Photos of the Day for February 28, 2015

February 27, 2015 7:00 pm

Presentation of Jesus at the Temple (Candlemas, Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, Meeting of the Lord), part I/VIII.

Стрэчаньне Гасподняе (Грамніцы), частка І/VIII.

Candlemas, celebrated in Western churches on or about February 2 and in old-style Orthodox churches on February 15, is unusual in that it has both a Christic and a Marian focus.  The lighting of beeswax candles, symbolizing the light of both Christ and Mary, is an essential part of the rite in all Christian celebrations, regardless of confession.  Key Gospel readings connected with Candlemas include Matthew 5:17-19 (“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill…”) and Luke 2:29-32 (Simeon’s grateful words to the Lord — the Nunc dimittis).

The feast is one of the twelve great feasts in Eastern Orthodox churches.  In Belarus the Orthodox feast is called Strechan’nje (Стрэчаньне Гасподняе) or, in a more vernacular and pre-Christian way, Hramnitsy (Грамніцы). The feast marks the presentation of Christ in the temple, the end of the Old Testament period of  a woman’s post-partum purification, and the meeting of Christ and Simeon, to whom the Holy Ghost had said he would not die until he had beheld the Christ.  By popular, pre-Christian tradition the feast, falling as it does midway between the winter solstice and vernal equinox, also marks the meeting of winter and spring and the thunder often heard in pre-spring rainstorms at this time.

Candlemas light, Azdamichy 2015.  Царкоўнае асьвятленьне на Стрэчаньні, Аздамічы 2015 г.

Photos of the Day for February 27, 2015

February 26, 2015 7:00 pm

Anointing with holy oil (part II), Azdamichy 2015.  Мірапамазаньне (частка II), Аздамічы 2015 г.

Orthodox Christianity provides for anointing with holy oil not just as the sacrament of extreme unction or at the time of baptism, but also for those who seek God’s forgiveness or His curing of their physical or spiritual illness.  In the tradition of Azdamichy’s Orthodox parish of the Holy Trinity, Father Aljaksandr offers anointing with holy oil during the first half of every Sunday service as well as on feast days.  In Azdamichy men are anointed first, then women and children.

Each parishioner approaches Father Aljaksandr in submission and with intense emotional and spiritual concentration, but each in his or her own way and at slightly different angles to Father Aljaksandr and to the light — most with hands at their chest, some reaching to kiss the priest’s sleeve.  The rite takes place in our time (chronos).  At the same time, the stately but impelling tempo, the movement of Father Aljaksandr’s hand and the way he intones his prayer as his brush anoints each parishioner, and the way each parishioner bows his head and places his hands hint at God’s time (kairos).

This atmosphere, plus the back-lighting and general low level of light, call for a painterly, not a clinically-sharp, photographic rendering.   In addition, the absolute need for the photographer to be inconspicuous make the photographing of this rite exceptionally difficult.  And exceptionally inspiring when it works.

Photos of the Day for February 26, 2015

February 25, 2015 7:00 pm

Anointing with holy oil (part I), Azdamichy 2015.  Мірапамазаньне (частка І), Аздамічы 2015 г.

Orthodox Christianity provides for anointing with holy oil not just as the sacrament of extreme unction or at the time of baptism, but also for those who seek God’s forgiveness or His curing of their physical or spiritual illness.  In the tradition of Azdamichy’s Orthodox parish of the Holy Trinity, Father Aljaksandr offers anointing with holy oil during the first half of every Sunday service as well as on feast days.  In Azdamichy men are anointed first, then women and children.

Each parishioner approaches Father Aljaksandr in submission and intense emotional and spiritual concentration, but each in his or her own way, silhouetted at slightly different angles to Father Aljaksandr and to the light — most with hands at their chest, some reaching to kiss the priest’s sleeve.  The rite takes place in our time (chronos).  At the same time, the stately but impelling tempo, the movement of Father Aljaksandr’s hand and the way he intones his prayer as his brush anoints each parishioner, and the way each parishioner bows his head and places his hands hint at God’s time (kairos).

This atmosphere, plus the back-lighting and general low level of light, call for a painterly, not a clinically-sharp, photographic rendering.   In addition, the absolute need for the photographer to be inconspicuous make the photographing of this rite exceptionally difficult.  And exceptionally inspiring when it works.

 

Photos of the Day for February 25, 2015

February 24, 2015 7:00 pm

Belarus in Faces (part CXLV):  parishioners of Tsjerablichy at Sunday service, Tsjerablichy 2015.

