Christmas weekend at the Cathedral has ended. I celebrated with a monster nap Sunday afternoon as the snow began to come down hard. We are getting one of those huge New England blizzards – our clergy family retreat at the camp has already been cancelled – and I am looking forward to going snowshoeing tomorrow at some point after digging out. Here is how the weekend unfolded:
Friday evening we had the vesperal liturgy of St. Basil followed by the Christmas pageant on the soleas of the church. Several people asked me “is there communion tonight”? so I figure an explanation is needed of how the Christmas services work. We normally have two Christmas liturgies – one the night before (the liturgical day starts at sundown the night before) and one the morning of. This tradition came about to make it easier for people to attend a service. If Christmas falls on a Sunday or Monday then there is supposed to be only one service – the usual Sunday service if a Sunday, and since people are unlikely to go to church twice in one day if Christmas eve is a Sunday then just the Monday service. The service this year on Friday evening was vespers, the evening service, into the liturgy of St. Basil with orthros and the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom on Christmas morning. The liturgy of St. Basil is almost identical to the usual liturgy except the priest’s prayers after a certain point are much longer – for this reason it is thought to be an older service, with Chrysostom’s liturgy containing shortened prayers (unusual for something in the Orthodox world to get shorter rather than longer:)
So…Christmas Eve was great, with the customary huge crowds. The pageant was beautifully done – a mixture of students reading the narratives and the choir quietly singing in the background and during processions in. Vaia participated this year as a sheep – the sheep wear special coats and earmuffs of fuzzy material – I guess wool – and they are very cute. Here is a picture of the gathering after the Wise Men (actually 1 boy and 2 girls this year) presented their gifts:
Saturday morning we had a nice orthros and liturgy, and it was a joy to have Fr. Emmanuel participating as he celebrated his name day. We had maybe 150-200 people, so it was much calmer than the night before. I prepared two chalices but only consecrated one – thinking that many of the people there had been the night before and would probably not receive again. Big mistake. I ended up going out alone and communed about half the people there, seemingly, so it took a while. Fr. Emmanuel gave out the antidoro solo so that everyone could wish him chronia polla.
Today we had another nice service but the combination of Christmas fatigue – two services plus family events – and the impending giant storm kept people home. We had a small crowd similar to Grecian Festival Sunday. Fr. Dean left early to make an emergency hospital visit, which just goes to show you that even on a holiday weekend with a blizzard about to swoop down on us you never know what is going to happen.