IC XC NIKA
The Lord give you His peace.
Just as a disclaimer, you might want to grab a pillow, since you might fall asleep from reading this.
6th of December, 1985 I popped out of my mother in Norfolk Va.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I was born to a fellow by the name of Russell and a lasie by the name of Ann.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Soon after, I was baptized into my family's Methodist church.
Being a military brat (my father was in the navy for 20 years, retired a commander; both grandfathers were in the military as well, one in WW2 and the other in Vietnam) I saw much of the country of the United States, moving from one side to the other.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š
Eventually, at the age of 6 we moved back to our house in Norfolk Va.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I tell you no lie, djrak, but if the Good Lord allowed me to live any time of my life over again, it would be from my age 6 to 8.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I mean, life was so innocent being a kid.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Waking up, playing with my Ninja Turtles and GI Joe action figures, or playing the sega genesis (with such classic games such as Mortal Kombat, Boogerman, NBA Jam, and Sonic), or canoeing in a creek and trying to catch baby turtles.
Anyways, some neighbors moved into our house next door (our house was 1304 Sage Ct.) who happened to be of Aftrican decent.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š The father of this family turned out to be a Baptist pastor, and he had a son by the name of Jeremiah.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š We became close friends.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š He being the son of a pastor, first "introduced" me to religion.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I mean, my family and I went to church almost every Sunday; but I just saw church as this borning place, where I had to were a hot stupid suit and tuck my shirt in.
At the age of 10, my father was relocated to Jacksonville Fl., so we back our bags and kissed good-bye to Va.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Down "south" I got involved in skateboarding; so God was the last thing on my mind.
Age 12, my father was relocated to a place called Clifton Va. 15 minutes outside of Washington D.C.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š So, once more, we moved back north (which didn't bother me; I'm a fan of cooler weather personally).ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I was so excited, since D.C. is a city, and well cities are awesome places to skateboard (as well as getting your skateboard confiscated).ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š We were still going to church almost every Sunday, but I really didn't give, in the words of Frank McCourt, a fiddler's fart about it.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š
7th grade, I took a class called IFL (Intro to Foreign Language).ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Personally, I love languages and I love history (and at the time, espically European).ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š We finally came to the French part of the class (boo hisss, I know I know) and we watched a film on St. Michel's in France http://www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk/majorsites/aa/st_michaels.html
I found the life of the Benedictine monks extremly fascinating.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š The chants, the incense, etc.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š So after school, I rushed home and flipped on the tele.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I knew there were 2 Christian stations of the tele, so I decided to check them out.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š One station was called "TBN" and it is a Pentecostal station, well... Protestant for the most part.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š The other was EWTN, the Catholic station.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I watched both these channels religiously, and started reading the bible.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I'm sad to admit, but each morning at 9 a.m. I made sure not to miss John Hagee and his fire and brimestone, pro American and Israeli anti-anything-not-american-or-israeli television show.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š However, there was also a show by a priest by the name of Fr. Andrew Apostili CFR on a man by the name of Fr. Pio (aka. St. Padre Pio for Catholics now).ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š http://www.franciscanfriars.com/BTC/BTC%20Andrew.htm
Anyways, 8th grade, a buddy of mine and I went on a bike ride (mountain biking to be exact).ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š It was a hot and humid summer day, and we were in desperate need of water.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š We eventually passed by a Catholic church by the name of St. Andrew's, hoping to receive some water to relieve the heat.http://www.st-andrew.org/
This site is old, but I can't find a newer one.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Anyways, the man in the top right is Fr. Fasano (not the pope lol) who is actually a well respected and well known Catholic priest; he eventually became my spiritual director.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I eventually made it back there by myself, and had enough guts to ask a priest some questions (since, I being a Protestant, I thought he would call the cops or something lol).ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š We talked for a bit, and eventually he gave me a few books: The Catechism, a book called Jesus our Eucharistic Love (writen by a Franciscan by the name of Fr. Stefano Manelli) as well as a few other little pamplets.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I devoured these books.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I started watching EWTN more and more, and grew a deep love for Francis of Assisi, as well as the already mentioned Padre Pio.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š
I told my parents, when I was age 14, that I wanted to become Catholic.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š They were disappointed to say the least, but they allowed me to beome Catholic.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š The Easter Vigil, 2000 I was Chrismed after taking my ROTC (I think that is what they were called) classes.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š As I grew in Catholicism, reading much of the lives of the saints, praying the rosary many times a day, etc. I decided that I might be "called" to the religious life.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š As you could guess, I wanted something Franciscan.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I eventually came up with three Franciscan Orders I was considering:http://www.marymediatrix.com/rel_life/friars.shtmlwww.franciscanfriars.com
and a thrid group, the one I had my eyes on the most, a group called the Franciscan Friars of the Primitive Observance (who broke off from the friars at www.franciscanfriars.com
I also, as I was going deeper and deeper into Catholicism, spending at least an hour a day at church (in Eucharistic Adoration) wanted a deeper prayer life.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š And where does a Catholic turn to to have a deeper prayer life?ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š The Carmelites of course.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I read the complete works of John of the Cross, as well as Teresa of Avilia; also the autobiography of Therese of Liseuxe.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š However, as I delved deeper and deeper I became more and more disgusted with the papacy; or I should say, the Roman interpretation of the papacy.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I also had it with the Western rite, and was strongly considering a Eastern Rite church (particually the Maronites, after PJP2's trip to Ukraine).ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š So, after finishing my works on the Carmelites, I started to go onto the internet and study the works of the Early Fathers; both from the Catholic and Orthodox POV.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š
Eventually, I had enough with Catholicism, after the North American bishops didn't allow (or, it was out of the norm) to receive Eucharist kneeling.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š So, I "packed my bags" and started attending St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Church, around the holiday of St. Patricks, 2003www.stmarkdc.org
I quickly became friends with Abouna Anthony Messeh.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š He helped guide me through the basic teachings and the understanding of the Fathers and Scripture of Orthodoxy.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I was hooked.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š On the 6th of December 2003, (which was a snowy Saturday, which happened to be the same day the Army Navy football game was on; however, I don't know if I should call it a game since Navy slaughtered Army) I was Baptized (as I like to put it, "fully") and Chrismed into the Orthodox Church.
However, 2004, the Summer of that year, I fell into Zen Buddhism.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I blame this fall on many things, which I wish not to state hear.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š However, through the grace of our good Lord Jesus, he led me to a wonderful "true theolgian" by the name of Grigorii Wassen.ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Now, this Grigorii, unlike most knowledgable laity who know a thing or two about Orthodoxy, taught it with love and compassion (unlike many jerks I've come across on the internet).ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Grigorii, in my opinion, is a living saint; but, I should keep my opinion to myself.
anyways, sorry for the long post.