March 28th, 2021

SUNDAY OF GREGORY PALAMAS

SERMON ON THE SUNDAY OF ST GREGORY PALAMAS

March 28, 2021

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Have you ever wondered about where or how St Gregory Palamas got his last name? You know, people in the 14th century didn’t actually have last names like we do today, right? So, how did St Gregory, Archbishop of Thessalonica, manage to get one, “Palamas?” Well, people in ancient times did, often, have descriptors or nicknames that helped to identify one individual from another. Sometimes it was a patronymic, like “John the son of Zebedee” or “Joshua ben Sirach.” Sometimes it was a physical distinction, like John the Dwarf or Didymus the Blind. Sometimes people were distinguished from others by an honorific, a title that described something about them, about their achievements or about their character. Some examples: “Simon Peter” which means “Simon the Rock,” or “Basil the Great,” or “John the Theologian.” But “Palamas?” What does that mean?

When my kids were little, Matushka Joanie taught them a number of Greek children’s songs. One she taught them when they were both very young. It was a song that required an action from them, a clapping action. The song went: “Παλαμάκια παίξετε / κι ο μπαμπάς του έρχεται / και του φέρνει κατιτί / κουλουράκια (or λουκουμάκια) στο χαρτί!” This is the first verse. It roughly translates:

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