St Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church in Dandenong Victoria hosted a well-attended, conciliar Great Compline service and communal fellowship event on Thursday the 8th of April, with an open invitation to the community of St Panteleimon Greek Orthodox Church, Dandenong.

The Thursday night Great Compline service was led by the Rev. Fr Jean Mawal, chanted in English by our St Ephraim the Syrian Antiochian Orthodox Choir and School of Melbourne. The choir leader, Kh. Rita Mawal organised and led the chanters to serve with an all-female right choir, as well as an all-male left choir, led by Mr. Anthony Kharoufeh. The two choirs served in tandem to highlight the beauty of our rich Orthodox liturgical worship in the divine art of Byzantine Ecclesiastical Music, expressing the essential mission of man to “pray unceasingly” (1Thes 5:17).

This heavenly service was then followed by a thought-provoking and soul-inspiring discussion on the topic of St John Climacus’ The Ladder of Divine Ascent, in line with the imminent 4th Sunday of Lent in his honour. Fr Jean Mawal led the fellowship by underlining the mystical nature of St John and his 30 spiritual steps of deification, raising many fundamental aspects of the steps and our purpose as God’s creation to struggle tirelessly in order to ascend to the heights of true humility and love.

St Panteleimon’s local Master of Theology, Dennis Krinas, then followed in harmony by providing an array of practical and personal examples of trying to implement the steps in our everyday lives. He challenged those present to use phones a little less, make meals a little smaller, and/or persist in prayer just a little more in order to exercise ourselves spiritually, thereby strengthen our relationship with God and each other.

The fellowship was catered and served by the Youth Committee, who provided their guests with loving hospitality and a true sense of conciliar fellowship amongst fellow family members in Christ, regardless of language, ethnicity, or demographic. The evening was well-spent and enjoyed by all who attended.

May we all through the prayers of St John of the Ladder heed to his words, ‘ascend brethren eagerly ascend.’