Thomas Sunday & Mothers’ Day Greetings!

Happy Thomas Sunday and (coincidentally) Mother’s Day!

Today is also St. Basil of Ostrog’s day!

The feature image is our Pascha Basket. ☺️ We had so much fun decorating the iced Kulich with old-fashioned candied Pansies and Violets from our window boxes (done a few weeks before, to allow them time to cure). Evidently, one can also candy rose petals, carnations, borage and other edible flowers! The red eggs are made from a natural onion skin dye.

There are so many amazing traditions taking place today. This is also when the Artos Bread (which represents Jesus Christ, our Bread of Life, and always Invisibly Present with His Church) which stood all week in front of the opened Royal Doors, is blessed and distributed amongst the faithful. Like holy water, Artos possesses mystical properties. Eating the blessed Artos during the year, replenishes physical and spiritual energies of the Orthodox faithful. Like all other sacred objects, Artos is to be treated with respect and piety. For proper storage, Artos is cut into smaller pieces, dried, and put in a glass container and kept in one’s icon corner. A small piece of dried Artos may be eaten when needed for spiritual strength and consolation, preferably taken on an empty stomach, with a bit of holy water and prayer.

Today is also Radonitsa (Day of Rejoicing)… When we visit the cemetery to have the graves of loved ones blessed, and to sing Christ is Risen to them!

The first Sunday after Pascha, is dedicated to the Apostle Thomas who finally believed, when he was invited by the Risen Christ to touch Him. When we seek God, we touch Him, and we are touched by Him. He passes through the closed doors of our hearts and minds, and directs us towards the light of faith and understanding.

Jesus saith … blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. – St. John 20:29

That’s a direct message from our Risen Lord, to all Christians, throughout the ages! Christ bestows this verbal blessing and acknowledgment upon each of one us. Then. Now. Today. Saying… “blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” That’s us!

Special, loving greetings and gratitude to all mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, and matushki! Whether our own mothers are still with us, or have already passed on… there is always the joyous consolation that our Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary is always close by!

We are never alone! God loves us more than father, mother, friend, or any else could love, and even more than we are able to love ourselves. ~ St. John Chrysostom

The Most Holy Mother of God prays for us ceaselessly. She is always visiting us. Whenever we turn to her in our heart, she is there. After the Lord, she is the greatest protection of mankind. ~ Elder Thaddeus of Vitnovica

The Angel Cried to the Lady
(Special Hymn to the Theotokos, sung at Pascha and during Pascha-tide)

Rejoice!

Exalt!

Be Radiant!

Throwing Ourselves

Detail of the Christ Child in the Orans Icon

Let us open our arms and throw ourselves into Christ’s embrace. When Christ comes, we will have gained everything. Christ will alter everything within us. He will bring peace, joy, humility, love, prayer and the uplifting of our soul. The Grace of Christ will renew us. ~ Elder Porphyrios (Wounded By Love)

…Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. ~ St. Matthew 18:3

…And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. ~ St. Matthew 28:20

Pray like a child, in simplicity of heart, concerning all your needs and sorrows, and entrust yourself to God’s Will, for the Lord arranges our salvation. ~ St. Nikon

May we, like trusting children, remember (more often), to run with the outstretched arms of our soul – and hurl ourselves into the warm, comforting Embrace of Christ’s Everlasting Arms!

He’s patiently and lovingly waiting.

For us.

Right now.

Spiritual Springtime

Velvet Pansies and Shy Violets Peep Out From Our Window Box
How to Make Old-fashioned Candied Violets

…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. ~ 2 Peter 3:18

Lent is a spiritual springtime… The world of nature is coming alive round us during the Lenten season. And this should be a symbol of what is to happen in our own hearts. The dawning of springtime… We shouldn’t just have a negative idea of repentance, as feeling sorry, gloomy and somber about our failings. But repentance, rather, is new hope. An opening flower. How our lives can, by God’s grace, be changed. ~ Metropolitan Kallistos Ware

As the field is adorned by a multitude of flowers, so should the field of my own soul be adorned by all the flowers of virtue ~ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

If you do not shatter and empty your Ego, how will you make room for God?… God’s gifts to us blossom only if watered with the water of Love… Those who love can do only beautiful things. ~ St. Gavrilia

Heading towards the end of the second week of Great Lent, I’m hunkering down and holding fast (with God’s help), hoping to cultivate the spiritual springtime’s fragrant flowers of virtue, and to Blossom Forth!

Reflecting the Refulgent

Orans Icon

The fasting season is a period of spiritual illumination and of adorning the soul with the sanctifying presence of God. ~ Patriarch Daniel of Romania

Fasting supports the prayer of a believer who considers his connection with God as the centre, the Light, and the nourishment of his soul. ~ Patriarch Daniel of Romania

Today is also one of the feast days for the ancient, Miraculous Kursk Root Icon: Theotokos of the Sign (Orans). It’s a Holy Consolation which many of us have been blessed to venerate in person.

