Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Bright Pascha! A Joyous Pascha!

I hope everyone enjoyed the pre-programmed postings of videos while I was gone. I'm back now, this being my first live post in a while.

I am too tired to blog much. I'll just say it was good. Didn't drink too much this year. In fact, hardly drank, at all. I only had a couple of sips of the Mama Lucia my brother gave me, it was very popular and the bottle disappeared down 2 dozen gullets.

I think Athanasia and I have decided Basil just can't handle being up all night. So, for the next few years we will all go to the Liturgy of St. Basil on Saturday morning (though about 2/3 of the way through the Old Testament readings he said in a loud plaintive voice, "Daddy, I'm tired of stories."), then Athanasia and Basil will go home until Agape Vespers on Sunday Afternoon, leaving Anselm and I in San Francisco for the main event of Saturday night and early Sunday morning.

I hope my Orthodox readers won't think me a heretic, but I actually enjoy the quiet Saturday morning Liturgy and the Sunday afternoon Vespers more than the crowded loud exultant and ebullient Matins and Liturgy in the middle of the night. The Saturday morning Liturgy and the Agape Vespers draw much smaller crowds, but almost everyone who I think of as the core group of parishoners (I don't think of myself as being part of that group. My weekly attendance is too spotty.), and these two services are very relaxed and homey feeling. Also, it is comforting in a way that I think Heaven is comforting. For example, and I write this knowing I am not doing a good job explaining it, at the end of the liturgy on Saturday morning the young women of the Catedral run downstairs to get several loaves of homemade whole-grain bread from the oven. A table is set up in the back of the nave, the bread and several large jugs of hot wine are blessed, and everyone drinks and eats in the presence of the Icons and Relics. And Jesus is there too, resting on the Altar. Its like that scene out of Exodus 24 where the leaders of Israel sit down to a meal with God. It isn't the frightening Communion meal(I'm more than a little bit afraid every time I see that chalice.), rather it is more like God's family just being with Him and each other. Its really better than anything I expected Orthodoxy to be. The Sacrifice has been made during the Divine Liturgy, now were just hanging out with God, the saints and each other.

Agape Vespers is great because, well, its a very short service, everyone is still giddy from the night before, and then, after the service there are leftovers to eat. And its really cool to see Bishop Benjamin in the kitchen, and have him laugh at me for calling him "Master" (but its easier than Your Grace, and I'm not Russian so Vladika would just be silly.)

The Paschal Divine Liturgy, as breathtaking and joyous as it is, is a bit like riding the rapids on the Tuolumne River: Exhilarating but exhausting.

Right after Communion during the Paschal Divine Liturgy, Athanasia took poor exhausted Basil back to the hotel room. Anselm and I stayed up till 4. Anslem had so much fun. I think he played the egg breaking game with about 40 different people. He and my God daughters, Amelia and Josephine, had a "candy party" during which they stuffed themselves with chocolate. I ate a lot but wasn't piggish: 1 slice of combo pizza, three boiled eggs, ham, roast beef, Molinari's salami, paskah & kulich, 1 shot of vodka (Thank you, Chief Warden Frank!), 1/3 a bottle of an Armenian beer (Thank you "Proto-acolyte" Ian!), 2 glasses of champagne (Thank you , Justin!), a few sips of the Mama Lucia (Thank you, Mark!) and an Irish Coffee that was mostly Irish (Thank you, Gregory!)

Anselm chowed down on the garlic pork sausages and roasted potatoes. I'm pretty sure he had 3 pounds of sausage all to himself. When we left at 4 am Fr. John loaded me up with meat. He tried to get me to take a whole roast beef but I declined. It looked like the greater portion of a hind-quarter. Instead I took about 5 pounds of a really amazing meat loaf.

I must mention going to Molinari's. I love that place. BAsil and Anselm picked out some cheeses. We got one huge salami to share later that night and one to eat on during bright week. Oh, it was also cool to hear Dean Martin Tunes coming out of the speakers while waiting to be served. After Molinari's we went to China town to buy firecrackers, sparklers, and pork buns. I got 2 dozen pork buns for $2 per dozen at Dick Lee's Pastry Shop and Dim Sum on Stockton Street.

The four of us woke up about 9 this morning and went for our annual family picnic. We had paskah & kulich, boiled eggs, meatloaf, various cheeses, red wine, cold water, and Molinari's salami sitting on the grass in the shade of a eucalyptus tree (It smelled beautiful) at Fort Mason. From where we were breakfasting we could see the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, the wide Pacific beyond the bridge, most of the Marina district, Sutro Tower, and the Palace of Fine Arts. We got to the cathedral just in time for Vespers. After Vespers Anselm and I set off some fire crackers in front of the Cathedral. I had forgotten how loud they are. It has been many many years since I last heard them.

Tonight, after naps, we watched Around the World in 80 Days staring David Nevin. Evening prayers were, as they will be all week, the Paschal troparion:

Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling down death by death
And Upon those in the tombs bestowing life! (3X)

It makes me so happy to hear my boys sing those words. After dinner (meat loaf, cheeses, Molinari's salami, brandy, pork buns, Italian sodas, deviled eggs) the boys and I lit some sparklers in front of the townhouse. We went for a walk and looked at stars. Anselm and I are teaching Basil to find all the constellations and stars I taught to Anselm a couple of years ago.

On Saturday evening, just about Sunset, Basil and I went for a walk while his brother and Mother were sleeping in the hotel room. We heard the big bass foghorn at the Golden Gate Bridge so went down to the marina to watch the fog. God puts on quite a show as He pushes that fog through the gate. Eventually, we only make out the tops of the bridge's two towers, and all the ships were just shadows passing through the fog. Basil liked the high piercing horns from the smaller boats the most. But he didn't like it when I imitated any of them. He war along the edge of the wall that defines the edge of the bay at that point, ran up and down the gang planks to the yacht berths. But it got pretty cold. Oddly, it got warmer as the night wore on, and reached 80 degrees in SF today. We had to stop at Starbucks on the way home from SF today to get cold drinks.

Well, 40 days till Ascension and 50 till Pentecost, when Metropolitan Jonah will be with us. Oh! That will be a big to do. (again, this Pentecost is one of these events where I like the services associated with it more than the main Divine Liturgy itself. I love the Festal Vigil the night before when all the priests surround the bishop in the nave of the Cathedral and sing O Heavenly King to the Holy Spirit for the first time since Pascha.)

I know this wasn't a very easy to follow post. I wrote stuff down in the order I thought of it not the order the events happened. I'm too tired to edit.

Christ is Risen!


Elizabeth said...

Sounds wonderful !
I too really love the Agape Vespers :-)

Mimi said...

Indeed He is Risen!

Beautiful to read your jumbled thoughts, that is just how Pascha is, you know?

DebD said...

I agree with Mimi - it is a joy to read your thoughts through the groggy joyous Bright Monday fog. I have not been to Agape Vespers on Pascha Sunday as it is only down at the Cathedral and I hear that it is super crowded. It's also at noon - and I'm still in recovery mode at that time! LOL.