Ok, I don't know how to approach this really, but there is a great deal going on, and I would like to humbly ask for prayers, and instead of making multiple threads, I'll put it all here, so apologies if this makes for a long post.
1--Glory to God for answering our-long awaited prayer for an associate pastor! He and his wife have been here all the way from New Zealand (he was born and raised in Australia, and she in Seattle and both in their late-20s) since September, so they are still very much settling in. He is also what I call a 'newly-minted priest' having been ordained in December of last year, so he is very new to his position as well as his ministry. Aside from helping our pastor, he is also assisting two gentlemen in our parish who are working towards possibly being readers, as well as in charge of our youth. So needless to say, these are quite a lot of important responsibilities that he's been entrusted with. If you would be willing to pray for both him and his wife that God blesses them and helps his servant grow in the ministry in which He has given him, as well as to help him gain the confidence he needs to be what the Lord wishes him to be and day-by-day. Their names are Fr. Daniil and Anastasia (oh yes one other thing, they are also hoping and praying to have a large family).
2--A long-time and much-loved parishioner of ours fell asleep earlier this month. Her husband reposed over the summer. They were both well into their 80s to my understanding. We had her 9-day pannyhida this past Monday (the 15th). Please pray that God has mercy on her and forgives her sins, and reunites her with all of her loved ones and her husband. Also please pray for their family, as they have lost both of their parents (grandparents, etc.)--it's been a rough year for them given all this--pray that our Lord surrounds them with His love and warmth, peace and comfort. Their names are Dr. John & Maritsa (Mary) Johnstone.
3--My catechumenate is beginning to wind down, and my priest told me that my baptism will be January 1, 2011 (what a way to start off a new year eh?). I thank God, the Theotokos, and the saints (especially the Archangel Michael (my patron) and John the Russian) for ensuring that I have gotten this far, as well as putting those amazing people in my life that are too many to name to help me along the way. However, please permit me to explain:
I have had a lot of RL stuff going on (and some still are): 1)my divorce closer to being done, 2) medication issues and hence increasing mania (ie. increased and quicker to anger, increased anxiety and paranoia, etc.), 3) fiancial and fluctuating hours at work and keeping bills paid, and 4) fufilling my responsibilities that I have been entrusted with at church.
Now Father said that the closer I get to my baptism, the stronger Satan will push and try to force me back and away, and he isn't kidding--lately it's nothing short of insane:
1--I have been having a heck of a hard time focusing on prayer (which I do every night as well as my psalm) and lately, even as much as being able to find -words- in which to pray, almost as if I am forgetting how (now -that- scares me). A recent thing when I started feeling some of these things I'm describing, I wanted to ask for prayers, but was afraid to b/c I didn't want to come across as selfish in my wording or even asking. I -did- bring this up to Father, and he told me that the Lord commanded us to pray for one another. That, thank God, brought me out of it and I did ask and as a result, my sponsors have talked to me and been helping me a lot.
2--Certain thoughts (I'll term them as 'intimate') have increased a lot as well (which is also a symptom of mania is increased sexual thoughts), and it has made me want and long for things that I shouldn't but still want to for some reason. Fortunately, I haven't acted out on any of it by God's grace, although I've come close to doing so several times.
3--Am having trouble remembering that I am not alone (ie. the great cloud of witnesses and my church family etc.), and these were things that earlier in the year I had no problems with.
4--I also have been having terrible feelings of guilt towards my two special saints (St. Michael and St. John), feeling as if I've ignored them or done something they've been trying to get across to me and might have forgotten. I do ask for their forgiveness every night and this is something that brings me great sorrow, but I've been trying to fix this (I do believe that the saints forgive if you -really- mean it, which I do believe me). I love them so much and I know they know this but I still feel bad.
5--I feel like I'm doing nothing but falling. Most of my prayers at night consist of asking for help and strength. Heck even at church (most especially today), I've actually, physically cried b/c this is so intense and I feel like I'm desperately trying to hang on tight (I think this is also a reason why I have a hard time when I pray and not being able to find words).
Despite all of this, I will say that one thing that has -not- dissipated and has remained constant is my longing and desire for Holy Communion (I've cried right before everyone goes up). I thank God every single night for giving me this beautiful longing for the Body and Blood of His Son, as well as everything that's come with it. I also have prayed with a strong and sincere desire that everytime I receive it, it'll be like the very 1st time. I also thank Him for all the wonderful love and support I've receieved from everyone at church (most especially my priest and sponsors).
So *breathes*, if you would be willing to please pray for me--in a way I'm very excited and also very scared and sometimes closed in. I guess you could call this as my 'cry for help'.
Thank you all very much for listening to me ramble (yet AGAIN) and for being long-winded and any and all prayers I will cherish and appreciate always.