Presanctified Liturgy And The Marriage Ceremony

Several years ago during our Lenten clergy retreat Fr. Calivas mentioned, in passing, that the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, which we celebrate during the week (not on weekends) during Lent, at one time had a connection with the marriage service in the Orthodox Church.  He mentioned this to show that there is more to the service than its penitential character, which is a big reason we celebrate it during the 40 days leading up to Holy Week.  The combination of the marriage service and the liturgy fell out of practice in the 8th or 9th century.  I imagine the spirit behind it was similar to the Roman Catholic tradition of having a wedding mass.  I have never been able to find anything about this connection online, which is amazing, but I did notice something the other night while celebrating the liturgy that is perhaps a remnant of the old practice; at the very least it is a strong connection.

During the part of the liturgy labeled “second setting of the psalter“, Psalm 127/128 is read.  These verses are also part of the wedding service.  They are sung with a refrain of “Glory to you O Lord, glory to you” right at the beginning of the crowing service.  Here is the psalm itself:

Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. You shall eat of your hand’s labor: blessed are you, and it shall be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the recesses of your house: your children like olive shoots around your table. Behold, in this way shall be blessed the man who fears the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Sion, and may you see the wealth of Jerusalem all the days of your life. And may you see your children’s children. Peace upon Israel!

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March 29th, 2012 by Fr. Greg

New Podcast Up

The latest Facing East podcast is now up.  This time Fr. Peter and I recorded live from Zorba’s in Worcester.  As usual our discussion is all over the place but the talk did coincide with Lent so much of the discussion is centered around the season.  Check it out here.

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March 15th, 2012 by Fr. Greg

Back From Retreat

I returned today from our annual Metropolis Clergy Lenten Retreat up at the retreat center on the grounds of our metropolis camp in Contoocook, NH (this partly explains my lack of blogging recently).  It was awesome but exhausting, in a good way.  We began with lunch on Tuesday, with the usual delicious (and fast friendly) food and hellos to old friends.  We then had our first of three sessions with Fr. Maximos, who is visiting from Mt. Athos.  Fr. Maximos spoke on the anaphora prayers of the liturgy of St. Basil (these are the prayers said by the priest from “let us stand well” to communion).  I had my notebook and did my best to write down everything he said – hopefully I will not need wrist surgery because it was intense:).  We broke for vespers and supper, had session two with Fr. Maximos, and then went back to the chapel for compline.  After compline there was some socializing and a hearty sleep for all (I roomed with Fr. Chris – they put the two Worcester boys together).  Several of us woke up early and went for a hike through the snow-covered trails in the 300 or so acres (mostly woods and water) that make up the campground.  The initial goal was to check out the area where our monastery may end up taking shape but we took a detour towards the center of the grounds.  We made it back safely and the rest of the retreat was basically 9th hour, presanctified liturgy (with His Eminence serving), breakfast and the final session with Fr. Maximos.  So it was a retreat but the focus was more on continuing education.  The bonding came during the breaks and the social time, and the church services helped with spiritual recharging.  Tomorrow I will write some about the presentation on the anaphora prayers.

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March 7th, 2012 by Fr. Greg

Sunday Of Orthodoxy Vespers

We had a nice pan-Orthodox Sunday Of Orthodoxy vespers service tonight at St. George Cathedral in Worcester, with the newly elevated Bishop John presiding.  I was impressed that a group of Marlborough peeps came down for the service.  The hall at St. George features icons of all 12 member churches’ patrons, and we decided to take a picture in front of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, the Holy Anargyroi:

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March 4th, 2012 by Fr. Greg

Leap Days, Birthdays And Feast Days

My birthday comes near the end of February – the 27th, so it was on Monday – and very often when people find this out they say “oh, you were almost a leap year baby!”.  It is a natural reaction, I suppose, but I have to chuckle and tell people that I was born in a non-leap year so I was actually nowhere close.  Leap day is a strange thing, though.  Of my 2900 or so friends on Facebook only one has a birthday on February 29.  There happens to be one or two days of the year where no birthdays pop up, and most days have between five and fifteen so, considering that every three out of four years there is _not_ a Feb. 29 then the numbers seem to make sense.

So what about the church calendar – who, if anyone, is commemorated on February 29?  St. John Cassian, a great church father (as well as a rare saint who seems to have a first and last name like a modern person) is celebrated on leap day.  He is also the name sake of His Grace Vicar Bishop Ion Casian of the Romanian Archdiocese.  His Grace is a wonderful man whom I met last fall when he visited Fr. Peter’s parish in Southbridge.  So does the Bishop only celebrate his name day once every four years?  Well, the feast moves to Feb. 28 in common years (unlike a birthday, which I imagine would be celebrated March 1 in common years since that would be 365 days later).  So a belated la multi ani/chronia polla to His Grace.

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March 1st, 2012 by Fr. Greg