My God, My Confidence

Featured Image shared by Anastasia

Is not your reverence your confidence? And the integrity of your ways your hope? ~ Job 4:6

“A visible thought for today these many years later… from a beautiful card, celebrating my friend’s high school graduation in 1963. The sentiment on the back of the card reads, My God, my Confidence. The girl whose graduation this card announced attended a program sponsored by the saintly Little Sisters of the Poor in Los Angeles, for high school girls interested in joining their Community. Her name was Cecilia and her elder sister was and still is a Little Sister of the Poor. Cecilia died a few years ago. Eternal Memory to her who introduced me to the Little Sisters at their Home For the Aged where we volunteered in high school. Now, I’m the “Aged” referenced in the title!” ~ Anastasia

Memory Eternal Julia and family on the day of Julia’s interment. Julia was a wonderful Sister in Christ, and an amazing alto singer in the church choir, whose warm, rich voice reminded me of a heavenly bird’s. In the past, she raised finches, and I can remember them singing joyfully in her home as they flitted about in their large cages by the bright window. Julia was an accomplished, professional artist and art teacher, who loved to draw and paint many things, including all kinds of birds. Anastasia’s card with the sparrow being held in God’s Hands reminded me of Julia, her love for birds, and that right now, God has Julia’s gentle soul in His Loving Hands.

Even the sparrow has found a home… ~ Psalm 84:3

Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. ~ St. Matthew 10:31

Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. ~ St. Luke 12:6-7

The feature image of the 1963 Graduation Card, reminds me of hope. I pray that some day after completing this School of Life, we may all take flight and Graduate in Heaven! Amen!

Called to Be Saints

Image by Albrecht Fietz from Pixabay

Greetings on All Saints’ Day!

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 who don’t have a feast day… and some of these are even nameless Saints – known only to God!

Since the 4th century in Eastern Christendom, on the first Sunday after Pentecost, the Church continues to commemorate All the Saints (both past/present, known/unknown)! As all are alive in Christ, the saints are our friends and alive in Heaven. They are venerated, but not worshipped.

Today is a joint celebration honouring the Holy Apostles who spread the Gospel to the four corners of the earth, as well as All the Saints who’ve shone forth great love of Christ… whether by living a God-pleasing, righteous life, or by receiving a martyric crown. 

[During the 8th century in Western Christendom, the Sunday of All Saints was transferred to the first Sunday in November – and even more recently was moved again to November 1st.]

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

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

To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Romans 1:7

Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their’s and our’s: ~ 1 Corinthians 1:2

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

May you have a blessed All Saints’ Feast Day!

Blessings of Harmonious Union

Parish icons lit during an Evening Vigil.

Christ is Risen!

Greetings on Thomas Sunday!

Nothing elevates the soul, nothing gives it wings as a liturgical hymn does. A holy hymn gives birth to piety of soul, creates a good conscience, and is accepted by God in the treasuries of the heavens. ~ St. John Chrysostom

Bis orat qui cantat. (Means) He who chants prays twice. ~ Ancient Proverb

Psalmody – bringing about choral singing, a bond, as it were, toward unity, and joining people into a harmonious union of one choir – produces also the greatest of blessings: love. ~ St. Basil the Great

When you worship God with hymns, you should be worshipping Him with your entire being: your voice should sing; your heart should also sing; and your life should also sing. Everything should sing! ~ Blessed Augustine

Music is unique among the liturgical arts in that it’s something we have to do every time we come to church. Iconography, architecture, church furnishings, liturgical books, all these are things an artist can produce once and be done with. But music is never finished. As soon as you sing a note it vanishes forever. As soon as the service is over, whatever beauty you achieved during it has to be produced all over again in the next service.  ~ Rowan Benedict Sheehan

Truly He is Risen!

In His Garden

Candlelight Streams onto Flowers by the Most Holy Theotokos Icon

We have so many things to be thankful for! Our daily bread, health, family, friends, prayers and kindness from others, and all the so-called ordinary things mistakenly taken for granted – that aren’t ordinary at all.

Children seem more observant of blessings. A mother just shared something precious. Their family baked a Saint Basil’s Day Cake for the Feast yesterday, and her youngest received the special $2 coin hidden in the cake. The thoughtful child insisted the mother take the coin and find a way to give it to the homeless. The child said, “I have everyfing, and some don’t have nuffin’!”

Everything is God’s and we are His guests… although sometimes we feel that everything belongs to us. We become used to His many blessings and blindly expect that all good things are a given.

Nothing stays the same. Everything changes… Except God.

Let’s make efforts to be considerate houseguests appreciating our Divine Host’s Bountiful Blessings.

For, when we’re out in nature, or in church, or going about our daily lives, we are in His Garden, surrounded by the Beauteous Art of Creation.

With opened eyes, we glimpse it… everywhere.

