Saturday 2.13.10

Sunday morning at St. Spiridon

A few weeks ago, I attended a Sunday morning service at the St. Spiridon Cathedral. It was packed with young couples and children. We arrived just as they began ringing the bells. They sounded just slightly different from the first time I heard them. The rhythm was quicker and less regular, but the call was the same and the congregation found their way inside. There were greetings of smiles, candle lightings and songs from above. The sign of the cross was remembered frequently, the ground was touched, heads were bowed and relics kissed. The priest swung his incensor. The altar boys opened and closed doors. They clergy emerged and retreated behind screens. The congregation crossed their hands over their chests and received communion. Bread was chewed. Wine sipped. Spoonfuls of wine were offered to babes. Children whispered and were picked up and set down. The money basket was passed around. It was a rich and golden service filled with ritual and gesture. I left wanting more and so...


Kris and Cherie came up from Kent to attend Vespers with me. We met at St. Spiridon at 5:30pm. Kris has been studying the French composer Frederic Mompou in whose works, I read, the bells are audible. She came to hear the bells of St. Spiridon. Alas, they were in a minor car accident and missed the bells, but I heard all of them. Glorious! Kris and Cherie arrived just as the service was starting and we went in together. The flavor of the Vespers was very different than the Sunday service. There were only about 20 people present, no children. All the candles dangling in their red votive glasses before all the saints in gold frames lining the walls appeared to have inner volume. The altar and dome lights went on and off twice during the mass which changed and heightened the candlelight that followed.

A Blessing

There were two priests presiding over the mass. Each wore a different tall velvet hat. Their outfits changed periodically. One held the bible, the other waved the incensor. Twice, they circumnavigated the room and the congregation moved in together, the way a flock of birds might change direction to face the wind, to let them around and then be blessed. We made it one hour into the service before the group needed to go off for dinner reservations. Kris made some interesting observations about the choir. We all noticed the man at the front of the group who was pulling his hair out.

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