Christmas Day Among the Russians.
NONES SUNG IN ARABIC.
Napoleon and His Army Are Commemorated.
A TE DEUM AT THE CLOSE.
N. Mordishoff Ordained a Priest to Serve the Yukon District in Wintry Alaska.
The Christmas day of the Russo-Greek church was celebrated yesterday. Our January 6, 1894, is the Russian December 25, 1893.
The Nativity of Christ is a great festival in the Greek church, as great as in the other Christian communions, for around the mystery of the incarnation centers the whole of Christianity. The fact, too, that Russia yesterday also commemorated the deliverance of the empire from the designs of Napoleon and his army makes this feast of even greater importance.
It was celebrated at the Russo-Greek church yesterday with extraordinary pomp. Bishop Nicholas was the celebrant, assisted by Fathers Greenkevich and Sebastian and the Deacons Vasilieff and Modesto. The subdeacons were G. A. Dabovich and A. Ligda, and the music was under the chrge of A. D. Pristinsky.
The service was commenced by the reading in English of Terce and Sext by Subdeacon N. Kedrolivansky and nones in Arabic by strangers who have come here in connection woth the Midwinter Fair. The rest of the service was said in Slavonic and English.
The church was decked with evergreens most artistically. Over the sacred images were heavy crowns and before them burned candles, the votive offerings of the faithful. In many of its forms and ceremonies the Russo-Greek mass differs from the Western Catholic mass, but the resemblance in essentials is striking. The vestments worn by the Bishop and the assistant clergy have all their counterparts in the church of the West, and the epistle and gospel, the consecration and communion, except that the latter is received under both kinds, are essentially the same.
The inside of the church was Oriental in character, the pictures and their setting strikingly so, as also were the frequent and minute ceremonies. No devouter congregation gathers under ecclesiastical roof in this city. Its entire attention was given to the service and an undisturbed and religious quiet pervaded the whole assemblage.
In the middle of the mass the final order of priesthood was conferred on Deacon Mordishoff. His head was covered with a veil, which was removed on his entrance to the sanctuary. Thrice around the altar was he led, the while he kissed the vestment of the Bishop and the altar itself. Then at the left end of the altar he reiterated his vows of obedience to the regulations of the church, after which a priest then intoned the Greek word "Axios" ("worthy"), which was taken up by the sanctuary attendants and then by the whole choir. The Bishop then admitted him to the priesthood, on which he was dressed in a chasuble and a cope. The first blessing which he gave in his character of a priest was bestowed on his own wife at the end of the service. As our readers know, there are two kinds of priests in the Russian church — one that of the regular clergy or monks, the other the secular clergy, who must of necessity be married. Deacon Mordishoff came here from Russia some time back, and the district in which he will work will be Yukon, in Alaska.
At the end of the mass, after the communion, Father Sebastian preached on the incarnation.
"Christmas Christ is born, the church is happy. Hear her sing with the angels, while the pastors and faithful glorify him: 'Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace and good will to men.' God's manifestation in the flesh is a great mystery, but there are many, even among the so-called faithful, who do not accept it fully. They doubt the necessity of so extraordinary a measure as the incarnation to save mankind, that the eternal son should take our nature and the Creator become a creature. The reason for this being a stumbling block is man's pride, which hates mystery, though on all sides we are surrounded with mysteries of nature and grace.
"Man of his own power was unable to rise to enlightenment and betterment of life and a heavenly teacher was necessary. Plato and Socrates testified to this and the sentiment grew stronger and the prophet's word was fulfilled, 'The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of man and giveth it to whomsoever he will.'
"Never before had the various races been so united. The Romans acquired like savages, they ruled like philosophers and by commerce, usage, law and custom bound their empire together. The world was prepared as never before.
"Science is powerless in the work of moral education. It passes over the surface of man's soul; does not penetrate the depths of his heart or free will. Industry, commerce and civilization seldom have a moral basis, and for that we have to go to the living waters, to be found only in the church of Jesus Christ, which guards the faithful from birth to death.
"The Father is to be known only through the Son. For this it is necessary the Son should take visible form. Again, 'No man cometh to the Father but by me,' and accessibility and mediation could only be obtained by Christ taking human form. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.¹ God does nothing unnecessarily. In giving his Son to humanity he blended divinity and humanity into the God-man; endowed him with complete human characteristics, sin alone excepted; permitted him to suffer and to die, and divine justice was perfectly satisfied.
³It behooves us with one heart to praise God and say, with his church, Glory to God in the highest.¹²
After the sermon a grand ³Te Deum² was sung, and the faithful retires after kissing a relic of the true cross.
The Morning Call [San Francisco], Sunday, January 7, 1894, p. 10:3