Saturday, April 26, 2014

Christ is Risen!

Here are some photos from our Saturday night Resurrection service. Above are the chanters just before 11:00 PM, when we started Orthros.

Around 11:45 PM, all the lights in the church are extinguished and the doors to the altar are closed, as the faithful await the invitation to "Come receive the Light," which is the Holy Light (or Holy Fire) from Christ's tomb in Jerusalem. (It was brought to Volos by airplane, and reached our church around 10:15 PM.) As you can see, the Greeks are waiting to attack.

The priest only has time to slide back the door (or curtain), but usually leaves the beautiful gates closed to protect himself from the onslaught.

We then processed out to the platform in the church's courtyard, just in front of our house. There, I read the Easter message from the bishop, and then the Gospel. Finally, we chanted "Christ is risen!" and the crowd exploded. Fireworks were going off down in Volos and everywhere else.

Chanting the resurrectional verses and censing. You can see my office and the house behind us.

The kids all stayed up until the end of Liturgy and communed.

Afterwards, we (well, I) broke the fast with some traditional goat's head soup, prepared for us by a kind women from the village. You can see two heads floating in this one. I tried to convince the kids to try it, but surprisingly they weren't interested.  :)

For more photos, click here.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Holy and Great Thursday and Friday

On Holy Thursday after Liturgy, the kids, as is the tradition here, boiled eggs and dyed them red for the Resurrection service after midnight on Sunday morning. At the end of the Liturgy, around 2:20 AM, we blessed them and handed them to the faithful, who cracked them with their friends and proclaimed joyfully "Christos Anesti!"

Before the Resurrection though, we passed through the Cross and Christ's descent into Hades. Above is a photo of the church on Holy Friday morning.

And then on Friday night, we held the "funeral" service for Christ, placing a representation of Christ "the epitaphion" onto a bier elaborately decorated with flowers, and we processed throughout all of Portaria, meeting in the center of the town with the other parish, saying a few words, and them coming back. In all, it took about an hour. As you can see from the photos, there were hundreds and hundreds of people at the service, most of whom followed the procession with lit candles as we sang repeated the Lamentations.

Some of the local kids during the procession.

The decorated bier and epitaphion. About 15 women stayed after the end of the long Thursday night service (which ended about 10:30) to decorate the bier, all the with real flowers. They finished at 2:00 AM.

More photos from the procession as we wound our way along the cobblestone paths of Portaria.

For more photos, click here.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Damiani Visits Thessaloniki

The week before Holy Week, the whole family went to visit Thessaloniki for a couple days, in order to see our koumbaroi, friends, and spiritual father. Above, you can see Damiani sitting outside the fifth-century Church of Panagia Ahiropoiitos.

One afternoon, we met Paul's godfather, Paris, and his new fiancé, Maria, at the park/cafe in Panorama.

Damiani really liked seeing the goats and rabbits.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Around the Parish

A few weeks ago, one of our local carpenters helped us add nice wooden benches in the narthex of our large chapel dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos.

Spring is here! Here, Paul, Phoebe, and the cat are lounging out on the balcony at sunset.

At our "Sunday School" class the week before Holy Week, we decorated candles and eggs and discussed their symbolism.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Akathist Hymn

For the fourth Salutations to the Theotokos, our little parish had a visit from a busload of pilgrims from Volos, specifically retired nurses from the Red Cross who act as auxiliary nurses in times of emergency. For fellowship, they organize various excursions and this time about 50 of them came to us. They came about an hour early to the service, so we treated them to a coffee and I spoke to them a bit about our parish and how I ended up in Portaria.

The next week, for the full Akathist Hymn, one of our diocese's preachers, Fr. Pamphilos, came to serve with me.

For years, he has come about twice a year (once during the Great Fast and once during the fast for the Panagia) to hear confessions from his spiritual children. After the service, we set him up in my office where he heard confessions of about 20 people. Here is a lovely photo of him hearing the confessions of two four-year-old cousins.