Christ is Risen!

About the Iconshowing that Christ’s redemption transcends time and space. This is an act that happened in the past, is happening right now, and will happen in the future. Christ is always in the state of redeeming and setting us free!

…Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. ~ St. John 18:37

For our Orthodox Pascha is not just a festival, but the Festival of all festivals, an event for exceeding all the events of this world. Pascha shakes the whole cosmos: the sun, by our faith, dances and becomes iridescent with every colour of the rainbow, and all of creation rejoices. Some observe a magnificent silence, lacking the strength to express the inexpressible feeling of Paschal joy which fills their souls. Others hasten to share their feeling of the Paschal triumph. All people and all things begin to move, the tedious vanities of this world are cast aside, and all are transfigured. Pascha is, first of all, in us ourselves, in our hearts. God’s gift of the feeling of love penetrates our whole being, and we love each person and all things. This relates not just to the animal kingdom, but to the whole of creation, extending to the smallest blade of grass and the smallest flower. Nothing escapes our loving attention. May the Lord help us all to keep ourselves like this, for as such did the Lord create us… ~ Paschal Epistle excerpt of Metropolitan Vitaly – May, 2000; The Two Thousandth Pascha of Christ.

🎵 Paschal Tropar English sung by Parish 2024 (1:17)

🎵 Paschal Tropar Greek sung by Parish 2024 (2:15)

🎵 Paschal Tropar Slavonic sung by Parish 2024 (0:35)

The Healing Strength of Tears

On a recent gray day, raindrops on our patio’s Montana Clematis reminded me of tears.

There are tears that burn and there are tears that anoint as oil. ~ St. Isaac the Syrian (Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian)

True tears, flowing from love for God, possess such power. Greater than Baptism itself is the fountain of tears after Baptism. ~ St. John Climacus

When said with pain, the prayer gives birth to mourning. Mourning brings tears. Tears in turn give birth to purer prayer. For tears like a fragrant myrrh wash away the filth, and thus the inbreathing of God is cleansed, which like a dove is confined within four walls, as if made of the four elements… And then, as soon as the walls break down and collapse, the dove immediately flies to the Father whence it came. ~ St. Joseph the Hesychast

You know how troubled I am; you have kept a record of my tears. Aren’t they listed in your book? The day I call to you, my enemies will be turned back. Because I know God is on my side. ~ Psalm 56:8-9

All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you. ~ Psalm 38:9

Everyone has heartache. That’s part of life, and there are many kinds of tears. There are tears of sorrow, contrition, and frustration… to name a few. There are also good, and joyful nourishing tears of gratitude that flow from the love of God.

Accept the fountain of my tears, Thou who dost gather the waters of the sea to clouds... ~ Hymn of Kassiani

Standing in front of an holy icon, and looking into the eyes of our Saviour or His Most Pure Mother, or our Patron Saint…. our tears can become prayers when we can’t speak. Tears bring us back to God, closer to God.

A place without sorrows can only be in the heart, when the Lord is within it. ~ St. Nikon of Optina

May we bathe more often in the sweet consolation of prayerful tears and God’s holy, healing, spiritual myrrh. Both now and ever.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. ~ St. Matthew 11:28-30

Throwing Ourselves

Detail of the Christ Child in the Orans Icon

Let us open our arms and throw ourselves into 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)

…Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. ~ St. Matthew 18:3

…And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. ~ St. Matthew 28:20

Pray like a child, in simplicity of heart, concerning all your needs and sorrows, and entrust yourself to God’s Will, for the Lord arranges our salvation. ~ St. Nikon

May we, like trusting children, remember (more often), to run with the outstretched arms of our soul – and hurl ourselves into the warm, comforting Embrace of Christ’s Everlasting Arms!

He’s patiently and lovingly waiting.

For us.

Right now.

