Happy Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday Pussy Willows await blessing at last evening’s Vigil Service.

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. ~ Zechariah 9:9

God is the Lord, and hath appeared unto us; make ye a feast, and with gladness, come, let us magnify Christ with palms and branches, with hymns crying aloud: blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord our Saviour. ~ Ode 9 of the Feast

We celebrate Palm Sunday today with festive joy. Yesterday’s Lazarus Saturday and today’s Palm (and Flowers) Sunday are a bridge we cross over from Great Lent, into Holy Week.

They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel! ~ St. John 12:13

Hosanna in the highest! Means: O be favourably inclined – in the highest heaven! O Lord, save! While Hosanna in the Highest initially seems like an enthusiastic cheer of welcome and joy, it’s also a deep invocation for protection and salvation from tribulations.

Tomorrow, we begin to wend our way throughout Holy Week’s poignant thoroughfares, until we reach the bright and shining shores of Holy Pascha. The Greatest Feast of all. Pascha… the dawn of the new and unending day… the Holy Resurrection of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

…the Lord is always sitting at the gates of the Heavenly Jerusalem waiting for us to allow Him to enter. He is patiently standing at the door of our heart… waiting for us to open it. ~ Unknown

May your Holy Week be Blessed, Glorious, Peaceful and Fruitful!

Practical Tip: Treat your blessed palm branches and pussy willows respectfully, because they have been blessed. Keep them carefully in your icon corner. If you currently have any old palms or willows that are deteriorating, either compost, bury or burn them, but never put them in the garbage.

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Autumnal Prayer

Image by Joe from Pixabay

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. ~ Psalm 90:14

November 27/14

Happy Eve of the Nativity Fast!

Tomorrow we begin our spiritual pilgrimage into the Advent season… to contemplate the upcoming Great Feast of Christ’s Incarnation.

Just like Great Lent is before Easter/Pascha, the ancient Nativity Fast is a reflective, joyful time for spiritual preparation – nourished with prayer, love of one’s neighbour, and generous almsgiving.

Each fast is fresh, new, and a collective reminder to shift focus away from oneself, and onto the needs of others, instead.

Together we’ll begin the late autumnal journey with sweeping the dried leaves and debris away from body and soul.

We fast before we feast, and the feasting aspect is saved to start on the actual Nativity Feast Day itself, including the following bright “12 days of Christmastide”.  

May your Nativity Fast be peaceful and fruitful!

With love in Christ.

Silence is Golden

Romanian Orthodox Church Cloister image by Erich Westendarp from Pixabay

May we robe ourselves
with healing, golden, silent
pray’rs in cloistered hearts…

And garments of Grace –
woven with Divine Wisdom
and Peace from Above.

The friend of silence comes close to God. ~ St. John Climacus

You must allow yourself to approach silently nearer and nearer to yourself: the past, the present and the future in this moment of silence… all the waters of your life which flow away and run out and which are collected in the one basin of a heart aware of itself. ~ Fr. Antony Hughes

Silence is the prerequisite for inner stillness, and only inner stillness enables us truly to listen to God, to hear His voice, and to commune with Him in the depths of our being. Yet silence and stillness are, like prayer itself, gifts that God can and wants to bestow upon us. ~ Very Rev. John Breck – On Silence and Stillness

He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: ~ Psalm 23:2-3

           

Cleansing the Door of Our Perceptions

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

Christ is Risen!

“Let us go forth in peace” is the last commandment of the Liturgy. What does it mean? It means, surely, that the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy is not an end but a beginning. Those words, “Let us go forth in peace,” are not merely a comforting epilogue. They are a call to serve and bear witness. In effect, those words, “Let us go forth in peace,” mean the Liturgy is over, the liturgy after the Liturgy is about to begin. This, then, is the aim of the Liturgy: that we should return to the world with the doors of our perceptions cleansed. We should return to the world after the Liturgy, seeing Christ in every human person, especially in those who suffer. In the words of Father Alexander Schmemann, the Christian is the one who wherever he or she looks, everywhere sees Christ and rejoices in him. We are to go out, then, from the Liturgy and see Christ everywhere. ~ Metropolitan Kallistos Ware of Diokleia

