Happy Sts. Peter & Paul Day!

July 12/June 29

Icon of Saints Peter (left) and Paul (right).

The long Apostles’ Fast is over!

Greetings on this ancient, joyful feast day, commemorating the Holy Apostles Saints Peter and Paul. They are celebrated together because of their great roles in the Church as fathers and guides to all Christians.

O first-enthroned among the apostles and teachers of the whole world: Entreat the Master of all, that He grant peace to the world: and great mercy to our souls. ~ Troparion of Apostles Peter & Paul (Tone 4)

With hymns of praise let us honour the true preachers of piety, the all-radiant stars of the Church: Peter, the rock of Faith, and Paul, the teacher of the truth and initiate of the mysteries of Christ. For both of them having sown the word of truth in the ears of the faithful beseech Christ God Who giveth fruitfulness unto all, that our souls be saved. ~ Stichera for Apostles Peter & Paul (Tone 6)

Remembering the Old English Poem associated with the tradition of harvesting lavender on (or around) this particular Feast Day, we added a small, fresh bouquet of Provence Lavender at the festal icon of Saints Peter and Paul. “If you wish lavender bushy and tall, then tend on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

We have 4 lavender bushes that need “tending”. Their harvested stems are bundled securely into individual bouquets, (but not too tightly, and making sure they’re not damp) then hung upside down (flowers at bottom) to dry in the house, avoiding direct sunlight. It can take about 3 weeks for the stems and flowers to dry. Meanwhile, the house smells amazing! Lavender can easily be made into drawer/closet/car sachets, sleep pillows, or kept/shared as a dried floral wall decoration. If they dry straight enough, you can pop them into a dry vase to keep. I also strip some buds off several stems and put them in a lidded glass jar and stored in a dark kitchen cupboard- for use in… tea, lemonade, vinaigrettes, or baking. During winter use, it’s a joy to remember they were picked on a sunny summer Saints’ Day! Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, pray to God for us!

Culinary Lavender Summer Recipes…
Lavender-Rose Vegan Mini Mochi
Lavender Dream Cookies

Happy Saint’s Day – Reader Peter H.! May God grant you many years!

Memory Eternal – J. Paul T. 🐓 and Paul G.!

St Geneviève of Paris

January 16/3 (423 -512 AD)

Happy Feast Day!

St. Geneviève’s reliquary at the church of St. Étienne du Mont (St. Stephen the Protomartyr of the Mount) in Paris, France -2006

There’s a special reason St. Simeon the Stylite and St. Geneviève are portrayed together in the Icon on the far wall.

General knowledge of St. Geneviève’s lifelong holiness, care for the poor, and miracles, became so widespread, that news of it reached her Syrian contemporary, St. Simeon the Stylite. He was inspired to send a delegation to Paris with greetings, asking her prayers for his salvation.

Throughout her life and prayerful intercessions to God, St. Geneviève helped protect Paris from an invasion by Attila the Hun, starvation during a Frankish siege, and plagues.

St. Geneviève’s icon usually depicts her with a candle, as sometimes when holding an unlit candle, it would miraculously ignite, and stay lit… even if outside, during wind or rainstorms.

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St. Geneviève had a particular devotion to an earlier saint… St. Dionysius the Areopagite. He was baptized by the Holy Apostle Paul, became the first Bishop of Paris, and was later martyred. St. Geneviève often visited the place of his martyrdom to pray, and later motivated the Parisians to have a church built over St. Dionysius’ and his fellow martyrs’ relics.

St. Geneviève and St. Dionysius the Areopagite (St. Denis of Paris), are the patron saints of Paris.

We only need to open our eyes to see the gifts that abound around us. These are the simple joys of life. ~ St. Geneviève

If we open our hearts to give love we are immediately transported into the joy and blessings of love. ~ St. Geneviève

The footsteps of an Angel in your life are Love. ~ St. Geneviève

Congratulations to a dear friend, whose patron saint is St. Geneviève. God grant you many years!