Ocean of Love

Detail of Shell Mosaic, Angel Wing, by Marie

…whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! ~ Psalm 8:8-9

When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you… the hard trials that come will not hurt you. ~ Isaiah 43:2

The soul cannot get enough of beholding the beauty of nature. Oh, if man would only lift his mind above this earthly realm to the Heavenly Jerusalem, to the inconceivable beauty of Paradise where the finite, earthly mind ceases to operate… There every saved soul will live in an ocean of love, sweetness, joy, amazement, and wonder! ~ Elder Ephraim, Arizona Monastery


Crown Them With Glory & Honour!

Detail of one of the Wedding Crowns and wedding rings.

What a joyful and magnificent day yesterday!

When two people get married, it’s as if they’re saying: Together we will go forward, hand in hand, through good times and bad… But in the depths of the night, we continue to believe in the sun and the light. ~ Elder Aimilianos of Mt. Athos

May God God grant Seraphim and Helena many years, as they embark upon the dance of life together… wherever they are!

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

His Infinite, Unconditional, Love

Hanalei Church windows absorb and reflect the early evening’s Divine, Gladsome Light.

God is everywhere. There is no place God is not…You cry out to Him, ‘Where art Thou, my God?’ And He answers, “I am present, my child! I am always beside you.’ Both inside and outside, above and below, wherever you turn, everything shouts, ‘God!’ In Him we live and move. We breathe God, we eat God, we clothe ourselves with God. Everything praises and blesses God. All of creation shouts His praise. Everything animate and inanimate speaks wondrously and glorifies the Creator. Let every breath praise the Lord! ~ St. Joseph the Hesychast

We can only meet God in the present moment. This is an area where God chooses to place limits on His own power. We choose whether or not to live in the present moment. Because we can encounter God only in that present moment, whenever we live in the past or in the future, we place ourselves beyond His reach. ~ Archimandrite Meletios (Webber) 

I cannot reflect on what is past, because I live in the present moment… Yesterday does not exist. Tomorrow belongs to God, as yesterday did… So I keep quiet in God’s Eternal Present!... ….By living in yesterday we delay tomorrow’s march. We cannot live in the past which does not exist, and so give it existence it does not have… ~ St. Gavrilia (Gerontissa Gavrilia)

What has happened has happened, it is in the past. Just keep on going, all the while asking for help from God. ~ Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

We slip.
We fall.
We pull ourselves up again.
We persevere.
We keep walking toward God.
We focus forward.
We don’t look back.

God is right here! Right now!

We are so blessed!

God loves us! Infinitely! Unconditionally!

He loves us SO much that He’s given us free will in every aspect of our life, and won’t interfere at all, unless we choose to ask Him in, and wrap ourselves in the Eternal Present of God.

May your path today be Divinely Inclusive, and imbued with His Illuminating Light!

With love in Christ.

A Shining New Saint!

Mother Gavrilia (Gabriela) Public Domain Photo from OrthodoxWiki

It gave me the greatest joy to learn yesterday (October 3, 2023), that Eldress (Gerontissa) Mother Gavrilia was canonized a saint!

Her Feast Day is the date of her Heavenly Birthday, March 28th.

Our Venerable and God-bearing Mother Gavrilia the New Ascetic of Love has been added to the Synaxarion.

While it’s “official” now… I’m thrilled, as she has helped me and so many others “unofficially” – for quite some time.

Her inspiring, joyful quotes are salt and peppered throughout Blisswood, flavouring the various postings. (View by the “Gerontissa Gavrilia quote” tag in other posts)

Although this amazing, inspiring, book is currently and sadly out of print, I highly recommended it at a recent parish sisterhood meeting.

Given that Mother Gavrilia was just canonized, God-Willing, there may well be new publication(s) of this book!

Added new note November 29, 2023: Yes you may order the new editions here through Not of This World Icons and Books at Holy Dormition Orthodox Church!


It was a delight reading this conglomerate of practical, encouraging letters to laypeople and friends over the decades, including priceless, pearls of wisdom to her fellow nuns, when she later became a monastic in her 60’s.

