Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Jordanville Videos

It’s great being home again. But at the same time, I miss life at Jordanville: nature, solitude, silence, and holy services. In order to help this home-sickness (or is it monastery-sickness?) and gear me up for the coming year, I put together a Youtube playlist of videos from Jordanville. If you miss Jordanville too, I highly recommend watching. The playlist includes several videos introducing the monastery, clips of services, and two full-length documentaries (Russian-only).

Monday, July 25, 2011

Strummin’ Along

Tonight I heard the guitarist Anastasios Comanescu at the Greek parish. Taso is the son of Fr. Ioan and Matushka Effie Comanescu in Palo Alto, whom I know from my San Francisco days. The concert was a fundraiser for the Nisiotes Greek dance troupe, which provided refreshments.

About a hundred people sat in the church hall. The guitarist came in wearing casual clothes and decked in a few flower leis (“I don’t usually wear these at concerts.”). As he tuned his guitar he introduced himself and talked about the pieces he was going to play.

The first set began with “Romanza,” a very recognizable tune which, according to Taso, “will warm up both my fingers and your ears.” Then came a couple pieces by Narváez, followed by a great adaptation of the Prelude from Bach’s First Cello Suite. He continued with a Celtic hymn (“Be Thou My Vision”), something by Ponce, and finally works by the French composers Visée and Couperin originally written for the harpsichord. The lilting guitar was very soothing for the soul, and loud applause punctuated the end of each piece.

A short intermission followed; I got some refreshments (including baklava!) from the table, and talked to my neighbor (a German exchange student) about actual guitarists in Spain.

The second set was made up of three pieces by Mikis Theodorakis (famous for scoring “Zorba the Greek”), which added a nice Greek flavor. He ended the set with three pieces from the brilliant blind composer Joaquin Rodrigo. “Pajaros de Primavera” was quite enthralling, using intricate jumps to mimic the chirping of birds. After the final piece we called for an encore, which Taso gladly played.

It was the best ten dollars I’ve spent in a long time. Good music, good food, and good company equal a wonderful evening.

Friday, July 15, 2011

…just call him Vladika.

My Internet search for correct terms of ecclesiastical address came up with contradictory results, especially for the lower clerical ranks. However, I think I found what looks to be a reliable text for common usage in ROCOR on Fr. Deacon Eugene Kallaur’s website. The text itself was prepared by His Grace Bishop Peter (Lukianov) of Cleveland.

1. The below forms of address are meant for the most formal written correspondence. You should not use them outside of a very formal context.
2. The translations of the non-Episcopal titles (e.g. “Your Very Venerableness”) are very, very unofficial and are meant only for educational use. If you are an English speaker, please DO NOT use them. I take no responsibility for the looks you might get.

Title Honorific Translation
Metropolitan or Archbishop Ваше Высокопреосвященство Your Eminence
Bishop Ваше Преосвященство Your Grace
Archimandrite or Abbot Ваше Высокопреподобие Your Very Venerableness
Hieromonk Ваше Преподобие Your Venerableness
Archdeacon or Hierodeacon Ваше Преподобие Your Venerableness
Protopresbyter or Archpriest Ваше Высокоблагословение Your Very Blessing
Priest Ваше Благословение Your Blessing
Protodeacon or Deacon Ваше Благовестие Your Evangelicality

1. Abbesses also have the address «Ваше Высокопреподобие». From what I’ve read so far, monks in general also have the address «Ваше Преподобие».
2. I have found two sources with slightly different forms of address (here and here). For example, in the second source «Ваше Преподобие» can refer to priests, protodeacons, and deacons. The first source is very close to the ROCOR text I found, though it lacks «Ваше Преподобие».
3. The ultimate source of these titles is of course the Table of Ranks prepared by Peter the Great in 1722. However, I am not sure when the ecclesiastical ranks were formally codified. These forms of address have most probably changed over the course of time; further research may reveal when the ROCOR usage was adopted.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Your…Somethingness (an initial inquiry)

