Virtual Pani Retreat

Saturday, March 12, 2022

JOHNSTOWN, PA [Diocesan Chancery] --The 2022 Virtual Pani Retreat took place on the morning of February 12th, opening with a prayer by his Eminence Metropolitan Gregory and some enjoyable catching up od the Panis with each other. The Pani sisterhood had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Vasiliki Tsigas-Fotinis, who was asked to speak to them on the book of Psalms. This was a lively and very timely topic as the Psalter is often read by faithful Orthodox Christians during Great Lent.

Vasiliki encouraged the Panis to practice praying, singing, and dancing the Psalms. Praying the Psalms perhaps comes most easily since we hear the Psalms prayed frequently during our services. Vasiliki shared that we can pray them by reading through or reciting the Psalms in sections, one Psalm or even one verse at a time. Christ Himself recited these Psalms on the Cross so for us too they can be a source of comfort and benefit for our souls. When we pray the Psalms we can know we are connected to Christians around the world and across time who pray these same verses.

Reminding them that the word Psalm means to sing a song, Vasiliki shared that we can join the angels who sing praises constantly to God by singing the Psalms. “Singing psalms is a medicine for healing the soul.” said St. Athanasius. Our discussion of the Psalms concluded with the ways which we can dance the Psalms. Knowing that the Psalms were written as poems and have a rhythm to them, and that dancing is a poetic form of movement, we can consider the value of including holy movement in our prayers. Vasiliki made the connection between the benefit that movement has on us and the many examples of dancing and movement as an expression of joy to praise God. By including movements, like bowing, extending our arms in offering, or the gentle rocking parents holding their child are so familiar with, we can pray with our body as well as our mind and soul. We can practice praying with movement and we can practice praying with our breath.

Vasiliki led the Panis in some quiet moments of breathing in with “glory to God!” and breathing out with gratitude to Him. The Panis were thankful to Vasiliki for her insights and encouragement and are grateful to his Eminence Metropolitan Gregory for his participation in the virtual retreat and who, together with event organizer Pani Daria Loposky, made it possible for the ACROD Pani sisterhood to have the opportunity to spend some time with one another.