What does God want me to do? …The answer: God is not interested in where you are or what you do… He is interested only in the quality and quantity of the love you give. Nothing else. Nothing else. ~ Mother Gabrielia

God is everywhere.  There is no place God is not…You cry out to Him, ‘Where art Thou, my God?’  And He answers, “I am present, my child! I am always beside you.’  Both inside and outside, above and below, wherever you turn, everything shouts, ‘God!’  In Him we live and move. We breathe God, we eat God, we clothe ourselves with God.  Everything praises and blesses God.  All of creation shouts His praise. Everything animate and inanimate speaks wondrously and glorifies the Creator. Let every breath praise the Lord! ~ St. Joseph the Hesychast, 78th Letter

Comfort and Joy

Cabin Wood Stove Radiates Cozy Comfort from Cold

He who has the Kingdom of God within himself will imperceptibly pass it on to others. People will be attracted by the peace and warmth in us; they will want to be near us, and the atmosphere of Heaven will gradually pass on to them. It is not even necessary to speak to people about this. The atmosphere of Heaven will radiate from us even when we keep silence or talk about ordinary things. ~ Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

One blustery afternoon, we returned to the chilly cabin from a seaside hike, and quickly lit the fire. It was soothing to hear the kindling crackle and smell the woodsmoke. Pretty soon the stove was ablaze and we sat in companionable silence soaking in its warmth… completely mesmerized by the light-show of its dancing, vermillion embers. As we drank in the peaceful atmosphere, it was amazing to think of how simply being in the presence of a cozy fire could bring such a gift of quiet joy. With gratitude, it’s reminded me that in my life, I’ve been blessed with knowing people who emit this exact refreshing radiance and spiritual peace to others – simply by being in their presence! For, they are imbued with the Gladsome Light of Jesus Christ… our Salvific, and Divine – Comfort and Joy.

Greetings on tomorrow’s ancient, joyful Feast Day of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple!

Wishing you a most blessed day today, and Feast Day on the morrow!

With Love in Christ.

Doorway to the Mysteries

Image by cocoparisienne at Pixabay

Faith is the doorway to the mysteries. What the eyes of the body are for physical objects, faith is for the hidden eyes of the soul. Just as we have two bodily eyes, so we have two spiritual eyes, and each has its own way of seeing. With one we see the glory of God hidden in creatures: with the other we contemplate the glory of God’s holy nature when he deigns to give us access to the mysteries. ~ St. Isaac of Syria

Inexpressible Wonder

Our Garden’s Rosa Tropicana (Warm Coral) & English Lavender

It’s been said we may catch glimpses of the Holy Trinity’s Mystery more readily through the temple of our hearts, rather than by using our ineffective, logical minds. Beholding the beauty of God’s Creation – whether in the garden, or a child’s smile, quite simply takes my breath away. When our Heavenly Father already gives us countless aesthetic blessings to delight in, one can’t help but wonder… if this is just earth… how much more beauteous will our Heavenly Home be?! Amen!

You see the Trinity if you see love. ~ Blessed Augustine

Master how could I describe the vision of Your Face? How could I ever speak of the ineffable contemplation of Your Beauty? How could mere words contain One Whom the World could never contain? . . . suddenly You appeared from on high, shining greater than the Sun itself, shining brilliantly from the heavens down into my heart .. . . . What intoxication of the Light! What swirlings of fire! ~ St. Symeon the Theologian hymn

One thing have I desired 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 behold the beauty of the LORD and to enquire in his temple. ~ Psalm 27:4

Sakura Steps

Fragrant sakura cherry blossoms congregate as pink snow drifts on church stairs.

People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering. ~ St. Augustine of Hippo

Happy Feast Day!

Today is the ancient and joyful Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple!

St. Gregory Palamas shares a beautiful contemplation:

When the Mother of God entered into the Holy of Holies, the time of preparation and testing of the old Covenant came to an end, and today we keep the feast of the betrothal of God to human nature. When the Church rejoices and exhorts all the friends of God for their part to enter into the temple of their heart, there to make ready for the coming of the Lord by silence and prayer, withdrawing from the pleasures and cares of this world.

Wishing you a most blessed day…

Today is the Prelude of God’s Good Will!

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