A Sacrifice of Praise

An abundance of sweet-scented wisteria spill over the pergola, upheld and supported by its rough, wooden beams.

Let us lift up our hearts! We lift them up unto the Lord! ~Anaphora

From every cut springs new growth. However, there’s no one-size-fits-all in gardening, or life.

To encourage a profusion of fragrant blossoms and to thrive – shrubs, trees, and vines require careful tending to transform into ultimate splendor. They must first be reduced, in order to become more.

By deadheading and pruning our own spiritual debris, we are refreshed and ready for new growth! We are able to lightly and joyfully lift up our hearts unto the Lord!

Through God’s Mercy of Peace we thrive, and our hearts are transformed by being in God.

In the words of an anonymous saint (whose name escapes me at the moment), may we remember more often to: Prune wisely and clip with discernment.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. ~ St. John 15:1-2

Prayer is the flower of gentleness and the fruit of joy. ~ Evagrios the Solitary, 4th century

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!

Simplicity of Heart

Strolling through California Wildflowers ~ shared by Anastasia

Christ is Risen!

Today is also St. Basil of Ostrog’s Feast Day!

… You want to taste a moment of joy from God. What’s the secret here? Suppose you believe that, if you ask, you’ll receive the joy. ‘He can’t help but give it to me’. But He doesn’t. And you yourselves are the reason why. It’s not that God doesn’t want to give, but the secret is your own simplicity and gentleness. If you’re lacking in simplicity and you say: ‘I’ll do this and God will give me what I’m asking’, it won’t happen. Do everything simply, gently. Don’t do things with an eye on the outcome. Don’t say: ‘I’ll do this in order to get that result’. Just do it gently, without knowing you’re doing it. In other words, pray simply and don’t think about what God will give you in your soul. Don’t keep tabs. Don’t discuss it with yourself. When you say the Jesus Prayer, do so gently and simply and don’t think about anything else except the prayer. Let your heart be simple… let it be good… Everybody seeks a good and simple soul; they find solace in it; they approach it without fear, without suspicion. And that soul itself lives with inner peace, has good relations with other people and the rest of creation. ~ Saint Porphyrios of Kafsokalyvia

Love Christ and put nothing before His Love. He is Joy, He is Life, He is Light. Christ is Everything. He is the ultimate desire, He is everything. Everything Beautiful is in Christ. ~ St. Porphyrios

If you have the opportunity to read Wounded by Love: The Life and the Wisdom of Saint Porphyriosplease do, it’s amazing! The book is an anthology of his letters and writings.

Sharing this sweet old folk hymn on the beautiful Joys and Gifts of Simplicity

‘Tis the gift to be simple,
‘Tis the gift to be free,
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we will not be ashamed,
To turn, turn, will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning, we come ’round right.

Striving to seek the Lord in simplicity of heart…
With love in Christ.

Truly He is Risen!

With Expectant Hope

Serbian Orthodox Church in Belgrade by Stevan Aksentijevic from Pixabay

With expectant hope,
Come – gentle, quiet, New Year,
With Peace from Above!

Beneath the blue veil
Of night, wisdom traverses
By Star, to Wisdom.

Patiently we wait.
Six silent nights remaining –
Until the manger.

Thank you for visiting Blisswood.

Happy Civil New Year! Happy New You! Happy New Us!

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace. ~ Numbers 6:24-26

As we draw nigh unto the Bright Feast of Christ’s Holy Nativity, may we seek and find the True, Healing Peace from Above, within the Bethlehem of our hearts.

With Love in Christ.

All Things Are Near to God

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds of the heavens? ~ Job 35:11

..surely we ought to show kindness and gentleness to animals for many reasons, and chiefly because they are of the same origin as ourselves.~  St. John Chrysostom

Man is not a being isolated from the rest of creation; by his very nature he is bound up with the whole of the universe… In his way to union with God, man in no way leaves creatures aside, but gathers together in his love the whole cosmos disordered by sin, that it may be transfigured by grace. ~ St. Maximus the Confessor

All things are near to God, says the Russian proverb. Truly everything is near: all spiritual, and sentient creatures, the Angels, the souls of the departed, all living men, all animals, all material worlds. The Spirit of God passes through all things, a reasoning pure, most refined Spirit, dwelling in every believing, pious soul. “The wild beasts of the field are in my sight (Psalm 1:11),” says He. “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world (St. Matthew 28:20).” As an infinite Spirit, to God nothing is far away, but all things are in Him. All things live and exist in Him.~  St. John of Kronstadt

