Bouquets of Our Labour

Late blooming Michaelmas Daisies evoke joy in a past January Garden!

Flowers are indeed the Echoes of Eden, and there are over 250 species of the perennial Michaelmas Daisies which belong to the Aster family. They are a gardener’s delight!

Like the protecting miracles of Archangel Michael whom this flower is named after, it blooms brightly in the early fall upon Archangel Michael’s feast days… as if to battle the coming winter’s gloom.

In ancient Scotland, an old verse about Michaelmas Daisies says: Michaelmas Daisies, among the dede weed, bloom for St. Michael’s valorous deeds!

…each of us… resembles a flower, be it modest or lush, that makes a composition or adds unique fragrance. Altogether, we create a bouquet of our labours, talents, and most importantly, love of God and people – in short, the Church of Christ. ~ Marina Schmeleva

Flowers speak to us of the Love of God. ~ St. Porphyrios

Cultivate
those Petals of Paradise
in our hearts.

Let us bring
Bouquets of Labours to our
Saviour’s Feet.

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.!

Beauty of the Lord

Gold Tesserae Awaiting Placement in Parish Mosaic

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in his temple. ~ Psalm 27:4

Sanctify those that love the beauty of Thy house. Glorify them in return by Thy divine power. ~ Prayer behind the Ambo

…whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ~ Philippians 4:8

Numinous beauty is found in the physical and spiritual splendour surrounding us!

We perceive God’s grace through the noetic beauty of nature. Our souls sense it when we throw open the doors of our heart and gaze upon the holy icons at Church. We smell it in the sweet fragrance of pure beeswax candles, the bouquets of flowers, and the clouds of billowing incense. We hear it in the joyful voices singing hymns and psalms of praise. We taste it in the Holy Mysteries, the antidoron and prosphora. We experience His Mercy of Peace through the powerful permeation of communal prayer at Divine Liturgy.

Fyodor Dostoevsky once wrote: Beauty will save the world.

True Beauty points to God… Who exudes and transcends Inexpressible Beauty in everything, through the Glorious, Gladsome Light of His Divinity!

Enlighten My Darkness

Set our hearts on fire with love for Thee O Christ our God, so that in its flame we may love Thee with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our soul and with all our strength, and our neighbours as ourselves, so that by keeping Thy commandments we may glorify Thee, the Giver of all good Gifts. ~ Unknown

O Lord, enlighten my darkness. ~ St. Gregory Palamas

As the burning candle illuminates the darkness, so must the light of Christ within us shine before men that God’s name be glorified. ~ St. Symeon of Thessaloniki

Drying the Flowers From the Cross

…the wood of the Cross hath now put for flower, filling her (the church) with strength and steadfastness. ~ Ode 4, Katavasia of the Cross

Flowers (above) from the recent Procession of the Precious Cross were collected and removed from their oasis boards yesterday. All petals were pulled, separated, and spread out onto a large, hanging, mesh-dryer herb rack – purchased through Amazon a few years ago.

This foldable rack is used each summer to dry our organic herbs and edible flowers for teas, sachets and sleep pillows. It takes about 2 + weeks to dry properly and completely, before storing them in a sealed glass jar, or enclosing them in a sachet bag, or cotton pillow case.

I excluded the “inedible” anemones from this particular drying process, and put them in the compost bin.

If possible, one should never toss out flowers used to decorate icons or the Cross. Do try to compost or reuse them.

Old, blessed pussy willows or Palm Leaves from Palm Sunday, should either be composted, buried, or burned and buried.

Every flower is fragrant through the power of the Holy Spirit, in a delicate flow of aroma and tenderness of colour; the beauty of the Great contained in what is small. Praise and honour to God, Who gives life, Who spreads forth the meadows like a flowering carpet, Who crowns the fields with golden ears of wheat and azure basilisks, and the soul – with the joy of contemplation. Let us rejoice and sing to Him: Alleluia. ~ Akathist: Glory to God for All Things, Kontak. 3

May your day be noticeably Fragrant with the Holy Spirit!

The Precious Cross

Basil and garden flowers encompass the Precious Cross, at church.

Greetings on the Beginning of the Dormition Fast, and Procession of the Precious Wood of the Life-Giving Cross of the Lord!

Today is the first of three August Feasts for our Saviour!

In the cross, like light in the sun, is concentrated the Love of God the Almighty for the world and men: in the cross is the whole power of Love. If God, the Father, has given His Son for us, how would He not, with Him, give everything to us… Thus the cross, which we use during prayer, is a token of God’s great mercy to us and an answer to our prayers. The cross is also a weapon for the banishment of spiritual enemies and worldly passions. ~ St. John of Kronstadt

Basil is traditionally used to adorn the Cross, and I try to plant enough each summer. Yesterday, and for the Cross, I gratefully used some of our garden flowers and herbs (Roses, Anemones, Calendula, Fennel, Mint, Basil) as an offering back to the Lord.

God’s flowers are always beautiful, and even more soespecially when they come to praise Him in church!

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad… Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. ~ Psalm 96:11-12

May your Dormition Fast be filled with fragrant, pious petals!

Christ is Risen!

Cherry Blossoms fell like tears, and clung to the under-cloth of Holy Friday’s Winding Sheet.

Christ is risen from the dead, by death, trampling down upon death, and upon those in the tombs, bestowing life! ~ Paschal Tropar

Happy BRIGHT Monday!

the wood of the Cross hath now put forth flower ~ Ode 3 Katavasia of the Cross

Now all things have been filled with light, both heaven and earth and those beneath the earth; so let all creation sing Christ’s rising, by which it is established. ~ St. John of Damascus, Paschal Canon

Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the Holy Lord Jesus, the only sinless One. We worship Thy Cross, O Christ, and hymn and glorify Thy holy Resurrection, for Thou art our God, and we know none other beside Thee, we call upon Thy name. O come all ye faithful, let us worship Christ’s holy Resurrection; for behold through the Cross, joy hath come to all the world. Ever blessing the Lord, we hymn His Resurrection. For having endured crucifixion, He hath destroyed death by death. ~ 5th Century Matins Hymn

TRULY HE IS RISEN!

As the Warmth of the Sun

Roses and beeswax candles beside icon of St. Gregory Palamas – from Second Sunday of Great Lent.

We know that prayer in and of itself cannot save us, but carrying it out before God can. For when the Lord’s eyes are upon us He sanctifies us, as the sun warms everything upon which it shines. ~ St. Gregory Palamas

May your Lenten Journey be peaceful and fruitful.

Nothing Higher on Earth

Greetings on Forgiveness Sunday!

Great Lent begins Tomorrow.

There is nothing on earth higher, greater or more holy than the Divine Liturgy; nothing more solemn, nothing more life-giving. ~ St. John of Kronstadt

The Church is your hope, the Church is your salvation, the Church is your refuge. ~ St. John Chrysostom

May your Lenten Journey be a peaceful, fruitful preparation for the Great and Holy Feast of Pascha (Easter) – Sunday, April 24th, 2022.

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

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