Friday, April 30, 2010

St. Luke the Surgeon in Veria

On Tuesday evening, our parish took a trip to Veria to venerate the relics of St. Luke the Surgeon and participate in a Paraklesis service to him. We must have had about 70 people from the parish go on the trip to the Monastery of Panagia Dobra in Veria, which is about an hour west of Thessaloniki. Interestingly, the name of the monastery is a derivation from the many Slavic-speaking people who once lived in the area -- Dobra meaning "Good."

The monastery is building a very large new church dedicated to the saint, as you can see in the photo above. Currently, they have set up a temporary church in the basement while the rest of the church is completed. The current bishop of Simferopol (in modern-day Ukraine) sent a large piece of the saint's relics to the metropolitan of Veria when he heard of their project to honor the saint.

The monastery does the Paraklesis to the saint, with Vespers, every Tuesday night, with Metropolitan of Veria, Panteleimon, often presiding, as he did this time. In the photo above, you can see the Metropolitan presiding from his throne while Fr. Alexis and Fr. Panayiotis help read all the names to be commemorated at the Paraklesis.

During the service, the Metropolitan anointed the priests with oil from the lamp that hangs over the saint's relics, and then the abbot of the monastery anointed the rest of the faithful.

Here you can see the Metropolitan at the Holy Table just before the dismissal.

The saint's relic.

St. Paul himself founded the church in Veria (called Berea or similar spelling usually in the New Testament. See Acts 17:10-15.

An icon of St. Luke at the entrance to the church.

People leaving the basement church at the end of the service, which was about two hours of beautiful chanting.

Afterwards, our group went into the city of Veria to sample some of the famous Veria revani dessert.

For a few more photos, click here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Roasting a Goat

On Saturday night, George, one of our parish's chanters, invited me to his house to celebrate his names' day with a roasted goat. Goat, by the way, seems to be much more common than lamb, at least here in northern Greece. They say that it is less fatty.

Above you can see us hanging around as the goat turns over the coals.

After several hours of cooking, it's finally ready.

Here we are posing with the goat. :)

Here Fr. Alexios and Nikos, one of our parish's council members, are cutting up the goat into manageable chunks.

The meal was most memorable, both for the food and the conversation. We were blessed to have with us Monk Moses of the Holy Mountain (one of the most famous authors and speakers in Greece today) and Professor Dimitris Tselingidis, a professor at the university here and one of the most well-known Orthodox theologians today. With these two theologians, we had a couple hours of very interesting and edifying conversation.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Babies Visit Elder Paisios

An English friend of the Lillies, a convert to Orthodoxy in Oxford back in the 60s, comes regularly to Greece to visit the Holy Mountain. When he came back to Thessaloniki to get a flight home this time, however, the volcano in Iceland changed his plans. After trying to for several days to find an alternative way to get home, he finally resigned himself to waiting it out. After about a week, he managed to get a flight back to England on Sunday. On Saturday afternoon, then, before he left, we took him and the babies for a visit to Elder Paisios' monastery in Souroti.

Above, you can see Phoebe playing at the entrance to the main church dedicated to St. Arsenios the Cappadocian. The babies also got to venerate his relic inside the church.

The babies playing at the entrance to the church. The nuns broadcast the services out into this courtyard area through speakers. We were there during Vespers.

The babies also venerated the grave of Elder Paisios. In the photos above and below, you can see the Elder's grave in the background.

Here's Benjamin crawling around the monastery.

For a couple more photos, click here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Serbian Memorial

On Saturday, we were asked by our Serbian friends here in Thessaloniki to come to a Memorial Service in honor of all those who perished at the hands of the Croatian Nazis during World War II -- this included 25,000 Jews, 10,000 Roma ("gypsies"), and 600,000 Serbs.

The service took place in the church inside the memorial dedicated to the Serbian soldiers who fell in Greece during World War I. The chapel sits in the middle of a graveyard for those soldiers.

You can see the monument in the photos above and below.

While I was serving with two Serbian hieromonks and a deacon, our friends helped Pelagia watch the babies. Above, Michel, an Orthodox convert from Africa who is studying here, is holding Paul. Below, our Bosnian Serb friend Milenko is holding Phoebe.

Here are the babies at the entrance to the chapel.

Here we are during the service.

Pelagia and Phoebe are standing at the door of the small chapel during the service.

Afterwards, a professor from the Theology School who specializes in Slavic Church history, gave a short talk about the history and meaning of the sacrifices made by the Serbs during World War II.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Our Patronal Feast of St. George

The festivities for our patronal feast of St. George began Thursday night with Festal Vespers with about 10 priests. Our parish is fortunate to have a small piece of St. George's relics, along with those of St. Barbara, St. Theodore, St. Arsenios, and St. Euthymia, which were put out for veneration.

In the photo above, my friend Fr. Gregory is standing before the Holy Table during Vespers.

In the photos above and below, you can see Fr. Michael, a hieromonk and one of the Metropolis' preachers (a special, dedicated position and charism), who came to give a short talk about the life of St. George.

Fr. Panayiotis during Orthros on Friday morning.

On Friday morning, we again had 10 priests (5 of whom were hieromonks), two deacons, and two bishops -- our own, Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki, and a guest he was hosting, a Russian archbishop from southern Siberia, Ionafan (Tzvetkov) of Abakan and Kyzyl (see below).

All of us around the Holy Table.

The front of St. George's. Children from the public schools came to the church for the feast. Some of the younger ones were playing outside for a bit.

As you can see, the church was quite full on Friday morning.

After the Liturgy, I had the blessing to go for a coffee with the Russian archbishop and a few of his priests from his archdiocese. He explained that his archdiocese was located in southern Siberia, and he joked that because it was "southern" it didn't get below -50 C in the winter. I believe his name was Agathon, but I can't seem to find any information about him on the web, so maybe I'm not remembering his name correctly.

For more photos, click here and here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Babies on the Move

Here are a few baby photos from out and about. A couple weeks ago, we went to Praktiker (kind of like Home Depot) to pick up some things, and they had this dune buggy car out in front. As you can see from above, Paul really liked it.

On Sunday afternoon, we took the babies over to our local monastery of the Dormition for Vespers and to see the sisters. In these photos, you can see the babies playing in the grass outside the main church with Pelagia and Paul's godfather, Paris.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Bright Monday Outing to the Dam

The weather on Bright Monday, and all of Bright Week in fact, was great, so we decided to take the babies to the nearby dam in Thermi to feed the ducks. Above, you can see Benjamin and Phoebe looking at them. Phoebe in particular loves animals of all kinds.

Paul's godfather, Paris, also went with us. After seeing the ducks, we walked over to a little park to let the babies play in the grass.

Then they each got turns on the swing.

And then the slide.

Here's Benjamin going down the slide.

And here's Paul.

And here's everyone playing the grass again.

Finally, we walked over to the cafe that overlooks the picturesque dam and had a coffee while the babies had a snack.

Here's Paul tasting for the first time a Greek frappe coffee. Now, he's a real Greek!

Here's a photo of the dam that I took as we were walking back to the car.

For more photos, click here.