St. James Cathedral of the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem is one of the oldest Christian churches in Jerusalem. I had been there three times, twice with permission from Bishop Sevon to photograph.
St. James is not open to tourists during the day. The Church is open only for masses; morning, afternoon, special occasion: it is consecrated.
After morning mass, Bishop Sevon held my hand and griped my arm to lead me toward and in front of the St. James alter, giving me a lesson on consecration through the story of James.
He told me about consecration in a round about way using the Virgin Mary as a vehicle to explain why James was not the blood brother of Jesus the Messiah, but only a “brother” in terms of association, like in a fraternity, or an order, or a nationality, as the Jews welcome one another in such a way once it is determined you are Jewish upon meeting – like Christians too – brotherhood in the embodiment, but not by direct generational blood ancestry.
Bishop Sevon made the analogy thus: one would not take a Holy Chalice and fill it with common drink, or a plate that was consecrated and use it for every day common meals, so too with Mary, the vessel that held the divine through whom He entered this world.
Here is the dictionary definition: (verb)
1. to make or declare sacred; set apart or dedicate to the service of a deity: to consecrate a new church building.
2. to make (something) an object of honor or veneration; hallow: a custom consecrated by time.
3. to devote or dedicate to some purpose: a life consecrated to science.
4. to admit or ordain to a sacred office, esp. to the episcopate.
5. to change (bread and wine) into the Eucharist.
St. James is a consecrated space. The place itself is used for holy purpose and hence closed to tourists (though people are allowed in during mass to observe, though the Cathedral closes promptly with 10 minutes of mass ending).
As I observed three masses I noticed the rich and specialized singing, prayer, ritual that enacted and prepared the Holy Eucharist, the attention given everything showed intention of consecration and veneration. Respect to these things is taken serious. They are taken serious not because they are things, but because what these things represent in the Holy.
Much as icons serve as doorways through which one enters divine space by contemplation or simply through substitution, so too are these actions, this place, the (more…)
“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”
A friend of mine recounted a experience she had that moved her when she was at a church where the Liturgy was intended to take the congregation in prayer and worship, in heart mind and spirit, up to meet God.
She said an old Gospel song came to mind singing the (more…)
It has been a time of transition for me, perhaps beginning with the breakdown of my laptop in Prague (see Bad Apple).
Now here we are again, nine months later, a new laptop is readied to make the journey and for editing photos, updating web communications for this blog and keeping in touch with people in the US from Jerusalem.
I am a new born into a new life having seen my business in the commercial arts disappear in a failing economy, moved out from my Laguna Beach, California residence of 28.5 years into a room and a storage unit – those are the travailing weights, emotionally and psychologically of the pregnancy, and pains of my labor – a new born into what I do not know, like a new born seeing life for the first time. From this, I do know, I must pursue this project of bringing awareness of the consecrated to the American church. I do know I am free to do that and that I must because I am freed to do that.
I have seen successful investment by sponsors to finance the upcoming (2009/10) Israel trip as well as invitations from across the country for me to come stay – photograph the life and consecrated spaces in the towns of my hosts: Manhattan, Washington D.C., Denver, Santa Barbara, Albuquerque, Chicago. Back to doing what is important to me. This blog can now be active again as I take the time to consider the consecrated and share this journey.