The Isles of the Sea

Icon of All the Saints of the British Isles

Today we celebrate All the Saints of Great Britain.

These Spiritual Blossoms of the Isles (circa 37 A.D. to 1054 A.D.) are rooted in England, Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall, and Wales, and continue to exude their Spiritual Fragrance today!

The saints are shown to be fair blossoms of the Garden of Eden, laden with the nectar of good works and the sweet scent of Orthodox teachings, whereby our souls are fed and our spiritual thirst is quenched, Come ye therefore, let us hasten beneath their shade and let us bless them as the delight and adornment of the Isles, and as a model and pattern for our lives, for they have received unfading crowns of glory and all together they beseech the Pre-Eternal God for us. ~ Ikos

A Brief History of Orthodox England

Timeline of Orthodoxy in the British Isles

Throughout the whole world, God’s Name is glorified in the memory of His saints, and as all are alive in Christ, the saints are our friends, and alive in Heaven. They are venerated, but not worshipped… and having run the race and the course of faith, they are glorified.

We live together with them (the Saints in heaven), in the house of the Heavenly Father, only in different parts of it. We live in the earthly, they in the heavenly half; but we can converse with them, and they with us. ~ St. John of Kronstadt

In God and in His Church there is no division between the living and the departed, but all are one in the love of the Father. Whether we are alive or whether we are dead, as members of the Church we still belong to the same family, and still have a duty to bear one another’s burdens. Therefore just as Orthodox Christians here on earth pray for one another and ask for one another’s prayers, so they pray for the faithful departed and ask the faithful departed to pray for them. Death cannot sever the bond of mutual love which links the members of the Church together. ~ Metropolitan Kallistos Ware

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith… Hebrews 12:1-2

From the ends of the earth, O Lord, the Isles of the Sea offer Thee all the saints who have shone forth therein as the fair fruit of Thy salvific splendour. Through their supplications and through the Theotokos, preserve Thy Church and Thine Isles in the profoundest peace, O most Merciful One. ~ Festal Troparion for All the Saints of the British Isles

Today the choirs of the saints who have pleased God in the Isles, standeth in the Church and invisibly prayeth to God for us. With them the angels give glory; and all the saints of the Church of Christ celebrate with them, and all together they beseech the Pre-Eternal God for us. ~ Kontakion Tone 3

We magnify thee, O all ye saints who have shone forth in the Isles, and we honour thy holy memory, for ye intercede with Christ our God on our behalf. ~ Saints of the British Isles Magnification

O all ye Saints of the British Isles, pray to God for us!

> Greater Than! >

Photo by Elimende Inagella on Unsplash

God is greater! Greater than your illness whatever it may be. Greater than your than your deepest disappointment. Greater than your greatest worry. Greater than your worst enemy. Greater than your most difficult problem. Greater than life. Greater than death. God is greater! Believe it! Live by it! Affirm it! Claim it by faith and use it as a pillow to rest your weary soul. God is greater! If your God is not greater, then the God you believe in is too small. He is not the God the Church believes in. ~ St. Isaac the Syrian

Many people that I know are facing extra challenges these days (myself included), so I particularly love the part of St. Isaac’s encouraging quote which reminds us to use faith “as a pillow to rest your weary soul. God is greater!”

I’ll be re-fluffing my sleep-pillow of faith (as needed), tonight… by affirming in my heart He Always Hears Us!… And by rejoicing upon my bed that God is With Us!

When I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. ~ Psalm 63:6-8

Thank you dear Lord for all your blessings, and for always hearing our prayers. Please give us patience and acceptance to await Your Help that will come when it’s best for us. Amen.

Lord have mercy!

All Saints of North America

Today we celebrated All Saints of North America!

Above – 3 Icons of saints celebrated today: Synaxis of All Saints of America, 3rd century physicians Sts. Cosmas and Damian and St. Nikolai Velimirovich.

Excellent Resource and List of North American Saints

Children’s Activity Book – North American Saints

Come, let us praise the saints of North America, holy hierarchs, venerable monastics, and glorious martyrs, pious men, women, and children, both known and unknown! Through their words and deeds in various walks of life, by the grace of the Spirit they achieved true holiness. As they now stand before Christ Who glorified them, and they pray for us who celebrate their memory with love… ~ Stichos 6; Stichera of the North American Saints

Rejoice… leap for joy, O waters of the Great Lakes; rise up, O fertile plains of Canada; for the elect of Christ who dwelt in you are glorified, men and women who left their homes for a new land! With faith, hope and patience as their armour, they courageously fought the good fight. Comforted by the beauty of the Orthodox Faith… ~ Stichos 1; Stichera of the North American Saints

It’s wonderful to joyfully celebrate so great and shining cloud of witnesses in our land!

When I first came to Orthodoxy, I was greatly influenced by reading the life of the recently canonized (1980) young indigenous martyr, St. Peter the Aleut. (Seen on the far right of the Synaxis of the Saints of America icon) He touched my heart, and I love him dearly.

