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Blessing of a cross

14 September 2011

I left home just after 4:30 am to drive down to St Nicholas in Brixton for the Divine Liturgy, since today is the Feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross. The Liturgy starts at 6:00, and that is a good time, because it enables one to get there before the traffic gets bad, and by the time it is over the worst of the traffic is finished too.

Afterwards we went to Soshanguve to bless a cross to put on Fr Johannes Rakumako’s grave. Fr Athanasius left hss car and came with me — why use two cars when we could fit into one.  We met Fr Frumentius in Pretoria — he had brought the cross in a taxi, and it had been made by the monks at the Monastery of the Descent of the Holy Spirit. We fetched Fr Johannes’s mother and her grandchild, and went off to the cemetery.

The cross was the suggestion of Fr Pantelejmon, who had arranged the 40-days memorial service for Fr Johannes. He said there should at least be a simple wooden temporary cross, and the monks agreed to make one. And as we drove through the cemetery and saw the increasingly elaborate granite tombstones (some can be seen in the background of the picture),  I thought it might not be a bad idea of the wooden cross were the permanent memorial. The rubrics for the service of blessing say: There is no Blessing in the Book of Needs for an ordinary tombstone; Orthodox tradition requires a Cross over the grave, or at the minimum a cross inscribed on the stone.

Blessing of the cross on Holy Cross day. 14 Sep 2011

And so once again we sang the Troparion for the Feast:

O Lord, save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance.
Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries
And by virtue of Thy Cross preserve Thy habitation.

Afterwards I took Fr Athanasius and Chrysostome to Hatfield station to ride back on the new Gautrain. I haven’t been on it yet, but to all accounts it is very pleasant.

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