communities and the privilege of serving. They feel blessed to be the wife of the priest, and they have learned how to brush off the people that expect too much or overly elevate the wife’s status. Having good boundaries, for them, was key. Again, your best resource is your Matushka. Open eyes and conversation will be your best friends in the decision process.

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Linkage: Dating and singlehood edition

Dorothy Cummings McLean (aka Auntie Seraphic) on singles in parish life [Catholic Register]

How Do Singles Express Love? [The Crescat]

11 Differences Between Dating a Man vs. Dating a Boy [Just My Type]

11 Differences Between Dating a Woman vs. Dating a Girl [Just My Type]

Aziz Ansari on being single:

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Symbolic! And darling.


Anny fractured her ankle a week before the wedding so she was in a cast. The priest told her to stay seated and that Ben should walk around the table by himself, but Ben had a different idea. He carried her three times.

via Jacksons’ Orthodox Mission to Guatemala

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A few weekends ago, I grabbed some friends and went to a monastery. In addition to being places of prayer, work, and solemn joy, Orthodox monasteries are places where, as I joked on the trip, introverts can be introverted together. It would have seemed out of place to bring an ipad to the common room of the guest house, so in the evenings we sat and talked, knit, and read. It was very nice.

Brigid and I having a little *too* much fun.

Brigid and I having a little *too* much fun.

Nuns have given up the worldly life for a life of prayer and community. They receive a new name at their tonsuring because they are dead to the world. One nun explained that if she were to leave the monastery, with her rank it would be like divorcing Jesus, and she would be excommunicated from the Church.

While I have no desire to be a nun, I do think that their detachment from the things of the world is something to emulate, especially if one is single. We laity are called to “be in the world but not be part of it”, but we are still influenced by the morals of the culture we live in. Unfortunately, this sometimes means as single women dealing with anxiety over whether we are “attractive enough”, and dealing with men who have no idea how to relate to women as human beings.

I mention those two specific things because of Seraphic’s post here. It was jarring to read after a weekend at the monastery. I encourage you to read her post before continuing this one.

Seraphic says, “I wanted a man, I have a man, and now I can ignore what all men on earth, save one, think about attractiveness. I am fortunate. But I worry a lot about Single women who lurch from one relationship to the next in the quest to find the man who will free them from the intolerable burden of wanting a man. Looking at break-ups and unrequited crushes from a married point of view, I now realize how awful it is to hear a weeping woman say, “But where will I find another [guy who gets me, clever intellectual, romantic poet, serious Catholic]?” I want to shake them and yell, “STOP LOOKING! JUST LIVE YOUR LIFE!” But that’s easy for me to say; marriage has killed that restless longing.”

I deeply understand that restless longing to get married, and the answer to it is detachment. Being open to getting married, but not predicating being happy with getting married.

It is very freeing to quit making decisions based on the probability of meeting eligible people, whether that’s moving for work or deciding whether to go to a party or going on dates with people you don’t really like. So far I have not met my spouse at, let’s see, church, work, classes, parties, bars, online, the theater, and many other places, but my enjoyment of these things has increased by letting go of the hope that I will meet Imaginary Husband there. Instead I can focus on the work or fun or people that are actually in front of me.

While I’d be lying if I said that I am never grumbly about being single, overall I’m content. As a younger person, I had a script in my head about how my life was supposed to turn out. Letting go of that, seeing the appeal of other ways of life was key. Admittedly, I am sure I would be less happy with my life if I didn’t have stable employment, a strong church community, family and good friends.

Men and women who desperately seek the other sex’s approval are searching for something that cannot be gained by romantic love. To begin detaching from the anxiety of getting married, one need not join a monastery. The place to start is to pray for detachment, the ability to hand your anxieties to God and to gain His peace.

Further reading:
Interior Freedom
Seraphic on Detachment vs. Despair

Categories: Articles, Singlehood | 2 Comments

Linkage: Jumble edition

A selection of interesting reads.

From the “aww” files: Woman Who Donated Her Kidney Ends Up Marrying the Guy Who Got It. [The Stir]

The Orthogent on Social Anxiety [Orthogents]

Fun infographic on the varieties of romantic relationships [Information is Beautiful]

I like articles that defend Millennials. This is a good one. [Aeon Magazine]

Pope Francis: Women are called to service, not servitude. [Vatican Radio]

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Danny and Annie

StoryCorps provides this week’s ordinary, yet extraordinary, view of relationships and love. It is not shown in grand gestures or extravagance; the sweetest stories are in the daily giving of one’s self for another.

Tear-jerker alert!

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