Recent – Canonization of Matushka Olga of Alaska

Through the prayers of Matushka Olga and of all the Saints who have shone forth in North America, may the Lord grant His mercy and blessings.

Amen!

The Sweeting

An early morning detente. Honey bee and tiny Hoverfly (a flower-fly that mimic bees in appearance but has no stinger) kindly share the same lavender blossom.

The bee is more honoured than other animals, not because she labours, but because she labours for others. ~ St. John Chrysostom

Like a bee that secretly fashions its comb in the hive, so also grace forms in hearts it own love. It changes to sweetness what is bitter, what is rough into that which is smooth. ~ Anonymous 4th century Egyptian monk

Sweeting
Those who resemble
the sweet honey bee,
Seek to find goodness
in all that they see!
~ a rhyme inspired/borrowed from St. Paisios’ honey bee verses fly quote below…

Some people resemble the honey bee and some resemble the fly. Those who resemble the fly seek to find evil in every circumstance and are preoccupied with it; they see no good anywhere. But those who resemble the honey bee only see the good in everything they see. ~ St. Paisios

If only we could more resemble the honey bee, and bee ye kinde one to another

If we could try to see Christ Himself more often in others… we could, but only with Love of our neighbour… help change some of this world’s bitterness into sweetness!

Even just a little bit.

Eve of Saints Peter & Paul

Wishing you a Blessed Feast tomorrow!
(July 12/June 29)

Previous 2023 Post:
Happy Sts. Peter & Paul Day!

Various beautiful sermons and homilies about The Apostles Peter and Paul! An edifying resource!

Happy Feast Day!

An Ancient Symbol of Prayer

Photo by Andriy Tod on Unsplash

Let my prayer be set forth as incense before thee. ~ Psalm 141:2

Recently, at an evening service, and through the golden glow of candlelight… smokey tendrils of incense swirled as wreaths of living halos about the holy icons, before wafting upwards as billowing clouds – the noetic breath of our prayers… and the setting sun’s beams pierced through the church windows to ignite the mosaics’ gold tessera like fiery embers. Immersed in all this spiritual beauty, my cup overflowed. It took my breath away.

I’d love to share these beautiful reminders listed from St. Vasilios Greek Orthodox Church – of the rich symbolism and significance of Church incense and the Censer.

What is the Censer?
The censer is a covered dish suspended on four chains. It is used to convey the fragrant smoke of the incense to holy objects. It’s parts represent all of God’s creation.

What does it represent?

  • The ring (symbol of eternity) represents GOD.
  • The top represents ‘Alpha’ (A) the beginning.
  • The four chains represent the Four Evangelists.
  • The twelve bells represent the Twelve Apostles, and their teaching.
  • The Cross reminds us of the cross of our Lord.
  • The top of the bowl represents the Heavens.
  • The firepot (where the incense and charcoal go) is the earth, and the charcoal is man who requires the fire of the Holy Spirit to give him light and life. We blow on the charcoal to set it afire just as God put life in man by breathing on him.
  • The bottom of the cup is the universe of which the earth is a part.
  • The base of the censer is the ‘Omega’ (Ω), the end.

May we continually blow breath to spark our own noetic charcoal – keeping it afire with the Love, Zeal, and the Fragrance of Christ.

The Light of Truth

Photo by Olga Kononenko on Unsplash

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. ~ St. John 8:12

In order to remind us that before anything else the Creator of the world created light, and after that everything else in order: “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). And it must be so also at the beginning of our  spiritual life, so that before anything else the light of Christ’s truth would shine within us. From this light of Christ’s truth subsequently every good is created, springs up and grows in us. ~ St. Nikolai of Ohrid

Through the Divine Spark of the Holy Spirit, it’s Our Time to Shine.

Let us be as noetic Candles, Aflame with Zeal, and exude the Sweet Aroma of Divine Grace… Christ’s Light of the Virtues.

May your day brim with Light!

Lauding the Leading Luminary

Icon of St. John the Forerunner and Baptist, lovingly embellished with vines of periwinkle, and bathed in yestereve’s Gladsome Light.

Today is the Nativity… the Birthday – of St. John the Baptist!

St. John the Baptist is called the voice of the Word, the Lampstand of the Light, the morning star and Forerunner of the Sun of Righteousness. He is the personification of faithfulness to God, righteousness, and asceticism. He is so revered, that each Tuesday, every week of the year is also dedicated to him and there are also other days of the year which, since ancient times, have been devoted to St. John the Baptist!

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. ~ St. John 1:6-9

Christ Himself said: Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. ~ St. Matthew 11:11

As we’re still in the Apostle’s Fast, there’s a lovely plant-based Chocolate “Locust” Cake recipe I’d like to share below, celebrating St. John the Baptist’s birthday, embracing some wilderness foods

John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. ~ St. Matthew 3:4

The Carob Tree is also known as the Locust Bean Tree, for its carob pods resemble the shape of locusts.

