Photos of the Day for February 27, 2015

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.

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