Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Nea Kallikrateia

Today I made another excursion out to the Monastery of St. John the Theologian in Souroti, where Elder Paisios is buried. This time it was to take our neighbors (and probably best friends), their son John and his fiancee Marie.

For Marie, a British girl who is not Orthodox, it was the first time at an Orthodox monastery and I think she had a very positive experience.

Afterwards, we drove on another 15 minutes to the first part of the beaches on Halkidiki, specifically a little town called Nea Kallikrateia. The weather was perfect and we enjoyed a great lunch at this traditional Greek taverna.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Belgrade Theological School Church

These are just a couple photos that were on my Serbian friend's camera. These are of the Church of St. John the Theologian, located inside the University of Belgrade's Theology School. This is where I was ordained, and it is also one of my favorite places to go to church.

You can see in the bottom photo, inside the altar, that they have the traditional set-up for the bishop's throne (located on the east end of the altar) flanked on either side by the synthronon, where the presbyters (priests) sit, specifically after the Trisagion hymn during the Liturgy.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

American Cook-Out

On the way back from Souroti, we stopped at the grocery store so that we could have a good old-fashioned American cook-out. I showed the guys how to make American-style hamburgers (within European limits -- see, for example, the tiny grill in the second photo). They made a great big Serbian salad and we headed next door to the Lillies for a very nice lunch. At the end, the guys treated us to a few songs. The first one they did, "Christ is Risen," elicited from our landlady upstairs, "Don't stop! Keep singing!"

Anyway, the guys headed off to the Holy Mountain very early Friday morning. Later in the day, an American visiting from Santa Barbara, CA was returning from the Holy Mountain and I invited him to spend the weekend here with me (rather than at a hotel) before heading out early next week. On Monday, two other Americans (friends from Spokane, WA) return from the Holy Mountain and will spend one night here with me before heading out.


At the monastery, we venerated the relics of St Arsenios the Cappadocian inside the katholikon and then went to the grave of Elder Paisios (top photo). There, I ran into a German woman who had recently converted to Orthodoxy in Tallahassee, FL of all places. Apparently, she came there just after we left! And now she was spending a couple weeks here in Greece, visiting monasteries. What a small world!

Anyway, we then had a coffee in arhondariki (second photo) and talked with some of the other pilgrims. The bottom photo is of a beautiful icon of Elder Paisios which adorns the trapeza.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Thursday morning

On Thursday morning, we drove to Souroti, the women's monastery founded by Elder Paisios.

In the top photo, Peter is hanging out on our back porch with Argo, before we left. In the second photo, we are standing just outside the gates of the monastery, taking in the view of the countryside, with the city in the distance.

The third and fourth photos are from inside the katholikon.

Wednesday night

I've included the top two photos of our living room, taken by Branislav, because they really show the color and artistry with which Pelagia has designed our house.

Anyway, after dinner, I walked the guys (and Argo) to Fr. Symeon's monastery here in Panorama to attend part of the Vigil for St. Marina (third photo).

The fourth photo is of Fr. Symeon, who is a famous homilist, giving a talk at the conclusion of Orthros during Vigil.

Here Come the Serbs

On Wednesday evening, four of my Serbian friends from the Theological School in Belgrade came to Thessaloniki on their way to the Holy Mountain. All four of them are in the school's Byzantine chant choir, and they are probably my favorite to listen to. I LOVE their church and their community at the Theological School in Belgrade. Next month, 15 members of the choir are going to the US, at the invitation of our bishop, Bishop Maxim, to give concerts across the US.

Anyway, the guys stayed with me until they left for the Holy Mountain early Friday morning, and we had a nice time.

On Wednesday evening, we made a nice dinner together -- these guys know how to cook! We even had the real Serbian taste! This was pretty good eatin' for a guy living by himself this month.

In the top photo, we're looking out over our garden from the back porch.

In the second and third photos, four guys are busy trying to cook. In the last photo, we're eating outside on our porch with our neighbor, James Lillie.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday at 12 Apostles

Well, Pelagia is in Washington State visiting family and friends and I'm here in Greece with the dog and the cat. This morning, I went down to the Byzantine Church of the 12 Apostles, located along the old western wall of the city.

The Church was founded around 1320 by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Niphon. My Byzantine chant teacher, Manoulis Yiannopoulos, is the Protopsaltis (head chanter) there, and he's been asking for me for months to come down. It was very nice -- Manoulis chanted along with his teacher, Fr. Constantinos Papayiannis, who has authored scores of books of Byzantine music. I served with the church's proistamenos, Fr. Laurentios, a Romanian priest, and Fr. Theologos, a Greek hierodeacon. (Incidentally, Fr. Laurentios asked me for a CD of the whole Liturgy -- not just the hymns -- in English. Does anyone have a recommendation?)

Besides that, I am keeping very busy translating and reading for my dissertation topic, which will focus on the priesthood and church leadership in the New Testament.

This is also tourist season here in Thessaloniki, and there are quite a few Americans passing through. From Wednesday to Saturday, I hosted "John" Scott Ferrel and his son, Ethan, of Spokane WA, before they headed out to the Holy Mountain. They are scheduled to return here next Monday. Next Saturday and Sunday I am to host an American inquirer from Santa Barbara, California, who is currently on the Holy Mountain. When I met him downtown last week (at Starbucks, of course), I ran into St. Vlad's dean, Fr. John Behr, and his brother, who is a monk at St. Paul's on the Holy Mountain. Everyone is traveling now!

Well, I 'm off now to go do my Byzantine chant homework...