For as long as you are on earth, consider yourself a guest in the Household of Christ. If you are at the table, it is He who treats you. If you breathe air, it is His air you breathe. If you bathe, it is in His water you are bathing. If you are traveling, it is over His land that you are traveling. If you are amassing goods, it is His goods you are amassing. If you are squandering, it is His goods that you are squandering. If you are powerful, it is by His permission that you are strong. If you are in the company of men, you and the others are His guests. If you are out in nature, you are in His garden. If you are alone, He is present. If you set out or turn anywhere, He sees you. If you do anything, He remembers. He is the most considerate Householder by Whom you were ever hosted. Be careful then toward Him. In a good household, the guest is required to behave. These are all simple words but they convey to you a great truth. All the saints knew this truth and they governed their lives by it. That is why the Eternal Householder rewarded them with eternal life in heaven and glory on earth. ~St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Bending the Knees of Our Heart

To fast in the soul means keeping silent more and praying more frequently by oneself saying “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” At first this prayer will be only in our minds, then, because of the mind’s prayerful effort, suddenly, we know not how, this prayer passes into our hearts. It is possible that at this moment we may even weep and in this way we are baptized anew in the unseen font of our tears. There are all kinds of tears: tears of exaltation, tears of joy, tears of sadness, but the most precious are tears of compunction and repentance. ~ Metropolitan Vitaly (Archbishop of Montreal and Canada)

Frozen Fun

Perplexed Snowman with Lei

Just when the cherry blossom trees think it’s safe to nudge their sleepy little pink buds awake… it snows. Every February.

Beneath the sulking trees we made a snowman with the GG’s, and a dear friend shared her really cool artistic ice creations and how to make them! (((Thank you Vera)))

I put stuff in a flower pot saucer, add water and let it freeze. The temperature needs to stay at about -5 C for a couple of days at least. When frozen, I pop it out and … ta da!

Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; stormy wind fulfilling his word. ~ Psalm 148:8

St. Brigid of Ireland

St. Brigid’s Cross woven with Rushes and photo by Irena

On February 14th/1st we celebrate St. Brigid of Ireland and St. Valentine.

Born in 451, St. Brigid (pronounced Bree-jyah in Gaelic) was the daughter of Dubtach, a pagan king. Brocca, her mother, was a Christian Pictish slave, baptized by St. Patrick himself.

Even as a child, Brigid noticed poverty and destitution. She responded by giving away her own and her family’s considerable possessions to people in need. This generosity did not meet with her father’s approval, who complained to a friend that his daughter was bankrupting the household. His friend answered, “Let her be… She has more virtue before God, than either you or I.”

Brigid followed her desire to be a nun and was tonsured by St. Mael, Bishop of Armagh, who was a nephew of St. Patrick.

She established a monastic community with several other young women, located under a large oak tree. It became known as the Church of the Oak (in Gaelic Cill-Dara)… sometimes she is called Brigid of Kildare.

The community grew in numbers, reputation and achievement. Brigid was the abbess, and continued her care for the poor, selling whatever she had to give them what they needed. People who lived in the area flocked to the monastery to receive medical help, food, and to pray with the nuns. They would often see the abbess out in the fields, tending to the community’s cattle. Brigid and the sisters cared for the local children and established schools for them. Others heard of these efforts, and before long, the abbess travelled Ireland to start schools, to oversee the building of hospitals, and encourage people in their faith… by her own steadfast, cheerful example. 

Under Brigid’s direction, the monastery itself became an art school, where metal work and manuscript illumination (decoration of manuscript pages with coloured figures and designs) were taught. The products of this school included a Gospel book, famously beautiful for its harmony of colors and intricate designs. To some it almost seemed that this Book of Kildare must have been the work of angels… with humans merely copying the figures shown to them by the angels. Unfortunately, this book and many other Christian relics throughout the land were lost during King Henry VIII’s destruction and pillaging of holy sites.

When St. Brigid died in 525 AD, the nuns kept a fire burning in an enclosure at her Kildare convent. This fire burned for centuries, tended by the Sisters and did not burn out until 1220 AD. It was re-lit and burned for another 400 years.

St. Brigid’s association with fire and the closeness of her feast day to the Feast of the Meeting of our Lord in the Temple (also known as Candlemas), a day celebrating Christ as the Light Unto the Nations, links the two Feasts. 

St. Brigid is also affectionately known as Bride, Bridey, or the Mary of the Gael. She is patroness of dairy maids, infants, midwives, blacksmiths, poets, nuns, and students.

Along with Saints Patrick and Columba (Columcille), she is also the patroness of Ireland. St. Brigid is usually depicted in icons as a nun with a Cross woven from rushes and with fire (a candle, lamp, or bowl of fire).

Here is a link to my simple folk song praising St. Brigid of Ireland.

It is said the origin of the St. Brigid’s cross came when she was called to the bedside of a dying pagan chieftain. While sitting with the dying man, St. Brigid picked up some rushes from the floor and began to weave them into a cross. The sick man asked her what she was doing, and St. Brigid told him of Jesus Christ. Before he died, the chieftain become a Christian.

How to make a St. Brigid Cross, woven from rushes.

As Christians, we are called to help provide for the poor and needy (not just during spells of cold weather).

May we acquire the gift to see Christ in every person, as St. Brigid did.

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