Less than 40 hours to go! Today I gave my confession--the leave-me-hangin' sacrament. Baptism and chrismation are the entrance into all the other sacraments of the Church (simply because they're the entrance into the Church). But Orthodox do everything at once--baptism, chrismation, first communion. Rather than stop the service so the newly illumined can give their lifetime confession before communion, the hard part is done in advance. All but the absolution, that is. That step waits until after chrismation.
Julie asked, who gives you absolution? God, naturally. Then aren't you already absolved? Well, this is the part where our heads start hurting. Of course, God is eternal. He's not waiting around to forgive us when it's convenient scheduling. But he's given us the sacraments by which these things are manifested in time. And as he gave the apostles the keys to the kingdom, the Church is entrusted with binding and loosing sins. For God, forgiveness happens in the eternal present. For us time-bound mortals, it plays out in some kind of sequence. Even then, there's a lot that we can only struggle to grasp. I've heard that there's a reason processions in church tend to go counter-clockwise. It shows how Christ's resurrection reversed the order of fallen nature. Similarly, they say some icons of his baptism depict the Jordan flowing backward. (What's more, in some places at the Theophany blessing of waterways, the miracle is repeated.) We have to be open-minded when it comes to God's working in time. He can answer our prayers before they're asked; sometimes in the New Testament we see people baptized before they receive the Spirit, sometimes after. I passed through the water 20 years ago; this Sunday I will be born into the Church.
Ian had one more go at putting his face in the water this evening at the pool. I think he'll do OK on Sunday. We've got the kids' clothes, I have the service book to review, and my parents are coming into town tomorrow. Ian and I have one more service to attend before the big day. Tomorrow is a memorial Saturday, when we pray for those who have reposed before us. We'll attend matins and hopefully the first part of divine liturgy. This last time, after the prayer for the catechumens, it will be appropriate for us to leave. (Holy Cross doesn't recite the ancient dismissal of the catechumens, nor do most parishes actually require that catechumens or anyone else leave the service; but the division is still there between the liturgy of the catechumens and the liturgy of the faithful.) Mostly, we're doing it that way so we can get home and see my parents when they arrive, but it still seems fitting.
Fr. Gregory posted an announcement today about the weekend's services. In Orthodoxy, we do know how to prepare.