Monday, June 26, 2006


There is nothing like running to chapel because you hear the censer, and coming in the door and seeing your husband's face light up as he turns back to cense you in particular.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

ND Reunion

Lissa, Gabi's mother, took some wonderful pictures at the ND Alumni Reunion weekend. (This was the same weekend as the ordination; my parents had already planned to be there, and asked that we request that weekend for the ordination since they'd already be in town.) There are four pictures with Andronaches identifiable, one elbow, and a picture of Gabi at St. Andrew. (My favorite is the soccer picture: I don't know who looks more thrilled: Virgil or Gabi.)

I'm so glad we were able to see as many people as we did, but I sure do miss going to the pastaria and being very very silly.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

First Liturgy as Deacon

As soon as we told Father Andrew (of St. Vasilios, Dn. Virgil's spiritual father in Boston) about Virgil's upcoming ordination, he insisted on the privilege of having the new deacon serve his first Liturgy as a deacon at St. Vasilios. So Sunday there was the ordination, Monday was driving back, and Tuesday found us at St. Vasilios for Liturgy.
Fr. Andrew censes the iconostasis before the beginning of Liturgy.
Fr. Andrew blesses Dn. Virgil before they start the Liturgy.
Dn. Virgil offers the petitions before Christ.
The deacon beseeches Christ on behalf of the Church.
The further petitions are offered before the Theotokos.
Dn. Virgil and I have been attending St. Vasilios, his parish assignment, on many Sundays throughout the past two years.
Dn. Virgil receives the Gospel book from Fr. Andrew during the Small Entrance.
As the deacon raises the Gospel book, the clergy chant, "Come, let us worship and bow before Christ. Save us, O Son of God who arose from the dead, we who sing to You: Alleluia!" which the congregation repeats.
"Σοφία. Πρόσχωμεν!" Before the reading of the epistle, the deacon proclaims: "Wisdom. Attend!"
In the Orthodox Church, only clergy read the Gospel within the usual celebration of the Liturgy.
For the Great Entrance, the Gifts are carried by the clergy. When there are many people in the altar, the altar boys precede the Gifts with fans (exapteriga), candles, and a cross; additional deacons precede with candles, and additional priests follow the Gifts with the spear or spoon (used during the prothesis). Here, Fr. Andrew censes as Dn. Virgil and Fr. Costin process bearing the Gifts. [N.B. I could not take any more pictures during the Great Entrance because I was too in awe—it was almost too beautiful for me to breathe.]
Before they commune, the clergy, one by one, stand before the people and ask forgiveness for their sins and bow from the Royal Gates.
The clergy commune in the altar before the Gifts are offered to the people. They stand at the left of the altar, receive the Body in their hands, consume it as they walk around the altar, and approach from the left to drink the Blood from the cup. In this picture, Dn. Virgil is consuming the precious Body.
Because it is the Body of Christ, Dn. Virgil makes sure to take every particle from the antimension before the Gifts are offered to the people.
The congregation says additional prayers of preparation for Communion as the chanters sing, "Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise Him in the highest. Alleluia."
In the Orthodox Church, the Body and Blood are placed together in the cup, and the congregants commune with a spoon. Here, Dn. Virgil holds the veiled cup and brings it to the Royal Gates.
"With fear of God, faith, and love, draw near!" Dn. Virgil invites the people to commune of the Body and Blood.
The servant of the Lord, Deacon Virgil, offers the holy Gifts to the holy people of God. Fr. Andrew held the bowl of antidoron and Fr. Costin held the communion cloth (to ensure that no particle of the Gifts is dropped); these duties are usually given to acolytes, but it was a moving symbol of their love for Dn. Virgil
The clergy and people give thanks to God.
Fr. Andrew and Dn. Virgil lead the prayers of dismissal.
As the clergy pray, the cantors sing softly, "Unto the one who blesses us and sanctifies us with God's grace, Lord, keep him in Your care, many years unto him."
The recently ordained deacon is accepted here, too, with the acceptance and blessing: "AXIOS!" By our cries of 'Axios,' we are giving approval as members of the faithful, saying, "Yes, we agree that this person be ordained to serve God, the Church, and us. We will accept his prayers and his blessings. We will accept his ministry."1
Fr. Andrew congratulates Dn. Virgil, while Fr. Costin beams. Awwww.
After the congregation departed for the coffee hour, the clergy remain in the altar to consume the rest of the Gifts and remove their vestments.
Before I realized just how long the post-liturgical altar things would take, I enjoyed the beautiful iconography of the church. This is the icon of Christ, Pantokrator (the ruler of all) at St. Vasilios.
Fr. Andrew, Dn. Virgil, and Fr. Costin. We managed to capture our clergy and take pictures after the coffee hour, provided by Philoptochos. (Philoptochos is everywhere, taking care of us!)

Friday, June 09, 2006

Ordination to the Diaconate

Virgil's ordination to the diaconate was held at St. Andrew Greek Orthodox Church in South Bend, IN, on June 4, 2006. Please let me know if you have any questions about what goes on in these pictures.

