WALK FOR LIFE 2017
After Feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos Friday September 1st (August 19) - Monday September 4th (August 22)
On Friday evening pilgrims began to arrive at the Nativity of the Mother of God Monastery in New Carlisle, Indiana, where we all gathered for Vespers. The monastery grounds are very beautiful and the church building brings all to their spiritual knees, in prayer. We soon found that our Archbishop, His Eminence Archbishop Peter of Chicago, gave us St. Peter of Moscow, as our patron.
On Saturday we began our journey with Divine Liturgy, and set off for the Chapel of the Holy Dormition. After much labor, and cooperation, we did arrive at the chapel, having first stopped at the local Catholic parish, St. Stanislaus Kostka, where they graciously gave us hospitality along the way. Once at the Holy Dormition chapel we rested, set up camp, prayed the Office of Vespers, and ate a late meal under a tent provided by our gracious host, Fr. George Konstantopoulos, and St. Andrew’s Parish, South Bend. After dinner, we all quietly went to sleep in our tents, under light rain.
On Sunday, we prepared ourselves for Divine Liturgy, ate a nourishing breakfast, and set out once again for the Nativity of the Mother of our God Monastery. With much delight did we reach our destination after hours of walking, praying, and chanting. We were treated to a hearty Arabic meal, provided by the Tadros family of St. George the Great Martyr parish (ROCOR) in Michigan City.
On Monday, the pilgrims made their way to St. George to celebrate Divine Liturgy at the oldest parish in our diocese, consecrated by St. Raphael Hawaweeny. After services, we all celebrated a successful pilgrimage during Fellowship. After much prayer and physical endurance did we part from each other’s company, congratulating one another, and wishing each other peace.
O Most Holy Theotokos, save us!
O Holy Hierarch Father Peter, pray to God for us!
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now, and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen! - This was the chant of our pilgrims for 17 miles.
To me, this chant held much significance. St. Maximus of Kiev once visited the monastery of Novodvorsk, founded by St. Peter of Moscow. Having received the blessing of St. Maximus; St. Peter presented him with an icon of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, painted by St. Peter himself. Similar to St. Peter’s ascetical work to break the Tatar yoke over the Russian land, we call out to St. Peter to pray for us, that God might break the yoke of sin upon our souls. We call out to Mary, Theotokos, as honored as the Panagia, or All Holy. She is the supreme example of the cooperation between God and Man! “Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord, let it be to me according to your Word.” As Mary’s prayer, do WE call out, also, that the Lord might make us true servants of the Lord’s work; the mortification of our own sin and shortcomings that we might attain what we are truly called to be.To me, it was not by chance that we set out on our journey during the After Feast of the Dormition; the monastery and chapel with the Theotokos as their patron! It is through the Theotokos’ prayers, and our father, St. Peter’s prayers that our pilgrimage was made successful. This pilgrimage has deepened our bonds to the Church, and has made us more resolved to search out the heart of Christ!