Reese, Heather, Aunt Sandy, and I went up to St. Maximus for Liturgy in the morning, bringing the rings, crowns, and icons with us so that Father Justin could bless them. After that I took Reese back to the hotel and went home to start getting ready.
I got up to the church a little earlier than I’d expected, which turned out to be good because I forgot my cufflinks. Thankfully, Mike hadn’t left yet, so he grabbed them and brought them with him when he headed over. We got everything set up in the church, did some last minute prep work in the hall, including getting the beer kegs on ice and set up, and then waited for everyone to start arriving. The cakes arrived and got set up thanks to our minions, a couple teenagers from the church. They looked great and we couldn’t wait to cut in to them. As it got closer to the starting time, Mike and I got changed into our kilts, and took our places in the church. Due to a miscommunication between the bridal party and us, we were both waiting for the other group to let us know that we were ready. After getting that sorted out, the service started. Heather looked great, actually making me pause a little to regain my composure as I met her at the back of the church. We got through the service without anything major going wrong, and worked hard to keep our composure during the receiving line afterwards. It was great to see all of our family and friends there.
We then went back over to the hall and started the reception, with a great introduction thanks to Mike. The food was great, our minions helped keep everything flowing nicely, and the homebrew was a hit. We got to cut in to the cake and fed each other little pieces without turning it in to a food fight. Then Reese and I cut the groom’s cake and I fed a little to him. We continued to nibble on some food and circulate, talking with friends and family, for the next few hours. When it was time to close things down, our families and bunch of the people from church pitched in to get the hall cleaned up and everything packed up to head back home. We are truly blessed with some great people in our lives.
Then we headed home and crashed out as exhaustion finally won out over the excitement of the day.
I got down to Holy Archangels Monastery later on in the morning on Thursday, got settled in, and found Fr. Michael, who put me to work disassembling some scaffolding on the side of one of the buildings. After that we worked on installing some electrical conduit and various other odd jobs. Liturgy was at 6:00 AM so we tended to be asleep early, which was fine by me. I got some reading in as well, plus plenty of prayer time, before I left on Saturday. I’m glad I spent some time there, it was just what I needed to recharge.
I was fortunate to be able to be at St. Seraphim Cathedral for the consecration of Bishop Jonah, our newest bishop. It was a very interesting ceremony, the first consecration of a bishop I’ve seen, and it was really nice to see the cathedral packed with laity and priests. We took Mother Thekla over to get some peel and eat shrimp afterward because, as a monastic, she doesn’t eat meat and the catered food was barbecue. She’s a lot of fun to talk to, and if you’re ever in South Carolina, pop on over to Saints Mary and Martha Monastery and spend some time with them.
After work today I headed out to the Cathedral of the Most Holy Theotokos for vespers and to pray at St. John’s tomb. I’d forgotten that they’re on the old calendar and so it turns out that I was there for the Procession of the Cross. It was really interesting to see and participate in it in Russian, even though I couldn’t follow much…
Afterwards I got a couple bottles of oil from the lamp at St. John’s tomb and a book of sayings of the Desert Fathers.
We got up early and got Reese out to his t-ball practice. This is his second year of it and the improvement is amazing. It’s still loosely organized chaos, but not nearly as crazy as last year’s practices were. He’s getting the fundamentals down well. After we got back from the practice it was time for me to head back to MITM, and had to say goodbye again, which really stinks.
Back at MITM I set up the PST and opened it up for viewing. It seemed to be pretty popular.
Later on we headed out for dinner and got a surprise while we were there. It turns out that there’s an Orthodox church out there in the middle of the cornfields of rural southern Illinois. So we went over and met the priest, Fr. Paul, who showed us around the church. It’s about one hundred years old and was undergoing a refurbishment so there was scaffolding in place, but I think everyone enjoyed the visit. For most of them it was the first time in an Orthodox church.
We got back to the farm and I set up the dob to get the glass cooling down. After dark we did a little observing of the moon, Saturn, and Mars. There was too much ambient light to really get any decent views of deep sky objects, but everyone really liked what they could see so it wasn’t a real loss.
Christ Is Risen!
I just got back in from the Paschal Liturgy at St. Maximus’s. I got up to the church a little early to spend some time at the tomb reading the Acts of the Apostles before the Paschal services started. We celebrated the resurrection and then broke the fast, enjoying the meat, cheese, and alcohol we’ve abstained from throughout the 40 days of Lent.
In case you were wondering, the date of Pascha floats, based on the occurrence of the equinox and the full moon. From http://www.goarch.org/en/ourfaith/articles/article7050.asp:
The First Ecumenical Council convened at Nicaea in 325 took up the issue. It determined that Pascha should be celebrated on the Sunday which follows the first full moon after the vernal equinox-the actual beginning of spring. If the full moon happens to fall on a Sunday, Pascha is observed the following Sunday.
I got a chance to go over to the Holy Virgin Cathedral for vespers this evening. It was a beautiful service, which I could follow along with but not understand since it was in Russian and I, sadly, do not speak it.
During the service I was able to take time to venerate the relics of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, which was, for me a very special experience. You can read more about him here.
Fr. Justin came over tonight to bless the house. A house blessing is an annual event for Orthodox Christians that serves to rededicate the home to God’s protection and drive away all evil influences from the home and everyone who lives in it.
It’s not a long service, though Fr. Justin and I stayed and chatted for a while afterwards, but the house really does feel different. It’s got a much more peaceful feel to it now.
I had a little time to walk around Helsinki and do some sightseeing today. My first stop was L. C. Engel’s Cathedral, then on to Uspenski Cathedral. The cathedral was beautiful and they even had an icon and relic of St. Seraphim of Sarov that, according to the people there, was bought at an antique store and donated to the curch. After that I went down to the Orthodox book store and was given a book with some pretty good photos of Finnish Orthodox churches. On the way I got to take some pictures of a smaller Orthodox church, unfortunately all on film, so they haven’t been posted yet.
After getting back to the hotel I dropped off the cameras and headed back out for some dinner at Lappi Ravintola. They serve traditional Lapp cuisine and other Finnish dishes. I had some sauteed reindeer on mashed potatoes with lingonberries. For dessert some Finnish blue cheese. All delicious, and I’ll be coming back the next time I’m in Helsinki.
The digital pictures are posted here and here.
Work took me to Salo today and afterwards I got a chance to drive over to the Holy Cross Tsasouna, a small Orthodox chapel built in the Eastern-Carelian architectural style. It was consecrated in 1990. There are pictures over in the gallery.