Deacon Anton praying his preparatory prayers before the Divine Liturgy
I had a lovely weekend in Melbourne, staying with my good friend Justin and his dear wife. He is subdeacon at Holy Trinity-St Nicholas Russian Catholic Church: a beautiful little church, blessed in its pastor, Archpriest Lawrence – an excellent preacher – and in its new Deacon Anton – a published writer on theological and liturgical matters. The Sunday Divine Liturgy is at 10:30 am; Justin read Terce (in Slavonic) and Sext (in English) aloud beforehand. It was wonderful to prepare with the proper prayers for Communion and then receive the Holy Mysteries. Of course, it being Sunday after Theophany according to the Julian Calendar, they also performed the great blessing of the waters: Liturgy and the blessing took just under two hours.
I do like it when I get the chance to worship in the beauty of holiness. The Russian recension of the Byzantine Rite would have to be my favourite (the Liturgy not being abbreviated as the Greeks and Ukrainians do in their various ways): both in the more modern choral music and in the ancient Znamenny chant of Holy Russia (my friend the subdeacon is very well read about the pre-Nikonian Russian liturgical forms, which we sat up discussing past midnight). So it was no real difficulty to me to to choose Russian over Latin on Sunday (in any case, for the next two weekends I'll be down to Hobart to be MC at our Missa cantata there).
On the Saturday evening I attended a very pleasant community celebration at a Ukrainian club, together with my friends; and on Sunday afternoon I went with them to a concert of Ukrainian, Georgian and Greek choral music. So I was immersed all weekend in matters Eastern Christian; and a trip to some Orthodox bookshops ere I left Melbourne early Wednesday turned up a number of interesting items, including The Typikon Decoded – I think I now finally perceive how the Byzantine Divine Office works, though to rightly order all the chants of the Hours each day would be a feat requiring almost Talmudic knowledge...
Only I would regard putting a copy of the Unabbreviated Horologion on order as an outstanding achievement; but it was a steal at $75.