Presanctified Liturgy

St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington is my home and "my cathedral." In the Orthodox Church, every Bishop is supposed to have a cathedral. St. Nicholas was my parish before I went to the seminary and they paid a part of my seminary education.

I was born and raised in Washington DC.  In 1970 I left to return to Merrimack College and finish my undergraduate education.  Later I entered te U.S. Air Force and then moved to Texas upon discharge.  I returned to Washington DC in 1982.

When I came to St. Nicholas, I was immediately received by the people with open arms.  When Archbishop DMITRI of blessed memory visited the parish that or the following year, he asked if I were a member and even before I could open my mouth, both the pastor and parish council president said yes.

Over the years I have developed a very solid relationship with the people at St. Nicholas.  Many of them still consider me as a member of the parish.  One man told me that he was looking for me to be at his mother's funeral there.  I did not know about it until a few minutes before the funeral. 

It was at St. Nicholas Cathedral where I began serving on the Alar and was tonsured a Reader and vested with the subdeacon's orarion.  I grew up wanting to be a Roman Catholic priest, but after going to college, I changed my mind.  After I was exposed to the liturgical role of the deacon at St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas, I decided that this is what I really need to be.

As I was growing up, I was an altar server.  I used to go to daily Mass at St. Aloysius Church, which was just four blocks from my home.  I quickly noticed that when a priest came out to say Mass and did not have an altar server, a man in the parish would step in and serve.  So I started doing that also.

Most days I would serve for a particular priest who came out every day and said his Mass on the side altar.  So I would go up and serve for him and go to the main altar to receive Communion and come back.  After the second time, he said that he would share a piece of his Host with me. 

After some time, I was talking with the mother of a friend and told her about my serving on the altar there.  She told me that I should not do that because "those white people don't want us serving on their altar."  The next time the priest came out, I did not go up and serve.  When he later saw me, he said that the next time he comes out to say Mass and he doesn't have a server, "You better not stay in the pews!  You better come up and serve!"  By the way, the church also fed me breakfast after Mass and the sacristan asked me to fill in for him one Saturday when he had to be away.

A reason that I want to remain a deacon is that a deacon is more visible than a second priest.  I'm in a mainly black city and when a black visitor comes to our church, it is important for him to see a black man in an important role.  Perception is important.

Occasionally I am asked about the racial make-up of my church.  To us as Orthodox Christians, this is not an issue, but to many black people it is a major issue.  Black people have told me, "We don't understand how you, being a black man, can be a member of the Orthodox Church."  But the people of Bahrain would not believe that Michael and Tatiana are Orthodox because "white people are not Orthodox."  My response to black people is that race has nothing to do with it.  I'm a Christian who believes that Jesus Christ has set up the Church and He is present in His Church.  "You are Peter and uupon this rock I will build [οιλοδομησω] My Church" [Mt 16:18]. I see "dwell" in the Greek word that St. Matthew used for build.  When I learned classical Greek, the word was τεθχω.

I also do not believe in Sola Scriptura.  That doctrine contradicts John 20 and John 21 in which he says that "there are many things that Jesus did which are not in this book."  It also contradicts logic. 
 

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Fr. Valery prepars for service.

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Larry is helping Fr. Valery.

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Fr. Dennis Bradley presides.

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Deacon Michael, Fr. Dennis, Deacon Igor

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Fr. George, priest in charge

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pot luck dinner

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Andrea and I go back to 1982. I sang in the choir under her for a few years.

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