Greek Orthodox Great Vespers for the Feast of the Induction and the Protection of the Environment

Members of the Focolare movement in the Chicago area participated in the liturgy and reception on the Greek Orthodox feast of the Great Vespers for the Feast of the Induction and the Protection of the Environment. The celebration was held for the Chicago area at the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Glenview. Sts. Peter and Paul is a very beautiful, colorful, icon-filled, bright and welcoming structure and was a perfect setting for such a majestic ceremony. The ceremony manifested the majesty of God, as shared by the Focolare members in attendance.
Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, Chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, officiated at the celebration. Bishop Demetrious wore elaborate robes with ornate mitre and staff.  Very Reverend Thomas Baima, Vice Rector for Academic Affairs, Dean of the Seminary and Graduate School, Professor in the Department of Systematic Theology at Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois, and Most Reverend George Rassas Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago (Vicariate one) were on the altar with Bishop Demetrious. Also present on the altar were many Orthodox priests and deacons.Greek OrthodoxF1

The Feast of the Induction and the Protection of the Environment has a long history in the Orthodox tradition.  The term and tradition “Induction” was instituted by Emperor Constantine in 313 AD and provided a method of viewing the fiscal year in 15 year cycles.  The Feast was a means of dating events and transactions in the Roman empire. This feast and practice was in use until the 16th century in certain areas, including Greece.  In recent times, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome, sent out a delaration regarding the need to protect and restore the environmnet, in tune with Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter Laudato si’. The declaration was sent as part of an Induction.

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Prayers, chants, and readings from Genesis and the Psalms, were recited at times in both English and Greek.  All prayers and readings were related to the earth and humanity’s relationship to it.  The ceremony included with the distribution of very many large loaves of bread, symbolic of Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves, as well as symbols of the fruit of the earth. These loaves were first gracefully stacked on a many-shelved stand.  Then ceremoniously the loaves were prepared for distribution.  All present were then directed to approach Bishop Demetrios to receive a piece of the beautiful loaves.
As the liturgy ended Bishop Demetrious made his way to greet those in attendance from the Focolare. He was introduced to Corin, just arriving to the Women’s Focolare center in Hyde Park. Bishop Demetrious expressed a desire to visit the Focolare center upon his return from Constantinople. Greek OrthodoxF6The evening concluded with a lovely reception and Lecture by Professor Dr. Gayle Woloschak on the subject of Ecology.