One of the random things I’ve learned as a seminarian is the various titles of honour that come attached to various clerical ranks. Of course, we all know that “Your Holiness” refers to a metropolitan, and “His Beatitude” to a metropolitan. But did you know that in Russia, especially Imperial Russia, the lower ranks of clergy had titles as well? Here’s what I found, according to the current protocol of the Russian Orthodox Church:

Ваше Святейшество (Your Holiness)

Metropolitans and Archbishops:
Ваше Высокопреосвященство (Your Eminence*)

Ваше Преосвященство (Your Most Reverend)

Archimandrites, Abbots, Protopresbyters, Archpriests, Archdeacons, and Protodeacons:
Ваше Высокопреподобие (Your Very Venerableness)

Hieromonks, Priests, Hierodeacons, Deacons:
Ваше Преподобие (Your Venerableness)

That, anyway, is the usage of the Russian Church today. In my personal opinion, this is a little idiosyncratic, especially in the lower ranks. Why would «Ваше Высокопреподобие» refer to Archdeacons? Wouldn’t that make them sound like they outrank ordinary priests, who are called «Ваше Преподобие»? Moreover, this is Moscow Patriarchate usage, which may not be the same as that which is traditionally accepted in the Church Abroad.

As my research continues (and my Russian gets better) I will make some additional updates, and hopefully come up with a table of honorifics appropriate for use in ROCOR.

*Lit. “Your Very Most Reverendness”

UPDATE: After doing a little research, I prepared a table of honorifics.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dirty Jobs

One of the benefits of a seminary education at Jordanville is that you learn new skills that you can apply in the “real world.” One of them is cleaning. Seminarians are regularly assigned to clean the dormitory on a rotating basis. In addition, there’s also cleaning up in the kitchen as well as major uborka for feasts such as Christmas, Pascha, and Pentecost. If you’re not used to doing housework, you will be by the time you graduate. In fact, you might even clean more than necessary, because living in a dormitory with a bunch of other guys can get a little messy.

During my stay here in Honolulu I intended to get an office job through a temp agency. Initial inquiries turned out disappointing, so I turned to a surefire solution: the University job board. My old college maintains a small billboard with help wanted ads. One of them advertised housework for a decent wage; the location was also pretty good. I gave it a shot.

The house turned out to be a fifteen minute walk away. After some preliminary chatting with the lady of the house, I went to work. Scrubbing, brushing, sweeping, and mopping earned me some hard cash. I returned the next day, too. And then the woman recommended to two other potential clients: her sister and her tenant.

I will spare you the details, but I did get pretty down and dirty at times. It was pretty fun in a way, too. The upshot of doing manual labor like cleaning is that the results (and resulting satisfaction) are pretty immediate. What was once grody is now shiny. I understand a little more why cleanliness is akin to godliness.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Aloha from Hawai‘i!

At last, a long-awaited (?) update! Hopefully you’re all enjoying your July 4th festivities. I’ve been enjoying myself/doing nothing for the greater part of two weeks. I’ve also begun a new review blog called Myrio; reviewed so far are three movies and some calamari curry.

Continuing where we left off, the flight to Honolulu was mostly uneventful. It was actually two flights. The first leg was Boston–San Francisco. I had an overnight layover, which I spent with the Jajehs, a Palestinian family who attend church at my old parish in the City. It was the first day of the Apostles’ Fast, which meant that I could not enjoy some delicious rice with lamb meat. However, the food I did have was so delicious that I did not miss my lamb all that much.

The next morning I bid farewell at the airport, and boarded my plane. I spent the flight continuing Pride and Prejudice; Darcy’s affections were spurned and Mr. Wickham was in deep trouble by the time I landed. My mom picked me up, and I was glad to be back home. That weekend, I also went back to my old parish, and there was rejoicing all around.

If I have the time, I will chronicle some of the interesting things going on here!