Sunday, April 18, 2004

Greek to me
Tagged along by happenstance last night to the second Greek Orthodox service I've ever been to - Vespers for St Thomas Sunday (which the Russians call Антипасха, a word taken from Greek), and in the presence of a bishop! Of course it was beautiful, properly high-church, in a relatively new circular floor-plan, domed Byzantine church with the bishop impressively enthroned to the right of the iconostasis and next to the kliros where the men chanters sang. (Byzantine chant - the Mediterranean meets the Middle East. Christos anesti ek nekron...) They had the litya with five huge loaves of bread and not only was it an impressive appearance of the apostolic ministry in action - the bishop made an older priest an archimandrite, blessing him and giving him the klobuk (that's what it's called in Russian: black stovepipe hat and veil) of a monk, and tonsured a squad of altar boys as candle-bearers - but both my romantic historical imagination and my language-geek skills got some exercise as the bishop preached a sermon in Greek! (Demotic Greek, of course, not what the apostles spoke, but it was still impressive and I could make out a few words.) About the only down side was the usual extremely beautiful Greek women weren't in abundance in that congregation.

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