Thursday, September 24, 2009

Babies Bath Time

Well, Grandma Joyce, Pres. Makrina, and Symeon are on a flight back home to the US. In tribute to them and all their help, here are some photos Grandma Joyce took shortly after they arrived a couple weeks ago.

Above Grandma is holding Benjamin. This photo best sums up her trip -- Grandma spent A LOT of time holding babies!

Here is Pres. Makrina with a dazed and confused Symeon wondering what happened to the clocks after that long trip...

And here are some bath time photos. Above is Benjamin.

The ones above and below are of Paul.

And here's Phoebe, whom I just brought back from communing at the Liturgy for St. Silouan in the chapel in the woods above our house.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

St. Sava's and the Thessaloniki Waterfront

On Monday morning, I took Pres. Makrina and Symeon to St. Sava's, a small dependency of Hilandar in Thessaloniki, to celebrate the feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos [OS]. Hieromonk Justin of Hilandar celebrated the Liturgy, which Symeon (see above) seemed to enjoy. This photo was taken at the end of the Liturgy, and his mouth is full of antidoron.

After the Liturgy, we went with my Serbian friend Milenko and Fr. Justin to have a coffee at the waterfront, next to Thessaloniki's landmark White Tower. Afterward, we went for a walk along the waterfront. Above, you can (barely) see Pres. Makrina and Symeon walking toward the White Tower from the left.

Here you can see Pres. Makrina and Symeon walking along the waterfront of downtown Thessaloniki.

Here they are with my friend Milenko, a Bosnian Serb from a town near Banja Luka who is here studying economics at the University of Macedonia.

More photos along the water.

We had a crepe, explored the open air market, venerated the relics of St. David of Thessaloniki and St. Theodora of Thessaloniki at the Monastery of St. Theodora, and stopped in the old Turkish bath of Bey Hamam (see above), before heading back home to help Pres. Pelagia and Grandma Joyce with the babies. (And, yes, there will be baby photos coming soon!)

For a few more photos from our morning, click here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ormylia with Gr. Joyce, Pres. Makrina, and Rebecca

On Sunday afternoon, we drove about an hour east into Halkidiki to visit the Holy Monastery of the Annunciation in Ormylia, which is a dependency of Simonopetra of the Holy Mountain. Although it was pouring rain when we left Thessaloniki, the weather in Halkidiki was beautiful. In the photo above, Grandma Joyce, Pres. Makrina, Symeon, and Rebecca are walking up the path to the monastery.

We arrived around 2:30, visited the bookstore, and talked with our friend Sister Prosdoki and some non-Orthodox seekers from England and Germany. Above we're sitting in the courtyard having a Greek coffee and talking with the others.

At 4:00, it was time for Vespers, so we walked into the heart of the monastery and into the main church. Afterward, I took the photos immediately above and below from just outside the front entrance to the church. You'll notice the beautiful mosaic of Noah's Ark. One sister spent 4 years, off and on, collecting the stones (all naturally colored) and putting it together.

After Vespers, we started the journey back home to Panorama. Before we left, we spoke for a few minutes with one of the four nuns who had been a doctor before leaving the world. She told Pres. Makrina some things about the medical center associated with the monastery. The photo above is of us walking back down the same path to the car.

And, finally, here we are just outside the monastery, next to the car.

For some reason, the photos are coming out rather small now on the blog, and I can't figure out why. So you can also see the photos, on a bigger scale, here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

St. Makrina's with Pres. Makrina

On Thursday, Pres. Makrina, Symeon, and I walked over to St. Makrina's, a small sisterhood (like a monastery) here in Panorama.

We visited with the Gerontissa, Thekla, and a couple of the others living there, and then we went to venerate inside the temple dedicated to St. Makrina. We were blessed that I was allowed to bring out the saint's relics, which are kept on top of the Holy Table, for Pres. Makrina and Symeon to venerate.

Outside the front entrance to the sisterhood.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

St. Demetrios and More with Gr. Joyce, Pres. Makrina, and Rebecca

Today we took a trip into Thessaloniki to visit some more places, especially St. Demetrios. We were fortunate when we were arrived to catch one of the priests, a friend of mine, who gave us several particularly nice swabs of myrrh from St. Demetrios. The photo above was taken in the crypt of St. Demetrios, inside the original small church to St. Demetrios built in the 4th century. At right is Rebecca Leslie, a parishioner of Holy Cross Orthodox Church in Yakima, WA, who is in Greece staying with some friends of ours and helping their family.

