I could have written something between work and the Paraklesis yesterday evening. I needed a good laugh and found this website of fashions from the 1970′ and posted one of those horrid leisure suits on my Facebook page. What was once impressive and sophisticated in clothing is now the object of ridicule and scorn. (Okay, that was a loaded sentence that I am nor even prepared to continue to expound on)
Advent Paraklesis/Parakesis prayers are probably one of the least most popular services in Orthodoxy. Worshipers are to stand through the whole service. It is held on Friday (start of the weekend, favorite TV shows, kid’s high school sports) night. There is no meal or repasts after the service. Going to a Christmas party seems far more fun, especially if there is food that fits the Nativity Fast. After all, we have prayer books, the priest is neither serving the Eucharist nor giving a sermon.
In this time of Christmas being degenerated into the Winter Festival, I find that being in the presence of God at these prayers a welcome refreshment. The sight of the icons and smell of incense transforms me from tacky outdoor decorations to the place of holiness. The chants and prayers explicitly focus on the birth of our Lord and Savior without reindeer, snowmen, and the false perpetration of one of the favorite saints of the Church. At this prayer service, the connection to Orthodox doctrine is strengthened ( this is also a good time to recommit to the Nativity Fast that is so easily broken).
For the non-Orthodox, I invite you to come and see for yourself. Because there are relatively few worshipers, you may even have time to talk to the priest and learn about the ancient faith. But, if you refuse, do take a portion of your week away from the Santa dominated decor and focus on your prayer life. To the Orthodoxy, go to your icon corner and worship if you cannot make it to your church. But, make every effort to maintain this wonderful tradition of prayer.