Monday, March 29, 2010

More Athos Photos on Exhibit

I received another email today from the Mount Athos Center asking to use three more of my photos from the Holy Mountain, this time from earlier trips, going as far back as when I first went in 2006.

The photo above is from St. Panteleimon Monastery, which is usually known simply as Rossikon, meaning the Russian [Monastery]. This photo and the one below were taken back in 2006.

This photo is a view of the Holy Mountain's port city of Daphni from inside a little van that was taking us to catch our boat back to "the world."

This is Vatopedi Monastery, taken during my trip there in November 2008.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Babies at MediaMarkt/2400-year-old Archaeological Site

It's time for an update of baby photos. I know by now that I can only leave you without new photos for so long before I start getting complaints, so here goes. :)

Above is Benjamin in the tunnel.

This is a nice photo of Phoebe, chewing on the arm of a chair.

Here's Paul.

Pelagia has made our living a room a safe, baby-proofed area, and it is now fenced in with baby gates. So here you can see Paul and Phoebe behind bars.

One day, we went on an outing to MediaMarkt, which is an electronics superstore like BestBuy. But here's something BestBuy in the U.S. definitely doesn't have going for it -- it's not built on the site of a 2400-year-old Macedonian tomb.

Developers in Greece dread hitting on an archaeological site when they start building, but it's quite common. The developers of MediaMarkt have found an ingenious solution, though -- just incorporate it into your store design. Here, as you can see in the two photos above, you can walk on top of a Macedonian tomb site on your way into the entrance of the story. This way, you can have a history lesson and get a new big-screen TV all in one stop!

Last Sunday evening, Pelagia, Ann Lillie, and I were out on a walk with the babies when we ran into Fr. Alexis, who then suggested that we go for a coffee at (yet another) new cafe that has opened in Panorama. Above you can see Paul playing with Fr. Alexis.

Here, Paul's godfather, Paris, has him; I have Benjamin; and Fr. Alexis has the bill! :)

The Metropolitan of Tanzania

Today we had another bishop celebrating with us. This time it was the missionary, Metropolitan Dimitrios of Tanzania and the Seychelles (Patriarchate of Alexandria).

He's a native of Sohos, a village about an hour outside Thessaloniki, and we had an absolutely enormous crowd at the church today to greet him and take his blessing.

He's quite a dynamic figure, and he sure knows how to move people to help the impoverished people of his metropolis.

At the Little Entrance.

Just after the Great Entrance.

The Kiss of Peace.

At the Creed.

At the end, the Metropolitan addressed the packed church and thanked them for their contributions. Our parish has helped build two wells in Tanzania, which the Metropolitan says has saved many lives.

After the Dismissal, the Metropolitan asked those who were sick and suffering to come to the Beautiful Gate and kneel. He then placed his vestments over their heads and read a prayer, which you can see in the photo above. It was the first time I had seen this tradition, but it must be based, among other things, on Acts 19:11-12 and, of course, St. Mark 5:25-29.

Below is a video I found on YouTube with a montage of photos of Orthodox Tanzania from someone's visit there. There is also an interesting video from the OCMC Executive Director here. Finally, for more photos, click here.

Friday, March 19, 2010


I had some calls for an update on the babies, so here goes.

They've all had a bit of a cold the past few days, but they're crawling around and they like pulling themselves up to stand.

Above you can see Paul in the bathtub with his ducky. (Ducks in Greece, by the way, go "Pak Pak," not "Quack Quack.")

This is one of the babies' favorite activities, especially at bedtime -- crawling all over mom!

Here's Phoebe chewing on a bean. She's got two teeth in the bottom front now; the boys are still waiting for their first.

Here's Benny standing at my desk.

Paul standing at my desk.


Here the babies are in the bathroom brushing their "teeth."

Here the babies are having spaghetti for the first time. Below is a movie that our Bosnian Serb friend Milenko took the other day when he came to visit.

And here's our great friend, Angela, with Paul and Phoebe. Angela is an Orthodox convert from Scotland who came to Thessaloniki over 20 years ago to study theology at the university and never left.

And, finally, here is a cute video that Pelagia made this week.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fr. Eusebios Vittis

Today our parish here in Panorama organized a "spiritual symposium" on the life of the recently reposed Elder Eusebios Vittis. Our parish took this on because several of his spiritual children as well as his nephew attend the parish.

Fr. Eusebios was a hieromonk who lived in a small hermitage in Sweden for 20 years, where he cared for the Orthodox there, without pay. To support himself, he worked as a janitor.

He had many, many spiritual children, including several bishops. Two bishops who were very close to him parish this morning to celebrate the Divine Liturgy and a memorial service for him before we began the symposium.

Above, censing, you see Metropolitan Makarios of Sidirokastron, the metropolis to which Fr. Eusebios belonged here in Greece.

From the Liturgy, during the Creed. Besides two bishops, we had five priests and three deacons. Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki and five other priests joined us for the memorial service at the end.

Metropolitan Makarios to the right, with Metropolitan Pavlos of Sisanion and Siatista to his right. To his right is Fr. Philotheos, an Athonite hieromonk who came to represent the Holy Monastery of Grigoriou in paying respect to Elder Eusebios.

Metropolitan Makarios with two deacons.

The symposium began around 11:30 with introductions by our proistamenos (rector), Fr. Alexios, and all three hierarchs, whom you can see seated in the front row.

Then followed three talks by professors from the university. The first professor was not a theologian but rather one of elder's spiritual children. He spoke from his experience living and studying in Sweden, where he first came to know the elder, and relayed some stories about the elder's time there.

The second talk was by Professor Anestis Keselopoulos from the School of Theology. His talk was entitled "The Quest for the Absolute" and it explored some passages from Fr. Eusebios' writings, examining the elder's thirst for God.

The third talk was by our parish's own Professor Dimitris Tselingidis, one of the most well-known Orthodox theologians today. His talk was entitled "The Ecclesiastical Mindset (Phronema) of Fr. Eusebios Vittis," and in it he explored many of the elder's writings, showing how they were deeply rooted in the tradition of the Church.

The symposium then concluded with a few words from the elder's sister.

Above, the photo of Fr. Eusebios displayed at the symposium. He wrote quite a bit, but unfortunately none of it is (yet) translated into English. In the symposium he was frequently included in the ranks of Elder Paisios and Elder Porphyrios (i.e., as saintly contemporary elders), so I predict that the English-speaking Orthodox world will be (or should be) hearing more about him soon.

On that note, my friend Michael Tishel, another American studying here, has really taken to the elder, having discovered some of his books a few months back. He attended the talks today and he has already offered a small translation of his own of one section from the elder's writings. Stay tuned to his blog there for more.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Athos Photos on Exhibit

I received a very interesting email today from the Mount Athos Center, which is most known to pilgrims to the Holy Mountain as the place where one must go to obtain permission to enter Mount Athos.

Well, it's actually a whole organization, and their headquarters, located right in the center of Thessaloniki, also houses a bookstore and an exhibition area, which often puts on interesting shows of photography and artwork related to the Holy Mountain.

Interestingly, it seems that they are now organizing an exhibit for the summer that will be dedicated to the photography of bloggers who cover the Holy Mountain. They selected four of my photographs -- all from my last trip there last summer with my brother-in-law Thomas and my koumbaros Paris -- and have asked me for permission to display them at the exhibit, which will run from June 25-September 17.

Here then, being republished, are the photos they requested. The first two are from Grigoriou, and the second two from Simonopetra. I don't really know what they saw in the first photo, but anyway...