Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Greek Orthodox Way

Going to bed late and waking up early are not a great combination for the average teenager. We’re normally tired 45 percent of the day without waking up earlier than normal. However, we are all strong “troopers” as our professor likes to say. We all met up to have some boxed breakfast, which was an assorted muffin, an orange, Greek yogurt (*wink wink*), and juice. We then carpooled to The Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.

The building is rather large. Inside, it’s beautiful. The intricate wooden frame designs were beautifully carved. Dozens of framed paintings hang on the walls. Windows let in light throughout the chapel. But the most unique and stunning design was the center of the room, which was like a dome, except not on the ceiling, but on the wall in the front of the room. Painted on it were the 12 apostles. An alter with Jesus Christ on the cross is on a table in the middle of the room, in front of the wall. A small divider with paintings on it surrounds the dome, with a small opening where the Father could be seen.

However for the majority of the service, the Father’s back was turned to us, as he chanted from the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom. The service is nothing like I’ve ever heard of before. Almost the entire service is spoken by song. The writings in the Divine Liturgy are sung and chanted by voices behind the wall in both Greek and English. Occasionally, the Father would turn to us and shake a small instrument shaped like a church with a burning coal and incense inside, and bells connected to it. Also, we learned that worshipers stand for about 90 percent of the entire service. We stood as well as a sign as respect, but a few of my classmates were close to passing out from a combination of both standing and the pungent smell of incense.

After the service, we asked a few questions with the Father of the Church. He explained his robed outfit, the style of the church, and a few more questions. Everything at the Church is either a symbol for something in the Holy Bible, or a replica/dedication to the original Church.

I can truly see now how Muslims believe that Christians practice idolatry (however not all Christian sects do, and not all Christians believe they do so). Almost every prayer ends or contains the words “the Holy Trinity” or mentions the Lord and Jesus Christ together. It does seem like they worship two gods.

The artwork decorated throughout the Church is very unique. All the paintings are of people with solemn expressions. They all have the same body and face style and structure as well.

We continued our discussions on Buddhism. Although yesterday I posted that the idea of not being attached to anything because of the lack of existence was depressing, our professor explained how truly liberating their beliefs are. Buddhism teaches about living in the now and taking advantage of the moment. Only focus on now, what you’re thinking about at this moment, what’s going on this moment. It teaches you to respect your life and live it to the fullest by not constantly worrying about the future. Embrace every moment in the now. Be joyous about the time you have right now.

So I forgot to mention my arête class for this week! I am learning how to fence! We have already learned footwork, parries 1-6 (attack and defense saber positions), and the rules of attacking. We fenced our instructor yesterday, and today we fenced a partner. I did pretty well surprisingly! The suit is heavy and hot, and the helmet smells like sweaty men, but it was pretty fun using the saber. I can now say that I’ve fenced before! I’ll try to post some pictures tomorrow.

Tonight was the last sign out of the program. 16 of us ate out at a semi-fancy restaurant called Cabanas. I only got dessert, but it was delicious. I had a cream cheese chocolate brownie with raspberry filling and vanilla ice cream with strawberries. Though the food was superb, the charges were ridiculous. I guess we pay an arm and a leg for the nice and fancy ambiance?

As for what we did later tonight, I’ll have to post it tomorrow. Let’s just say we have a surprise for Malika, our proctor. I don’t want her to find out exactly what it is yet since she sometimes reads our blogs, so I shall inform you all in my next post. So excited!

1 comment:

  1. Aiyana,

    Can we expect that on Friday when you put on your show you'll combine some of your newfound skills? In particular, can we count on you fencing and jumping rope at the same time? I'd buy a ticket to watch that.

    And about those smelly mask: does a sweaty woman smell different than a sweaty man?

    Sorry about the restaurant. I'm betting you'll enjoy coming back to where you can dine eating the foods you like.

    If you get a chance, maybe you can explain to us some of the differences between the various orthodox churches. You have the Greek Orthodox, the Russian Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox--and the list goes on.