The Liturgy Of St. Gregory The Theologian

This brief post is inspired by a discussion on Facebook started by my koumbaros Fr. Andrew Damick

When we (in the Orthodox world) think of liturgy we are almost always thinking of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.   This is the service that week in week out we go to on Sundays.  There are, though, other liturgies in Orthodoxy, and we are occasionally exposed to them.  The most common one is the Liturgy of St. Basil, which is identical to that of Chrysostom except for the longer and different anaphora (the time around consecration and communion) prayers*.  Basil’s liturgy is done on his feast day, Sundays during Lent, and a few other times a year.  During Lent we celebrate another liturgy during the week – the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts or Presanctified Liturgy.  This service is noticeably different than the other two.  There exists a Liturgy of St. Mark which is done on his feast and his more or less identical to Chrysostom, although it includes some cool stuff like a prayer for the rising of the waters of the Nile (reflecting Mark’s relationship with Egypt).  The Liturgy of St. James is done on his feast day and can be celebrated on the Sunday after Christmas.  This service has even more of a different character than the Presanctified.

There are other liturgies that have fallen out of practice in the Orthodox universe, and one  was recently done for the first time in centuries in the Greek Orthodox jurisdiction.  Archbishop Gregory of Great Britain celebrated the liturgy of his patron saint Gregory the Theologian on his feast day.  You can read accounts of this historic event here and here.  I am hoping that video exists of this rare and no doubt awesome liturgy and I hope it comes to the surface at some point.

*Our yearly Lenten clergy retreat at the Metropolis Retreat Center featured Fr. Maximos from Mt. Athos.  His topic was the anaphora prayers of the Liturgy of St. Basil, and in passing he mentioned that the anaphora prayers of the Liturgy of St. Gregory, recently celebrated for the first time in centuries by the Archbishop of Great Britain, are the only anaphora prayers of any Eastern Orthodox liturgy to be addressed to Christ rather than God the Father.

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April 30th, 2012 by Fr. Greg

Paschal Reflection

It has been a while.  Let’s ease back into things – here is His Eminence’s recent Paschal reflection:

At this very moment we relive the Holy Resurrection, the central mystery of our Christian faith.  We will shortly light our Paschal candles to boldly proclaim that “the light of Christ shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overtake it.” (John 1:5)

 

At this very moment “as the first day of the week dawns,” (Matthew 28:1) we mystically draw near to the life-giving tomb together with Mary Magdalene and the other Myrrh bearing women who discover that the great stone placed there has been rolled away, and that the body of the Savior is nowhere to be found. We overhear Mary Magdalene lament, “they have taken away the Lord from the tomb and we do not know where they have laid Him.” (John 20:2)

 

How sad it was for the myrrh bearers not to find the Risen Lord.

 

How sad it is that we cannot seem to find Him either.  We cannot find Him in the world of politics or the world of finances.  We cannot find the Risen Lord in our schools or in our judicial courts.  We cannot find the Risen Lord in our homes. Sadly, some claim they cannot even find him in our churches.

 

The Risen Lord met the myrrh bearers as they were going to the disciples, and He said to them “Do not be afraid, go and tell my brethren to go to Galillee and there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:10) Like the myrrh bearers, we, too, are directed to go to Galillee to see the Risen Lord.

 

Galillee is Boston.  It’s Worcester and Springfield.  It’s Manchester and every city and town in America and throughout the world.

 

The Risen Lord awaits us in Galillee where the rich have removed God from their altar of worship, and placed instead their money and their perceived importance.

 

The Risen Lord awaits us in Galillee where the powerful plot to marginalize the church and muzzle its voice in society.

 

The Risen Lord awaits us in Galillee ——- in every corner of the earth ——- but especially where our fellow human beings are victims of human trafficking, of cultural wars, of crimes, of genocide, of ethnic cleansing and every other conceivable atrocity.

 

The Risen Lord awaits us in our personal Galillee to shine His mercy, His forgiveness and His love in our hearts. In the midst of our failures ——– in our emotional solitude, in our doubt and abandonment, on our spiritual death beds, in our tombs of doubt and disbelief ——– the Risen Lord comes to raise us up to experience our own Resurrection.

 

Let us greet Him in Galillee and boldly proclaim our faith in His Resurrection. Let us share the Light of the Risen Lord in a world that is steeped in every conceivable form of darkness, in a world which faces financial turmoil, in a world suffering from both spiritual and material poverty, in a world of violence and deprivation, of terrorism, of incivility and divisiveness.

 

Let us light our Paschal candles of hope and joy, and let us proclaim together with St. John the Evangelist “the light of Christ shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overtake it.” (John 1:5)

 

Come receive the light from the unwaning Light and glorify Christ who is risen from the dead.

 

Metropolitan Methodios

Easter, 2012

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April 25th, 2012 by Fr. Greg

Icon Stand For Children Now Up

We have a very cool new thing at our church – an icon stand in the narthex that is the perfect height for young children to kiss and venerate an icon.  A month or so ago I was talking with Nick Kofos about us acquiring such an object.  Nick is in his own right a talented woodworker but he suggested I contact Steve Caragian to execute the project.  Steve readily agreed to take this on, and after taking measurements in the vestibule of our church he created the masterpiece you see below.  We have an enormous amount of young children at our church, and this stand is at the perfect height for them.  Its finish and size also blend in well with the surrounding icon and candle stands, and we managed to place it so that it doesn’t block access to the other icons.  Many thanks to Steve, who humbly suggested we dedicate it to his mother Eleni, which we will indeed do.  The “soft opening” will be this Saturday, and the “hard opening” will be Sunday when we announce the presence and background of this new stand.  Thanks also to Amy Polymeros, who has volunteered to donate an icon of Christ With The Children for the stand, as well as to Nick K. who helped come up with the concept and made this happen.

To my fellow clergy who may chance upon this post – please consider identifying a parishioner who can take such a project on.  I know many churches have an icon on the wall in the narthex for children to venerate, which is great, but it is important for them to have their own special stand like the adults have.  We always talk about children being the “future” of the church but in truth they are the present, and they deserve this amenity.

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April 2nd, 2012 by Fr. Greg