Presvytera Vassi Makris Haros is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Art, Architecture & Planning and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. She is the owner, designer and photographer of V’s Cardbox, In Service and Love. a greeting card company featuring cards with an Orthodox voice. She strongly feels that experiencing the Orthodox Faith through the church’s cyclical calendar of feasts and fasts is a gift that is too often overlooked.
On the feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross, we celebrate the protection, glory and life-giving power of the cross. We also remember with sobriety, through a strict fast, the suffering of our Lord, Jesus Christ. But this feast isn’t only in remembrance of history, but also a time for us to reflect upon our cross, our imperfections.
Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? (Luke 9:23-25)
What is our cross? Our cross is the result of a fallen nature–it’s what reminds us that we are not gods, but created. I don’t mean to say that our cross is our sin. Our sins carry a consequence that adds to our burden, but through confession and forgiveness, they are relievable. Some days I think of the cross as being more of a handicap, our imperfect trait or burden that we have to deal with, that we can’t ignore. For some, it can be the desire to be perfect that burdens them. For others, it can be depression. For some, it can be addiction. These behaviors are not justified by hiding them under a table or explaining them as acceptable. They are the things we have to face and deal with. It is our cross that makes us human in a fallen world.
I love the quote in Luke 9:23-25, because it’s as if Christ challenges us… Are we tired of being only human in a fallen world? Are we ready to take on the challenges of striving to be like God? If so, we must deny ourselves, pick up our nature… warts and all… and follow Christ. Then, He can sanctify us and fix what is broken in us and in the world.
Let’s take advantage of Saturday, September 14, as a day of prayer and strict fasting to re-commit ourselves to Christ and His Holy Church. Let’s take up our cross and follow Him. There is no time like the present. God doesn’t want us to come to Him perfect… He wants to come so He can help us become perfect in faith.
SHRIMP and RICE
TO MAKE THE BROTH:
Start with a bag of defrosted easy peel shrimp. You can use any size shrimp you like. The large shrimp make a great main dish. The smaller ones make a great side dish.
Clean shrimp–put shells in a pot and shrimp in a bowl.
Put the bowl in the fridge.
Add @ 4.5 C water and a bay leaf in the pot of shrimp shells and boil shells for @30 minutes.
Finely Chop 1 onion, 3 celery stalks, 3 cloves of garlic, and sauté in pot till tender.
COOK THE RICE:
Add 4 c of shrimp broth (supplement with water or vegetable broth if there isn’t enough,) 1/2 c tomato sauce and 2 c rice into pot with vegetables. Cover pot with a lid. Bring to a boil.
Cook rice for 10 minutes. Stir so it won’t stick and simmer so it won’t spill over.
Add cleaned shrimp and 1/4 c chopped parsley to pot and stir. (I forgot to add parsley, but it adds great color and flavor.) Replace lid. Simmer another 10 minutes.
Add lemon to taste (a very Greek thing to do.)