Immeasurably Manifest

A Vantage View-Point in Mystras Greece – 2017

…The way of knowing God that is most worthy of Him is to know Him through unknowing, in a union that rises above all intellect. The intellect is first detached from all beings, then it goes out of itself and is united to rays more luminous than light itself. Thanks to these rays it shines in the unfathomable depths of Wisdom. It is no less true, however, as I have said, that this Wisdom can be known from every reality. ~ St. Dionysius the Areopagite

I’ve always been drawn to how even before St. Dionysius the Areopagite became a Christian, his numinous heart sensed why the sun hid its rays as if in shame, at the time of Christ’s Crucifixion.

Studying astronomy in Egypt, he witnessed the world-wide solar eclipse that occurred during our Lord’s death. So struck by this heavenly event, he exclaimed,“Either the Creator of all the world now suffers, or this visible world is coming to an end.”

Upon his return to Athens from Egypt, he was chosen as a member of the Areopagus Council, the Athenian high court, which would meet on the Hill of Ares (Mars)… across from the Acropolis.

St. Dionysius was present when Apostle Paul preached in the midst of the Areopagus, on Mars’ Hill, (Acts 17:16-34).

St. Paul’s sermon also described the supernatural darkness which occurred during our Lord’s Crucifixion, and St. Dionysius remembered what he witnessed in Egypt (which the other learned astronomers couldn’t explain). He became a Christian, was baptized by St. Paul, and is numbered among the Seventy Apostles.

The Areopagus in Athens on Mars’ Hill: 13 seconds into video shows the altar “To the Unknown God” as St. Paul saw and describes in Acts 17: 22-34

For three years St. Dionysius remained a companion of St. Paul in preaching the Word of God. St. Paul chose him as bishop of the city of Athens, and St. Dionysius later travelled to Jerusalem to meet the Virgin Mary. He was also present at her repose. There are four theological works attributed to St. Dionysius: The Divine NamesThe Mystical TheologyThe Celestial Hierarchy, and The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, as well as eleven letters. 

Sometime after the death of the Apostle Paul, St. Dionysius set off with two others, to evangelize Germany, Spain and France. Eventually the three met martyrdom together. St. Dionysius’ Heavenly Birthday (Feast Day) is Oct. 16/3. He is the patron saint of Athens and venerated as the protector of the Judges and the Judiciary.

Let thy speech be better than silence, or be silent. ~ St. Dionysius the Areopagite

Wordless Thanksgivings

Mosaic Window Frames Sunflower & Marigold Bouquet

The apostle (Paul) notes four types of prayer. ‘My advice is that first of all supplication should be offered up for everyone, prayers, pleas, and thanksgiving’ (1 Timothy 2:1). …A supplication is a plea or petition made on account of present and past sin by someone who is moved by contrition to seek pardon. In prayers we offer or promise something to God. The Greek term means ‘vow’… Third comes pleas. We usually make them for others when we ourselves are deeply moved in spirit. We offer them for those dear to us or when we beg for peace in the world… Fourth are thanksgivings. Unspeakably moved by the memory of God’s past kindnesses, by the vision of what He now grants or by all that He holds out as a future reward to those who love Him, the mind gives thanks. In this perspective richer prayers are often uttered. Looking with purest gaze at the rewards promised to the saints, our spirit is moved by measureless joy to pour out wordless thanksgiving to God. ~ St. John Cassian

Sowing the Divine Seed

Holy Apostles Sts. Peter and Paul on Epistle Book cover

The Holy Gospels are from Sts. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Most of the other New Testament Books are Epistles – Letters from Sts. Peter and Paul to the early Christians located in different cities.

Each day of the liturgical year has specific Gospel and Epistle readings. These pertain to the church calendar, and spiritually nourish millions of Orthodox Christians daily. If prayer is where we speak to God, the Scriptures are how we listen to Him.

Reading Scriptures and understanding them through the teachings of the Church is paramount.

As of 2021, private interpretations and individualistic opinions of Holy Scripture have globally birthed a staggering 45,000 separate Christian denominations.

