Wednesday, October 31, 2007

How to Utterly Avoid Halloween

I just have to write about my day.

I got up at 5:30 am. After getting myself ready, I got the kids out of bed, into their clothes and into the car. Seven a.m. Divine Liturgy in honor of St. John Kochurov of Chicago. He is such a cool saint.

He's Russian, of course, but came to America to labor as a missionary priest, late 1800's, early 1900's. He did. In Chicago. If you are ever in Chicago, go check out Holy Trinity Cathedral. He's the priest who over-saw the building of that Church. His parishioners were very poor, so he went to Russia to raise money for the building program. His ministry also was marked by lots of good preaching, and many chrismations and baptisms.

In 1907 he and his family returned to Russia. For a while he was a teacher, but then his wish was fulfilled and he became a parish priest again.

Was it the wrong place at the wrong time, or the right place at the right time? In October of 1917, after a prayer service, when his town was surrounded by Bolsheviks, he was arrested by them when they took over the town. Taken out to a field. And beaten. And shot. Cruelly. He did not die right away and his body was abused.

St. John was the first Hieromartyr (that means he was a priest who was martyred) of the Russian revolution. Evil times. The first of many, many, many. More than can be numbered and only God knows all their names. (More Christians were killed during the 20th century than in all other centuries combined, most of them in Russia.)

Today is the anniversary of his falling asleep in the Lord (his REAL birthday, so to speak), so the Church remembers him, and celebrates.

It's like meeting a new friend. What a dear, beloved Father, to come to America to labor as a pastor for so long. He did much while here. And then to go home and face martyrdom, eventually.

Most saints, I tend to think of as musty relics of the past. This morning the ambo bore not only two different icons of St. John, but also a framed photograph. That puts things in perspective.

After liturgy a bunch of us gathered in the back for some oatmeal. Father Justin has some photo albums of his trip to Russia (2001...back when he was a REALLY young man.) My priest was actually friends with some of St. John's descendants. Grand daughter, great-grandson, that sort of thing.

And so we sat around looking at this fabulous photo album of Russia, amazing pictures of all over, and hearing stories, connections, cultural idiosyncracies...it was wonderful.

Makes me want to go to Russia for a visit someday.

After that we all adjourned to the Church office where the sub-deacon was burning samples of ALL the incense our parish owns, and making a master list of what would be good to use when. It was fun to give opinions. A great time was had by all, and I think we were all a bit drunk on the incense smoke. It was like a wine tasting party...only not. Tshaikovsky was playing in the background.

So now I know a new saint. That's special.

This evening we all met again on the hill for a special prayer service to/with the saints of North America...followed by marshmallows and s'mores down at the fire pit. Good times had by all. I think the priest's little son shnookered more than a dozen marshmallows off various folks.

Glorious Feast Day!

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