Plant-Based Chocolate “Locust” Cake

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 & 1/2 cups sugar
  • 7 Tablespoons of carob powder (OR, if you don’t have any carob powder, then use 1/2 cup of cocoa powder, instead)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon of ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar
  • 3/4 cup of vegetable oil (IF using carob powder, increase the vegetable oil by 1 extra teaspoon)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups water

Combine wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in a large bowl, and mix for 1 minute on low and then 2 minutes on medium speed. Pour into a greased 9 X 9-inch pan, bake in a pre-heated 350 degrees F oven for 45 minutes. Let cool 12 minutes, remove from pan and serve with honey on the side, or drizzled on your cake slice!

Serves 8-ish… Heavy on the “ish”. 😉

Congratulations on your Saint’s Day, Archpriest John, John P, and John M! May God grant you all many years!

Through the holy prayers of St. John the Forerunner and Baptist of Christ, may we, too, join ranks with all who since times long past, have lauded and continue to praise this amazing, Leading Luminary.

Happy All Saints’ Day

A Thicket of Maiden-Hair Ferns Refreshed by Righteous Rain

Blessed Feast, and Happy Saint’s Day Emmanuelle!

Previous *All Saints’ Day* Blisswood Posts
God’s Garden ~ Posted June 14, 2020
Sunday of All Saints ~ Posted June 27, 2021
God Giveth the Increase ~ Posted June 19, 2022
Called to Be Saints ~ Posted July 11, 2023

In the New Testament we are called to be saints, and the Orthodox Church gives the title of saint to those who throughout history, have lived and died in Christ.

While Canonized (Glorified) Saints have their own feast days, there are countless multitudes of saints (since the time of Adam) who don’t have a feast day… and some of these are even nameless Saints – known only to God!

Since the 4th century, All Saints’ Day is celebrated the first Sunday after the Great Feast of Pentecost. Today we commemorate all saints from everywhere and from every time. We honour the known and unknown… Whether they be men, women or children… these shining clouds of witnesses have lived to the fruition of Holiness.

As all are alive in Christ, the saints are our friends and alive in Heaven. They are venerated, but not worshipped.

Kontakion (a little hymn) of All Saints: The universe offers to Thee, O Lord, as the Planter of Creation, the God-bearing martyrs as the first-fruits of nature. By their prayers, O Most Merciful One, through the Mother of God keep Thy Church, Thy estate, in deep peace.

Every one of us is the painter of his own life. Our soul is like the canvas, and the virtues are the paint. Jesus Christ is the image we should copy. ~ St. Gregory of Nyssa

In God and in His Church there is no division between the living and the departed, but all are one in the love of the Father. Whether we are alive or whether we are dead, as members of the Church we still belong to the same family, and still have a duty to bear one another’s burdens. Therefore just as Orthodox Christians here on earth pray for one another and ask for one another’s prayers, so they pray for the faithful departed and ask the faithful departed to pray for them. Death cannot sever the bond of mutual love which links the members of the Church together. ~ Metropolitan Kallistos Ware

All the Saints are like fragrant flowers in God’s Heavenly Garden.

May we bloom where planted, and regardless of debris from life’s storms… offer unto Creation’s Planter a fruition of Spiritual Fragrance!

Happy Eve of the Holy Apostles Sts. Peter & Paul Fast!

Always, Now, & Ever!

Greetings on the (2nd) Day of the Holy Spirit!

Blessed Feast!

Yesterday’s beautiful Trinity Sunday Pentecost Vespers prayers were read aloud with an accompaniment of joyous birdsong, filtering through open church windows. Melodious cheeps and chirps of praise peppered the prayers delighting my heart and soul. Nature is indeed the Secret Gospel!

The Holy Spirit has always been, is now and ever shall be, having neither beginning nor end, but one with the Father and the Son: life and life giving; goodness itself and source of goodness, through Whom the Father is made known and the Son is glorified, and is known by all: one power, one unity, one worship, of the Holy Trinity. ~ Pentecost Vespers

I praise the Godhead, unity in three persons, for the Father is light, the Son is light, and the Spirit is light; but the light remains undivided, shining forth in oneness of nature; yet in the three rays of the persons! ~ Matins, Sunday of the Cross

Bless thou the Lord, and let thine song delight the world. ~ Holy Apostle St. Nathanial (Bartholomew)who, during the 9th century, appeared and spoke these words to a monk, St. Joseph the Melodist in a monastery altar... The Apostle Nathanial lifted the holy Gospel from the sacred altar, and placed it on the chest of the Saint, then blessed him. This was the beginning of the divine gift he desired. 

Today, we also celebrate the Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “It is Truly Meet” (“Axion Estin”).

Parish Youth Choir sings It is Truly Meet to Bless Thee O Theotokos:

Congratulations on your Saint’s Day, godson Nathanial! May God grant you many years!

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