Chrysalis

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Like a butterfly, we struggle to emerge from life’s various transitional states. Sometimes we’re tired. Sometimes we’re stuck. Sometimes there’s no progress whatsoever. Sometimes the chrysalis darkens and dies. But, if we gird up our loins, and punch our way through the cocoon’s tiny hole – to become whole, we begin anew! This challenging exit strategy fortifies our wings, and prepares us for flying. Through perseverance of trials, and with God’s help, we grow stronger!

May God bless our good intentions and efforts!

Patient Endurance

Image by Couleur from Pixabay

Patient endurance kills the despair that kills the soul; it teaches the soul to take comfort and not to grow listless in the face of its many battles and afflictions. ~ St. Peter of Damaskos; Philokalia

He who endures distress, will be granted joys; and he who bears with unpleasant things, will not be deprived of the pleasant. ~ St. Nilus of Sinai

Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. ~ James 5:11

Don’t let anything deprive you of hope. ~ St. Nektarios of Aegina

God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them. We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive. What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. ~ C.S. Lewis

We are all broken,
Regardless of sufferings
Or disappointments.

God knows our sorrows,
He is our refuge and strength
And the Remedy.

It is Christ Who heals,
Whom we are called to follow…
Throughout life’s trials.

The Lord strengthens us
To find meaning and purpose
In painful struggles –

Patiently He waits
For us to open the door
Of our hearts for help…

To live, thrive, and soar
High above
heedless failures…
Of world, body, soul.

Patient Endurance is not simply placid acceptance of waiting around and just hoping things get better on their own. No! Patient Endurance is our Cross. Patient Endurance is ACTION and EFFORT. Patient Endurance requires taking one small step and then another, and then another… Patient Endurance keeps moving forward, and involves personal, consistent reaching out to God for help. It involves prayer… us talking to Him, sharing our ups and downs… thanking Him for our banes and blessings… thanking Him for hearing us, for His Love, and that we know and accept He will answer us in His Good and Perfect Time – with what is best for us. Patient Endurance keeps the Spiritual Communication Lines open!

He waits patiently.

Greeting you with Hope and Love in Christ.

Keep looking up! There’s Sonshine above those stormy clouds!








Peace on Earth

With heartfelt support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church during these turbulent times, painted rocks with Slava Ukraini (Glory to Ukraine), adorn a Canadian Orthodox Church garden.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
~ St. Matthew 5:9

Let us pray to the Lord… Stop the war that destroys lives and homes, give repentance to the oppressors, comfort the afflicted, guide the wandering, and plant peace and blessing in the hearts of Your servants. For the uprooting of hatred, enmity, and the desire for domination from the hearts of those who oppress the innocent, to bring among them unfeigned love, understanding, and peaceful co-existence, and put an end to war, disturbance, and human suffering, let us pray to the Lord. That He may deliver the oppressed from distress by the onslaught of armies, and turn the oppressors from evil and lead them to peace and love, that no one may perish, and that peace may reign on earth, unto the joy of His Church and people, let us pray to the Lord. Lord Jesus Christ, our God, who art the Source of life and peace in heaven and on earth, pour out the grace of your peace on a world troubled by war and hatred. Extinguish the differences and enmity between humans and pour into the hearts of all humility, peace, and goodness… Let us pray to the Lord. ~ Special Petitions for Peace; Romanian Orthodox Church

…There is no greater sin than war. ~ St. Sophrony the Hagiorite

As we draw nigh unto the Bright Feast of Christ’s Holy Nativity, may we seek and find the True, Healing Peace from Above, within the Bethlehem of our hearts.

Prayer for Peace

April in July

Image by NatureFriend from Pixabay

Even on cloudy days the sunflower continues to follow the sun in its focused love, even though it cannot see the sun. The Sun that illumines our life’s path is the will of God. It does not always shine on us without clouds, often, clear days are followed by overcast days when rains, winds, and storms arise, No Christian is safe from these phenomena, these changes in spiritual weather. May our love for the Sun, the will of God, be as strong as the sunflower’s, so that even in days of hardship and sorrow, we will continue to sail unerringly along the sea of life, following the directions of the barometer and compass of God’s will that leads us to the safe haven of eternity. ~ St. John of Tobolsk from The Sunflower

Greetings on the 3rd Sunday since the Great Feast of Pentecost! Today all English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish Orthodox Saints who’ve shone forth from the British Isles and Ireland are commemorated! Their separate Liturgical Dates and Services are listed here.

