Author Topic: Dormition Vespers in Montana  (Read 1195 times)

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Offline Keble

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Dormition Vespers in Montana
« on: August 18, 2008, 01:31:40 AM »
So here I am in one of Montana's cities, and I find out that there is going to be Dormition vespers-- 7:30 Saturday evening.

It's a Greek church, and there are seven people there besides the priest; it turns out that one of the others is apparently a stray nut who for whatever reason did the whole service in Greek regardless of what language the reader used. He threw me off some because I'm used to doing Slavonic vespers in a choir rather than Greek vespers in the congregation, so I was relying a bit on the others to get me through the service. There weren't enough books to go around, though I did end up with one after one of the other women scrounged the pews for one. Not surprisingly, I got cast adrift a few times when the priest either read from a different translation or when he used the propers (not printed in the book).

The church doesn't look particularly Orthodox from the outside except for the crosses on the doors, but it was built some great time ago for the Greeks. The icons are mostly framed prints, mostly in a late Vicky style but with some modern (and therefore, ironically, more traditional) painted panels. The only mural icon is a huge and very well executed Pantocrator with a seraph on the ceiling. The iconostasis was a bit odd. The ceiling is rather low, so there is only room for two ranks of icons. The angel doors did have Gabriel and Michael, and there was a Last Supper over the central door. That door was a pocket door with Christ rising from a cup (I don't remember what that one is called), and the order of the icons on either side was puzzling. On the left, the Theotokos was sort of a combination of the Hodegetria and Panakranta types; I'm not sure exactly who was on the right, but if it was Christ, it was an extremely atypical form.

As I said, the service proceeded in a mixture of Greek and English, with the Phos Hilaron sung in Greek, and the Lord's Prayer said first in Greek and then in English. I'm pretty sure that the the only Greeks present were all women. I had a chance to speak to a few of them after the service, and found out that they have eight families in the parish. They have Divine Liturgy four times a year, because they have no priest of their own; the rest of the time they have Typica. The priest, in fact, was an Antiochian from California, one of the group surrounding Gilquist. They invited me to litrugy, but I declined, pointing out that I had a previous commitment to attend Holy Eucharist with the Episcopalians.

There is much glib talk here about being able to find a parish. This is the reality in those parts: a parish whcih depends upon visiting priests from another jurisdiction, nearly a thousand miles away. Even the Episcopalians, who are hardly thick on the ground in these parts, are better served-- and they have a number of clusters where the priest spends Sunday driving from church to church (Eucharist at 6 PM is rather common). Finding a parish near my house in Maryland is easy, because finding pretty much any kind of church or temple or mosque or synagogue or other place of worship is easy to find. (I think the only thing I can't find within an hour drive is a Shinto shrine.) In other parts of the country, it isn't easy.