This is a bit of a belated post on the wedding I attended on Sunday, but it wouldn’t hurt to break up the Lebanon/Passion/Lebanon/Passion theme that I have had going for the past few days.  My two friends from St. Innocent’s parish, Tom and Julia, were married at the Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral in Des Plaines on Sunday, and everything was done beautifully.  The cathedral’s priest and our parish priest served together, and our parish reader also took part in the ceremony, reading the traditional selection from the Apostle’s Epistle to the Ephesians.  Most of the assembled people were friends or relatives of the bride and groom and most of them were not Orthodox, so they were probably somewhat disconcerted by the lack of chairs, but they all seemed to manage fine (there were a few chairs for the elderly and those overwhelmed by the heat, which came in handy for the maid of honour).  None of us was able to see who stepped on the white cloth, which according to pious custom will determine who dominates the marriage, but I believe I heard that they stepped on it simultaneously.  The church itself is a spacious domed cruciform church, though not so spacious as the name ‘cathedral’ might suggest to some of you.  The entire interior is decorated with frescoes with cycles from Genesis, the Evangelists and massed arrays of saints.  On the right side, where I was (though it is customary for men to stand on the right in Russian churches, at the service the crowd was entirely mixed), I looked over to see Sts. Constantine and Helen looking back at me amid a crowd of other saints and martyrs.  St. Constantine stood out from the crowd with his crown and the True Cross he was holding, and I was briefly reminded of the strong Byzantine influence on Russian Christianity all these centuries later.

Once the ceremony concluded, we filed through the receiving line and congratulated the new couple.  The ushers then had us go outside in the sweltering 90-odd-degree heat while we waited for the bridge and groom to exit the church.  There I met two friends from church who live in Evanston. 

As an aside, the only funny line in the otherwise unexceptional Proof, filmed on location at UofC, was the question of one of the characters: “Why would anyone want to live in Evanston?”  This is a question that will probably only seem funny to UofC students, and actually makes no sense when you compare Hyde Park and Evanston as places to live, but there it is.

My friends had just returned from their trip back east, but it had not been, as they had planned, a pilgrimage trip all the way back East to the Holy Land.  Though the pilgrimage group had gone ahead despite the war, they decided against going and went to Quebec instead.  It had been in my mind as I was hearing about the war that they would have been going there right as it was starting, but I had had no way to contact them to see what was happening. 

Once at the reception dinner, my friends at our table were particularly eager to start the custom of shouting “Gorka!” as often as possible, and I believe our table distinguished itself in being the one to shout the most.  Gorka means bitter, so whenever someone shouts it the groom is obliged to kiss his bride to make it sweet, which is not such a painful custom to observe, but it can become troublesome if the two are very far apart from each other–the crowd can get quite unruly if they are not appeased quickly with the sight of a kiss.