The Paráklisis, or service of supplication, is a service at which we ask the Blessed Virgin Mary or another saint to join us in prayer.
In terms of structure, the Paráklisis is essentially a very abbreviated matins service. We begin with Psalms 142 and 50, expressing to God our brokenness and need for help. After the Psalms, we sing a canon — nine odes, each consisting of four tropária or verses — which addresses a particular saint, asking for their prayers for our spiritual and physical health. After every third ode, we — together with the saint — turn to God in prayer, with the priest offering petitions for God’s mercy, and the people replying with the customary, ‘Kýrie eleison’ (Lord, have mercy). It is customary for the faithful to leave lists with their names and those of their loved ones so that the priest can pray for everyone by name during these petitions.
During the Dormition Fast, 1st–14th of August, the Small and Great Paráklisis to the Mother of God are sung alternately every evening.