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Our First Liturgy


That’s St. Benedict and me, under the live oak tree outside our mission parish, St. John the Theologian, in Starhill, Louisiana. TMatt kindly gave me that icon of my patron. It was on the altar today being blessed as we held our first-ever Divine Liturgy at our new church this morning. How strange and wonderful that the same liturgy that was said in Constantinople for the Byzantine emperors was said today under the live oaks in the Deep South, in the same hills where my people have lived for generations. I’m so proud that my son Lucas served as an altar boy this morning, and my wife Julie sang in the choir. You can’t imagine how much hard work my brothers and sisters in our little congregation have put into making this day possible. God is good.

Here’s a link to our Facebook page. [2] We’re working on the website.

20 Comments (Open | Close)

20 Comments To "Our First Liturgy"

#1 Comment By JonF On January 6, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

Glad to hear this is a going thing now! Did you have the Blessing of the Waters too? Our priest got so carried away with dousing everyone with holy water we thought we were being rebaptized 🙂
An yes, the sense of history, of connectedness to the ancient Church and so much else, is a big draw for me as well.

#2 Comment By Rod Dreher On January 6, 2013 @ 1:21 pm

No, Jon, we’re a ROCOR parish. Tomorrow is Nativity for us! Hard to believe…

#3 Comment By James C. On January 6, 2013 @ 1:30 pm

Wonderful, Rod! I’ve had a lovely weekend too, in New York City. Great Vespers at the Russian Greek Catholic Church in Manhattan yesterday, and a glorious Mass at the great Fr. George Rutler’s Church of Our Saviour today. I missed the Coptic Catholic liturgy in Brooklyn but will do it next time when in town.

Ah, New York. You’re right, what a wonder and a blessing to see these sacred and ancient rites celebrated among the steamy bayoux and the towering skyscrapers of the New World. God is great indeed.

#4 Comment By Ben in SoCal On January 6, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

It turns out that an Orthodox priest has been stationed on my ship. I had no clue until now! So I will take a weekly study course under his guidance. Very excited. (I found myself along a similar spiritual path as yourself, sir, and your 2006 article was useful in my decision now to seek this faith path.)

#5 Comment By Charles Cosimano On January 6, 2013 @ 1:51 pm

I have to be careful reading this stuff. The joy you project might make me consider becoming a convert.

[Note from Rod: But what would become of Cosimanian Orthodoxy? — RD]

#6 Comment By Rosie Land On January 6, 2013 @ 2:17 pm

Congratulations to you and your congregation!

#7 Comment By Ignominious On January 6, 2013 @ 2:49 pm

Nice picture.

#8 Comment By Angela On January 6, 2013 @ 3:45 pm

Congratulations to all of you! How delightful it is to taste and see the God is good.

#9 Comment By JonF On January 6, 2013 @ 3:46 pm

Well, duh! I knew you were ROCOR– you’ve mentioned it before. I think I let the holy water go to my head today 🙂

#10 Comment By Noah172 On January 6, 2013 @ 3:54 pm

Re: the facebook page

Your son takes after his mother, I think.

Best wishes for the mission.

#11 Comment By Jamie O’Neill On January 6, 2013 @ 4:41 pm

My sincere congratulations. There has been too much iconoclasm in this world: time now for the blessing of images. Or rather, as in this icon’s case, of representations.

#12 Comment By David J. White On January 6, 2013 @ 4:41 pm

Congratulations! Your news reminds me of the time a bit over 5 years ago when we had our first traditional Latin Mass in Waco (at least, the first one in 40-something years) after years of petitioning. Not exactly the same thing, but not dissimilar, either.

Since today was Epiphany for us, we also had the traditional Catholic custom of taking home Epiphany chalk.

#13 Comment By JonF On January 6, 2013 @ 4:56 pm

David, what in the world is Epiphany chalk? I grew up suburban, white-bread Catholic, and I never heard of it.

#14 Comment By Chris 1 On January 6, 2013 @ 5:29 pm


#15 Comment By Richard Barrett On January 6, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

So glad this all worked out. Many years to St. John the Theologian Orthodox Mission!

#16 Comment By David J. White On January 6, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

That’s why you never heard of it. It’s one of those old customs that has unfortunately fallen by the wayside in the mainstream Church.

Chalk is blessed on Epiphany, then everyone takes a piece home and writes on the lintel of the doorway with it the year, and the initials C M B separated by crosses. These are the initials for the traditional names of the three Magi (Caspar, Melchior, Balthasar), but the can also stand for Christus Mansionem Benedicat, “Christ bless this house”.


I don’t know what the origin of this custom is. One of my colleagues has made a study of old Catholic customs and has found a number of things like this.

#17 Comment By JonF On January 6, 2013 @ 7:17 pm

The notion of blessing a house at Epiphany has a strong echo in the Orthodox Church where many churches do house blessings in the week or two after the feast (though some may do it after the Church new year in September)

#18 Comment By Andrew On January 6, 2013 @ 7:55 pm

#19 Comment By PDGM On January 6, 2013 @ 8:46 pm

Congratuations! I went to Divine Liturgy today and as always was struck by what a wonderful service the Chrysostom liturgy is! And I love the whole theology of the blessing of the waters, being blessed by Christ’s descending into them, so that they in turn can bless and stand in for the blessedness of all creation.
But I’m curious: how do your children take being 2 weeks behind everyone else’s calendar? On the positive side for the adults, Xmas gift shopping can all take place at the after Xmas sales!

#20 Comment By Erik Y On January 6, 2013 @ 10:35 pm

How wonderful! Our parish here in Orange County is also St. John the Theologian.