After visiting St. Demetrios, we walked down a block to the ancient Greek agora/Roman forum, which served as the nerve center of the city from the city's inception in 300 BC through at least the 5th century. St. Paul was certain to have spent time here.

After the agora, we took a break to have a coffee at this outdoor cafe with a view of St. Demetrios (in the background).

Having refreshed ourselves with cold coffee, we marched up the hill one block from St. Demetrios to see the Church of the Holy Prophet Elias (or Elijah), built in the 14th century.

Then we went on an adventure to find the tiny, hidden little church dedicated to St. David of Thessaloniki. We were blessed to stumble upon it, just as the caretaker was leaving. Even though it was long past closing time, she opened the church for us to see the famous 5th century fresco in the apse of Christ Pantocrator. Above Simeon is playing in the courtyard of what was once a monastery.

We next headed over to another former monastery, Vlatadon, which now serves a number of functions--housing for theology students and the seat of the Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies.

In the photo above you can see the church built on the spot where St. Paul preached to the Thessalonians.

From Vlatadon, we walked around the walls of the city, which are still quite well preserved where we were in what is called the "Upper City." Above, we were just outside the walls to the city, looking at what, doubtless, many invading armies had seen over the centuries.

Finally, we walked down into the section of the city known as "St. Paul's," which has a wonderful view overlooking the city. We had lunch at a restaurant with a great view of the main church of St. Paul's and the park, which features the cave St. Paul slept in after he was forced to flee the city (see Acts 17:1-8).

Rebecca, meanwhile, was forced to try octopus, squid, and mussels. :)

For more photos, click here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Pres. Makrina, Symeon, and Gr. Joyce in Thessaloniki

On Wednesday, I took Pres. Makrina, Symeon, and Grandma Joyce to see some things in downtown Thessaloniki. After parking at the university, the first stop on our foot tour was the Rotunda, also known as St. George's. Above you can see Grandma Joyce and, above her, some of the ancient church decoration, featuring peacocks and a simple unadorned cross. Below you see Pres. Makrina and Symeon standing in the middle of the church. Although not a regular parish, Divine Liturgy is celebrated here once a month or so, just as it was 1700 years ago.

After settling Grandma Joyce at a cafe to rest, Pres. Makrina, Symeon and I continued the tour, stopping at Agia Sophia (above). It was here that St. Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessaloniki, preached his sermons on the uncreated energies of God.

The next stop was the Catacombs of St. John the Baptist (see photo above), just next to Agia Sophia. Click on the link for the full story from my visit with Anastasia last month.

After visiting the catacombs where the Christians worshiped in secret in the first century, we walked down toward the sea to see the much more modern current cathedral of Thessaloniki, which is dedicated to and houses the relics of St. Gregory Palamas. In the photo above, you can see the cathedral across the street.

Here Pres. Makrina and Symeon are coming out of the cathedral after venerating the relics of St. Gregory Palamas.

After the cathedral, we headed to Panagia Acheiropoietos, one of the three oldest churches in Greece (built in the middle of the 5th century), where our spiritual father serves as the proistamenos. We were fortunate to catch him and have a Greek coffee with him before heading back to rendezvous with Grandma Joyce. We then headed back to the university, where I had to do some paperwork. Above you can see the Theological School in the background.

On the way home, we went for a traditional Greek fasting lunch at Samarakia, a favorite restaurant of locals in Pylea. We had, among other things, grilled octopus, fried calamari, mussels with rice pilaf, and eggplant salad.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


Here are some photos that have been accumulating. The one above is from about two weeks ago. Phoebe (far left) has her arm sticking out the crib (it is a Phoebe trademark to scoot to the edge), Paul (middle) has moved over to cuddle with his sister, and Benjamin (far right) is just snoozing.

This one is from one of Anastasia's last nights with us here in Greece. Here she's enjoying the famous sweet called the "Trigona" of Panorama.

Here's another photo of the babies sleeping. This one is from about 10 days ago. Paul is at left and Benjamin is at right, and Phoebe has scooted over to cuddle with Benjamin.

The latest wave of help -- Pres. Makrina, Symeon, and Grandma Joyce -- arrived on Friday evening. Here they are on Monday evening, taking in the view of Thessaloniki from the roof of our building.

And, finally, from yesterday, here I was trying to catch Benjamin smiling. :)