Stefan holds the dikirion on Metropolitan Iakovos' left, and Dn. Vasili holds the trikera to his right as they say the preparatory prayers before Orthros.
Fr. Alexios, Fr. George, and Fr. Dean (holding the dikirion) receive the blessing from Metropolitan Iakovos. Magda, George, Hristos, and Catherine are at the chant stand. Dn. Vasili holds the trikirion and an open book. I think at this point we were just beginning the Liturgy.
Metr. Iakovos blesses Virgil's head. Fr. Dean is on the left, Dn. Vasili is holding the trikirion. George, Hristos, and Catherine are semi-visible at the chanter's stand. Virgil is wearing the white hitona (to symbolize the purity of the one who is about to serve the Lord) and carries the pitcher and basin with which to wash the bishop's hands. This is the beginning of the ordination to subdiaconate; Virgil had already been tonsured a reader years ago.
Fr. George reads the symmartyria from Fr. Andrew (of St. Vasilios, Sdn. Virgil's spiritual father at school) in both English and Greek. The symmartyria is a letter from one's spiritual father indicating that one is an acceptable candidate for ordination.* Fr. Andrew later said that he was happy to be at the ordination through the symmartyria, though he could not attend in person.

*I've noticed that there are many people who find my blog by searching for "symmartyria." If you need an example of one in Greek or English, email me.
Metr. Iakovos was given the choice of a heavy crystal pitcher-and-bowl or a light steel set. Naturally, he picked the crystal. In his day, they were this big! as he told us at the luncheon afterwards.
One of the duties of a subdeacon is to wash the bishop's hands. Sdn. Virgil washes Metr. Iakovos' hands as Fr. George, Fr. Dean, and Dn. Vasili look on. After this, Metr. Iakovos flicked the water from his hands onto Sdn. Virgil's face.
Dn. Vasili helps Sdn. Virgil with the pitcher and basin while Metr. Iakovos dries his hands. Frs. Alexios, George, and Dean look on.
After Metr. Iakovos dried his hands, he placed the towel on Sdn. Virgil's head. Still holding the basin and pitcher, Sdn. Virgil is led to Christ by Fr. Alexios and Fr. Dean. The icon of Christ is still decorated from Pascha because the white cloth looked so nice.
Time for prayer: as the candidate stands in front of the icon of Christ, he should recite the 50th Psalm, some hymns from the ninth hour, and other penitential prayers. He will remain in front of the icon of Christ through the Small Entrance and the readings of the epistle and Gospel.
The clergy and the altar boys, having come out through the north deacon's door (second from the left, with Archangel Michael), process with the Gospel book for the Small Entrance, pausing to sing hymns in front of the Royal Doors. After this, the epistle is read, and then the Gospel is read. For this Liturgy, the Gospel was read in Greek by Dn. Vasili and in English by Fr. Dean.
The next procession from the north deacon's door (still open in this picture) is called the Great Entrance. The clergy bear the bread and wine which will be offered as the Eucharist. For hierarchical Divine Liturgies, the bishop stays within the altar to receive the Gifts. The candidate for ordination follows the priests who bear the covered chalices. Dn. Vasili has the aer draped over his shoulders.
After the Great Entrance, the candidate for ordination is set before the icon of the Theotokos to pray until it is time to ordain him.
During the confession of the Creed, Metr. Iakovos kisses the altar as Fr. Dean and Fr. George shake the aer gently over the Gifts. This shaking was originally to keep flies and dirt away from the Holy Gifts. Dn. Vasili stands in front of the Royal Doors.
Sdn. Virgil is led forward by Fr. Dean and Fr. George to Metropolitan Iakovos at the Royal Doors.
Metr. Iakovos asks whether Sdn. Virgil is willing to accept this ordination, and whether he has anything he would like to say.
Metr. Iakovos prays over Sdn. Virgil. There is an altar boy prostrating himself on the left, and Dn. Vasili kneeling, head bowed, on the right.
Metr. Iakovos and Dn.(?) Virgil. The latter is still wearing his hitona.
Metr. Iakovos bestows the vestments on Dn. Virgil. We borrowed from Fr. Gregory, who is no longer a deacon. Evidently, he and Dn. Virgil are exactly the same size!
Dn. Vasili secures the right cuff (epimanikia) and Fr. Dean the left as they vest Dn. Virgil, who already wears the sticharion. The prayers of vesting are beautiful.

When the priest or deacon puts on the sticharon, he says: "My soul shall rejoice in the Lord, for He hath clothed me in the garment of salvation and with the vesture of gladness hath He covered me (Is. 61:10). In putting on the epimanika or cuffs, first on the right hand and then on the left, he prays: "Thy right hand, O Lord, is glorified in strength; Thy right hand, O Lord, hath vanquished the enemy, and in the multitude of Thy glory hast Thou crushed the adversaries (Ex. 15:6). "Thy hands have made me and fashioned me..." (Ps. 118:73). The cuffs are symbolic of the bonds of Christ and serve as a reminder that a minister of the Church must rely not on his own strength, but on the help of God. 1

Dn. Vasili and Fr. Dean assist Dn. Virgil with his orarion.
Deacon Virgil is now arrayed in the "garments of salvation." 2
Immediately, the new deacon begins to serve the Church, petitioning God for all good things. (This sounds like a PBS documentary, but, well, that's what happened.)
Dn. Virgil reads pre-Communion prayers for Metr. Iakovos.
Virgil now communes as a deacon. My favorite pictures of my husband, the ones which make me choke up they're so beautiful, are those in which I see him receiving the precious Gifts.
Deacon Virgil holds his orarion patiently. (I mean, it's nothing to the crystal pitcher...)
Dn. Virgil offers petitions to God on behalf of His people.
Dn. Virgil awaits the metropolitan.
Cake at the reception for afterwards. Evidently my mother decided to wander around with the camera.
My next project is to organize the pictures from Dn. Virgil's first Liturgy as a deacon, at St. Vasilios in Peabody, MA, on June 6, 2006.