Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. ~ Hebrews 13:8
What a joyful consolation … especially with the constant change in our lives!
I love you, O Lord, my strength. ~ Psalm 18:1
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. ~ Psalm 100:1-2
Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light… ~ Psalm 148
Let every thing that has breath Praise the Lord! ~ Psalm 150
Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” ~ St. John 20:29 (This blessing includes us – today!)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ~ Philippians 4:13
…be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Ephesians 5:18-20
If you ever have the chance to watch the classic 1963 movie: Lilies of the Field… do! It’s a heart-warming story starring Sidney Poitier as Homer Smith – a staunch Baptist, who winds up in Arizona, crossing paths with a convent of destitute nuns who emigrated from Eastern Europe.
The simple, contagiously joyful song Amen featured in the movie is an easy warm up I sometimes use at Youth Choir rehearsal, before turning it into a three-part “round”. The effect is amazing. We sing therepeated “one-word-prayer” Amen (just the part which the nuns sing in the movie) but use the softer sounding Awh-men pronunciation.
Over the years, the youth choir share they’ve often found themselves singing or humming this happy little piece (along with other psalmody of course) at unexpected times. Including… getting up for a glass of water in the middle of the night, or doing daily house chores, or driving in the family car on long, long, road trips!
Happy Summer! Amen!
Before praising God in private, before psalmody is truly prayerful, the song of the lips must first become the song of the soul. ~ Anonymous
Jesus Christ has taken the world of our sins upon Himself.
For this cause He came into the world…
For this New Beginning!
Do not lament Me, O Mother, Seeing Me in the tomb, The Son conceived in the womb without seed, For I shall arise, And be glorified with eternal glory as God. I shall exalt all who magnify thee in faith and in love. ~ Ode 9, Holy Saturday Canon
Why Did Jesus Die on the Cross? Because of God’s great Love, He did something so special for each one of us. It‘s almost too amazing to even try and think about it! When we love someone very much, we help them as much as we can – without thinking how hard it might be for ourselves to do this. Through Adam and Eve, the first created man and woman, sin entered the world, and now we all sin. There are big sins and little sins, but everyone sins, and any sin separates us from God. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, willingly took all the sins of everyone ever born, which means, you, me, the whole world, and took all these sins upon Himself; because sin separates us from God. When Jesus died and was buried, all our sins died and were buried too. We also remember this at our Baptism. We are now forgiven because of what Jesus did for us on the cross! Jesus loves us so much! And, even if you were the ONLY person living in the whole world, Jesus still would have done this – just for you! Just for one person, because He knows each one of us and loves us all so much! And, because He is the Son of God- He arose victorious, from the dead! “Trampling down death, by death!” This is why we no longer fear death, for death is a new beginning, a new and Eternal Life with God. ~ The Ark Youth Quarterly – St. Sophia Orthodox Church
Patient endurance kills the despair that kills the soul; it teaches the soul to take comfort and not to grow listless in the face of its many battles and afflictions. ~ St. Peter of Damaskos; Philokalia
He who endures distress, will be granted joys; and he who bears with unpleasant things, will not be deprived of the pleasant. ~ St. Nilus of Sinai
Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.~ James 5:11
Don’t let anything deprive you of hope. ~ St. Nektarios of Aegina
God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them. 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. What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. ~ C.S. Lewis
We are all broken, Regardless of sufferings Or disappointments.
It is Christ Who heals, Whom we are called to follow… Throughout life’s trials.
The Lord strengthens us To find meaning and purpose In painful struggles –
Patiently He waits For us to open the door Of our hearts for help…
To live, thrive, and soar High above heedless failures… Of world, body, soul.
Patient Endurance is not simply placid acceptance of waiting around and just hoping things get better on their own. No! Patient Endurance is our Cross. Patient Endurance is ACTION and EFFORT. Patient Endurance requires taking one small step and then another, and then another… Patient Endurance keeps moving forward, and involves personal, consistent reaching out to God for help. It involves prayer… us talking to Him, sharing our ups and downs… thanking Him for our banes and blessings… thanking Him for hearing us, for His Love, and that weknowand acceptHe will answer us in His Good and Perfect Time – with what is best for us. Patient Endurance keeps the Spiritual Communication Lines open!
