A Fruitful Day In The Greek Orthodox Church Of Dublin

Image by diapicard from Pixabay

Our Visit to the Greek Orthodox Church in Dublin today was a very fruitful one. I had been before with my son Christian some years ago when the Ukrainian Greek Catholics were closed and we’d nowhere to go. But it was the first time for Audrey and Joseph.

They sat in the car and ate breakfast while I went to experience the morning prayers half hour before Divine Liturgy. I was surprised to hear it mostly in English and even the Irish language was used. The priest does not speak good English he admits but he sung the Liturgy in English quite well.

When my wife came in and the incense and candle light hit her the first thing she said was, “Wow, this is really Holy and different than back home.” We stood at the back sort of hiding behind a door and during the procession of the Gospel the priest stopped. It’s as if he new we were newcomers motioned us to come up among the other Orthodox believers right beside the singers. I didn’t feel awkward at all because I’d been to so many Divine Liturgies in Greece so I happily obliged.

In Eastern Orthodoxy it is tradition to stand on a Sunday in honor of the Resurrection so no kneeling is done but there are special benches to either side of the Church permitting to you support your weight or sit if you must. Even though I’ve been getting plenty of rest, I decided to sit because I’m feeling unusually tired these days.

I bowed my head and closed my eyes. There was no strong smell of incense but suddenly without warning the strongest odour of incense crept up my nostrils and I felt so at peace. It was such a nice smell and peace that I almost fell asleep but the strong smell was keeping me awake somehow. If it were not for the priest who emerged from the Royal doors which woke me up and rose me to my feet I would’ve simply dozed off zzzzzzz.

At Mass on Sunday in our local Catholic Church my sons are always fidgeting but I’d never seen them so focused on the Liturgy before in my life as they did at the Greek Orthodox one. The chanting of the priest and cantors, the incense, the candles that sparkled in front of a golden wall of icons really amazed the two of them. I must admit, I felt right at home and like a little kid a sweet shop although I did not show it.

I observed how sometimes the cantors would hug one another and give each other the kiss of peace quite regularly. There was a lot of community that you don’t get in the Catholic Church which is evident of what takes place when the Liturgy ends. Afterwards the Priest, Fr.Ioannis (presumably John in Greek?) took us back with all the other Greeks and non Orthodox visitors to have something to eat.

We had landed in the Church on one of the biggest feasts of the year he explained which is that of St.John the Baptist. As we sat for dinner the whole people at the table sat quietly, ate and drank as they hung on Fr.Ioannis every word who explained who John the Baptist was and how his powerful preaching disturbed people.

He was persecuted for his unsettling challenges towards clergy and King Herod. But the King, explained the priest, did not want to kill John because he respected him however eventually the daughter of Herodias got her way and Herod beheaded him. All of us are called to be like John the Baptist and to go out and speak the unsettling truth even if it means losing the respect of others. It’s the only time we can lose our heads for all the right reasons. haha.

I was amazed because you don’t get that kind of togetherness after Mass in the west. Everyone goes to Church and then head home but in the Orthodox faith, while some practice going home directly after Church they mostly sit around, drink coffee and get to know one another. Before leaving he came to me and handed me a big load of fruit.

I had no doubt in my mind that God was saying to me, “today has been a fruitful one” and indeed it was. We are looking forward to going back next week and signing up for a pilgrimage to the local Orthodox monastery built in recent years. The warmth and the honesty from this priest as he told us his story of how he got to Dublin from Athens was really impressive.

He admitted that when he first landed in Dublin with little English that he sat in this small room he was given and cried because he missed his family back home. The way the Orthodox do things is quite remarkable. I’ve often found them well balanced. They’ve got both the love and the discipline while the Catholic faith seems to be lacking in the latter.

Catholicism has got the love but there’s no discipline, no sense of protection for the Holy Eucharist. How many times am I going to go to Mass and see a priest or Eucharistic minister drop Our Lord on the ground? It’s the most horrific thing to witness and for how long will the Catholic Church cease to take care of the most important Sacrament of the Church? For how long can I put up with looking at it all? I don’t know how I do it.

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