Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Ascension

Thank the Lord, I didn't have A.D.D. this Thursday
As I arrived to the Church to attend my 138th Divine Service, I was greeted by Tami with the triple kiss on the cheek and a Christ is Risen. She then remarked how this would be the last time we use this greeting until next Pascha. I asked her what is the appropriate greeting for Ascension. Tami remarked how, at her other parish up north, they would say something like Hold High the Feast which was taken from the Paschal homily of St. John Chrysostom. As far as Tami knew, there was nothing official, though, for the Ascension.

I meditated on the fact that Christ is Risen would be used for the last time as Fr. Gary incensed the Icon in the middle of the Nave and then removed it. I knew that later the Icon of the Ascension would be placed in the middle. In the meantime, as Fr. Gary led us in Christ is Risen, I for the last time this season, I paid careful attention and tried to let the fact of the Resurrection, enliven my soul.  I looked up at the twelve Major Icons on the Iconostasis and saw Icon of St. Demetrius was in place of the Icon of the Ascension, which would soon be brought out for veneration.  I remembered how Tami said that St. Demetrius "galloped across the Nave," as each Feast came upon us. You can read more about that here.

The choir was very good tonight.  Reader Tim who usually leads was not there and his second in command, Daria recently moved so there was someone else leading and she did an excellent job with the small group she had there. Yes, only five voices in the choir, including Deacon Alexander, yet they sounded great. I did notice as the lady was leading when we came to the point where we chant  Lord have Mercy, twelve times that she counted each one off on her fingers, except when she came to the last three. At that point, she crossed herself and then made a profound bow.  This just reinforces to me how, in Orthodoxy, it is not about performance but rather, it is all about worship.  It really blessed me to see this act of piety.

Fr. Gary's homily was very good and, of course the subject was the Ascension.  He was very passionate about how this was an important feast. "I'm not judging but the Church should be full," he said and there was not anger in his voice but, instead, disappointment. He knew that this feast is indeed important and he hurt on behalf of his people that they were missing out on something important.

After we partook of the Litya, we were dismissed. Before I left, Deacon Alexander came over to me and said it was good to see me and that he enjoyed my posts on line.  He went on to say how he doesn't really get a chance to see me since most of the time, he is serving at the altar. "If you ever want to talk, just let me know," was his invitation to me and I was grateful to receive it.  Yes, I told him, I would be willing to talk sometime.  It always nice to have a clergyman who is willing to talk with you.

I was glad I went tonight and the fact is I almost didn't.  Around an hour before I was supposed to leave, I got suddenly very tired and wanted to stay home and go to bed. After all, wake up time for me is 230am. But I am glad I went because celebrating the Ascension was a special time. I am happy that, as Jesus left this Earth to rejoin His Father in heaven, that He promised to come back again.

Maranatha, Come, Lord Jesus!

Hold high the Feast!


  1. God has gone up with a shout;
    The Lord with the sound of a trumpet!
    is the verse I know for Ascension.

    Glad you were able to attend, Jim.

    YiC, Bill

  2. Further, on Fr Z's blog, 30 May 2014 at 11:35 am
    "I went to the Byzantine parish/ I had to learn a new reponse set:
    Christ is ascended!
    From Earth to Heaven for our salvation!

  3. I've heard, "Christ is Ascended" and a variant of "In Glory" or "ascended in glory" but I am not sure if that is truly traditional or a convertism :) It has never been taught at my parish.
    So glad you got to go to the Festal Vespers.

  4. Bill,
    Yes, Bill, it was a joy to attend!

  5. Bill,
    Is this the Fr. Z you speak of?

  6. Mimi,
    It is comforting to know that many things in Orthodoxy are actually local in (small t) tradition. And yet Orthodoxy is the same in (Big t) Tradition. Something like a response on Ascension would qualify as small t tradition.

  7. Yes, Jim, it is he. Don't recommend him to your particular attention as he is a very traditional Roman Catholic. Some of the issues he addresses are of interest to me for reasons other than the practice of my Orthodox faith.For example, he posted a picture of The Lexington, a restaurant in St Paul, which I recognized as one of my parents' favorites places to eat in the 40s & 50s. Bill

  8. Bill,
    not to worry; I am not in danger of being lurred away from Orthodoxy to RC. Actually, in my journery, I considered converting back to RC but some things about their doctrine really bothered me....Then, I discovered Orthodoxy and there is no turning back now ☺...No disrespect meant for our RC brothers and sisters.