Today is my youngest daughter's seventh birthday. I guess that she is still my "baby girl." At any rate, she has always been a "daddy's girl," even as an infant. Monica was very much her Mommy's girl, especially after her surgery and hospital stay (at ten months); it was a long time before she really warmed up to me. DoRena has always had a more independent spirit; I guess that goes with being the firstborn (like each of her parents). But Oly'anna took to me right away, and unless she needed to nurse, she generally preferred to be with me. Of course, she's also had me wrapped around her finger since the day she was born.
I've often used my Oly'anna as a good example of what it means to pray to God as our dear Father in heaven. Whenever she's been hurt or upset by something -- even if it happens to be a "reprimand" from Daddy (which may be little more than her name with "that tone" to it) -- she's generally taken the approach of simply throwing herself into my lap, wrapping her arms around me, and being wrapped up in my arms, and basically hiding herself there. Sometimes sobbing, often unable to speak through her big ol' tears, she finds her comfort in knowing that her Daddy loves her, and that he's going to keep on loving her and taking care of her. That is where she is safe and sound. I'm far from being a perfect father, but she knows that she can trust me, and that I would do anything in my power for her. Mostly she knows that I forgive her trespasses, and that I will not cast her aside. How much more can we trust and rely upon "our Father who art in heaven," and come to him as little children to throw ourselves into His lap and hide ourselves in Him, for Jesus' sake; praying the words that He has taught us to pray, or sometimes just relying on the groanings of the Spirit, too deep for words.
Oly'anna's first name is a contraction of "Olga Anna," which is a bit of a story in itself. My Russian translator, each time I have had the privilege of teaching at the seminary in Novosibirsk, is named Olga. But when she was baptized (as an adult), the pastor inadvertently called her Anna. Because there are a fair number of women named Olga in Russia, the seminary students would often refer to her as Olga Anna, and I picked up on that. She has been a good friend to me, and a huge help to me, and a true gift of the Holy Spirit in translating my English lectures into Russian. When we knew that we were going to have a daughter, we thought at first of calling her "Olga Anna." That seemed a little harsh for American ears, and my wife and I each came up with the softer contraction, "Oly'anna."
Queen Olga was the Christian mother of Prince Vladimir, who was instrumental in the conversion of Russia. Anna was his Byzantine bride from Constantinople. So, our Oly'anna's name is also a commemoration of the early bringing of the Gospel to that part of the world, and a constant reminder to me of the small part that I have been given to play in that ongoing work. She was baptized on the Feast of Pentecost seven years ago (on the 12th of June that year), and she received her First Communion on the Feast of Pentecost yesterday. We are so grateful that her Godfamily has been able to share this weekend with us, both for Oly's sake and ours! I'm sorry that Olga could not be with us on this occasion, as she was for Oly'anna's Holy Baptism. I guess my "baby girl" will always be my "Pentecost daughter," a sign of the Lord's outpouring of the Spirit on His Church.
Oly'anna's birthday also falls very close to the Feast of the Visitation of Our Lord (her due date was even closer to that Feast). So she also bears the names of St. Elizabeth and the Blessed Virgin Mary, in honor of the joyful meeting of those two holy women. Here is the foundation of the Pentecost that would come. By the Word and Spirit of God, St. Mary conceived and bore the Son of God in her womb, and thus became a kind of living Sacrament. In this she is an icon of the Church, receiving the Savior unto herself, by grace through faith, and bearing her incarnate Lord unto the world. As St. Elizabeth rejoices to receive the visitation of the Lord, while He is yet hidden in the womb of His Mother, so do we give thanks unto the same Lord, Jesus Christ, who is hidden for us in the womb of His Church on earth.
"My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name."
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