Divine Shadows: Orthodox Community Reflects on Total Solar Eclipse Experience

By Fr. Terence Baz, Rector of Holy Assumption Orthodox Church, Clifton, NJ

On Monday, April 8th., 2024, Orthodox clergy and laity from the Diocese of NY & NJ and other neighboring dioceses, came together to view the total solar eclipse at St. Andrew's Camp in central NY on Oneida Lake. We were blessed with the presence of His Eminence, Archbishop Michael.

The weather was mild and beautiful but unfortunately, high clouds kept increasing as the day progressed and just before totality, they completely blocked the sun. I was able, as you can see from the photos, to capture the progression of the moon encroaching over the sun and right at totality, I decided to detach my phone from the telescope in order to take a photo of some of the gathering. Although that photo looks bright, it was very dark but the phone must have adjusted it's light automatically to compensate. I did take one soon after totality with the phone alone. Even though the sun was hidden by clouds at the moment of totality, the sky blackened dramatically & the air became a little cooler. The sun was hidden for 1 minute & 25 seconds at 3:23 PM, local time. The darkened sky rapidly progressed from south west to the north east. You can see a glimpse of it in the photo of the darkened sky over the lake. By about 3:45 PM the sky was almost back to normal.

We had planned to hold a Service of Thanksgiving at the camp chapel. About 50 people attended and joined in the singing of the responses, making it a beautiful service. We thanked God for the awesomeness and beauty of His creation. Archbishop Michael pointed out that Orthodox Tradition holds that Jesus Christ died on April 7th. and that this event happened to be very close to its anniversary. Thus, we used the passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 27, verses 45-51: "There was darkness over the deep..."

I want to thank His Eminence for His presence and blessing. I also want to thank the camp host, Daria York and her assistants, who worked hard to feed us and make our visit comfortable and enjoyable. The first photo was taken at breakfast time in the new kitchen/dining room building. It looks very impressive!

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