Spiritual Yum Yums

Photo by Irena

The various patristic texts, which thank God are available by the thousands today, are very helpful. One can find whatever one needs and desires in these books. They are authentic spiritual nourishment and a sure guide on the spiritual path. However, in order to be of benefit to us, they have to be read with humility and prayer… We do not need great knowledge to be devout. If we concentrate and ponder on the few things we know, our heart will be spiritually embroidered. One may be profoundly affected by a single hymn, while another may feel nothing, even though he may know all the hymns by heart, as he has not entered into the spiritual reality. So, read the Fathers, even one or two lines a day. They are very strengthening vitamins for the soul. ~ Elder Paisios the Athonite 

A Shining New Saint!

Mother Gavrilia (Gabriela) Public Domain Photo from OrthodoxWiki

It gave me the greatest joy to learn yesterday (October 3, 2023), that Eldress (Gerontissa) Mother Gavrilia was canonized a saint!

Her Feast Day is the date of her Heavenly Birthday, March 28th.

Our Venerable and God-bearing Mother Gavrilia the New Ascetic of Love has been added to the Synaxarion.

While it’s “official” now… I’m thrilled, as she has helped me and so many others “unofficially” – for quite some time.

Her inspiring, joyful quotes are salt and peppered throughout Blisswood, flavouring the various postings. (View by the “Gerontissa Gavrilia quote” tag in other posts)

Although this amazing, inspiring, book is currently and sadly out of print, I highly recommended it at a recent parish sisterhood meeting.

Given that Mother Gavrilia was just canonized, God-Willing, there may well be new publication(s) of this book!

Added new note November 29, 2023: Yes you may order the new editions here through Not of This World Icons and Books at Holy Dormition Orthodox Church!


It was a delight reading this conglomerate of practical, encouraging letters to laypeople and friends over the decades, including priceless, pearls of wisdom to her fellow nuns, when she later became a monastic in her 60’s.

Mother Gavrilia saw Christ in everyone, and was imbued with sincere, simple, Christian love… a verdant, precious example to other Orthodox Christians and to those of different faiths.

She LIVED her Faith in Pure Love.

Now the worker of love the revered ascetic Gabriela, who is our aid in misfortune and succour in mortal hardship, the missionary of Christ, let us be wakeful in offering her impressionable hymns, that she may entreat the Creator on our behalf who bless her. ~ Apolytikion in Plagal of the Fifth Tone

Fervent love joined with humility, you lived in the world but lived outside the world, praying and offering herself as a sacrifice to Christ, to her we ardently sing hymns, the divinely luminous Gabriela, the ascetic, crying out with longing: Rejoice, mother inspired by God. ~ Kontakion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone

A bright lamp and ray of missionaries, a new boast of ascetics, for your fiery love towards your neighbour, we cry out to you with longing, Gabriela. ~ Megalynarion

She is now closer than ever!

Reach out to her and she will come quickly and lovingly to your aid… leaving the Peace from Above and Joy in her wake.

Through the holy intercessions of our Venerable and God-bearing Mother Gavrilia the New Ascetic of Love, O Christ our God, have mercy on us, and save us!

Amen.

Snapping Twigs

Icon of Great Martyr Barbara ~ shared by Anastasia

Congratulations, and Happy Feast on your Name’s DaySamuel! God grant you many years!

There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. ~ 1 Samuel 2:2

When the twig on which it is perching breaks, the little bird, without being alarmed, opens its wings and flies away. Likewise, when the support under our feet collapses, Faith and Hope in God give us the strength and joy to fly away ~ Gerontissa (Elder) Gavrilia

Illness always brings spiritual experiences to the person who is ready to grasp their meaning. ~ Gerontissa Gavrilia

Once my mind “un-fuzzed” enough from COVID last month, I recuperated outside under the glorious sunshine amid fragrant patio flowers… and re-read this amazing book.

If you have an opportunity to borrow or buy The Ascetic of Love, DO! It’s such an uplifting, and spiritually practical book, by Nun Gavrilia.

I highly recommend it!!! Yes. Three exclamation marks! (But, if looking to buy online, the book is out of print, and may be super-expensive)

The Holy Prophet Samuel says… there is no other rock than our God. Indeed. So, when those other twigs in our life bend and snap (as they do and will)… May we be mindful enough to immediately embrace the Divine Action Plan, and joyfully fly away (unalarmed)… laying all our cares and burdens directly at the dear Lord’s Feet!

What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!

With love and gratitude in Christ.

Reverently & Peacefully

Golden Bamboo Grove, Kauai 2023

Photo Art Quote excerpt from the Morning Optina Elders’ Prayer. Full Prayer here.

Pray sincerely to the Heavenly Father; especially say the Lord’s Prayer, reverently, peacefully, not hurriedly: in general, read all the prayers quietly, evenly, with reverence, knowing before Whom you are saying them. ~ St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ)

My Life in Christ is a wonderful book… bursting with practical and spiritual tidbits. One can pick it up at any time and read small portions. It’s like a great golden dollop of butter accompanying our Daily Bread. I highly recommend owning a copy of these spiritual yum yums!

