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”.
…Silence fosters stillness; it is indispensable for stillness. Inner stillness, however, goes beyond silence insofar as its aim is to purify the heart and issue in pure prayer. That purification involves the body in its entirety, because body and soul, like mind and heart, are ultimately inseparable. In the words of St. Mark the Ascetic, “The intellect cannot be still unless the body is still also; and the wall between them cannot be demolished without stillness and prayer.”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. The greatest truth about us is that God has created us with a profound longing, a burning thirst for communion with Himself. We can easily pervert that longing into an idolatrous quest for something other than God. Yet God remains faithful even in our times of apostasy. Like the father of the Prodigal Son, He always awaits our return. Once we begin that journey homeward, through repentance and an ongoing struggle against our most destructive passions, God reaches out to embrace, to forgive and to heal all that is broken, wounded and wasted. He reaches into the very fabric of our life, to restore within us the sublime image in which we were made… ~ Fr. John Breck
It’s coming to that amazing time again of recharging our spiritual batteries together. With purpose, we prepare our own humble journeys home to the GreatestChristian Feast of Feasts, Holy Pascha (Easter), the Resurrection of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Travelling the quiet routes of the Great Lentenroads ahead, we choose to make bright efforts in good faith, and to the best of our abilities. Our dear Lord desires us to come to Him and fill us with good things… now and forever!
May your Lenten Journey continue in peace, and may you be filled to the brim with the blessings ofPalm Sunday and Holy Week.
St. Matthew’s Passion Music composed by Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, takes us through the services in Holy Week, as recorded through the Gospel of St. Matthew. Music and Scripture are poignantly entwined.
Let us open our arms and throw ourselves in 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
Here’s a short and edifying Youtube Orthodox Movie with a Trio of Good Proverbs (English Subtitles). My favourites are #2 and #3.
Be like a dandelion, whenever they fall apart, they start again. Have hope. ~ Anonymous
Love all creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand within it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things.~ Starets Zosima, in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov
Dandelions make me smile. They were the first backyard flowers I ever picked, and seemed like beautiful, brilliant, little suns on stems. My mom lovingly placed many bedraggled bouquets into vases all around our home.
I picked daisies too, and was delighted that when turned upside down, they became tiny white tutus tinged with rosy pink edges. It was the first thing in my young life that I ever coveted… a daisy–petal ballerina skirt. Yes, the “clothing thing” starts pretty young for some of us gals.
Fast-forward 50 years to church (this has absolutely nothing to do with dandelions)… where I helped my very young granddaughter venerate an icon. There happened to be an angel in it… an angel with… red shoes. My granddaughter, stood in deep contemplation (which I assumed to be a pious moment), until she whispered fiercely, “Baba, I want those shoes!” But, I digress, and since there wasn’t(to my knowledge), a local Byzantine Payless Shoes Store on this side of the Bosphorus, we can at least agree the gal “clothing/shoe thing” indeed seems inherent. Let us return again to the topic of dandelions.
I remember being around 4, and handing a fistful of crumpled suns to a visiting, elderly relative. Expecting to hear a grateful thank you, she instead recoiled in horror and hissed, “Weeds!”
What on earth were weeds? They sound terrible… horrible! Determined to defend, I stubbornly objected. “But, God made flowers! How can they be bad?” Of course that didn’t fly well with the visiting relative, and although the incident ended in a stalemate between her and I – God won that round.
Later, as a teen mowing our lawn (under duress), I observed how prolific and tenacious those blessed dandelions could be. They even pop up through cement cracks! Wow. Now that’s perseverance! Oh, that I could be just a little like that!
Whether by chance or design, and through a “herby” friend (who’d scoop up chickweed for a chew), I stumbled upon how healthy and nutritious dandelions are (unsprayed of course)! They’re literally everywhere! God created them, and they’re filled with His goodness. Who knows what other exciting benefits they hold? Time will tell.
Meanwhile, a young grandchild recently wove two dandelion-chain crowns, and solemnly placed one of the diadems on my head. We took a regal selfie together… oblivious to the sticky, white, sap dripping onto our bangs.
I thank God, Who, in His Wisdom and compassion, created the noble, persistent, dandelion – and grandchildren.
Here is a super video on “how to” choose and eat dandelion greens! If you pick them yourself, do make sure they’re unsprayed, and not too big. Otherwise they may be bitter, tough and furry! But when you time it just right, they’re amazing!
May your Lenten Journey be peaceful, fruitful, and green.
Local Neighbourhood Stone Garage with Grass and Floral Roof
As powerful ocean waves smooth and polish sharp edges of rock and stone, so does the Holy Spirit with our souls. It surrounds us. It strengthens us. It refines and completes us. And… bit by bit, with less and less, we become more.
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. ~ Matthew 7:24-27
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. ~ Psalm 18:2
May your Lenten Journey be steady, peaceful, and fruitful.
I praise the Godhead, Unity in three Persons: for the Father is Light, the Son is Light, and the Spirit is Light, but the Light remains undivided, shining forth in oneness of Nature, yet in the three rays of the Persons… Let all the trees of the forest dance and sing, as they beheld their fellow-tree, the Cross, today receive veneration: for Christ, as Holy David prophesied, has exalted it on high… Glory to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. I worship Thee, O holy God, as Trinity of Persons in Unity of Essence, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one Power and Kingdom, sovereign over all. Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen. ~ From the Sunday of the Cross, Matins Service
Today is the Third Sunday of Great Lent, and we’ve reached the half-way point! May your Journey continue to be peaceful and fruitful.