10 June 2018
Making the day holy
at the Divine Liturgy in
the church in Tsesmes
I have been back in the villages of Tsesmes, in the hillside above Platanes, a few times in the past week since returning to Rethymnon.
Tsesmes retains some of the feeling and atmosphere of an Anatolian Greek village, and on one evening two of us had dinner in Pagona’s Place, the best taverna in the village, where the cuisine is a reminder of the best traditions brought to Crete by refugees who fled Anatolia almost a century ago.
This morning, I attended the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in the parish church in one of the village’s two squares.
The church is dedicated to Saint Nektarios (1846-1920), Metropolitan of Pentapolis and Wonderworker of Aegina. He was born in Selymbria (today Silivri, Istanbul), and at the age of 14 moved to Constantinople. In 1866, at the age of 20, he moved to the island of Chios to take up a teaching post. Ten years later, in 1876, he became a monk.
Saint Nektarios served the church in Cairo and Greece, and was recognised as a saint in 1961.
Father Dimitrios, the parish priest, celebrates the Divine Liturgy on alternate Sundays in the parish churches in Platanes and in Tsesmes. However, churchgoing is often low in numbers in the summer work because of the heavy demands on local people working in the tourism sector.
Throughout the liturgy, there is a regular censing of the people by the priest, as they present themselves as a holy people, prepared to meet Christ in the proclamation of the Gospel, in offering the gifts of bread and wine, and the presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
I am always taken aback at the small number of people who actually receive the Communion in Greek churches on a Sunday morning, although everyone takes portions of the blessed bread or prosphora afterwards to bring home, making the day holy for whole family.