Of course, what we know, admire, and aspire to in the lives of the Saints are their examples of faith, perseverance, and endurance… How they struggled to rise above challenges and afflictions, showing us how Christ can be imitated in everyone’s life, including our own. 

I would like to share a continuing story (combo allegory) on the trials, tribulations and triumphs of April… who’s not a Saint, but a saintly sunflower.

Once upon a recent time, a certain girl, on her way home from school, spied and rescued a sprouting sunflower. It sat forlornly in a glass jam jar, on top of a brightly painted Garden Seed Exchange Mailbox.

Being such a cold spring, it was too risky to plant seedling directly into the soil. But, by the end of May, it became warm enough to transplant April the Sunflower (as she was duly dubbed), into our garden.

April’s young human tended her daily. Concerned over her bent, spindly, stem, we gently staked the wee sunflower to a tiny support and hoped for more sun.

Two days later, it was like a crime scene. April had been ravaged by a gang of rogue beetles or slugs. Her crown was viciously chomped off, her stem gashed, and only one remaining sliver of a leaf remained.

We transplanted April into her very own pot away from the garden, and a few days later heaved sighs of relief upon seeing new side growth sprouting… until alas, she was targeted again! Things looked bleak indeed, and it seemed the compost bin might be the valiant sunflower’s next stop… but the young gardener remained hopeful.

For April’s moral support we solemnly popped in a sunflower “sister” seed beside her. (I secretly thought that if April succumbed, the new seed growing alongside her would help soften the blow.)

Nevertheless, and after sprinkling used coffee grounds on top of April’s soil, further gnawings ceased, and we joked that perhaps the java’s success was because the nasty bugs were simply hard-core tea grannies.

Each morning April was thoroughly inspected, watered as needed, and praised with encouraging words. Her young caregiver is the epitome of stalwart optimism. 

April’s “sister” sprouted in sympathetic solidarity. And although April remains bent and scarred, each day gifts us with seeing tiny new leaves emerge and grow. Even her bent, weakened, stalk tries to straighten.

April is teaching us how to persevere by example – no matter how hard things seem, and how to flourish by “looking up”. April continues to thrive, and her youthful gardener knows that while April may never fully recover enough to flower, she’s living vibrantly... in the moment, uplifting up her little leafy arms as if in supplication to the sunshine, regardless.

The young gardener is away on a summer holiday, and I was bequeathed the noble task of attending April. I transplanted April’s sister (and dubbed her “June”) into another pot a couple of days ago. They both needed more space… as sisters sometimes do.

I’m sure that long after April’s sunflowery life passes into God’s Eternal Garden, she’ll be fondly remembered for her inspirational examples of fortitude.

Meanwhile, the young gardener texts me, “How’s April?” and I’ve sent her pictures of April and June in their new, separate digs – much her great relief and satisfaction.

When a certain girl comes home from holiday, I’m pretty sure the first place she’ll zoom to is our patio, to see how April fares… Quite possibly before she seeks to greet or pat her beloved, and much pined-for kitty!

Do stay tuned for the possible, future adventures of – April in August… And keep looking up. There’s Sonshine above those clouds! 🌻

On Earth As It Is In Heaven

Sunrise From Space Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

We should refer all our problems, whatever they are, to God, just as we say in the Divine Liturgy that ‘we commend our whole life unto Christ our God’. We leave everything to You, Lord. Whatever You will. Let Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. ~ St. Porphyrios

Gentle Hearts

God rests within gentle hearts. The gentle and merciful shall sit fearless in His regions, and will inherit Heavenly glory. ~ St. John Climacus

Why does the Lord command us to love our enemies and to pray for them? Not for their sake, but for ours! For as long as we bear grudges, as long as we dwell on how someone offended us, we will have no peace. ~ Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

We are the sons of light and love, the sons of God, His children. As such we must have His qualities and His attributes of love, peace, and kindness towards all. ~ Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

Yesterday afternoon, in broad daylight, our dear little Orthodox church was vandalized by some poor soul, who must have been in great spiritual pain. Little did they know our congregation is a veritable united nations in itself… composed of Canadian, American, Serbian, Ukrainian, Russian, Greek, Romanian, Spanish, Asian parishioners – worshipping together “as one” in the Lord Jesus Christ… with love, peace and harmony.

