Monday, May 2, 2011


Chicago wears spring very well, and it's lovely to be on the eastern side of a time-zone. We are visiting our friends in Chicago before we head to Maine for the summer.

A beautiful perk of timing: We shouted "Axios!" as Bishop Matthias was consecrated as Bishop of Chicago and All the Midwest on Bright Saturday. Metropolitan Jonah and the entire Synod of Bishops celebrated hierarchical liturgies on Saturday and Thomas Sunday. The consecration occurred at Christ the Savior, which was our parish while we lived in Chicago. The church building originally belonged to some Scottish branch of the Anglican Church. Inside, the ceiling is high and angular, covered in dark, dark wood, scallops and spikes. Huge panels of icons brighten almost every wall, and Christ, effusing light, triumphantly crowns the tall ikonostasis. Somehow he seems to float in continuous theophany over everything that occurs below. It is hard to take your eyes off of him. He is always raising himself.

On Saturday, Christ the Savior was stuffed with clergy and laity, and topped off with many bishops. Crowns glittered constantly. Two choirs filled the air above the crowd.

On Thomas Sunday, the liturgy was held at Holy Trinity Cathedral, which was designed by St. John Kochurov and architect Louis Sullivan. I don't know enough about architecture to describe it well so here is a wikipedia article. If it is possible for a building to feel grandiose and intimate at the same time, this church does. The ikonostasis appears impenetrable. I could not imagine anyone coming in or going out of it until I saw it occur.

This liturgy was not as crowded as Saturday's. We were right next to the Metropolitan as his attendants took care to vest him for the liturgy. His homily was simple and thoughtful. Afterwards, there was a Ukrainian feast, but we got pizza instead.

Also sparkling this weekend: The heir to Britain's throne was wed. I only watched 60 seconds of highlights from the wedding, but the royal couple were on my mind during all of the hierarchical hullabaloo of the weekend. My family feels some warmth of pride in our (ignominious) Scottish name, just enough to raise our eyebrows interestedly at things Brittanic, and to twist our lips bitterly in memory of a long-legged king. That's probably making too much of it. Anyway, I do give a fig about the Crown.

But I give more figs about the crown that was set on an old monk's head this weekend. Britain evokes in me faint stirrings of blood-pride, and the John Adams HBO miniseries might have squeezed a few tears out of me. I do have ties to nations of this world, and sometimes I am awed by earthly power, and dazzled by human splendor. But all of this fades. The rulers of this world govern the fate of my body, but the man who was crowned this weekend is the despot to whom God will listen. Whatever he looses or binds on earth will be loosed or bound in heaven also, and this is the kingdom to which I belong.