Sorry for the long lapse in blogging! Not much exciting has been happening, plus even with the things that are slightly “blog-worthy” I haven’t managed to get a photo.
I’ll give an update since the last post, then. On Friday, January 25, I celebrated my saint’s day by serving at a Liturgy downtown at Panagia Ahiropoiitos (actually, in the side chapel) with our spiritual father, Fr. Spyridon.
On Sunday, January 27, we went to the only Serbian church in Thessaloniki, a little dependency of Hilandar (the Serbian monastery on Mt Athos). January 27 was the feast of St Sava (O.S.), the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Obviously, this is a major feast in the Serbian Church. So we celebrated the feast with the local Serbian community here in Thessaloniki, which was very nice.
On Wednesday, January 30, I celebrated my saint again with the feast of the Three Hierarchs. This time, I served at the Liturgy here in Panorama.
Fast forward until Saturday, February 9, when we left for Belgrade, Serbia, to visit with our bishop, His Grace Bishop Maxim of Western America.
Most of the day Saturday was spent driving. The trip was very smooth—in fact, we made it in about 7 hours flat (as opposed to about 8 in the past, when we were more worried about getting pulled over and asked for bribes in Skopje).
Again we stayed with Darko’s family—Nebojsa, Lepa, and Natasa. Of course, Lepa prepared an extravagant Serbian feast for us when we arrived Saturday evening.
Sunday morning went to the Theology School (where I was ordained) and I served the Liturgy with Bishop Maxim, Abbot Sava (from Tvrdos Monastery in Herzegovina), several other priests and two other deacons. (Unfortunately, we didn’t get any good photos.)
Afterwards, we had trapeza (coffee hour) and got to visit with Bishop Maxim and others.
On Sunday afternoon, we met with some Serbian friends, Darko and Gina, for coffee and, later, traditional Serbian boiled wine (see top photo).
On Monday, Gina helped us do some shopping, as we stocked up on items which are cheaper in Serbia. She also showed us a wonderful little Church store, which carries all sorts of products that are produced by the Serbian monasteries. We stocked up on Serbian monastery raki (traditional hard alcohol), which make great presents and also supports the monasteries.
We met Gina at the local parish in New Belgrade, St. Dimitrios (see second photo). It’s a new church which is not quite finished, but I think it’s a lovely Byzantine-style architecture.
On Tuesday, we met Bishop Maxim for the feast of the Three Hierarchs (O.S.) at the little Moscow Patriarchate church which is in the shadow of the enormous St. Mark’s cathedral. See the third photo down in this old post for a photo of this pretty little church. Watch the video at the bottom of this post for a sample of the Russian style music at the Liturgy. Afterwards, we had trapeza (coffee hour) with Bishop Maxim and the Russian priests and deacon, as well as the church’s choir director, a professor of Church Music at the university.
Our friend Ivana met us at the Liturgy, and afterwards we went out into Belgrade with her. We are interested in spending more time in Belgrade to learn some Serbian, so she took us to the university to make some inquiries about the Serbian language classes for foreigners. The woman in the office was VERY surprised and thrilled that two Americans would convert to Orthodoxy and then come to Belgrade and want to learn Serbian.
On Tuesday evening, we met again with Gina, another Serbian friend Tijana, and Fr. Dimitrios, a Greek priest who lives and serves in Serbia. Fr. Dimitrios took us to see the progress at the enormous St Sava Cathedral, and then took us to a traditional Serbian taverna.
On Wednesday morning, we packed up and met the bishop one more time at the Theology School (see third photo). We talked for about an hour and then made the trip back to Thessaloniki. Again, we had a smooth trip and made it in just over 7 hours.
Now it’s back to work!