Monday, October 15, 2007

One, Holy Catholic

Yesterday, Katherine and I determined to visit another Orthodox congregation. We went to St. Basil the Great (ROCOR) in St. Louis, where good friends Theodore and Photini go. What a joy!

The building itself is small, and when we arrived a tad late, the lovely bride said, "No anonymous arrival here!" We entered -- and it was standing room only (literally, a few scatter chairs and benches -- wonderful!) We were in the narthex. Katherine noted that all the women had head coverings, and really did stay in the narthex -- until she located some prepared coverings.

All were attentive, although a few whispered to us, welcoming us. There were some that came later than us, but not many. The nave was small, but truly Orthodox, and it was "heaven on earth."

Always a joy is the fact that it was the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom -- done in a different style with a marvelous choir in the Russian fashion. The liturgy was done in English, with the exception of a hymn or two in Russian. "One, holy, catholic!"

Interesting to us (and different, since we hadn't been there before) was the fact that just prior to receiving the mysteries, everyone venerated icons and relics while one of the prayers before Holy Communion was said by a reader: we learned that during this time, all were asking forgiveness of one another and of the saints! Marvelous! I recall that just prior to this (if memory serves me correctly) Father Martin asked forgiveness of those present for any sin or offense he had given.

We joined those present in the light lunch following in a suite in the building across the parking lot, where we enjoyed time with brothers and sisters in Christ, and had a bit of time to spend with Theodore and Photini (the are proprietors of Archangels Bookstore, located in Maplewood, MO and on the net).

Orthodoxy is the living expression of that which we confess, when we say "I believe in one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church." What a joy to confess and live that whether Greek or Serbian, Russian or Croation, American or ... and the list goes on.

This parish is over two decades old. Father Martin has been their priest for all of those years, starting, literally, with "two or three." Now the congregation numbers about 100.

As we left, I said to Katherine, "Should God bless me with priesthood, this is the kind of parish I'd like .. faithful people working out their salvation, enjoying heaven on earth, focused on that most important." I mentioned this to Father Martin and he said, "Should that day come, come and talk to me -- we could serve these people together, and maybe both get a vacation!" (Comments paraphrased but faithful here).

One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic!

Glory to God in All Things!

Ezekiel

1 comment:

Anita said...

It seems our visits to St. Basil were only a few weeks apart! I "second" everything you described. It's a lovely, holy parish that was everything I expected and much more. There was one surprise, however. Fr. Martin gives quite a wonderfully passionate homily! I'm looking forward to going back. ~ Anita