The consecration of Tsjerablichy’s Orthodox church of the Resurrection in 2014 has made it much easier for many parishioners to attend Sunday services.  Previously parishioners from Tsjerablichy walked or rode their bicycles three or four kilometers to the church in the neighboring village of Azdamichy.

Беларусь у тварах (частка CXLV):  цераблюкі й цераблічанкі на багаслужэньні, Цераблічы 2015 г.

Photo of the Day for February 24, 2015

February 23, 2015 7:00 pm

Smallholder farming in Polesia (part III):  cornucopia for the city. Tsjerablichy 2012.

Just as under the Soviet regime, a direct connection to the land through relatives or close friends is vital.  Fresh produce, meat and eggs from smallholders, and from city dwellers who farm plots around their weekend cottages, provides an important source of nourishment throughout the year.

Сапраўднае палескае фермерства (частка III):  рог багацьця для жыцьця ў горадзе.  Цераблічы 2012 г.

Photo of the Day for February 23, 2015

February 22, 2015 7:00 pm

Smallholder farming in Polesia (part II):  preparing the ground.  Сапраўднае палескае фермерства (частка II):  студзеньская падрыхтоўка да сяўбы.  Цераблічы 2015 г.

In the same universal way of farmers, smallholders in Belarus never stop working their holdings.  Carefully-spaced piles of manure and the frames of hothouses (in which families grow cucumbers and other produce for export to the Moscow and St. Petersburg markets) are a familiar winter scene in the central Pripet (Prypjats’) Marshes area.

This time-honored, orderly Belarusian method of fertilizing is repeated in spring in the colder, more northerly regions of Belarus as smallholders prepare their plots in time and with natural fertilizer.

One can argue persuasively that without manure there would be no urban life, indeed no civilization.

Photos of the Day for February 22, 2015

February 21, 2015 7:00 pm

Smallholder farming in Polesia (part I):  cabbage patch.  Сапраўднае палескае фермерства (частка І):  капуста.

Only stubble shows in January, but this smallholder family’s reverent tending of its plot in the central Pripet (Prypjats’) area of Belarus can produce bountiful crops.

Tsjerablichy, January 2015.  Цераблічы ў студзені 2015 г.

Same plot, Tsjerablichy, August 2014.  Гэтыя ж самыя соткі ў жніўні пасьля Спаса, Цераблічы 2014 г.

 

Photos of the Day for February 21, 2015

February 20, 2015 7:00 pm

Celebration of Jelisjej’s baptism (part 8/8), Tsjerablichy 2015.  Сьвяткаваньне хрышчэньня Елісея (частка 8/8), Цераблічы 2015 г.

Deepest appreciation to Ivan and Ljudmila Pjetrusjevich for inviting me to attend and to photograph their son Jelisjej’s baptism.  God bless them and their family.  Вялікі дзякуй спадару Івану й спадарыні Людміле за запрашэньне здымаць хрышчэньне Елісея.  Шчасьця й здароўя усёй сям’і.

Ivan and Ljuda with their four children:  Mats’vjej (see his baptism in photos of August 9, 11 and 12, 2011), Jelisjej, eldest son Jahor and daughter Chesa.  Іван і Людміла Петрусевічы з дзецьмі:  Мацьвей (гл. здымкі яго хрышчэньня з 9, 11 і 12-га жніўня 2011 г.), Елісей, старэйшы брат Ягор і сястра Чэса.

Jelisjej’s eldest brother Jahor with their granddad (and keen fellow angler) Vasil’.  Елісееў старэйшы брат Ягор з іх дзядулем (і выдатным сурыбакам) Васілём.

Granddad Vasil’ and granny Vjera.  Дзядуля Васіль й цёця Вера.

Photo of the Day for February 20, 2015

February 19, 2015 7:00 pm

Baptism of Jelisjej (part 7/8), Tsjerablichy 2015.  Хрышчэньне Елісея (частка 7/8), Цераблічы 2015 г.

Jelisjej’s mother Ljuda, who by Orthodox custom has waited outside the nave during the baptism, carries him home after the ceremony, Tsjerablichy 2015.  Дахаты пасьля хрышчэньня Елісея, Цераблічы 2015 г.

In Memoriam / Вічна пам’ять

February 19, 2015 5:00 pm

In reverent memory of the Heavenly Hundred, murdered February 20, 2014 in Kyiv for their belief in Ukrainian liberty and dignity.  They died as much for American freedom as for their own.

20 лютого.

День пам’яті Героїв Небесної Сотні.  Скільки за вашу, стільки за нашу свободу.