Comfort and Joy

Cabin Wood Stove Radiates Cozy Comfort from Cold

He who has the Kingdom of God within himself will imperceptibly pass it on to others. People will be attracted by the peace and warmth in us; they will want to be near us, and the atmosphere of Heaven will gradually pass on to them. It is not even necessary to speak to people about this. The atmosphere of Heaven will radiate from us even when we keep silence or talk about ordinary things. ~ Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

One blustery afternoon, we returned to the chilly cabin from a seaside hike, and quickly lit the fire. It was soothing to hear the kindling crackle and smell the woodsmoke. Pretty soon the stove was ablaze and we sat in companionable silence soaking in its warmth… completely mesmerized by the light-show of its dancing, vermillion embers. As we drank in the peaceful atmosphere, it was amazing to think of how simply being in the presence of a cozy fire could bring such a gift of quiet joy. With gratitude, it’s reminded me that in my life, I’ve been blessed with knowing people who emit this exact refreshing radiance and spiritual peace to others – simply by being in their presence! For, they are imbued with the Gladsome Light of Jesus Christ… our Salvific, and Divine – Comfort and Joy.

Greetings on tomorrow’s ancient, joyful Feast Day of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple!

Wishing you a most blessed day today, and Feast Day on the morrow!

With Love in Christ.

Path of God

Ancient pathway Mystras, Greece – 2017

The path of God is a daily cross. ~ St. Isaac the Syrian

Make your one aim in life the doing of the will of Jesus in every circumstance, however important or trifling it may seem. ~ St. Ignatius Brianchaninov

Continue your path with courage, with much courage. Let your heart rejoice in the Lord, and He will grant it all nourishment and all energy that is needed so that it does not seem to collapse. Nothing should seem difficult to you. ~St. Luke of Simferopol

We travel many paths in life. With God’s help we make our way along the right one. Sometimes distracting side trails appear, but if we aim to do God’s Will, we discern that most navigational “shortcuts” may trip us up. Meanwhile, God protects us, and our guardian angel is always present.

Speaking of paths, don’t forget to have a trip blessing before starting a new adventure… It’s the best travel insurance! I particularly remember a certain vacation of hiking with my family in the wilds (of B.C.). As I plodded along, my husband and children cavorted far ahead, chatting and laughing. Pretty soon they rounded a bend in the trail, and vanished from sight and sound.

I thirstily drank in the beauty and wonder of God’s nature amid tall fragrant forest firs and birdsong. Beside the path, leaf mould and damp mosses covered ancient nursing stumps sprouting new life… And I realized it was high time to catch up with my family, so I broke into a jog.

About 100 feet into my run, I “was stopped”.

I simply couldn’t move, and literally stood still. Frozen.

Within two seconds of wondering what was going on(?!?), a sudden great crack resounded, and a giant limb of a tree, fell directly across the path, about 10 feet in front of me! It was massive, and fell exactly where I would have been jogging, had my Guardian Angel not stopped me.

Able to move freely again, I was shaken with amazement and gratitude for a few minutes. Crossing myself, I thanked God and my Guardian Angel profusely. (I also remember waving an additional thumbs-up, air greeting of hello – to my Guardian Angel.)

Raucous ravens shook my reverie and I sighed, “Okay, okay, I get it, I’m going!” Adrenaline fuelled an easy straddle of the downed limb as I tore off to catch up to my family.

Grace and Protection abounded on that path… with God’s help ever before me, and my Guardian Angel always beside me. Amen!

But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. ~ St. Matthew 10:30

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

Christ Has Ascended!

Ascension Icon, 6th century – St. Catherine’s Monastery, Mt. Sinai

Traditional Ascension Greeting: “Christ has Ascended!

The Feast Day of Christ’s Ascension comes forty days after Pascha. Today from the Mount of Olives, the risen Lord ascends to Paradise upon a Divine Cloud! He ascends in the Flesh, to the place where He Was before Time.

