Saturday, August 16, 2008

Feast of the Dormition

Happy Feast! Sorry I haven't been posting much lately. Even though it's summer and the rest of Greece is on vacation, this has been a busy time for me. I'm trying to get something done on my dissertation by the beginning of September, in addition to my usual work of translating (I'm working on a book of essays on the topic of "The Church and Eschatology.")

Anyway, yesterday was the Feast of the Dormition -- the Summer Pascha, as they call it here. We had a very nice Liturgy in the morning at our parish of St. George's here in Panorama. At the end of Liturgy, we did the service of the Lamentations to the Theotokos in front of an icon of the Dormition in the center of the church.

In the evening, as is our parish custom, we went to one of our local monasteries here in
Panorama (our favorite one), which is dedicated to the Dormition. I've posted about the monastery many times before -- they have about 50 nuns and their spiritual father is Abbot George of Grigoriou.

They do the Lamentations service as part of the Vespers on 15 August itself and--as with most of the services at this monastery--many, many people come.

As last year, the protosyngellos (chancellor) of Thessaloniki led the service at the monastery. You can see him in the center of the bottom photo (I'm off to the left).

In the middle photo, you can see the abbess of the monastery, Melania, carrying the icon of the Theotokos.

Pelagia also took some video, which I've put together below (it's 2:49 long). At the beginning, you get a view of the monastery's courtyard and the church, and you can hear the Lamentations being sung through the speakers. (The church is usually so crowded that many people--especially Westerners who are used to the idea of "personal space" and temperatures below 125--go outside.) The rest of the video is from the procession at the end of the service. We walked around the monastery, stopping in four places, including the monastery's cemetery, to pray. The procession ended on the steps up into the church (the last photo), where the protosyngellos, Fr. Ioannis, gave a nice talk about the Panagia as the mother of all Christians, who are the body of the her Son.

Afterwards, the monastery offered everyone a very nice kerasma (treat) -- a dessert that was so good it was hard to believe it didn't have milk! The few who were able to squeeze into the archondariki with Fr. Ioannis and the abbess heard some very nice stories about miracles of St. Demetrios.

For a few more photos, click here.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Hungarian Visitors

Well, my parade of visitors continues. From Friday until this morning, I hosted two Hungarian girls -- my friend Iren, along with her friend Zita. They both converted from Greek Catholic (Uniate) to Orthodoxy about 10 years ago. Hungary has only about 3000 Orthodox faithful, along with about 300,000 Uniates. The predominant religion, of course, is Roman Catholic. Of course, the Serbian Orthodox Church has a presence along its border with Hungary.

Anyway, I met Iren last year when she was in Thessaloniki for 3 months to study Greek. Now, she's traveling through the Balkans with her friend on a pilgrimage/vacation before returning to England, where she is doing an MA in the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies at Cambridge.

As usual, the Lillies hosted us all for a wonderful meal and company last night, and today they were off to continue their journey. The above photos were taken last night of our dog and cat playing with each other in an unusually affectionate way.

Iren and Zita left this morning, and in the afternoon three of my Serbian friends returned from their stay on the Holy Mountain, and so now they are staying with me until they leave for Belgrade tomorrow.