Mother Gavrilia saw Christ in everyone, and was imbued with sincere, simple, Christian love… a verdant, precious example to other Orthodox Christians and to those of different faiths.

She LIVED her Faith in Pure Love.

Now the worker of love the revered ascetic Gabriela, who is our aid in misfortune and succour in mortal hardship, the missionary of Christ, let us be wakeful in offering her impressionable hymns, that she may entreat the Creator on our behalf who bless her. ~ Apolytikion in Plagal of the Fifth Tone

Fervent love joined with humility, you lived in the world but lived outside the world, praying and offering herself as a sacrifice to Christ, to her we ardently sing hymns, the divinely luminous Gabriela, the ascetic, crying out with longing: Rejoice, mother inspired by God. ~ Kontakion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone

A bright lamp and ray of missionaries, a new boast of ascetics, for your fiery love towards your neighbour, we cry out to you with longing, Gabriela. ~ Megalynarion

She is now closer than ever!

Reach out to her and she will come quickly and lovingly to your aid… leaving the Peace from Above and Joy in her wake.

Through the holy intercessions of our Venerable and God-bearing Mother Gavrilia the New Ascetic of Love, O Christ our God, have mercy on us, and save us!

Amen.

Feathered Foresight

Image by garten-gg Pixabay

Birds form a circle around the earth. Wherever we go, they remind us of the same things. The cuckoo cries: Wake up… wake up… to remind us of saying our morning prayer. The turtle-dove coos: We’re pilgrims… We’re pilgrims… for us to remember that we are just passing pilgrims on His Earth. And the crow crows: Pray… Pray… to remind us of praying all the time. ~Gerontissa Gavrilia

The Lord gave us as an example of unconcern – the birds of the sky – not humans… When the twig on which it is perching breaks, the little bird, without being alarmed, opens its wings and flies away. Likewise, when the support of our feet collapses, Faith and Hope in God give us the strength and joy to fly away. ~Gerontissa Gavrilia

We should follow the example of the birds. They’re always joyful, whereas we’re always bothered by something. ~Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

Image by Jon Pauling from Pixabay

May the Memory of Trees…

Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees in Lihu’e-Koloa’a Forest Reserve ~ Kauai 2023

Happy Saint’s Day matushka Nataliya! Congratulations, and may God grant you many years!

Casually, one day, she told us that every morning she was having a “little chat with her young tree”. Another time she said that if we got tired walking, we could stop near a tree and touch its trunk: “It will gladly give you some of the strength God gives it”… ~ Gerontissa Gavrilia

After many years I returned to Kauai, and stood once again in a wondrous, tropical Blisswood grove!

Stunning eucalyptus trees thrive in the Lihu’e Koloa’a Forest Reserve… and here, one may curiously discover how refreshing it is to touch those resplendent rainbow trunks.

As my gaze travelled skyward to the tree’s crowning branches, they seemed as graceful arms raised aloft in praise to Creation’s Planter.

Antiphonal Birdsong echoed throughout the forest arboretum. Delicate leaves attached to the trees’ twiggy fingers whispered to each other in the warm trade winds.

Some leaves were loosened, and as if seeming to accept that this was their time, fluttered down trustingly to the ground. A breeze quickly stirred them up again, and with apparent joyful abandon they tumbled away, end-over-end, deeper into the forest… a dance of affirmation and benediction.

I hope to carry this beautiful memory of God’s Creation in my soul, for a long, long, time.

These trees gladdened my heart. They gifted me anew with a peaceful, vibrant jewel of strength, to which I must carefully string yet one more gem of gratitude to the growing strand of a personal, noetic necklace which I sometimes forget to wear… or appreciate.

May we live in more awareness of the Divine Moment and Nature’s Numinous Wisdom – proving His Glorious Presence.

Let all the trees of the forest dance and sing, let all the trees clap their hands. ~ Sunday of the Cross

With Love in Christ.

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