Thursday, February 28, 2008


Holy Cross does a monthly Paraklesis service (similar to a Moleben in the Russian tradition), which for those who don't know is an Orthodox supplication service. Now, for my Evangelical friends, don't expect to walk in and find people sitting around, sharing requests and then breaking up into small groups for extemporaneous prayer. We'll pray for specific people (from requests circulated daily on the parish e-mail list and weekly in the bulletin), but we assume that God knows at least as much as we do about their situations. So the prayer is light on details, heavy on context.

"Concise Orthodox service" is a Googlenope, a term coined by columnist Gene Weingarten for a phrase that does not register any hits if you Google it in quotes. (Of course, once you've identified a Googlenope online, it ceases to be one.) So it should come as no surprise that we spend an hour singing about our general human plight before God, and then the priest rattles through a long list of names. I never get the impression that this belittles their needs or anyone else's. It's sort of like the guys who brought the paralytic to Jesus and had to lower him down through the roof. They had to get a group together, somehow climb up on the roof, open up a hole, lower him down--a lot of hard work, it seems to me. But when everything was done, it was a simple act of laying their friend at Jesus's feet. They didn't have to explain anything, didn't have to make any eloquent speeches. The need was as obvious to him as it was to them, and their faith and love were obvious too. In prayer, we come before God's throne. We prostrate, we invoke the saints, we acknowledge our sin--and when all is said and done, we lay down our friends and neighbors and trust God to act.

I find it to be a very moving service, and I love when I get to attend. Last week, unexpectedly they scheduled an extra Paraklesis instead of the usual weekday Vespers. It happened to be a night when I was going anyway, so I could hear the talk afterward. If it wasn't enough that I got to attend, they decided to record the service and put it online. Kudos to Reader Ben for that! Now I can pray the service more often (with others is better, but I'll take what I can get), and hopefully learn the words and music more thoroughly. I've thought before that it would be nice to have some of the regular services recorded. Ideally, you learn it by attending; but for those of us who can't attend as often as we'd like, it's a nice alternative.

So I'm pretty psyched. I guess that makes me weird, but oh well . . .

No comments: