On January 1/14 the Holy Orthodox Church celebrates the feast of Circumcision of the Lord and honors the memory of Holy Hierarch Basil the Great. And this is the day when our St.Louis parish celebrates its patronal feast – our second Pascha. The festivities at St. Basil’s seem to come one after another: we just adored the newborn Christ in the cave of Bethlehem and had our parish Yolka on Saturday, January 11, only to experience the solemnities of the hierarchical Divine Services on the feast of St. Basil the Great.
The parish feast began with the Vigil on Monday night, January 13. Serving with Archbishop Peter and the parish clergy – Archpriest Martin Swanson, Priest Sergii Alekseev and Deacon Ephraim Galloway – were our guests: Archimandrite Seraphim and Hieromonk Macarius (both of the Holy Cross Monastery, Wayne, WV), Priest Daniel Marshall (St. George Church, Cincinnati, OH), while Riasaphor Monk Nicholas (Holy Cross Monastery) and Subdeacon Adam Gedney (Christ the Saviour Church, Wayne, WV) helped during the service. Before the canon at Matins, Vladyka Peter gave a homily about Holy Hierarch Basil the Great, stressing the saint’s love for the splendid and majestic Divine Services. Our archpastor mentioned that once Venerable Ephraim the Syrian questioned the need for splendor in Church, only to admit, after the encounter with the great Cappadocian theologian, that both the subdued monastic services and the majestic cathedral services are equally pleasing to God. The fellowship of the two saints ended with a discussion of the life of the Church and theological questions, with St. Basil speaking Greek and St Ephraim – Arabic, while the former did not know Arabic, and the latter – Greek. And yet the two saints had no difficulty understanding one another.
After the Vigil service all the clergy and the faithful were invited to enjoy the now traditional St. Basil’s pizza repast.
The next morning for the hierarchical Divine Liturgy the clergy who served the night before were joined by Archpriest Radomir Chkautovich – a retired Serbian priest attached to St. Basil parish. The Divine Liturgy gained even greater significance when the parish Subdeacon and recent graduate of the Diocesan Pastoral School Thomas Nichols was ordained Deacon. Archbishop Peter’s exclamation “Axios” was echoed by some of the faithful even before the clergy could repeat the acclamation in chorus from within the altar.
The Divine Service culminated with many of the faithful partaking of Holy Communion. Following the amvon prayer the customary Cross Procession around the temple took place. The Divine Liturgy was completed with Vladyka Peter’s greetings to the clergy, to the newly-ordained Deacon Thomas and the parishioners of St. Basil’s on their feast day. After the Divine Liturgy a sumptuous banquet was held in the parish hall, which could barely accommodate all those gathered. As the honorable guests and the faithful were enjoying the food, they were treated to choicest pieces of music: first, Julia Smith played a couple of numbers on her flute and then violinist Julia Sakharova, accompanied by her husband Clay on cello, delivered a music storm which moved every soul who heard the inspiring notes.
Whenever Archbishop Peter visits St Basil’s the faithful are ready to hear his words and ask him questions. This time Vladyka was asked about his childhood. In his response, Vladyka painted for those present a verbal picture of Russian Orthodox San Francisco in 1950’s and 1960’s, paying special tribute to the hierarchs and clergy he met in the years of his youth. For the last several months, the youth of the parish have been gathering after each Sunday Divine Liturgy for the so-called “Young Adult Talk”. Taking advantage of having our ruling hierarch in our midst, the youth – ranging from those in their teens to those in their 30’s – asked the archpastor to give them a few minutes of his time. Vladyka talked about the challenges the youth are facing, making a special note of the fashionable tattooing and body piercing, gender games and abortion.
We thank God for providing us with this great opportunity of having our archpastor in our midst and are looking forward to the next feast of Holy Hierarch Basil the Great, archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia.