Friday, April 29, 2005

Holy Week

Wow! I finally have a couple of seconds to write. It has been an insanely busy week, but also a great experience and a story that I will find amusing for many years to come.

Being a first year student at Holy Cross, I am enrolled in the Holy Week seminar: we basically run the chapel for Holy Week (altar, chant, ushering) and attend a series of lectures on the structure and meaning of Holy Week. Last Friday we had our first meeting for making palm crosses for Palm Sunday. I found out at that time that I was designated a chant leader, together with one student who has been here a few years and a former student, both wonderful chanters.

After the initial surprise and talking to one or two people, I realized that the other two would do most of the chanting and I would be the 'emergency' chanter. That was Friday evening. Saturday neither one shows up - for good reason, as I was to find out later: the current student was an emergency replacement chanter for a local parish and the former student teaches on Saturday. In any case, that was my welcome to the Holy Week seminar.

By now you have probably realized that, since one of the other chant leaders was assigned to a parish, that leaves two chant leaders for the chapel. Thus the story comes to the present: it has been an extremely hectic week, but, by the grace of God, I have been able to prepare for each service and take care of the English section of the chant reasonably well. There are five services left - I hope and pray they go well. Now, back to chant practice and/or the annual Paschal apartment cleaning.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Mmm... quirks (as opposed to quarks)

I noticed this today on a bag of microwave popcorn

"Helpful hints"

* Do not use the microwave "Popcorn" setting

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

To Holy Week...

This week - altar duty. It is a really interesting experience: in previous years I was always at the chant stand for presanctified Liturgies, so I am not familiar with all the details of what goes on in the altar at the various times. Being back in the altar still takes some getting used to. After being there quite often in my Texas days, in Indiana I was almost always at the chant stand. I guess this is a good re-acquainting process (and a learning process) for the day when, God willing, I will be ordained.

Next week - holy week.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Review of Lent thus far and thoughts on the burial of Archbishop Iakovos

My blogs have become rather more spaced out since the start of Lent. The connection is rather indirect: tests and papers seemed to coincide with Lent this year - pretty much all the way to last week.

So far, Lent has followed its usual pattern: it's had a good number of rough spots, but overall it has been a wonderful chance to work on some of my shortcomings. Yesterday we finished the current series of adult education classes at my parish assignment. Overall I am happy with the outcome. It can always be better, but for a start it was pretty good in terms of interest and actual participation in the discussions. God willing, we'll continue next year.

The biggest event on campus last week was the interment of Archbishop Iakovos, who had led the Greek Archiocese of the Americas (at the time) for 37 years. I have not had the chance to learn too much about his life, but from the little I know, I have come to have a significant amount of respect for him as a man who tried to be true to his convictions. The presence of his body in the chapel and the ceremonies were moving and beautiful.

One thing that I didn't quite understand was why the Presanctified Liturgy celebrated just prior to the interment was performed overwhelmingly in Greek (the only exceptions being the Our Father - done bilingually - and about three hymns sung by Fr. Seraphim in English). Personally, I don't mind the Greek; I like the language enough that I work at it and have gotten to the point where most of the time I can make at least partial sense of what is being said even if I haven't heard it before (psalms, prayers, etc). The thing that makes me wonder is that the service was recorded and there were guests who were not of Greek background. It is not even so much that they would not understand what was going on. My thought is that using predominantly Greek in the service paints for the guests (and for whoever may view the recording) a false picture of the current status of the archdiocese. There are still some predominantly Greek parishes (e.g., around New York, Boston, and Chicago), but that is no longer the rule. The Greek Orthodox Church Archdiocese of America is becoming, albeit slowly, more and more an American church.
I was talking with a friend yesterday about this and he remarked what a wide variety of people we have on campus: Greeks from Greece, second and later generation Greek-Americans, a large number of converts, and a fair number of international students. There is diversity within the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese; I guess I would like that diversity to be more visible, especially on those occasions where the archdiocese becomes (even momentarily) a part of the general American consciousness.

Now for New Testament reading catch-up.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Byzantine music - a new approach

Every once in a while my brain short-circuits. Then these sorts of things happen...

The Byzantine scale is Ni-Pa-Vu-Ga-Di-Ke-Zo-Ni. Thus...

"Every eight weeks the scale starts from Ni, so we are the 'knights of Ni'" and

"Every once in a while, Byzantine music is food advertising: every time a melody ends pa-ni-ni."

Now, power failure