Friday, May 23, 2014

St. Basil's Cathedral

I attended two different masses this morning in two different churches. I understood for the first time why genuflectio is so important.  Not knowing the language I was only able to keep up by crossing myself along with everyone else.  It’s a way of joining, a bit deaf people dancing.  I was in the mood for mass.  I was the tall guy at the back of the group of short little stooped and shawled older ladies.  Others joined in after me.  The services seemed casual that way.  Watching another man join for a bit, he really actually knew the words, I saw him stop, buy a candle, light it and leave.  So I bought a candle, lit it, said prayers for family, then left.  In these churches cameras would have been definitely frowned on, especially during the service.
In Meteora, Greece, the Orthodox didn’t allow photography within the chapel. Indeed the split between the Roman Church and the Orthodox Church in Constantinople some thousand and  more years ago had a lot to do with images and representation.  The ‘realism’ of the west offended the east.   Hence present day orthodox iconography.
At St. Basil’s, cameras were allowed in all but one chapel.  I wasn’t certain if this was privilege or apostate. Certainly if God was more judgemental than loving I’d have been smote then and there for the blasphemy of ‘selfie’. The vanity! And pride.  Thankfully God has a sense of humour.  Even Jesus walked on water while the disciples were sorely afraid of a mere storm.  The art and reverence of the devout Orthodox servants was truly wonderful.  Guided tour groups walked in awe through the darkened halls.  A concert of chants took place while I was there.  Deeply moving.

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