May we all have good and mindful dealings with those who surround us today, whether in person – or thought! With love in Christ.

Forgiving the Inexcusable

The cat is still annoyed with me.

To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. ~ C. S. Lewis

If you have the opportunity to acquire A Year with C. S. Lewis – Daily Readings from His Classic Works… do!

Each day of the year has a short reading… A veritable feast of Spiritual Yum Yums!

Practical. Deep. Excellent. Never grows old.

Easy to pick up. Hard to put down!

May God bless all our endeavours today!

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

Echoes of Eden

Arbutus tree and wild golden yarrow flowers overlooking Finlayson Arm, BC. (Old English name for Yarrow was “Our Saviour’s Back.”)

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. ~ Psalm 121: 1-2

Let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Let the rivers clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together before the Lord; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity. ~ Psalm 98: 7-9

I want creation to penetrate you with so much admiration that everywhere, wherever you may be, the least plant may bring to you the clear remembrance of the Creator. A single plant, a blade of grass, or one speck of dust is sufficient to occupy all your intelligence in beholding the art with which it has been made. ~ St. Basil the Great

The whole earth is a living icon of the face of God. ~ St. John of Damascus

Some people, to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Note it. Read it. God, Whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead, He set before your eyes the things He had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that? ~ St. Augustine

God speaks to us through nature. We may hear His still, small voice, in the seas, the rivers, the mountains and hills; in refreshing breezes and warm sunshine. Long ago, God placed us in the Garden, to tend it, to dress it, and to keep it. Continuing the privilege of being His stewards of the land, we recognize the immense importance of protecting God’s wondrous Gift of Nature. Sometimes we may receive an unexpected blessing, and folded like petals close beneath our hearts, we are sweetly swathed in the unfading Echoes of Eden.

From creation, learn to admire the Lord! Indeed the magnitude and beauty of creation display a God who is the artificer of the universe. He has made the mode of creation to be our best teacher. ~ St. John Chrysostom

Truth and Light

Meteora, Greece 2008

God is truth and light… On the day of Great Judgment all will be exposed before this penetrating light of truth. The “books” will be opened. What are these “books”? They are our hearts. Our hearts will be opened by the penetrating light of God, and what is in these hearts will be revealed… from the love or hate which reigns in our heart… ~St. Symeon the New Theologian

If you cannot find Christ in the beggar at the church door, you will not find Him in the chalice. ~ St. John Chrysostom

Be yourself and live in the honesty of your being. ~ St. Sisoes the Great

Spiritual Vitamins

St. Nicholas Orphanos Church – Thessaloniki, Greece 2008

Christ is Risen!

Read often and insatiably the books of the teachers of the Church on divine providence, for they lead the mind to discern the order in God’s creatures and His actions, give it strength, and by their subtleness they prepare it to acquire luminous intuitions and guide it in purity toward the understanding of God’s creatures. Read also the Gospels, which God ordained for knowledge for the whole world, that you may find provisions for your journey in the might of God’s providence for every generation, and that your intellect may plunge deeply into wonder at Him. Such reading furthers your aim. Let your reading be done in a stillness which nothing disturbs… Reading assists the soul when she stands in prayer… From reading the soul is enlightened in prayer… Whenever it happens to you that your soul is shrouded by thick darkness from within and… for a brief time is deprived of spiritual comfort and the light of grace on account of the cloud of passions that overshadows her; and further, that the joy-producing power in your soul is curtailed for a little, and your mind is overshadowed by an unwonted mist: then do not be troubled in mind, do not lend a hand to despondency. But be patient, be engaged in reading the books of the Doctors of the Church, compel yourself in prayer, and expect to receive help. ~ St. Isaac the Syrian

The various patristic texts, which thank God are available by the thousands today, are very helpful. One can find whatever one needs and desires in these books. They are authentic spiritual nourishment and a sure guide on the spiritual path. However, in order to be of benefit to us, they have to be read with humility and prayer… We do not need great knowledge to be devout. If we concentrate and ponder on the few things we know, our heart will be spiritually embroidered. One may be profoundly affected by a single hymn, while another may feel nothing, even though he may know all the hymns by heart, as he has not entered into the spiritual reality. So, read the Fathers, even one or two lines a day. They are very strengthening vitamins for the soul. ~Elder Paisios the Athonite

Truly He is risen!

A Lenten Prayer

During the weekdays of Great Lent, we say the prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian (306-373 AD).

O Lord and Master of my life, a spirit of idleness, despondency, ambition and idle talking, give me not. (Prostration)

But, rather, a spirit of chastity, humble-mindedness, patience and love, bestow on me Thy servant. (Prostration)

Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my failings and not condemn my brother, for blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)

Then the prayer once more in full, with one prostration at the end.

If unable to physically do a prostration, “bend the knees of your heart” instead.

Scripture brought me to the Gate of Paradise, and the mind stood in wonder as it entered. ~ St. Ephraim the Syrian

Let books be your dining table, and you shall be full of delights. Let them be your mattress, and you shall sleep restful nights. ~ St. Ephraim the Syrian

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