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April 28, 2011


First Test: Passed

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

Just a few thoughts on me, this coming weekend, and Morning Prayer:


This morning, I went to the doctors so he could check on the status of my throat following the removal of my cancerous tonsils. My surgeon was not available, so I ended up meeting with a colleague of his who did all the checking. One of the tests I took today was a swallow test. Basically, he gave me soft stuff to eat and warm liquid to drink. It all went down; nothing came back up. My throat did hurt, but he said that is normal. He gave me two thumbs up and expanded the list of food I can eat. He suggested eating mashed potatoes, which, to be honest, I am not in love with. I've never been big on eating mashed potatoes. Instead, I've been a big supporter of baked potatoes smothered in disgusting sour creme and chives.

The sour cream is not on my menu, just yet. I am still to stay away from dairy until next week. Apparently, mucus is caused by dairy. I have to continue on the soy milk tract, which I was already on and away from most dairy to begin with. However, until I get the final "all clear," I have to continue to stay away from "rough foods" that can hurt my throat. 

I told the doctor I experienced no issues with soy yogurt primarily because it is not dairy. He said that was fine. Otherwise, he suggested expanding my liquid options, including Gatorade, and that I should continue to eat the ice pops (NO!) and take the pain meds when needed (haven't taken one yet).

Otherwise, my voice is coming back. He lifted my restrictions on talking, though I have to be smart as to how much I can speak. This afternoon here at church, I had a half-hour conversation with our church secretary — my throat, while hurting, wasn't any more painful than if I just sat down and said nothing.

I have another appointment next week, this time with my oncologist (who really doesn't like the Yankees at all) to schedule radiation treatment and to put me back on the chemotherapy tract. The final test results on my cancerous tonsils haven't come back yet; preliminary results showed that yes, indeed, both tonsils were cancer-filled. 


Quasimodo Geniti.

Saint Thomas Sunday.

The Octave Day of Easter.

The Second Sunday of Easter.

Four names for the upcoming continuing celebration of Easter. Or, as we more lovingly call it: "Low Sunday." While an exact naming of this coming Sunday on the Church calendar holds numerous titles, the idea of "Low Sunday" has caught on with many people, and not for the possible meaning of the term. One of the reasons for the "Low" title in this coming Sunday stems from the possible mistranslation of the Latin word "Laudes." Another of the reasons stems directly from the previous Sunday – Easter. The first Sunday after the Easter celebration is much "lower" on the holy scale than the day of the celebration of Jesus' resurrection.

In modern times, pastors like me tend to take the idea of "Low" and change it completely. See, we believe that this weekend, the first Sunday after the Easter celebration, church attendance is going to plummet to ridiculous levels. Where last week, attendance sored to heights unknown; this week church attendance throughout Christendom will come crashing to earth.

Hence, a modern understanding of "Low Sunday" — the Sunday after Easter where church attendance is "low." 

However, the major point over the dramatic drop in church attendance has always intrigued me. On Easter, people who do not normally come to church are in church singing the great resurrection and Easter hymns and joining in with the church to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.  If a church as an Easter breakfast, they are there munching on bacon and scrambled eggs. But this week, most of them will be sleeping in, going shopping somewhere, taking children or grandchildren to the sports field, reading the newspaper, or watching TV. 

Why is that?

Is church only important on those "high holy days" like Easter and Christmas Eve (not Christmas Day since that is the day presents get opened)?

This is a challenge for the church. How can we make the Sunday after the Easter celebration as vital and vibrant as Easter Morning? And not just the 2nd Sunday of Easter, but throughout Easter and the church year! 


Since I started by cancer treatment last month, Morning Prayer has been on the backburner here at Saint Matthew's. Three days in the week I am over in New York City getting treatment at that hour and the other two days, I am wiped out from the treatment and am unable to drag myself to church at 7am.

During one of my chemo treatments, I spoke with a fellow cancer-fighter on his daily schedule. Usually after his treatment in the early morning hours, he heads off to work for his regular eight hour work day. He stays busy throughout the day, sometimes struggling to get work done. In the evenings, he keeps himself moving by making dinner for him and his family. When the night comes, he gets his regular seven hours of sleep, awakens, gets ready for the day, and heads out to treatment. 

His suggestion — in order to fight the cancer, you have to not end a regular routine. Yes, there are going to be times when being overly tired is going to get to you, he explained, but in order to fight it you have to keep your spirits and life at a high level. 

Or as he says, "Show the cancer who's boss."

So I have decided to re-institute Morning Prayer on Tuedays and Thursdays starting this week. I will be in church at 7:15am and all of you are invited to join me. It is time for me to get back into my regular routine.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Marianne Herrmann
    Apr 29 2011

    I am glad that you mentioned the fact that the Sunday after Easter is usually a low attendance day. I am going to make an extra effort to go to church especially because you mentioned it. I think honesty is a good way to get people to understand these things. You honestly were concerned and it was good that you put that out there. I am hoping that your treatments progress smoothly and the healing Holy Spirit guides your doctors and heals your throat. God bless. You mentioned about different translations. I really like “The Four Gospels and the Revelation” translated from the Greek by Richmond Lattimore. He was a professor of Greek at Bryn Mawr and he really clarifies the gospels with his masterful translation. It really opened my eyes and somehow made reading the gospels even more sacred for me. I really recommend it.

  2. Marianne Herrmann
    Apr 29 2011

    P.S. I should have said, that your mention of the Latin mistranslation made me think of the Greegk translation of the Four Gospels for some reason and how much I love Richmond Lattimore’s translations…it may seem random but I just wanted to mention that.


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