Sunday, September 18, 2011

three dozen visits, Priest's wives reading my blog, circles of people, Missions and the 1812 Overture!

Circle Of Friends
A circle of friends, much like what formed after Vespers last night. photo by Chris Lim, used under the creative commons license. check out more photos at:

Last night was my 36th visit to the Orthodox Church and I am happy to say that I noticed that while I have been going to Church a lot, I very rarely go two weeks in a row. But I did this time. I have come to realize that not having these somewhat long gaps of time in between visits will help me in my journey closer to Christ and Orthodoxy. It makes sense. If I were going to college and only attended class every third week, I would turn out to be a poor student. How much more important not to just audit Divine Services. And yesterday it would have been easy to skip Vespers because I was with my wife at a triplet's birthday party. My wife helps a local family watch triplets and they just turned one. I ended up leaving before the cake was served (but my wife knew that going in) and it was tempting to stay so as to not be rude but I knew I had to go. As I get closer to Orthodoxy, I am going to have to manage family time carefully so my wife and kids don't get shafted. A relationship with them is a priority from God but so is Church. I must remember that.

Vespers was great, although it seemed a bit sparsely attended. Deacon Ken was not there, although his son Will was serving. I really enjoyed Worship, especially the veneration of the Cross. There is something about a full prostration that feels right. I know that others might think we are Muslims by our prostrations but Western Christianity doesn't know what it's missing by not involving their whole bodies in Worship. I also very much loved the Prokeimenon, The Lord is King! Below is the Prokeimenon, although not in English. Cool Stuff!

Prokeimenon - The Lord is King

After Vespers, Father Gary's wife, Mary greeted me and, with a smile, said, "So, you write about me in my blog?" She must have been referring to Visit #32 where I mention how she told me, in jest, that I was sitting in the wrong seat. Read about it here:

Mary went on to explain how she knew I could take a joke, since I have been attending for so long that I would not be driven away but such a playful act. She figured that you have to have fun in life. (and I agree). She went on to explain how the Lord had a sense of humor, too because she had been raised a daughter of a Priest, lived in rectory's all here life and wanted no part of it. Well, she meets Fr Gary, then marries him while he is still a Roman Catholic and he announces one day that he wants to be an Orthodox Priest. Well, looks like the joke is on Mary~ but I think she can take a joke, even a Divine one!

This discussion took place in the Nave and it was there I observed what often happens after Worship. Circles of discussion form. There were two circles actually, one for the "young people" and one for us older folks. What's great about that is everyone is included and can listen or talk as desired. I myself don't feel comfortable enough to just join a circle because, believe it or not, I can be very shy, so I high tailed it out of the Church. As I walked on the path I noticed people emptying the back of a car, carrying tables and chairs, I asked if I could help and, after opening the door for them, I went to retrieve a table. I am most comfortable in a group of people when I am involved in some sort of work. For me, it makes conversation easier than when I am just standing around. I guess I feel useful, too.

I asked Tammy, who was in the parish hall, what the tables were for. She told me that we were setting up for coffee hour and the tables and chairs had been at some community event. There, they sold raffle tickets, handed out Orthodox literature, and Fr Gary was on hand to greet people and answer any questions about Orthodoxy. Sounds like evangelism to me, don't it? And to think that one of my complaints about the Orthodox Church- a complaint I shared with Fr. Gary at our IHOP breakfast- is their lack of Evangelism. I am glad to hear of this outreach. I know that Orthodoxy is something that needs to be far more known in America. May God grant us the means and the will to share it!

One last thing, I noticed at the ends of Vespers we sang a short hymn that reminded me of the choral selection sung before the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky. Is that possible? I guess I will do some research later but even the tune reminded me of what I heard in the Overture and I even picked out words talking about Victory of enemies which I remember from the piece. If anyone knows, please comment below or send me an email.

Thanks for reading!


  1. The longer I'm in Orthodoxy, the smaller the world seems. The blond guy in the video is a friend of mine on Facebook named Jaakko. He currently lives in Thesalaniki and will soon be a monastic on Mt. Athos.


  2. Nektarios,

    Whoa! That is so cool!

  3. You are indeed correct that the Troparion of the Cross ("O Lord, save Thy people...") is normally set to the the tune of the 1812 Overture! Good ear, it took me quite a whole to realize that. Why? I have no idea. Because it's Russian. Recall also that "grant victory to Orthodox Christians over their enemies" was originally "grant victory to Tsar/Emperor (insert name) over his enemies." But without a monarch, we substitute the people in.

    Anyway, I actually have still been reading all of this, but college, and a visit to Russia got in the way of actually commenting on anything. Glad to hear you're still going, though!

  4. Alexandra,

    Glad you are still reading and thanks for the encouragement.

    Wow, a trip to russia. Did you blog about it? I'd love to read about your adventures!

  5. Indeed I did! Here's the blog:

    It was a study abroad trip, so there's as much about Russian literature on there as there is about the country, I think.

  6. Alexandria,

    Actually, it is not so much that the Troparion of the Cross is set to the melody of the 1812 Overture, but rather that the 1812 Overture references the Bachmetev/Lvov Tone 1 Troparion of the Cross. The Overture is a sort of recounting of Napoleon's invasion of Russia in music. The Troparion of the Cross in the beginning represents the prayers of the Russian people, as requested by the Patriarch, for God's help against the yet-undefeated French army. Thereafter, the increasingly powerful citations of the Marseillaise (contrasted with a Russian folk song) represents the French advance toward Moscow. Thereafter, the Troparion of the Cross makes a triumphal return, along with God Save the Tsar, representing God's intervention, in the form of winter, and the consequent defeat of Napoleon.

  7. Alexandia,
    Oh, by the way, I started reading your blog. should be interesting!

  8. Han,
    I addressed the following comment to Alexandria when I really meant to address it to I am re-posting it here :)

    thanks for more info on the 1812 overture. I really hadn't known it's history. I will have to contemplate all of what you said the next time I listen to it! One of my favorite pieces