Happy All Saints’ Day

A Thicket of Maiden-Hair Ferns Refreshed by Righteous Rain

Blessed Feast, and Happy Saint’s Day Emmanuelle!

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
Called to Be Saints ~ Posted July 11, 2023

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 (since the time of Adam) who don’t have a feast day… and some of these are even nameless Saints – known only to God!

Since the 4th century, All Saints’ Day is celebrated the first Sunday after the Great Feast of Pentecost. Today we commemorate all saints from everywhere and from every time. We honour the known and unknown… Whether they be men, women or children… these shining clouds of witnesses have lived to the fruition of Holiness.

As all are alive in Christ, the saints are our friends and alive in Heaven. They are venerated, but not worshipped.

Kontakion (a little hymn) of All Saints: The universe offers to Thee, O Lord, as the Planter of Creation, the God-bearing martyrs as the first-fruits of nature. By their prayers, O Most Merciful One, through the Mother of God keep Thy Church, Thy estate, in deep peace.

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

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

All the Saints are like fragrant flowers in God’s Heavenly Garden.

May we bloom where planted, and regardless of debris from life’s storms… offer unto Creation’s Planter a fruition of Spiritual Fragrance!

Happy Eve of the Holy Apostles Sts. Peter & Paul Fast!

Past Pentecost Posts

Parish’s Old Chapel at the Great Feast of Pentecost, circa 2002.

Blessed Feast!

Greetings on tomorrow’s Great Feast of Pentecost, the 50th day after Pascha, and the Church’s Birthday!

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, Amen!

I’ve noticed over the years, that on Pentecost, and the following day (Holy Spirit Day), it seems breezier than usual outside. The trees, flowers and grasses sway and dance in the gentle winds. The Breath of the Holy Spirit, the Giver of Life, tangibly encircles all. At Pentecost, the sun shines brighter. More golden. Today the birds sing sweeter, and a wordless song of gratitude bubbles up from within, like a silver fountain of shining joy.

Greetings on Pentecost

Pentecost Greetings

Pentecost! The Earth’s Name’s Day!

Pentecost Rose & Traditions (and how to make…)

Mosaic of Life

Day of the Holy Spirit

Happy Holy Spirit Day

I Believe

Happy 3rd Day of the Holy Spirit!

Blessed art Thou, Christ our God, Who hast shown forth the fishermen as supremely wise, by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit, and through them, didst draw the world into Thy net. O Lover of mankind, glory be to Thee. ~ Troparion of Pentecost

O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things, Treasury of good things, and Giver of life: come and take up Thine abode in us, and cleanse us from every stain, and save our souls, O Good One! ~ Trisagion Prayers

The Lord grant thee according to thy heart, and all thy purposes fulfill. ~ From 2nd Antiphon at Pentecost

Warts and All

Nestled in a bed of sweet woodruff, a damaged hosta disregards harmful beetle bites and perseveres growing, to thrive anew.

There are days and times in the life of a spiritual person when he feels an emptiness within himself, a weakness of soul something is missing. Something within him has left, and he does not quite know how to come to himself how to bring back the initial strength and Grace, which his soul had. He does not know how to bring back the fullness which he lost. In this case the Holy Fathers teach us: resume the prayer; begin prayer again either with the mouth, with the mind or with the heart and this lost fullness will return. You will find it again. Provided that you force yourself to Pray.  ~ Elder Ephraim in Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Every choice we make has a consequence. Each day affects the next… but, the past is the past. Although we can’t go back to change the past, sometimes we are trapped within a particular groove that exists in the past. Or, perhaps occasionally, an incident from the past slips in and raises its ugly head to create turmoil in the heart. We know where these temptations come from, so we must be vigilant. Lord have mercy!

It is with Hope’s Patient Persistence, His Infinite and Unconditional Love, and Forgiveness, that we are given strength to proceed beyond the past… Moving Forward with Hope, because…

We can only meet God in the present moment. This is an area where God chooses to place limits on His own power. We choose whether or not to live in the present moment. Because we can encounter God only in that present moment, whenever we live in the past or in the future, we place ourselves beyond His reach. ~ Archimandrite Meletios (Webber) 

I cannot reflect on what is past, because I live in the present moment… Yesterday does not exist. Tomorrow belongs to God, as yesterday did… So I keep quiet in God’s Eternal Present!... ….By living in yesterday we delay tomorrow’s march. We cannot live in the past which does not exist, and so give it existence it does not have… ~ St. Gavrilia (Gerontissa Gavrilia)

What has happened has happened, it is in the past. Just keep on going, all the while asking for help from God. ~ Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

May we wrap ourselves today in the Eternal Present of God and Focus Forward, warts and all – notwithstanding!

Lord, help.

Here I am.

Now.

