“You have the sun—you have a smile”

The faces of the Greeks are sunny, and you are hanging on to them: it may be during the September Acropolis festival in the Hermitage garden or at a presentation of the book “1000 years together …” in the Moscow House of Nationalities on December 13, 2018

In the hall I see a very familiar face that warms me even from a distance.

– “Hello! …Of course, I remember you,” – Archimandrite Sinesious responds to the cautious greeting of the journalist of the New Crete. How much time passed by after “Acropolis”*, where we have talked a bit; since then, how many people have flashed before the eyes of the Greek Archimandrite, a Moscow postgraduate student and the beloved Father of the metropolitan Greek diaspora. But he remembers me and is ready to answer some pre-Christmas blitz questions.

How strict is the Christmas Fast in Greece, Father Sinesious?

– Greeks celebrate Christmas on December 25th—and the fast begins on November 25th …Fasting is not something obligatory, first of all, it is a person’s desire to come pure to Christmas and is very good. It is a preparation, cleansing from sins and all excesses: both external and internal.

Why does food restriction give cleanliness?

– Fasting in food is not as important as fasting from sin: fasting is a remedy.

Fasting from sin? What does it mean?

– It means for a person to limit himself. He says: I will not say bad words, do bad deeds and punish anybody; and it is better not to do all this than to fast, and to sin in practice.

It seems to me that in Russia the requirements for people who come to the church are much stricter. No?

– It depends on the nature of the person and even on the weather. We have the sun always! When I arrived in Russia, it was difficult for me. I went to the altar and told everyone: “Good morning! How are you? Bless me… “And all around were, I do not know … very wise, serious.

For us, the Greeks, all it is a joy when we enter a temple, especially the altar. I thought something was wrong with me, something bad, until one Father said to me: “Don’t worry, everything is fine with you. We just have such a habit… You, the Greeks, have the sun, therefore you have a smile.” Maybe… I don’t know.

I noticed that in Greek temples there are benches for worshipers and in Russian no one. Maybe the Greek god is kinder to his flock: the people can think more about the God and not about tired legs during the service?

He laughs.

– You will not become closer to God, if you are sitting or standing. You can pray everywhere: standing and sitting, and lying, and working. It is not strictly necessarily to be before an icon and use only certain words. Christianity and especially Orthodoxy is freedom. Of course, there are dogmas and doctrines, but there is also freedom which Christ himself has given us.

No, these are nothing more than “good words,” as you say. This is how we need to live rightfully…

On Crete, small chapels are found everywhere, even in olive groves and among vegetable gardens. It seems that the man goes into such a chapel after work and prays. We would say: a temple is within walking distance. Is it all over Greece?

– It is true. On small islands—on Santorini and Paros—there are, for example, 365 temples. How many days in a year are so many temples, so every day they have a holiday…

Do you conduct services here in Moscow, and is it not difficult for you to do it in Church Slavonic?

I do it, of course, and Church Slavonic is easier for me than the modern Russian: for example, there are stresses there. I really like the liturgy in Church Slavonic: it is not difficult. True, the local Russian priests sometimes want me to serve in Greek, and when I’m in Athens, some Greek priests want me to serve in Russian. (He laughs.)

In which Moscow church do you serve?

Where my postgraduate study place is, in Chernigov Lane, in the Church of St. John the Forerunner and in the Church of Michael and Theodor of Chernigov.

Will you celebrate Christmas in Moscow?

Unfortunately, no. I have to fly to my homeland: I have a parish there, and I have to celebrate with the parishioners, with my parents, with brothers of the monastery. This is Moni Petraki Monastery, in honor of the Heavenly powers, in the very center of Athens—near the Synod

P.S. Last September, we needed an interpreter to speak. At December 13, Father Sinesious spoke pure Russian.

* You find information about the annual festival “Acropolis” on the website acropolis.moscow

Svetlana Zaitseva