He waits patiently.
Greeting you with Hope and Love in Christ.
Keep looking up! There’s Sonshine above those stormy clouds!
Detail of the Nativity Icon brings to mind the Nativity Kontakion (Short Hymn of a Feast): Today a Virgin giveth birth unto the Supersubstantial, and earth offereth a cavern to the Unapproachable, angels together with shepherds sing praises, the Wise Men journey on with the Star. For, for our sakes, God Who is before all the ages, is born a little Child. ~ 5th Century St. Romanus the Melodist
MeriġeCrīstesmæsse is an ancient salutation from pre-12th century Old English, which meant a “BlessedChrist’s Mass.” Today MeriġeCrīstesmæsse has morphed into the joyful Seasonal Greeting of Merry Christmas, or Happy Christmas!
Christ is Born! Give ye glory! Christ comes from heaven meet ye Him! Christ is on earth be ye exalted, O all the earth sing unto the Lord, and sing praises in gladness O ye people, for He hath been glorified. ~ Ode 1 of the NativityCanon
In keeping with the situation… Here is a beautiful, a cappella Nativity Folk Carol, “Heaven and Earth” as recorded by our parish in 2014.
Orthodoxy is a faith that is deep enough to allow her believers to confront the complexities of our human experience, while at the same time recognizing that not all is understood in this life, but viewed as a Mystery. So, the view that believers never doubt, is simply not true. Doubt is not the opposite of faith, but rather the vehicle by which we are challenged to go deeper into the Mystery that is true faith. Nothing keeps we true believers from struggling with uncertainty, for it is this very uncertainty that keeps us from complacency. Complacency is the true enemy of faith, and the inhibitor of spiritual growth. It is complacency that keeps us from the Kingdom of God, and the joy that comes when we are in Communion with Christ. It is not a question of choosing sides, but of surrendering to Divine Wisdom. ~ Abbot Tryphon
In the mystical theology of the Orthodox Church, Wisdom is understood as the Divine Logos (God the Word), Who became Incarnate as Jesus Christ. In Greek, Ἁγία Σοφία (Hagia Sophia) is defined “Holy Wisdom” meaning “Jesus Christ”…The Wisdom and Power of God. ~ 1 Corinthians 1: 24,30; 1 Corinthians 2:7
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made… And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us; and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth… No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him. ~ First chapter of 1 John
Shared by a friend… Some Aspects of Surrendering to Divine Wisdom
Surrender = Conscious, Willing, Choice. Surrender = Unconditional Seeking Refuge within the Divine. Surrender = Faith. Surrender = Effort. Surrender = Hope. Surrender = Love. Surrender = Trust. Surrender = Strength. Surrender = Recognizing Blessings. Surrender = Gratitude, Thankfulness. Surrender = Action with Consistent Prayer. Surrender = Communication. Surrender = Understanding that Christ Knows What’s Best For Us.
Accepting God’s Will = Learning to let go, andlet God!
Illuminated behind an olive oil lampada, is detail from the icon of St. John the Baptist and Forerunner, with his hands pointing us in the direction to find Christ, the Light of the World.
Jesus the Christ who was born in the flesh once for all of us, desires to be born again in the spirit in those who desire Him. In each of us, He again becomes a child in the womb of our soul and forms Himself from the virtues. He reveals as much of Himself as He knows each of us can accept. Let us contemplate the mystery of the Incarnation and in simplicity praise Him who became man for us. Faith alone can embrace these mysteries, for it is faith that makes real for us things that are beyond intellect and reason. ~ St. Maximus the Confessor (Philokalia, Vol. 2)
When we are coming to church what are we looking for? Fish in the desert? No, we are looking for that hidden “inward meditation” of the heart which unites us to Christ… The same thing happens in the church where you are mystically and sacramentally united with Christ. In and through your inner meditation on these things they will become a reality… In order to find Him strive to enter into that hidden, inner meditation and you’ll see that He’ll come of His own accord. You’ll see the heavy stone roll away from your heart and He Himself will rise! ~ Elder Aimilianos (The Way of the Spirit)
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