Greeting you From Earth to Heaven on tomorrow’s beautiful Feast of Christ’s Ascension… where we joyfully exclaim one to another Christ Has Ascended! Let us climb the Mount of Olives in our hearts and declare… Glory to Thy Ascension, O Most Greatly Merciful One!

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.

.

Happy Lazarus Saturday

Pussy Willows wait to be blessed for Palm Sunday

Lazarus Saturday is a special day in the Orthodox Church, and celebrates the final, great miracle of Jesus Christ before His Resurrection. Today prefigures His own death and demonstrates His Authority over death.

Seeing that His good friend is already four days dead, Jesus sheds tears at the tomb where is friend is buried, and cries out: “Lazarus, come forth!” St. Lazarus (the Four Days Dead of Bethany) – was 30 years old when he first reposed and was raised again by Christ (St. John 11:1-45).

Tour of St. Lazarus’ Tomb in Bethany

After the Resurrection of Christ, St. Lazarus lived for another 30 years and became the first Bishop of Kition in Cyprus. An ancient tradition records that because of what St. Lazarus had seen in Hades before Christ raised him, St. Lazarus never smiled again – except once… when he saw someone stealing a clay pot. With an amused expression, he observed, “The clay steals the clay.”

In Orthodox countries, on Lazarus Saturday, children go house to house with decorated hand baskets, singing Lazarus Carols, and sharing Lazarakia. Sometimes coins are popped into the children’s baskets by parishioners, as a donation for the church. Some folks slip lenten treats to the children, which they take home and share with their families. It is also customary to collect wildflowers, palms, and branches on this day to adorn homes, as tomorrow is the feast of Palm Sunday, the Day commemorating the Entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem.

Following His glorious miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead, the people went out to meet the Lord with palms and branches. They welcomed Him with honour and shouts of praise.

It is with bittersweet joy that we anticipate the events to come, during Holy Week as we near the end of our own Journeys to Pascha.

Lazarus was raised from the dead. Christ is risen from the dead. The difference is everything. Our hope is not in being resuscitated to our present form, but a true transformation into the Life of Resurrection. ~ Father Stephen Freeman

Troparion (Hymn) in Tone 1 for Lazarus Saturday

🎵 O Christ God, when You raised Lazarus from the dead before the time of your Passion, you confirmed the future resurrection of all. We too, like the children of old, carry before You the symbols of victory, and cry out to You, O Conqueror of Death: Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! 🎵

Happy St. Bríghde Day!

Image by Jonas from Pixabay


Greetings! Happy St. Bríghde of Ireland’s Feast Day!

St. Bríghde is pronounced Breejya, in Gaelic. She is also known as St. Brigid or St. Bridget.

I saw a stranger yestereen;
I put food in the eating place,
drink in the drinking place,
music in the listening place,
and in the name of the Triune
he blessed myself and my house,
my cattle and my dear ones,
and the lark said in her song:
Often, often, often,
goes the Christ in the stranger’s guise…
often, often, often,
goes Christ in the stranger’s guise.

~ Irish Rune of St. Brigid’s Hospitality

Besides, founding a famous monastery that blessed and bettered her country, 5th century St. Brigid was instrumental in implementing educational, and artistic centres, enhancing her community through charity, hospitality and medical support.

With her great faith and pure heart, she humbly performed miracles, perceiving Christ in all.

St. Brigid continues to intercede for us, whenever we reach out to her as a heavenly friend. She is the patroness of dairy workers, infants, midwives, blacksmiths, poets, nuns, and students.

Let us praise St. Brigid, and emulate her in seeing Christ in others!

How to make St. Brigid Day green rush crosses… Instructions found on St. Sophia website via The Ark #8 (Youth Quarterly) on pages 25-27. 

Today is also St. Valentine the Presbyter’s Feast Day! (also celebrated on July 6th in the Eastern Church) ❤️

Tomorrow is one of the Great Twelve Feasts of our Lord – The Meeting of the Lord in the Temple.

Snowdrop Flowers also known as Candlemas Bells, are associated with this ancient Feast Day!

I composed my own (very rustic) simple folk-hymn of praise, honouring St. Brigid of Ireland, and set it to the tune of an ancient Irish melody of unknown origin, as heard below – accompanied by ukulele.

☘️


Holy St. Brigid, pray to God for us!

Eve of Nativity Greetings

Past Orthodox Christmas Postings Resource ⭐️

On the Night of Nativity ~ 7th Century Homily

This Nativity night [Christ] bestowed peace on the whole world;
So let no one threaten;
This is the night of the Most Gentle One –
Let no one be cruel;
This is the night of the Humble One –
Let no one be proud.
Now is the day of joy –
Let us not revenge;
Now is the day of Good Will –
Let us not be mean.
In this Day of Peace –
Let us not be conquered by anger.
Today the Bountiful One impoverished Himself for our sake;
So, rich one, invite the poor to your table.
Today we receive a Gift for which we did not ask;
So let us give alms to those who implore and beg us.
This Day opens the heavenly doors to our prayers;
Let us open our door to those who ask our forgiveness.
Today the Divine One took upon Himself the seal of our humanity,
In order for humanity to be adorned by the Seal of Divinity.