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. ~ 2 Thessalonians 2:15

How to Read the Bible

If from one burning lamp someone lights another, then another from that one, and so on in succession, he has light continuously. In the same way, through the Apostles ordaining their successors, and those successors ordaining others, and so on, the grace of the Holy Spirit is handed down through all generations and enlightens all who obey their spiritual shepherds and teachers. ~ St. Gregory Palamas

… we commemorate each of the saints with hymns and appropriate songs of praise, how much more should we celebrate the memory of Peter and Paul, the supreme Leaders of the pre-eminent company of the Apostles? They are the fathers and guides of all Christians: Apostles, martyrs, holy ascetics, priests, hierarchs, pastors and teachers. As chief shepherds and master builders of our common godliness and virtue, they tend and teach us all, like lights in the world, holding forth the word of life. ~ St. Gregory Palamas

… the Apostle Peter declared that the Church was built by the Holy Spirit. For you read that he said: ‘God, Who knows the hearts of men, bore witness, giving them the Holy Spirit, even as was given to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith’ Acts 15:8-9. In which is to be considered, that as Christ is the Cornerstone, Who joined together both peoples into one, so, too, the Holy Spirit made no distinction between the hearts of each people, but united them. ~ St. Ambrose of Milan

… the light that illumined St. Paul on the road to Damascus, the light through which he was raised to the third heaven where he heard unutterable mysteries, was not merely enlightenment of conceptual images or of spiritual knowledge. It was the effulgence of the power of the Holy Spirit shining in our Lord’s own person. Such was its brilliance that corporeal eyes were not able to bear it and were blinded; and through it all spiritual knowledge is revealed and God is truly known by the worthy and loving soul. ~ St. Makarios of Egypt

According to St. Paul you minister the Gospel only when, having yourself participated in the light of Christ, you can pass it on actively to others. Then you sow the Logos like a divine seed in the fields of your listeners’ souls... Elsewhere St. Paul, calls the teachers tillers and their pupils the field they till wisely, presents the former as ploughers and sowers of the divine Logos and the latter as fertile soil, yielding a rich crop of virtues. True ministry is not simply a celebration of sacred rites; it also involves participation in divine blessings and the communication of these blessings to others. ~ St. Gregory of Sinai

There’s a Daily Orthodox Church Calendar on Blisswood, located at the very bottom of each page and post; where one can easily access links for daily Gospel and Epistle readings.

I prefer to hold and read from an actual King James Bible, but when travel or convenience calls, there’s also a free, simple app, great for ipads or cells. It’s called Orthodox Calendar and contains lives of saints, fasting regulations, Scripture Readings, Troparion and Kontakion (Little Hymns pertaining to the day).

May your day and and all your spiritual endeavours be blessed!

Dry Spells

Sometimes we are tested by pleasure, sometimes by distress or by physical suffering. By means of His prescriptions the Physician of souls administers the remedy according to the cause of the passions lying hidden in the soul. ~ St. Maximus the Confessor

We know God is with us, but sometimes there may be struggles to feel His Presence and Love, or even pray. Yet, there is a consolation!

During times of spiritual dryness, faithful perseverance in prayer is the sweetest of all our prayers to God. By clinging tenaciously to Christ’s love with prayer, regardless of circumstances, we are blessed.

4th Century St. Macarius the Great reminds: One must force himself to prayer when he has not spiritual prayer, and God, beholding him thus striving, and compelling himself by force, in spite of an unwilling heart, gives him the true prayer of the Spirit.

The Holy Apostle Paul writes the rewards of perseverance in prayer: And we also have joy with our troubles because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces experience, and experience produces hope. And this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts. God gave us his love through the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to us. ~ Romans 5:3-5

Archpriest Nikolai Guryanov encourages: Do not grieve, do not be sad: Again will come a time to be glad; patiently wait, patiently endure, to those who wait will come their reward!

Everything that has a beginning has an end… Except for God, Who is beginningless.

This is just for now!

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