May we try to emulate our Most Holy Theotokos by always saying “yes” to God, for in doing so… we shall thrive and shine – reflecting the True and Illuminating Light of Christ!

May your Lenten Journey be Peaceful and Fruitful!


6th century Akathist (Hymn) to the Theotokos chanted in English

The Endless End

Daybreak – Kauai 2023

O Christ the true Light, who enlightens and sanctifies every person who comes into the world: Let the Light of Your countenance shine on us, that in it we may behold the Uncreated Light. ~ Excerpt from Prayer of the Hours; 1st Hour

Christ is Our Peace

Christ is Born!

Christ is our peace… ~ Ephesians 2:14

Peace has a Heavenly Perfume

All anxiety disappears. This is the aim of the Orthodox way of life… To put God first and seek the Holy Spirit. The anxieties of modern life are only symptoms of our separation from God. ~St. Paisios the Athonite

Whatever gentleness you use in speaking with others, that very same gentleness will Christ use with you. ~ St. Joseph the Hesychast

This life is nothing but to prepare for the Eternal life. If eternal life is a whole ocean, this life is a drop of the ocean, but on this drop, depends our eternal life. ~ Elder Dositheos

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Georgia – shared by Garret

Greetings on the upcoming Feast of St. Basil’s Day tomorrow!

As we celebrate St. Basil the Great’s Day and attend that liturgy, we also remember his many miracles, and perhaps bake the very special and traditional – “Vasilopita” Cake, which commemorates one of his miracles in particular.

Words are truly the image of the soul. The time for prayer is one’s whole life. ~ St. Basil the Great

Congratulations on your Saint’s Day today Melania! (Dec. 31/Jan. 13) God grant you many years!

St. Melania (service); Monastery on Mull, Scotland

May your day be filled with God’s plentiful Blessings, and with His Peace from Above – which surpasses all understanding!

Glorify Him!

Reflection of Their Grace

Photo shared by anonymous subscriber

Through the Holy Spirit comes our restoration to paradise, our ascension into the kingdom of heaven, our return to the adoption of sons, our liberty to call God our Father, our being made partakers of the grace of Christ, our being called children of light, our sharing in eternal glory, and, in a word, our being brought into a state of all “fullness of blessing,” both in this world and in the world to come, of all the good gifts that are in store for us, by promise hereof, through faith, beholding the reflection of their grace as though they were already present, we await the full enjoyment. ~ St. Basil the Great

Christ is Risen! Happy Pascha!

Christ’s Descent into Hades Icon

This icon is frequently referred to as the Anastasis or Resurrection Icon. It is an icon of Pascha (Easter).

The golden bars by Christ’s feet are the gates of Hades, which He has broken and torn apart. At Pascha, a tradition includes the cracking of our blessed Pascha eggs together. This represents how Christ shattered the gates of Hades.

There are keys floating in the abyss below, which symbolizes that he has entered and conquered both death and Hades. Some icons have a skeletal figure who is chained up: that’s Death. He has been bound and killed by Christ. All throughout Pascha-tide until the Ascension, we greet each other with, “Christ is Risen, Truly He is Risen!”

The two figures whom Christ has grasped and is pulling out of Hades are Adam and Eve, symbolizing that His Victory redeems all mankind, even back to the beginning.

This Resurrection scene is taking place in the past, present, and future.

To His left, we see three Old Testament saints: Kings David and Solomon, two of His ancestors according to his fleshly nature. We also see, closest to him St. John the Baptist, who was his Forerunner in both life and death. On the right, we have the New Testament, including the apostles who are alive. The purpose is to show that Christ’s redemption transcends time and space. This is an act that happened in the past, is happening right now, and will happen in the future. Christ is always in the state of redeeming and setting us free.

The blue shape around Christ is called the Mandorla (which is Italian for almond, which describes its shape). The Mandorla is the Uncreated, Eternal Light of Christ. In the writings of the Eastern Orthodox mystics, God is often prayerfully experienced as Light. This is not simply a beautiful bright light. It is the same Light which filled the apostles with wonder when they witnessed His Transfiguration. It is the Light which Christ Himself described as the power of the Kingdom of God (Mark 9:1, Matt. 16:28, Luke 9:27). It is also the Light that is seen when one purifies their heart and mind (Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God).

Those who seek God will find that the more they know Him, the less they comprehend Him.

To know God, to experience Him, is to walk from the darkness of sin, into His Light, to enter into the mystery of His Presence. ~ The Ark Youth Quarterly St. Sophia Orthodox Church

May you have a glorious, and joyous, Bright Week!

