O Lord Thou shalt open my lips and my mouth shall declare Thy praise.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bells and Smells-Together!

I can't resist posting this video (h/t to NLM) of Vespers for the Feast of the Theophany (Baptism) of the Lord, which on the Byzantine Calendar is on January 6 (so this is taking place the evening of January 5, since all liturgical days in the Eastern Rites go from sunset to sunset). One of the things that makes this interesting is that this is the Russian Rite, which is among the smallest Eastern Rites, so it is good to see them represented. Their size is a stark contrast to their Orthodox counterpart, as the Russian Orthodox Church is the largest of the Orthodox Churches. Similarly, the Ukrainian Rite is the largest of the Eastern Rites.

The video, at St. Michael's Church in New York City, shows the incensation of the tetrapod (a large icon stand outside the sanctuary where many ceremonies other than the Divine Liturgy are held) surrounded by acolytes with the cross, candles, and ripidia (fans). If you're wondering "What's with the bells on the thurible?", each part of the censer (to use it's Greek name) has its proper symbolism. The bowl of the censer symbolizes the earth. The coal symbolizes us. The hardness and blackness of the coal symbolizes our sinfulness. The fire symbolizes the grace of the Holy Ghost. The fire turning the coals white and soft symbolizes the Holy Ghost purifying us by fire and suffering. The incense symbolizes prayer. The smoke rising symbolizes our prayers rising to Heaven. The lid symbolizes Heaven. The three main chains represent the Holy Trinity. The convergence of the chains at one handle represents the One-ness of the Trinity. The bells represent the 12 apostles (there are 3 bells on each of the 4 chains). The ringing of the bells represents the teaching of the 12 apostles. Ergo, one must be at least a deacon (and thus able to deliver homilies) to swing the censer. Acolytes (and lay men substituting for them) may carry the censer, but not swing it.