Posted by: Shawn Ragan | September 18, 2008

Our First Vespers

If you have been following this blog, then you know I have already written about my first Vespers experience in the Holy Orthodox Church.  The absolute “otherness” of the experience, the depth, the beauty, the mystery, the reality of that experience.  Since then, I have come to see that all I have been looking for in Christianity over the years I have found since coming into contact with the historic Apostolic Church.

So, what do I mean by “Our First Vespers?”  I have gone back and forth in this blog, talking about things in the present as well as experiences in the past.  I still have many past experiences I hope to share in this blog, but that is not what this is.  Today, I write about the present.

Those who have been following along know about our journey, from a Protestant pastor to an Orthodox inquirer.  But my journey is incomplete without the journey of my family.  My children embraced Orthodoxy almost immediately.  They knew this Faith almost intuitively, and they have been ready to enter the Church for quite some time.  My wife, on the other hand, has made this move very slowly.  Some bad experiences in the church I pastored left her ready to not only leave church in general, but even the Christian Faith.

The love and humility of our pastor and his wife, Fr. Mark and Mat. Michelle, has been a tremendous source of healing for her.  Even more than that, the Faith of the Church itself – the divine services, the sacramental way of life, the communal nature of the Church, all of the things that make up the Orthodox Christian Faith – really, the Christian Faith – have touched her and brought her from a place where she never wanted to step foot in a church, especially an Orthodox Church, to a place I would view as neutrality.  This is where she has been since our first Pascha a few months ago.  While not so much in her eyes, this change was enormous in mine.  It could be seen even in our visit with Fr. Patrick a month or so ago, where her attitude was totally different then what it was a couple years ago when he came to visit.

After leaving my pastorate, my wife wanted some time away from church.  Some time to gather her thoughts, and some time to breathe.  We went as a family to a couple services right after I left, but other than that she has taken her time.  A week ago we were visiting about church, and she indicated she was ready to start going back to Church.  We decided, with the blessing of our pastor, to start, as I had, with Great Vespers.  We planned to start next week.  She asked me, though, last Saturday, if I wanted to go to Vespers that night.

So we did, we went to our first Vespers service as a couple, as a family.  If you have been following along, you know Tori has been to Vespers before, she went to Pascha, and Pentecost.  She was there on Holy Friday.  She has been to quite a few Great Vespers in the last few months.  All of those, though, she came as my guest, in a way.  That may sound weird, but try to understand the difference.  In each of those times, I wanted to go.  I initiated it.  She went because either I asked her to, or because we were in Boise and I wanted to go.  She came to the service, but it wasn’t because she was pushing it.  Even Pascha, which she did not decide if she was going to go or not until the day of, was at mine and others invitation.

This was the first time she went at her own initiation.  My first Vespers experience was just that, my first Vespers.  This last week, was really, in many senses, our first Vespers.



  1. Wow! This post actually had me on the verge of the tears (good and bad!). This past Pentecost I was chrismated into the Holy Orthodox Church, and like you, I feel like I’ve finally come home. The only thing that is missing is my wife. Last (western) Easter marked the one year anniversary of my wife becoming Catholic, and before meeting me she didn’t attend a church at all. I think she feels like I abandoned her.. introduced her to a faith, and then quickly jumped ship for another one. Please, pray for my wife that one day she will decide that she wants to go to church with me again. It breaks my heart every sunday morning when I leave the house for the Divine Liturgy, and leave my wife sitting on the couch. I’m so very happy that your wife seems to moving in that direction. God bless!

  2. Glory be to God for all things!


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