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

Spiritual Springtime

Velvet Pansies and Shy Violets Peep Out From Our Window Box
How to Make Old-fashioned Candied Violets

…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. ~ 2 Peter 3:18

Lent is a spiritual springtime… The world of nature is coming alive round us during the Lenten season. And this should be a symbol of what is to happen in our own hearts. The dawning of springtime… We shouldn’t just have a negative idea of repentance, as feeling sorry, gloomy and somber about our failings. But repentance, rather, is new hope. An opening flower. How our lives can, by God’s grace, be changed. ~ Metropolitan Kallistos Ware

As the field is adorned by a multitude of flowers, so should the field of my own soul be adorned by all the flowers of virtue ~ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ

If you do not shatter and empty your Ego, how will you make room for God?… God’s gifts to us blossom only if watered with the water of Love… Those who love can do only beautiful things. ~ St. Gavrilia

Heading towards the end of the second week of Great Lent, I’m hunkering down and holding fast (with God’s help), hoping to cultivate the spiritual springtime’s fragrant flowers of virtue, and to Blossom Forth!

Fragrance of Life

Fragrant Plumeria flower, upheld aloft by neighbouring Heliconia Rostrata leaf. ~ Kauai 2023

Whatever in us that truly lives, exuding the fragrance of life like the blossoms in springtime will never know an autumn of decomposition and death. Those alive in Christ experience an everlasting seedtime of continual growth in faith, trust, hope, confidence, understanding, compassion, awareness, optimism, love, and joy. For them this world is a mere cocoon destined to release the true self on radiant, pure, glorious wings to a world alive with the fragrance of the Holy Trinity. ~ Very Rev. Vladimir Berzonsky 

Struggle my children, the angels are weaving crowns with flowers of paradise. ~ Elder Ephraim

Lent is spiritual springtime. Not winter, but spring. The world of nature is coming alive round us during the Lenten season. And this should be a symbol of what is to happen in our own hearts. The dawning of springtime… We shouldn’t just have a negative idea of repentance, as feeling sorry, gloomy and somber about our failings. But repentance, rather, is new hope. An opening flower. How our lives can, by God’s grace, be changed. ~ Metropolitan Kallistos Ware

Warming Our Frosty Hearts

Shards of ice crystals cover my windshield, hindering clear vision. With a bit of effort, they can be scraped off and kept off… by keeping the car engine warm.

God is a fire that warms and kindles the heart and inward parts. Hence, if we feel in our hearts the cold which comes from the devil – for the devil is cold – let us call on the Lord. He will come to warm our hearts with perfect love, not only for Him but also for our neighbour, and the cold of him who hates the good, will flee before the heat of His countenance. ~ St. Seraphim of Sarov

It is of great significance if there is a person who truly prays in a family. Prayer attracts God’s Grace and all the members of the family feel it, even those whose hearts have grown cold. Pray always. ~ Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica (Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives)

If you find that there is no love in you, but you want to have it, then do deeds of love, even though you do them without love in the beginning. The Lord will see your desire and striving, and will put love in your heart. ~ St. Ambrose of Optina

Ripples of Prayer

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Prayer breathes hope… ~ St. John of Kronstadt

The Angels and the Saints are also near to us in their names, as their names and our faith in them are near to our hearts; for they are nothing else but the breath of God, and are “one spirit with the Lord”. ~ St. John of Kronstadt

God does not interfere in our lives, but waits for us to ask Him to help us, for He respects our freedom. ~ St. Paisios the Athonite

Life is a Liturgy. It is not only in the church that the Liturgy takes place; the Liturgy is outside the church building too. The entirety of life should be a Liturgy – if you feel the existence of God… You never finish your prayer. The definition of prayer is this: the feeling of the presence of God in you. And if you have this feeling of the presence of God, you engage in a continual prayer. ~ Archimandrite Roman

Below is a new documentary filmed by the Saint Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary: The Little Convent.

The Holy Protection Convent in Bluffton, Alberta, is a place of precious spiritual beauty, which many (our family included), hold very dear and close in our hearts.

In this post-Christian world, we are so blessed there still are monastics… as their daily prayers asking God’s help for the whole world, ripple and resound continually!

Neither Eye Nor Ear

Image by 12019 from Pixabay

But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him’. But God has, through the Spirit, let us share his secret. For nothing is hidden from the Spirit, not even the deep wisdom of God. For who could really understand a man’s inmost thoughts except the spirit of the man himself? How much less could anyone understand the thoughts of God except the very Spirit of God? And the marvellous thing is this, that we now receive not the spirit of the world but the Spirit of God himself, so that we can actually understand something of God’s generosity towards us. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:9-12

Proven Paths

Traditional Stone Village in Askas, Cyprus by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

In all things let us travel the road laid down for us by the tradition of our elders and by the goodness of their lives. ~ St. John Cassian

Christianity is more than a theory about the universe, more than teachings written down on paper; it is a path along which we journey – in the deepest and richest sense, the way of life. ~ Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive… One road leads home and a thousand roads lead into the wilderness. ~ C.S. Lewis

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!

Joyful Ringing of Candlemas Bells

Snowdrop flowers, also known as Candlemas Bells, rang in yesterday’s bright feast, decoratively sitting upon the Icon of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple.

As the memory of fire does not warm the body, so faith without love does not bring about the illumination in the soul. ~ St. Maximus the Confessor

Christ is our Redemption.

Christ is our True Light.

Standing before God in prayer, we are as newly lit spiritual candles. May our hearts and souls flame radiantly, as we inhale the life-giving breath of the Holy Spirit, and may we shine and reflect Christ’s Gladsome Light!

Droplets of Holy Water can be seen on these blessed beeswax candles at the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple; Candlemas.

Songs of Joy

Recent Sunset Stroll Scene

Christ is the True Light
Who Illumines the whole world,
He is Glorious!

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. ~ Psalm 65:8

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. ~ Psalm 28:7

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. ~ Psalm 19:1

Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness! ~ Psalm 96:9

From the rising of the sun to its going down, the name of the Lord is to be praised. ~ Psalm 113:3

…Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength! ~ Nehemiah 8:10

…let not the sun go down upon your wrath…~ Ephesians 4:26

What a wonderful day the Lord has provided! Let our eyes and hearts rejoice in His Gifts of Nature and for His Beauteous, Gladsome Light that shines upon us all!

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