Some Ascension Customs

Of course, if at all possible, the most important thing to do on the Ascension, is to attend Divine Liturgy!

As with any Great Feast, those who have to work on this day try to give some of their earnings to the poor.

Cloud-watching today is popular, as Christ went up in a cloud. If the weather is good, some go for a mountain hike, as Jesus went up the Mount of Olives for the Ascension. Throw a blanket on the grass or scrub, lay back, enjoy the clouds (search for a Lamb-shape), and have a picnic. If there are white wildflowers available to pick and you’re not too far from home, pick a few and bring them home to your icon corner. If you live where there are olive trees, a few branches are also collected for the icon bouquet.

Last year on the Ascension, there were rainbow clouds in our area, and a super large one was shaped like the Greek letter Omega!

Clergy traditionally wear white vestments today. Some lay people also wear white on the Ascension – because of the clouds, and decorate their icon corner with white flowers.

It’s also a custom to take a dip in the ocean on the Ascension, as the sea draws its water from the clouds.

On the Ascension, farmers share the milk with friends, neighbours and relatives. Remaining milk is used to make the traditional rice pudding.

Here’s something sweet and new… Some families make “Cloud Cookies” for the Ascension. Bake a flat sugar cookie, and after cooling, decorate the top with blue icing for the sky, and then pop a few white mini marshmallows on top, as clouds.

An old English country custom was to collect rainwater if it rained on the Ascension, and drink it. I tried this once. However, as I live in the city, rainwater from the overhead clouds tasted a bit odd… so I shared the remainder with my thirsty garden!

Traditional response for the Ascension greeting is, “From Earth to Heaven!”

His footprint is imprinted into the rock and can be seen in the Chapel of the Ascension, which was built over the spot.

How beautiful is the Mystery of Today!

Theophany Greetings!

The Feast of the Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ is celebrated January 19/6. After Pascha and Pentecost, this is the next greatest Feast Day of the Orthodox Church.

Theophany means Manifestation of God, as Jesus Christ is God the Word, Incarnate.

When our Lord Jesus Christ is baptized by John in the River Jordan, Christ comes up from the water, the heavens open, and the Spirit of God descends like a dove upon Him. God’s voice from heaven proclaims, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.” The Holy Trinity is revealed. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit shine forth...

In the Gospel of St. Matthew, chapter 3, verses 1-6, and 11; and verses 13-17, we stand on the banks of the River Jordan and watch this miracle occur.

In the Gospel of St. John, chapter 1: verses 32-34, we see St. John the Baptist bearing witness that Christ is the Son of God.

Theophany reminds us of our own Baptism, for “As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ, Alleluia!” In the waters of Baptism, we are washed clean from our old life, and we put on the new life in Jesus Christ.

Today is also the Blessing of the Waters.

The feature picture reminds me of a family hike around some back lakes, many years ago on Theophany. Music from the service remained with me… in particular… “The Voice of the Lord is upon the waters, the God of Glory thundered, the Lord is upon many waters.” Upon rounding a bend in the trail, we encountered the lake shrouded in a blanket of dense mist. A sudden shaft of sunlight pierced through illuminating everything. The swirling fog dissolved as if blown away by a great breath. This exquisite memory remains close to my heart. Each year when hearing said phrase at service, for a moment, I return to that peaceful place.

I believe all bodies of water are particularly blessed with a special beauty upon this feast day! 

Troparion of the Feast (Tone 1)

When Thou, O Lord, wast baptised in the Jordan, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest! For the voice of the Father bare witness unto Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son! And the Spirit, in the form of a dove, confirmed His word as steadfast and sure. O Christ our God, Who hast appeared and enlightened the world, glory to Thee!

Kontakion of the Feast (Tone 4)

Thou hast appeared today to the inhabited earth, and Thy Light, O Lord, hath been signed upon us, who hymn Thee with understanding: Thou hast come, Thou hast appeared, O Light Unapproachable!

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