What is a Week End? # 2


SORRY TO BE LIGHT in posts recently. I’ve three weeks of Deacon classes in a row, along with all the reading that would normally come over 6 weeks of classes. It’s sacramental theology which is, really, the most un-Orthodox of Western theology. So I’m having to lean in here. That’s just made the weeks really tight. We even had a class on the Saturday after Thanksgiving! But I have more than a few half-baked thoughts for posts running around in my head so it seemed like a good time for an update. This is a lot of different things…

Bible Nerding

There are two ways to say “have mercy on me” in Hebrew: racham na רחם נא and channeni חנני. The latter means something like “have grace on me”. We can imagine asking God to pour down from the heavens. More interestingly, the former speaks of the uterus. This is where the King James Version talks about the “bowels of mercy”. We can imagine asking God to let one curl up in a fetal position and be comforted. “Hold me while I cry, God.” What came to me as I was just looking into these two words – not really looking for anything in specific – was the passage from John 3 where Jesus is talking to Nicodemus about being “born from above”. In John 3:4, Nakdimon said to him, “How can a grown man be ‘born’? Can he go back into his mother’s womb and be born a second time?” And Yeshua’s reply includes the eventual rebuke, “You hold the office of teacher in Isra’el, and you don’t know this?” (John 3:10) and it came to me that perhaps the Elder from the Sanhedrin was making a comment about God’s mercy (racham) with the Son’s “born from above” reply indicating God’s grace (chanan). Are we seeing humorous wordplay between the two rabbis?

A second bit of this nerdery on another topic: Marc, my formation classmate called out Genesis 22:8 where most translations saying something like, “God, himself, will provide a lamb” or even “provide a lamb himself” but the Hebrew actually says “God will provide to himself a lamb”. The echos of God the Son as Atonement increasing here.

Related but not, my second semester in Hebrew started tonight. My teacher is Avigail.

Meat Pumpkin

My Savory Side Dish came out quite tasty but I’m not quite blind enough to imagine the taste was for everyone. The spices were very Victorian. Which is to say strong. I think next time I might try it with my stuffing rather than a Victorian Christmas theme. Only one person at the Thanksgiving Party said “Three Cheers for the Meat Pumpkin!” I felt like Great Aunt Cecilia. (St Dom’s inside joke.)

I have tried the Figgy Pudding Spam. It’s very tasty. I can’t think of a single thing to do with it. It’s not right for crackers or breakfast. It would not be a thing for a sandwich at all. Maybe whizzed up with some Duke’s and used as a spread? I don’t know. I’m going to leave it alone. It’s Advent as of today on the Julian calendar.


Working at a Byzantine Catholic Church I’m re-exploring Eastern Christian spirituality. My first thought is God has brought me to where I am through where I’ve been. The things that didn’t feed me at one time now do. The things that drew me on, now push me forward. I’ve been hearing the Orthodox theologians “of my youth” (by which I mean my early middle-age) coming out of the mouths of the teachers of my old age. When a Catholic quotes an Orthodox are we breathing with two lungs?

I never was Old Calendar as an Orthodox. Here I am, Old Calendar Catholic. How does that happen?

God’s sense of humor.

Shout out to my friends. All the love. These were taken at my birthday party in September, but I have some amazing friends and stumbling across these made me smile all over again.

Author: Huw Raphael

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He is almost 59. He feeds the homeless as a parochial almoner and is studying to be a Roman Catholic Deacon. He is learning modern Israeli Hebrew and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.

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