Monday, November 22, 2004

Maybe there’s a place for practical jokes after all
An old [Eastern Orthodox] priest of mine (who has passed on, and that's why I tell his story) was telling us once about being a young priest in rural PA* just after attending St Tikh’s**. He was in his mother's house in his hometown and was on good terms with all the clergy in the area. Well, some very overzealous Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon, I don’t remember, actually had the nerve to make purposeful visits to all the clergy in the area.

Because the evangelicals*** loved to quote scripture and debate, my priest hatched a plan. He met them civilly at the doorway wearing his daily cassock****, and after some time of withstanding slight harrassment from them, he got started talking about "That verse that talks about water from that spring in Jerusalem. You know, the one that burns sinfull people but feels like soothing coolness to His saved Righteous." The evangelists, rather than admit they didnt know what verse he was talking about, made sounds of agreement. My priest then told them to wait there, because he had some of this holy water that just arrived and he wanted to show them. So, he went and fetched his portable Holy Water sprinkler, and filled with from the boiling teapot that his mother had on the stove for tea.

He came back, and let them have it. They, surprised by the heat of the water when they were expecting to feel cool healing since they knew they were saved, ran from his door. Well, they didn't give up and headed to the home of the local RC priest. The second they left, my priest called the RC priest and hold him what he'd done. The RC priest then answered his door wearing vestements and soon turned the conversation to the holy water that he had just received as a gift from the Holy Land and would they like to see it? The evangelists mumbled some excuses and decided to leave before they felt the burning fire of the Holy Water on their sinners' flesh. My priest also called the local pastor of whatever protestant church it was. The pastor wanted in on the joke, but didn't have any vestements, so he went and put on a choir robe and was watching in his front door with some water in a bowl and a featherduster sprinkler as they drove up. The evangelists didn’t even stop, but sped away once they saw him standing there.
I wonder if Father got the idea from The Exorcist.

*Pennsylvania, once full of coal mines and steel mills and thus a centre of Slavic immigration to America in the late 1800s-early 1900s.

**St Tikhon’s, in Pennsylvania, one of the Orthodox Church in America’s (original Russian Orthodox dioceses in America) theological colleges (for training ordinands).

***JWs and Mormons aren’t Christians but come out of evangelical Protestantism culturally and so make much of quoting tons of scripture.

****The подрясник (undercassock), narrow-sleeved like a Latin cassock. The one with the huge sleeves, the рясса (riassa), is worn over it by deacons, priests and bishops.

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