Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
Winter is upon half of the world, and it’s a great time to visit the other half. Australia anyone?
Are you planning a vacation? Maybe your job takes you out of town frequently. One of my favorite things is to visit other parishes when I’m traveling. It hasn’t gone over very well at times. Imagine….you’ve just traveled across the country to see your father on Father’s Day, and your family says “We’re postponing brunch so that you can do what?” Here’s the way I look at it. God gave me a father, He gave me the time and the money to go see him, He gave me my health and a safe journey…why would I not worship Him on the Lord’s Day? Without Him, I have nothing. At least that’s the way I look at it. Plus, I truly enjoy visiting parishes.
I thought it might be helpful to share what I do before I embark on a trip. This is especially helpful if you have to travel during Lent and want to make the weekday services.
First: Go to the websites for the different jurisdictions. These are the three that I go to first, just because they tend to be more plentiful:
Greek Archdiocese Parish Search
Antiochian Archdiocese Parish Search
Second: I visit their websites and get a feel. Is this a parish that I will feel comfortable in? That I will look forward to visiting? What time do their services start?
Third: After deciding on the parish, I send an email to the priest, letting him know that I will be attending. I also include the name of my home parish and who my spiritual father is. This is especially important if you want to partake in the Eucharist. Many priests have been faced with a person that they have never seen before, standing before them, expecting to be served. It puts them in an uncomfortable position.
Keep in mind the “manners” that your spiritual father has taught you. I know…I caught you off guard by even bringing it up, but it’s true!
Just as parents teach their children to behave properly in certain circumstances, so that when they go out to the world they don’t act like wild Indians, (I’m Choctaw and Sioux…so I’m not concerned about PC here) your spiritual father teaches you in the same way. Let’s say you are visiting another parish and you are young, healthy and vibrant, yet… you’re sitting during the Lord’s Prayer or the Great Entrance. You’re crossing your legs, chewing gum, and chatting with people during the liturgy. The priest knows that you are the spiritual son or daughter of Fr. So-and-So. Of course he thinks…so this is how Fr. So-So guides his flock?
Basically, just like a parent. So this is how so-and-so is raising their children? Like wild Indians? Hmm.
And last, be prepared (and don’t let this scare you away) you may be asked to stand up and introduce yourself at the end. “I’m xxxx, I’m from xxxx parish in xxxx, and I’m happy to be here” is all you need to say. Even though I tend to be an introvert, I personally like this, because it sets a warm and welcoming tone to the parish.
I’ve met so many wonderful priests and people, seen beautiful iconography, heard different versions of our beloved music, and experienced many parish personalities out there. It truly is a blessing. I encourage you to visit our Orthodox family around the world as you travel also!