Cascades of Blessings

Image by falco from Pixabay

The Lord loves us so dearly that it passes all description. Through the Holy Spirit alone can the soul know His love, of which she is inexpressibly aware. The Lord is all goodness and mercy. He is meek and gentle, and we have no words to tell of His goodness; but the soul without words feels this love and would remain wrapped in its quiet tranquility forever. ~ St. Silouan the Athonite

Do not say, ‘This happened by chance, while this came to be of itself.’ In all that exists there is nothing disorderly, nothing indefinite, nothing without purpose, nothing by chance… How many hairs are on your head? God will not forget one of them. Do you see how nothing, even the smallest thing, escapes the gaze of God? ~ St. Basil the Great

That green leaf on the tree which you needlessly plucked – it was not wrong, only rather a pity for the little leaf. The heart that has learned to love feels sorry for every created thing. ~ St. Silouan the Athonite

Wishing you Peace and Joy!

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

Happy New You!

Image by jplenio from Pixabay 

Happy New You” is what my grandchild used to chirp joyfully to others on New Year’s Day!

Children have such a way with words!

Standing on the threshold of another New Year, I’d like to share these precious pictures from my friend Irena – regarding a school’s “Random Prayers Bulletin Board”.

Thank you dear children who wrote those beautiful, wise words that tug the heartstrings!

May God indeed help us “be more jentle towards others” and to become New You’sby sharing His Truth and Beauty.

Let us be as little children thanking our Heavenly Father – for all our blessings! For everything He has ever given us… and to say plainly, and simply to Him, “I love you so much. Amen.”

Beauty calls to each of us, and sometimes we find truth and beauty where and when we least expect it.

May you have a most blessed, beautiful, and fruitful New Year!

Happy New You!

Happy New Us!

Petals of Healing Love

The Jesus Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me (a sinner), is a prayer of the heart to help us pray without ceasing. Even when shortened to Lord have mercy, (Divine Liturgy, or private prayer) it brims with bountiful blessings! The juicy root-words for ‘mercy’ in Greek and Hebrew, are jam-packed with more meaning!

“Lord, Have Mercy.” The true meaning behind this short prayer often gets lost in English, because the word “mercy” takes on a connotation of “justice or acquittal.”  This is not the tenor of the prayer that we say in the Divine Liturgy. We aren’t saying:  “Lord…don’t convict me and send me to the outer darkness!” The Greek word that is used for “mercy” comes from “eleos”, which is the same root word as the word for “oil” which is used to sooth or to heal.  The Hebrew word for “mercy” comes from “hesed” which means “steadfast love.”  In the Church, when we say “Lord have mercy”, we are literally saying over and over and over:  “Lord…soothe me…and show me your steadfast love! ...“Show us your healing love O Lord”!  ~ Fr. Gabriel Bilas (pravmir.com)

“Lord Have Mercy” explained by Frederica Mathewes-Green(Short! Less than 4 minutes)

If you feel sweetness or compunction at some word of your prayer, dwell on it; for then our guardian angel is praying with us. ~ St. John Climacus (Ladder of Divine Ascent)

Spiritual Friendship

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! ~ Psalm 133:1

The righteous choose their friends carefully… ~ Proverbs 12:26

Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. ~ Proverbs 13:20

Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel. ~Proverbs 27:9

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. ~ St. John 15:12-15

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another… ~ Romans 12:10

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. ~ 1 Peter 4:8-10

Though you should name infinite treasures, none of them is comparable to a genuine friend. And first let us speak of the great delight of friendship itself. A friend rejoices at seeing his friend, and his heart expands with joy. He is tied to him with an union of soul that affords unspeakable pleasure. I speak of genuine friends, men of one soul, who would even die for each other, who love each other fervently. ~ St. John Chrysostom

Eating and drinking don’t make friendships – such friendship even robbers and murderers have. But if we are friends, if we truly care for one another, let us help one another spiritually. . . Let us hinder those things that lead our friends away to hell. ~ St. John Chrysostom

It would be better for the sun to be extinguished than that we should be deprived of friends. Better to live in darkness than to be without friends. ~ St. John Chrysostom

A true friend is one who in times of trial, calmly imperturbably suffers with his neighbour the ensuing afflictions, privations and disasters as if they were his own. ~ St. Maximus the Confessor

A faithful friend is a strong defense; for when things are going well with you, he is a good counselor and a sympathetic collaborator, while when things are going badly, he is the truest of helpers and a most compassionate supporter. ~ St. Maximus the Confessor

Strive by every means constantly to rejoice the Heavenly Father by your life; that is, by your meekness, humility, gentleness, obedience, abstinence, right judgment, love of peace, patience, mercy, sincere friendship with worthy people, kindness to everybody, cordial hospitality, universal benevolence, accuracy in business, simplicity of heart and character, and by the purity of all your thoughts. ~ St. John of Kronstadt

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