P s a l t i k i promotes the advancement of the Hellenic Psaltic Art, also known as Byzantine and post-Byzantine Chant, and Hymnology by facilitating, cultivating and supporting its academic study, as well as initiating projects that transmit the psaltic heritage.
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About the author: Georgios Livaditis is a graduate of the MDiv program at Hellenic College, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts and the 2009 recipient of the Psaltiki Pascha On Mount Athos Award. He was on Mount Athos from the Saturday of Lazarus to Tuesday of Bright Week at the Sacred Monastery of Simonopetra (11-21 April 2009).
This is his reflection of his experience. It includes photos and sound clips. He is presently working at the Ss. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Brooklyn, New York.
Keywords: Mount Athos, Chant, Pilgrimage, Monasticism, Simonopetra, Psaltiki Award, Liturgical life
My name is Georgios Livaditis and I am a seminarian at Hellenic College, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. I have been studying now for almost six years to become a priest. I love God and seek to please and glorify him.
By grace, I was the recipient of the 2009 Psaltiki Holy Week On Mount Athos Award. My experience at the Monastery of Simonopetra affected me so profoundly; I will never be the same. It was the service of Holy Unction on Holy Wednesday that was particularly transformative. I cannot recall ever being so moved. The monks were focused and yet so relaxed. They brought the liturgy to life. Their chanting and readings were the most beautiful offerings I had ever heard. I truly felt the Holy Spirit in the room that night. There were seven priests performing the service and at the end they stood in a line and all seven anointed each and every one of us. I had never seen this before. It was a rare moment and I will never forget it.
Throughout Holy Week I witnessed many young people seeking advice and guidance from the monks for their spiritual growth and I felt a common bond with them. We all have a natural desire to know God that needs to be nurtured and it was beautiful to witness this nurturing of souls. Every pilgrim who entered the monastery could see the love of Christ in the faces of these monks; in their eyes and in the way they spoke. Their every breath honors God. I talked to many of the pilgrims during my week there and we all shared this belief: The monks of Simonopetra are men after God’s own heart. Where there is joy there is love (Gal. 5,22). They shared that love with every pilgrim who entered the monastery and their love nurtured and healed us all.
My time with the monks was so meaningful. They spent time with me individually as well as collectively. They prayed with me, they laughed with me, and I was even able to contribute to some of the daily chores of the monastery. I was also allowed to participate in the chanting and some of the readings. I am not an accomplished protopsaltes, but I love chant and I try to practice daily. It was a blessing for me to worship with such lovers of God and in the beauty of His holy house (Ps. 27,4). My chanting skills were much improved because of this experience. How can I ever repay them for this gift?
When I am still and in my spirit, I hear those phenomenally pure tones glorifying God and I am moved all over again. The way the monks assisted each other during the service showed me what true brotherhood is. If one monk knew a particular chant better, he would work with the other monks to deliver a most honorable offering of mercy and praise (Heb. 13,15), all for the glory of God. That is what they taught me about brotherhood; it’s all for the glory of God.
It is my sincere wish that everyone experience the beauty of the Simonopetra Monastery on Mount Athos. I was truly humbled by the abundant love I received from all the fathers there. There was joy in every heart! The kind of joy that only comes to those who are in full cooperation with the Holy Spirit. It was my privilege to witness and live this reality.
I am so thankful I was given the opportunity to apply for this scholarship. I would encourage anyone who loves the Psaltic Art, our blessed Byzantine chant, to apply. In my many years as a student I have received many scholarships but none compares to this one. This was a scholarship of pure love and joy. Surely, blessings will follow this scholarship’s founders all the days of their lives.
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ISSN: 1946-7540 Copyright © 2009-2011, Psaltiki, Inc. and the Authors.