Yesterday, His Eminence Archbishop Joseph, made a pastoral visit to Holy Nativity. As always, it was beautiful. It is a joy to get to spend a little time with His Eminence during his visit, for usually I only see him at seminars or conferences when he is surrounded by seventy or eighty priests and hundreds of parishioners. It is so nice to get him to myself every once in a while (well, almost to myself).
Of course, since I don’t get to serve Hierarchical Divine Liturgy very often any more, I made several small mistakes in serving. When I was deacon, I served often with His Eminence; so after a rough start, I finally became comfortable not only with the rubrics of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, but also with serving with Bishop Joseph. Although the Liturgy is always the same, every Bishop or Priest has idiosyncrasies, and these effect the rhythm of the service. The more you can pray the Liturgy, the more prayerful it becomes. When you don’t have to think “What do I have to do next?” you can let your mind focus more on the Presence of God. However, since I became a priest, I don’t serve regularly with His Eminence, so I am anxious that I will forget something–which, of course, is 80% of the reason why I mixed a few things up.
As we came to the Gospel reading, instead of asking the deacon to read the Gospel, His Eminence asked me to read it. Then the real surprise came, His Eminence told me to kneel down: He elevated me to Archpriest. It seems my sly wife and a few of the parishioners had known for months that this would happen, but no one told me.
Our parish council Chair had commissioned a woodworker, Jerome Beley, to carve a pectoral cross. It is amazing work. I think it is yellow cedar–I will ask him.
It is an honour to be made an archpriest. “Arch” means something like “original pattern” or “leading,” but not necessarily leading in the sense of going first, but in the sense of setting the example. May God grant that I would show forth somewhat of the original pattern–Who is Jesus Christ. He is our Archpriest and Archpastor. For the Christian, the only true Arch-anything is Jesus Christ. Those whom we call Archpriest we only do so in as much as they show forth–at least in some small ways–the Archpriesthood of Jesus Christ.