Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Blessing of the chariots

July 20 is St. Elias (Elijah) Day. Elias was the Old Testament prophet that lived in the time of Achab and Jezabel. The eastern churches celebrate the day more often than the western. Here in, Brooklyn, Ohio there is a Melkite parish of St. Elias.
outdoor mosaic Elias fed by a raven. St. Elias. Brooklyn, Ohio.
There are a number of episodes with Elias. Perhaps, the chariot story is the favorite. One prise winning film was entitled, "Chariots of Fire", it was not about Elias, but he was the inspiration. The closed appealing church of St. James, Lakewood has a fine painted mural of Elias in his chariot.
And as they went on, walking and talking together, behold a fiery chariot, and fiery horses parted them both asunder: and Elias went up by a whirlwind into heaven. — IV Kings ii. 11.
The eastern churches would have you know that St. Elias the Prophet was the Second Forerunner of Christ. Many times, the eastern title is lengthier, more poetic, more mystical.

Some parishes bless modern day chariots (automobiles) on St. Elias, or the vigil, or for Sunday. The blessing will allude to the Scriptural quotation above, and sometimes the ethiopian eunuch who was reading in a chariot and met Philip the Apostle. A very tangential thing is to-day is the anniversary of the first moon landing. Here at St. John the Baptist, Byzantine Cathedral, Parma one drives up for the blessing prayer, smoke and a sprinkle. Windows are to be open. Ancient chariots were open topped. It is a quick drive through. Of course, the engine does not have to be running, and a procession could move from one car to another. This is a sacramental without a set form. Still it is a good thing, it is an organic growth in ministering to the community.

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