Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Chronya Pola!

Chronya Pola (Many Years)! Today we were blessed to celebrate the Dormition of the Theotokos here in Panorama. As Pelagia said just now, "Today felt like a real holy day (holi-day)." Everyone in Greece has today off (sort of like our Labor Day). The temple was packed. We celebrated Orthros and Liturgy (yes, Rdr Moses, we did do the canons) and then ended with the clergy and chanters singing the Lamentations to the Theotokos. After the service, we were invited to Fr. Alexios' house for a wonderful meal with his family. This evening, we went again with Fr. Alexios and our friend Paris to the nearby women's monastery, whose feast is the Dormition. This is a beautiful monastery with 40-50 nuns, and it's only about a kilometer from our house! How blessed are we!

At the monastery, we celebrated Vespers with a beautiful chanting of the Lamentations and a procession of 8 priests, including the Dean of the Metropolis of Thessaloniki. Pelagia and I don't remember ever seeing the Lamentations service done at Dormition in the US, but it's big here. In fact, they call Dormition "the summer Pascha."

A brief rant, if I may (which, I suspect, will be a reoccurring theme): The temple being packed today for the feast means fighting your way through the "lines." In Greece, you see, there is really no such thing as a line. We don't realize how fortunate we are to have this concept in America -- you know, one person lining up behind another person, taking turns. This is unknown here. Even in church, it's every man for himself. Old women will elbow you out of the way, nor will people hesitate to practically knock other old women and their walkers to the floor to get to Communion. The truly funny part is that this occurs EVEN WHEN THERE IS NO ADVANTAGE TO BEING FIRST!! For example, people will push and shove to get Communion, only to return to their seat and wait along with everyone else until the end of the service! Out in the public, people will start forming a pushing/shoving mob at the doors to trains and buses a few minutes before they see it is going to stop. Ah, Greece. People here will give you the shirt off their back, all the food in their house, but do NOT ask them to let you go venerate an icon before them. ( :


Scott Ferrel said...

Gregory and Pelagia... Thanks for sharing your travels, thoughts and photos - this is terrific! I suppose you'll have less time for postings once seminary studies begin, but I'll be checking in on a regular basis. Your blog should be required reading for all Holy Trinity Greek School students (new beginner class starting in September, by the way). All the best, God bless...

anagnosti said...

Perhaps you could be the person who introduces the concept of "the line" to Greece. You'll be known throughout the ages as "St. Gregory the Lineformer."

Mayhaps it's just a form of piety- The Lord said "the first will be last" so everybody there- aware of their unworthiness- tries to go first so that they will actually be last. Yes- that makes perfect sense.

Oh- and I went ahead and reproduced. Had the babies on Monday!

Keep it real!