From the Soil of Our Heart

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Greetings on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross!

God does not create a cross for man. No matter how heavy a cross a man may carry in his life, it is still just wood, from which man himself made, and it always grows from the soil of his heart. ~ St. Ambrose of Optina

May your day be imbued with a multitude of sweet-scented blessings!

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!

Floral Grace

Photo from the Feast Day of the Exaltation of the Cross

A week after celebrating the great Feast Day of the Exaltation of the Cross, I was reminded how amazingly preserved flowers that surround the Cross can be. They are protected from the usual quick wilt and deterioration other bouquets (placed in ordinary locations) can experience within two or three days.

The same holds true with flowers that grace icon corners or icon stands. I remember visiting a convent in the heat of summer, and one of my obediences was to clean and prepare the church for the Sts. Peter and Paul Liturgy. I had picked some wildflowers to put where the festal icon was to be placed, but it appeared someone had already done so. I took my new bunch of flowers back to the main house and was told the hot little church had been locked since Pentecost, as the air conditioned house chapel was being used instead. The last time flowers had been placed in the actual church was nearly 3.5 weeks previously! One “forgotten’ wildflower bouquet had remained at the foot of the analogian where the icon of the Holy Trinity sat. This is the same bouquet I saw when I unlocked the church to clean. It looked as fresh as could be! When I revealed this mini miracle, the nuns nodded their heads, crossed themselves, and stated matter-of-factly, “Oh yes, these kind of things can happen.”

Every flower is indeed fragrant through the power of the Holy Spirit, and the beauty of the Great is contained in the small!

…let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. ~ Psalm 96:12

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. ~ Isaiah 55:12

God does not create a cross for man. No matter how heavy a cross a man may carry in life, it is still just wood, from which man himself made, and it always grows from the soil of his heart. ~ St. Ambrose of Optina

Exaltation of Cross

Greetings on the Great Feast Day of the Exaltation of the Cross!

Magnify, O my soul, the exaltation of the life-creating Cross of the Lord!Let all the trees of the forests rejoice, for their nature hath been sanctified by Him Who planted them in the beginning – Christ Who was stretched out upon the Tree… Let us worship the power of the Cross; for a tree brought about death in paradise, but this Tree hath caused life to blossom forth, for the sinless Lord was nailed to it. …O Thou Who hast abolished death by the Cross and freed us, glory to Thee! ~ Excerpts from Service

Some sweet basil traditions.

Let us exalt the Most Precious Cross of the Lord together, and rejoice in His boundless Love!

Endure a Bit

The pandemic continues… disrupting worldly life. We grow tired of constraints. Yet, no matter how dire circumstances may seem, there is joy, gratitude, and peace through His Grace. Patience! “This is just for now!”

Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. ~ St. Mark 8:34

Rejoice as you feel the cross upon yourself, for it is a sign that you are following the Lord on the path of salvation which leads to heaven. Endure a bit. The end and the crowns are just around the corner! ~ St. Theophan the Recluse

Love is only found on the Cross. ~ Mother Gabrielia Papayannis

Remember that each of us has his own cross. The Golgotha of this cross is our heart: it is being lifted up or implanted through zealous determination to live according to the Spirit of God. Just as the salvation of the world is by the Cross of God, so our salvation is by our own cross. ~ St. Theophan the Recluse

Some want to go to the Resurrection without passing by way of Golgotha. ~Mother Gabrielia Papayannis

Patience is the Christian’s coat of arms. What is it to follow Christ? It is to endure all things, looking upon Christ Who suffered. Many wish to be glorified with Christ, but few seek to remain with the suffering Christ. Yet not merely by tribulation, but even in much tribulation does one enter the Kingdom of God.
~ St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

Do not ever succumb to the insane thought that God has abandoned you. God knows exactly how much one can endure and according to that, measures the sufferings and pains of everyone. ~ St. Nikolai Velimirovic

The righteous have no sorrows that are not turned into joy, as sinners have no joy that is not turned into sorrow. ~ St. Dimitri of Rostov

If we always see God in our minds, and always remember Him, everything will appear tolerable to us. ~ St. John Chrysostom

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