Tuesday, September 30, 2008

2008 Orthodox Conference, Erie, Pennsylvania, Part 5

Bishop John, presiding over his first Hierarchical liturgy

One aspect of the conference that I should mention is that parallel to the adult portions of the conference, they had youth activities as well. My children were unable to come, but those I spoke to who had children there said they enjoyed it very much. On Friday evening, after Vespers, they had a picnic at an amusement park, and the children had even more fun... and the adults had some fun too.

After the lecture on Saturday, things began to wind down as far as the Conference was concerned. Many clergy began heading home. I planned on staying through Sunday because I was originally scheduled to speak on Saturday myself. I am glad I did.

The Saturday evening vigil had some features I had not seen up to this point. For one, during the Vigil they chanted the Gospel Commentary, which is an Old Rite text that I was already familiar with (it is a great resource for preparing for a sermon on those readings). It contains homilies on the Gospel readings for Sundays and feasts. It is a lot like the commentaries of Blessed Theophylact, except these are not just commentaries, but actually homilies rooted in commentary. The text was not simply read, but chanted.

The Gospel Commentary

I also noticed more local parishioners in attendance at this service.

On Sunday morning, the newly consecrated Bishop John (Berzins) presided over his first hierarchical liturgy. The Church was very full, and afterwards we all went to the parish hall for a very large scale trapeza, at which Fr. Pimen recognized those in the parish who had helped to pull off the Conference. The Conference speakers were also given three gifts, all books published by the parish: The Gospel Commentary, a copy of the second edition of the Old Orthodox Prayer Book (which is in both English and Slavonic), and their new Old Rite Horologion. All three of these books are publications of the highest quality -- no corners were cut. The binding, the paper, the ribbon markers... I am suspect that the parish has not made a profit off of them, but as with the conference itself, sacrificially invested their resources out of love for God. The primary purpose of these texts was for their own parish use, although there is much outside interest in them.

The Old Orthodox Prayer Book

I would recommend the prayer book to any pious Orthodox laymen... and I think the contents it has should serve as a model for other prayer books. It has extensive troparia and kontakia (though not exhaustive), and many services for lay use that are not published in English elsewhere. Also, the Slavonic and English texts on facing pages is especially useful for those in parishes were English and Slavonic are used together... or where only Slavonic is used, and non-Russian English speakers happen to be in attendance.

The Old Rite Horologion

The Horologion is something that any liturgical nerd would want to have, and just to have a text with all the troparia and kontakia of the yearly, festal, and tonal cycles makes this text worth getting.

I left the conference feeling a definite connection with the community there. They are very pious folks, very hospitable, and their parish is a place that everyone should try and see for themselves.

I don't know when they might host another conference like this one... but when they do, I would recommend going.