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

Truly He is Risen!

Receiving Him Into Our Own Arms

Parish Festal Icon of The Meeting of the Lord in the Temple ~ St. Luke 2:22-40

Greetings on the Feast! (February 15/2)

Today’s bright and beautiful feast day falls 40 days after the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is among the most ancient feasts, and since 450 AD, church candles are also blessed on this day as we remember Christ is our salvation, and the Light of the World.

Our lighted candles are a sign of the divine splendour of the One who comes to expel the dark shadows of evil and to make the whole universe radiant with the brilliance of His eternal light. Our candles also show how bright our souls should be when we go to meet Christ... We too should carry a light for all to see and reflect the radiance of the true light as we hasten to meet Him. The Light has come and has shone upon a world enveloped in shadows; the Dayspring from on high has visited us and given light to those who lived in darkness. This, then, is our feast, and we join in procession with lighted candles to reveal the light that has shone upon us and the glory that is yet to come to us through Him. So let us hasten all together to meet our God. The true Light has come, the light that enlightens every man who is born into this world. Let all of us, my brethren, be enlightened and made radiant by this light. Let all of us share in its splendour, and be so filled with it that no one remains in the darkness. Let us be shining ourselves as we go together to meet and to receive with the aged Simeon the Light whose brilliance is eternal... ~ St. Sophronius of Jerusalem (638 AD)

Detail from Meeting of the Lord in the Temple, parish Icon – St. Joseph the Betrothed holds two turtledoves (pigeons), and the Virgin Mary passes the Christ Child to St. Simeon, and aged St. Anna the Prophetess holds a scroll pertaining to the Babe’s Divinity, “This Child has created heaven and Earth.”

On today’s Feast of the Meeting of the Lord, when the heavens meet the earth, God meets man, history meets eternity, when – as our people beautifully say – spring and winter meet, may we also open our hearts for an encounter with the Lord… Open your hearts, listen to the depths of your thoughts, desires, feelings, anticipations, nostalgias, yearnings, the pursuits of your hearts. For our hearts are created in the image of God and they yearn for God; the truth is often buried in passions, desires, appetites, ambitions, prejudices. Let us free ourselves of them and meet the Lord, for He always comes to meet us. He is the One who came, who is with us, Who always comes to be with us. ~ Bishop Atanasije (Homily on the Meeting of our Lord)

In some places, white snowdrop flowers traditionally decorate churches on this special day. Old English Names for Snowdrops are Christ’s Flowers, Purification Flowers, Candlemas Bells, and Fair Maids of February.

Congratulations on the Feast! Today, spring and winter meet, and like blessed spiritual candles, may our hearts and souls shine and wax brightly… as we open our noetic arms to embrace Christ’s Divine Warmth, and Illumination!

Surrendering to Divine Wisdom

Image by Taken from Pixabay

Orthodoxy is a faith that is deep enough to allow her believers to confront the complexities of our human experience, while at the same time recognizing that not all is understood in this life, but viewed as a Mystery. So, the view that believers never doubt, is simply not true. Doubt is not the opposite of faith, but rather the vehicle by which we are challenged to go deeper into the Mystery that is true faith. Nothing keeps we true believers from struggling with uncertainty, for it is this very uncertainty that keeps us from complacency. Complacency is the true enemy of faith, and the inhibitor of spiritual growth. It is complacency that keeps us from the Kingdom of God, and the joy that comes when we are in Communion with Christ. It is not a question of choosing sides, but of surrendering to Divine Wisdom. ~ Abbot Tryphon

In the mystical theology of the Orthodox Church, Wisdom is understood as the Divine Logos (God the Word), Who became Incarnate as Jesus Christ. In Greek, Ἁγία Σοφία (Hagia Sophia) is defined “Holy Wisdom” meaning “Jesus Christ”…The Wisdom and Power of God. ~ 1 Corinthians 1: 24,30; 1 Corinthians 2:7

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made… And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us; and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth… No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him. ~ First chapter of 1 John

Shared by a friend…
Some Aspects of Surrendering to Divine Wisdom

Surrender = Conscious, Willing, Choice.
Surrender = Unconditional Seeking Refuge within the Divine.
Surrender = Faith.
Surrender = Effort.
Surrender = Hope.
Surrender = Love.
Surrender = Trust.
Surrender = Strength.
Surrender = Recognizing Blessings.
Surrender = Gratitude, Thankfulness.
Surrender = Action with Consistent Prayer.
Surrender = Communication.
Surrender = Understanding that Christ Knows What’s Best For Us.

Accepting God’s Will = Learning to let go, and let God!

One step at a time… It’s a lifelong process!

error: Content is protected !!