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January 12, 2013

A Pilgrim's View of Christmas on Mount Athos (video)

This new documentary, filmed in 2013, was shot by Demetris Sotiropoulos of Hellas - Orthodoxy. It is a bit slow moving, but it shows Christmas on Mount Athos from a pilgrim's perspective.

The video begins with the departure from Ouranoupolis for Daphne by boat, and features certain historical monasteries of Mount Athos.

At the 20 minute mark Monk Moses speaks about the difference between Christmas on Mount Athos and Christmas in the world. He mainly focuses on Christmas as a liturgical experience, which is the primary focus of an Athonite Christmas, rather than on the secular feasting and lights and trees, etc.

At the 24 minute mark begins Christmas Eve and a 9-hour vigil service.

At the 30 minute mark Elder Ephraim of Vatopaidi gives his talk on Christmas to various pilgrims. Special features in the talk are his words on humility, and how Prince Charles, who would read St. Gregory Palamas, would comment to him that in Britain if you speak about humility you are seen as having some sort of mental problem. He also speaks about an atheist who visited the monastery for three days, and who by the third day gave his confession to Fr. Ephraim after witnessing the way of life of the monastics and being immersed in the Athonite atmosphere. He also speaks about the special grace of the Panagia on Mount Athos, which is what really makes its atmosphere unique in the world.

The video ends with Christmas hymns chanted by the fathers of Vatopaidi Monastery.