Saturday, August 11, 2007

New Kid on the Block

Over the past six or so years, all my readers have been very patient with me as I've done my "wandering Jew" act through various jurisdictions and parishes -- something I do truly deplore, but with my home parish having become something of a laboratory for the Orthodox/Catholic experiment, I didn't feel I had much choice. The ROCOR parish where I would have preferred to settle folded when its priest took up a new post; we tried going to that parish for a couple of years, but the distance proved to be too much, and we finally settled on a parish some 40 miles away, where at least I knew I could trust the priest not to do anything too Innovationist. At the same time, every other week we would attend Liturgy at a very small Greek parish nearby, which only has Liturgies every other week. It worked out well enough, though I never really felt at home in the 40-miles-away parish.

Well - my original parish is finally freed from the "Latin Yoke" ;-> and we have a new priest! This one's a corker: He's from Romania. He has his Bachelor's from Harvard, and his Ph.D. from CalTech in Theoretical Physics (!!!) - no idea where his Master's is from - and says he never had any real exposure to Christianity until he and some friends bicycled from CalTech to a Romanian parish about an hour away. The priest there gave a very powerful sermon about confession, and this guy decided then and there that he had to make some radical changes in his life. "Radical" is the word -- from Theoretical Physics to Metaphysics?! God love him!

Now, when Fr. Dean was in charge of this parish, I used to chant weekday Liturgies for him. When the "Latin" priest was in charge, I actually developed nodes on my vocal cords, so was unable to sing for three years, and by the time they cleared up, he had made other arrangements for a weekday chanter, so I was out of a job -- just as well, since over those three years it became obvious that this was not someone you could work with. (He has a "don't confuse me with facts" personality.) Since those "other arrangements" consisted of his oldest son, and that whole family is gone now, I thought, maybe this new priest would need a weekday chanter. So I introduced myself to him.

It turned out that my reputation had preceded me: The new priest had already talked to Fr. Dean! =:0 So we hit it off very well from the start, and I actually have had the chance to sing for him at Paraklesis, and on the Feast of the Transfiguration. He's also interested in my needlework.

Now for the rabbit punch: After Paraklesis on Monday, he was blowing off a little steam because the actual chanter of the parish, the guy who sings on Sundays, was supposed to be there, and wasn't. As Father said, it puts a tremendous strain on his own voice to have to sing everything, which he did because he's just been teaching the Paraklesis melodies to me. I forget now how we got on the topic, but I said something about, "I don't know what you've heard about me from the parish" - this is a parish that loves to gossip, and never puts a good light on anything when there's a possible bad explanation - and he said, "They tell me that you will turn against me."

With friends like these....

What bothers me about that is not that it's untrue - I can see why these wahoos would come up with that kind of explanation - but that someone was so eager to get his knife into me that he would disturb the peace of mind of a new young priest to do it. Okay, maybe he was just trying to prepare the priest for that eventuality; it certainly happened with the last priest, though there were actual reasons for my "turning against" him, and when I explained these to the new priest, he understood that he hadn't gotten the whole story. And I suspect, from comments passed over the past six years, that my not singing for the Latin priest was interpreted as leaving in a snit; as I said, why look for a real explanation when there's a bad spin to put on it?

Be that as it may, I like this new young fellow very much. He's enthusiastic without being pushy, he has a singing voice to die for, and frankly - I like that he's from an Eastern Bloc country. This says to me that he has really struggled for his faith, that he's not Orthodox "because Greeks are Orthodox," but understands the necessity for spiritual growth - actually, he's a lot like Fr. Dean. I can't wait to see what his Bible studies are like. His sermons are already a hoot, since he brings a lot of science into them - as one of the Jordanville monks once said to me, it's so interesting to see how priests bring their former lives into their sermons.

And meanwhile, I will also have to deal with the ill will of my former parish. But that I'm not too worried about, mostly because they seem to think their opinion actually should matter to me, and of course it doesn't - as long as the "new kid on the block" and I are able to communicate well. So far, so good!


Catherine K. said...

Thank God for the good news that you and the new priest can communicate well. As far as the other, considering what happened with the last priest, it isn't a surprise to read - their is something in human nature that likes to leap to conclusions without stopping to find out if it is correct or not.

Glory to God that things seem to be going well!

Mimi said...

Oh hon, that hurts that that comment was made. Urg.

However, I am SO pleased about the new priest, and the vibrancy that he will bring to the mission, and that you will be a part of that! Thanks be to God!

Elizabeth said...

There are worse things, I suppose, but O! what a negative impression this new priest must have had of you - at first! Glad things are improving. My Momma and Grandmomma used to say, "If you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all." Sounds like the prior priest wasn't "raised right!"
Dr. Elizabeth

Catherine K. said...

I hope things are continuing to go well between you and the new priest. . . and that the other issue will go away. Things like that are painful, for sure. It is very good that he was willing to discuss the entire thing with you, so he could get the full story.

Meg said...

He just gets better and better! The whole parish is talking about what a peaceful atmosphere he is bringing to the parish. /breathes HUGE sigh of relief/

Elizabeth said...

What a blessing he sounds!
I`m glad you are easing back into the chanting too :-)