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On Saturday, January 26, our bishop, Metropolitan Ignatios, came to serve the Divine Liturgy in our adjoining parish of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in Katochori. The church is right next to the kids' pre-school, about 1 kilometer down the hill from our house.
Saturday marked the 40-day memorial of the passing of a friend of the bishop, so he came to celebrate Liturgy and the mnimosino in her village. We were four priests and two deacons.
We had an all-star group of chanters, including the head of the chanters' association of Volos, and the head of the national chanters' association (center), based in Athens.
Here are two faithful parishioners there bright and early in the small church for the beginning of Orthros at 7:30.
And here we are at the altar during the reading of the Creed.
As is customary, a tray is set for the bishop for the end of the Liturgy.
At the end of the Liturgy, to my surprise, the bishop called Fr. Ioannis (the long-time parish priest in Katochori) and me to read the prayer to be a pneumatikos (spiritual father). As I tried to explain before when Bishop Maxim read this prayer over me in Thessaloniki, this is a bit of a theological gray area, but the Greek/Byzantine tradition, at least, is clear that, although it is inherent in a sense in the priesthood, the bishop must authorize who is hearing confessions in his diocese. It is considered a delicate and crucial ministry and is not usually entrusted to new, inexperienced priests. This is also why the bishop reads a special prayer, bestowing a particular charisma to enable the priest in this vital ministry. Thus, we have confidence that God supplies what is lacking.