~ by St. Isaac the Syrian, 7th century

Parish Youth Choir sang this short Nativity piece (virtually), back in 2020. Their merry voices rang out like silver trumpets, with the lyrics from St. Isaac the Syrian’s poem above, and put to my music.

Below, our Parish Choir (recorded in 2014) sings the ancient Nativity Kontakion (a short hymn of a feast or a saint) composed by 6th century St. Romanos the Melodist:


…Wishing you a blessed Nativity Feast tomorrow, and a joyous Twelve Days of Christmas!

St. Nicholas Day Greetings!

Happy, happy, St. Nicholas Day!

Our dear, Holy Father, St. Nicholas the Wonderworker and Archbishop of Myra and Lycia, was born circa 270 AD, and reposed around 343 AD.

He is the patron saint of travellers, children, orphans, widows, sailors, bankers, pawnbrokers, and victims of judicial mistakes.

Troparia to St. Nicholas (Tone 4): The truth of things revealed thee to thy flock, as a rule of faith, a model of meekness, and a teacher of abstinence, wherefore thou hast attained the heights through humility, and riches through poverty. O hierarch Nicholas our father, entreat Christ God that our souls be saved.

Kontakion to St. Nicholas (Tone 3): In Myra thou wast shown to be a performer of the sacred mysteries, O holy one, for, fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, thou didst lay down thy life for thy people, O venerable one, and didst save the innocent from death. Wherefore, thou hast been sanctified as a great initiate of the grace of God.

There is a lovely children’s tradition associated with the evening before St. Nicholas Day. Children leave their shoes outside their front door, and during the night, they’re filled with small gifts. (Canadian $1 “Loonies” make excellent “gold” coinage!)

Above’s a short St. Nicholas Children’s Carol, sung (a few years ago) after Liturgy by my GG’s (grand-girls) in front of the St. Nicholas icon, before heading home to tuck into a delicious slice of our family’s traditional St. Nicholas Day Pie!

Today’s not only St. Nicholas day, but we’re now also halfway through our Advent journey to Nativity! We’re on the home-stretch!

To this very day, St. Nicholas continues to help and protect us from misfortunes. He’s very close and attentive to the poor and destitute. St. Nicholas is only a prayer away.

Some more Modern Miracles of St. Nicholas.

St. Nicholas helps those who believe, to affirm their faith, and those who do not yet know God, to kindle in them the flame of faith... As the Lord makes the sun to shine upon all, whether good or evil, and the rain to fall upon all, and calls everyone to salvation and knowledge of the truth, so St. Nicholas does good deeds for those who do not know the true God in the hope that they will understand and turn to the Creator. ~ Metropolitan Onuphry of Ukraine

Wishing you a most blessed, bright, and happy feast day!

Perhaps, when next encountering someone needy, we may remember this wonderful Saint, and give alms.

If one doesn’t have money on themselves, then share a warm smile, or a kind greeting… as these are precious Gifts of Hope and Love.

St. Barbara’s Day Greetings!

Happy Feast Day!

This icon (painted by a dear friend) is of the Holy Great-Martyr Barbara, my patron saint.

Today is her heavenly birthday, so she’s only a prayer away!

St. John of Damascus (7th century) is also commemorated today.

Troparion of St. Barbara (Melody in Tone 8): Let us honour the Holy Barbara, for she broke the snares of the Enemy, and like a bird, escaped from them by the help and weapon of the most Honourable Cross.

St. Barbara’s life is both spiritually poignant and victorious. What faith!

St. Barbara is the patron saint of artillerymen, military engineers, soldiers, firefighters, miners and others who work with explosives. She is invoked against lightning and sudden death. She, along with St. George the Great-Martyr and Trophy Bearer, is a protectress for soldiers in times of war.

St. Barbara (3rd century) was born in the Greek city of Heliopolis in Syria, now called Baalbek, in eastern Lebanon. St. Barbara’s feast day is known as Eid il-Burbara to Christians in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and there is a special St. Barbara’s Day dessert made to celebrate. Although the dish is traditionally prepared from boiled wheat hulls, rose water, cinnamon, anise and nuts, I like to use Cream of Wheat. This aromatic sweet recalls the tradition that freshly planted wheat fields miraculously sprung up behind St. Barbara covering her initial escape path to the mountains.

Here is my own festal, and celebratory breakfast/dessert recipe for St. Barbara’s Day! It’s easy to make, and delicious.

May your day be filled with Light, and gladness. And during these troubled times, may the Lord’s Peace from Above shine down upon all those inflicted with the sufferings of war.

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.

error: Content is protected !!