Saturday, September 10, 2011

"You are amongst a cloud of witnesses"

The cornerstone is in two languages, and two alphabets, and commemorates two sister faiths: Russian Orthodox, and Greek Catholics. There were few Russians in Cleveland at the end of the XIXth century, and beginning of the XXth. A Rusyn (Ruthenian) community from the eastern Austrian empire came earlier. For this the third, parish temple, the tsar of all the Russias, Nicholas II donated money (Russian Missionary Fund). It was then, the first Orthodox church in Ohio, and the members were all converts. The church was modelled after the Cathedral Church of Christ the Savior, Moscow, the church built after Napoleon left, and was later dynamited to dust by Stalin, and has been built new again. It had been modelled after Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. The faith is continuous from the old countries to the new.

At the time of founding, the people wanted the parish named after St. Nicholas. Nicholas, bishop in San Francisco (Diocese of the Aleutians and North America) chose, the newly canonised, St. Theodosius of Chernigov. To-day, St. Theodosius celebrated the 100th anniversary of the church building. The parish is from 1896, but this building is only a century. Matthias, the Bishop of Chicago and the Middle West came for the Hierarchical Liturgy and celebrations.

One window in the church is that of St. Alexis Toth. Toth was a Greek Catholic priest who quarrelled with the Latin-rite archbishop of St. Paul, John Ireland. Ireland had no jurisdiction, but a great antipathy towards the eastern rites. Toth and many thousands of Greek Catholics (then also called Uniats, and now Byzantines) left Rome for Eastern Orthodoxy. Toth is the patron saint of the Middle West.

In his homily, Bishop Matthias said the pictures on the glass, those painted on the walls, and icon screen represent a cloud of witnesses. The saints are praying for you to join them in the cloud. You are more important than the building. The foundation of the church is Christ. When you take the Body and Blood of Christ from the chalice, you become a chalice, a church. Yet, the event was a fond celebration of the building. How does this compare with Cleveland's Roman rite bishop, who celebrate's neither the buildings, the art within it, or the nationalities of the people who built it, with their then laborer's wage of 10, and 12¢ an hour?

Before the Divine Liturgy, an ordination of minor orders took place. New subdeacons, readers (lectors), taper bearers were created. If one thinks the Latin Church has too much pageantry, he could not stand [and stand he must during virtually the entire service, outside the homily] the Orthodox. It is still one in beauty, and truth of the one faith, sadly separated in two portions.

reading of the Gospel
Iconostasis, and portions of walls and ceilings, the Orthodox share an aversion of empty space
After Liturgy, and veneration of the Cross, the rain had finally stopped. This allowed for a photograph to be taken outside of the assembly. Archpriest, and Dean, John Zdinak arranges the multitude in front of the photographer. Yes, this is the church in the film, The Deerhunter.

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