My spiritual Father Vladimir (of eternal memory), who served in a cathedral of Kiev, and fled Russia in its earlier times of grievous persecution, related how the Communists turned the ancient cathedral into a car repair garage, leaving the icons on the walls. When someone asked him about these events he tenderly said, “Churches come and go. Build a church in your heart.”

Grieved by the horrific events unfolding in Ukraine and Russia, this beautiful Prayer for Peace is being read at Divine Liturgies. May God grant us all help, reigning down His Peace from Above – for the whole world.

May we build little churches in our hearts… gentle, loving, merciful… and worthy abodes for our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

From our Metropolitan Hilarion to Metropolitan Onouphry of Kiev and All Ukraine

From from the OCA

From our Local Newspaper

Rays of Grace

Sunrise on Hawaiian Beach – 2014

Grant unto me, my Lord, that with peace in mind I may face all that this new day is to bring. Grant unto me grace to surrender myself completely to Thy holy will. Instruct and prepare me in all things for every hour of this day. Whatsoever tidings I may receive during the day, do Thou teach me to accept them calmly, in the firm conviction that all eventualities fulfill Thy holy will. ~ Excerpt from Morning Prayer of the Optina Elders

…the greatest prayer you can make for someone is to be able to say to the Lord truthfully, “I love this person. Thy will be done in his or her life…” ~ Gerontissa Gavrielia

When a bad or gloomy thought, fear of temptation threatens to afflict you, don’t fight it to try to get rid of it. Open your arms to Christ’s love and He will embrace you, then it will vanish by itself. ~ St. Porphyrios

The Lifting Fog

Morning fog, on local beach – photo shared by Katherine

Keep looking up! Blue skies and Sunshine are above all those clouds!

For thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. ~ Psalm 18:28

For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: ~ Ephesians 5:8

I have passed my life ever in night, for the night of sin has been to me thick fog and darkness; but make me, O Saviour, a son of the day. ~ The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete

Pray in peace and serenity, sing intelligently and in a good state – and you will be like a young eagle soaring high in the sky. ~ St. Nilus of Mt Sinai (The Philokalia)

Afflictions for God’s sake are dearer to Him than any prayer or sacrifice. ~ St. Issac the Syrian (Homily 58)

…Look at the sky as often as possible and your thoughts will become light and clear. Be quiet a lot, speak little – and silence will come in your heart, and your spirit will be calm and full of peace. ~ St. Seraphim of Sarov

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ~ St. John 1:5

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face… ~ 1 Corinthians 13:12

Blessed Are Ye That Weep

Autumn Raindrops on Weeping Japanese Maple

Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. ~ St. Luke 6:21

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. ~ Romans 14:17

…The Lord wants us to bathe our soul in tears, by repentance to constrain it by the pangs of the conscience to press it, to clothe it with good deeds… ~ St. Nikolai Velimirovich 

Contrite tears give rest, and it is also said that even one pained, deep sigh can weigh more than a bucketful of tears. Amid the afflictions and stress of daily life, when we understand and weep for our own sins (but not in a hopeless way), the Holy Spirit comforts us with spiritual joy, hope and peace. He is our Gladsome Light.

What a wonderful day the Lord has provided for us!

Whatever We are Given

Christ is Risen!

We all need help at various times in our lives. God doesn’t cause our problems, but allows them for our salvation. Sometimes we may feel completely and utterly overwhelmed… But those precarious moments bring us closer to God – for when we reach out to ask His help, the effort yields its own rewards.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. ~ 2 Corinthians 1: 3-11

Truly He is Risen!

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