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Real Break Thessaloniki II - Sunday of St. Gregory Palamas (3/12/17)

Day 2 in Greece... Wow.

How can we begin to share the glory of God from this packed day starting with the Divine Liturgy? Fr. William and Fr. Jonathan were invited to serve with Fr. Spyridon and Fr. Ioaseph who have served together for 30 years in this same church.

This parish is from around 450AD, the oldest constructed Church in the Thessaloniki. Fr. Spyridon has the service offered in sign language serving the deaf community of the city. The Parish is called Panagia Acheiropiito and felt like home.

Everything in the Liturgy was beautiful, if you could not hear the chanting you were greeted with the same message in the patterns of the altar cloths, the expansive dome and light flooding from the East, the rising incense catching the Sun, the calm movements of the priests and the icons and mosaics all speaking in their own language the message of hope and the Kingdom of Heaven reclaimed!

After service we traveled to the local parishes where Saints have walked like that of the Great St. Gregory Palamas of Thessaloniki whose relics are only open twice a year. Walking near the sea we experienced the Greek culture and made our way after lunch to the monastery where Saint Paisios of Athos' relics are.

Every church had its own pulse, its own presence and its own beauty as one student described at the end of the day when we debriefed asking everyone what impacted them so far and what they look forward to.

The students spoke of how fast paced America is and how this has truly become a "real" break from the daily race. They shared how they are giving honest attention to their spiritual life and the Sunday Morning routine in America was left behind as we experienced the Liturgy as something very new and vibrant with God's peace here in the Sunday Morning of Thessaloniki!

- Fr. Jonathan Bannon

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Walking to Church, one of the many ways we're trying to have a REAL break and stay unplugged, yet ever-charging with grace
Divine Liturgy at Host Parish of Panagia Acheiropiito
Serving Divine Liturgy together was a great blessing
Fr. William offering Holy Communion to the children and parents in the Liturgy
Fr. Jonathan distributes antidoron at the conclusion of Liturgy.
Our Host Parish
Everything from this parish came from Constantinople. Looking closely at these columns you see green and orange veins in the marble columns.
The tile from 3 different centuries in the hosting parish this morning.
Standing over the ancient tiles.
1,500 years of sandals & shoes have crossed this foundation, wearing down the very marble that makes up this Church floor
The Deaf community at the host parish has been a jewel in the ministry of the Church in Thessaloniki. We thank God we could experience the Divine Liturgy in Sign Language with them!
We soon traveled to St. Gregory Palamas' church to venerate his relics on his feast of the Second Sunday of Great Lent. His reliquary is unlocked only twice a year.
Venerating the relics of St. Gregory Palamas of Thessaloniki, the great defender of Orthodoxy
The beautiful Church of St. Gregory Palamas.
Dome in St. Gregory Palamas Church.
The image of the Pantocrator graces the ceiling of the Church of St. Gregory Palamas
We make our journey along the Mediterranean Sea
Pausing on walking tour.
Offering prayer before our meal
Experiencing Greek Culture in dancing at the Aristotle Academy
Church of Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki, along our journey of Churches for the day
The Monastery Church where St. Paisios lies