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reports and thoughts on legal issues, music, Orthodox Christianity and/or whatever else strikes my interest

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Location: Houston, Texas, United States

My name is David Stone. I live in Houston, Texas. I am a 30-something single white male. I am an Orthodox Christian and am a member of an English-language parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Remembering Anastasia Titov

There is not much I can add to the comments made by Father John Whiteford on the repose of Anastasia Titov. Still, I would like to offer my own remembrances of this remarkable woman so that others will know of the impact she had on those who knew her.

I also had the honor of attending her funeral. I was very moved by both the service and the remembrances of her life and her influence on others at the communal meal held afterwards.

It was truly an amazing experience to hear the many eulogies as person, after person, after person stood up to tell how much Anastasia had meant to them. Some of the remembrances were deeply moving and inspiring which was not really a surprise for those who knew her.

Anastasia was a very special person who I always enjoyed seeing on my visits to St. Vladimir's. She always greeted me warmly and would spend time talking to me whenever we would meet. I was always impressed by her knowledge and love of both the music and services of the Orthodox Church.

We would often talk about the music of the Church and I would always ask for her recommendations of various composers, compositions and recordings.

I would also often run into her at concerts of choral music around town. It seemed if there was a piece of Russian Orthodox music on the program then I could always count on seeing Anastasia at a performance. I remember once seeing Anastasia at a concert downtown at the Wortham Theater for a performance by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. It was a truly remarkable performance and one of the best concerts I have ever heard. I was sitting high up in the balcony but I noticed Anastasia sitting below and leaning forward in her seat following every note and word carefully. She looked radiant. At intermission I walked down to speak with her and she was overjoyed to see me. She told me that it was disappointing that more Orthodox did not come to concerts such as this since it was a great opportunity to hear some of the great examples of Church music. She then proceeded to tell me how much she enjoyed the music and gave me her analysis of several of the pieces including those which she had just heard for the very first time that night.

I had also heard Anastasia relate a story that Fr. John mentioned in his post. The way I remember the story (and I hope someone will correct me if I am wrong) is that Anastasia and another Orthodox woman were working at the United Nations when Archbishop Makarios of Cyprus arrived at the building. Anastasia and her companion were in an office several floors up overlooking the Archbishop as he was walking into the building. They had opened the window and were leaning out shouting "Eis Polla Eti Despota!" in greeting to the Archbishop. Anastasia told me that Archbishop Makarios smiled at them and raised his hand in blessing towards them before entering the building. The story ended as Fr. John related with an angry U.N. security official running up to the office demanding to know why they were insulting a guest of the U.N. by calling him a "despot".

Fr. John also related in his post how Anastasia had once met the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie during a visit to Ethiopia.

One of my favorite stories to hear her tell was of her visit to an Ethiopian Orthodox Cathedral. She said that while they were still in the car en route to the Cathedral, about a mile or so away, she began to hear a strange sound. As they neared the Cathedral the sound became louder and louder. She said that she had no idea what it was and could only think that it was being made by a large swarm of mosquitoes. Finally just before the Cathedral was in sight she asked the Ethiopian driver what the sound was. The driver explained that the sound was the cries of the people outside of the Cathedral for prayers from those who could enter the Cathedral for the services. She related that when the Cathedral came into view there were hundreds of people outside who were crying and asking for prayers. What Anastasia had witnessed was a once common but now extremely rare occurrence. This Ethiopian cathedral had maintained the tradition of the early Christians by requiring those serving a penance to remain standing outside of the Church offering up prayers and tears until their penance had been completed. She said that is was one of the most moving things she had ever seen.

On a personal level I was always inspired by her deep level of piety and her commitment to the Church even with her advanced age and declining health.

She will be missed.

May her memory be eternal!


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