Festal Blessings of the Heart

Veneration of the Cross, Third Sunday in Great Lent, coincided this year with the set Feast of the Annunciation, on April 7th. The Precious Cross was decorated in traditional red colours… using roses and carnations. However, and alas, even after scouring the grocery store, there was no fresh basil (also traditional to use when decorating the Cross) to be found. So, from our garden, fragrant pink pieris japonica and white viburnum were added.

Yesterday, the morning sun danced and blazed brightly on my face. I closed my eyes to bask in its warmth.

Antiphonal chirps and trills of birdsong resounded. At the raucous cry of a seagull overhead, I opened my eyes and smiled at the added ambience.

Not to be outdone, budding catkins nodded vehemently over the top of the pergola, each fuzzy leaflet highlighted with a tiny halo of luminous, Gladsome Light. I desperately wanted to run and grab my phone camera to catch this breathtaking beauty… but knew the special light would change in a second or two, and I would forever lose the moment – without being in the moment. I took a picture instead… with my mind’s eye, and can see this sight even now as I type. I hope to remember it forever.

From the porch roof, remnants of raindrops stubbornly clung as lustrous, pearly, stalactites, until they chose to let go. Their occasional drips echoed as muffled percussion on the patio flagstones below, perfectly complimenting the surrounding avian symphony.

And the trees! With branches lifted skyward as if in supplication, they swayed and danced with expressive abandon (as only trees can in a festal morning wind)… kicking up their rooty heels with joy!

Stop. Look. Listen with your heart. Let it dance with the trees, in joy and gratitude at God’s Creation!

Let all the trees of the forest dance and sing, as they behold their fellow-tree, the Cross, today receiving veneration: for Christ, as holy David prophesied, has exalted it on high. I died through a tree, but I have found in thee a Tree of Life, O Cross of Christ. ~ Sunday of the Cross, 8th Ode

God is everywhere present and fills all things! The Three-Branched Cross of Christ is Life!

Alleluia and Amen!

Holy Consolation

Recent Visit of the Ancient (1259 AD), Miraculous Kursk Root Icon

Detail of Icon Without Cover

The Icon depicts the Theotokos of the Sign with the Christ Child before her. Her arms are outstretched. Above her is the Lord of Hosts and on either side and below are 9 prophets who wrote about the birth of Christ (clockwise, starting in the top right): King Solomon, Prophets Daniel, Jeremiah, Elijah, Habakkuk, Judge Gideon, Prophets Isaiah, Moses, and King David. The wooden Icon is covered with an intricately worked [protective] cover of blue and gold. ~ OrthodoxWiki

Even if you just lean your head on an Icon, you will find consolation. ~ St. Paisios the Athonite

Shared by a dear friend: “I came to venerate this Holy Icon with certain petitions already in mind for both physical and spiritual healing. But when I approached the Icon, overwhelming thoughts of the heartbreaking Russian war in Ukraine (and resulting divisions in the Orthodox world) engulfed me instead. All I could pray was one single word ‘Help.’ I laid my head on the Icon, much as a grieving child would upon their own mother’s bosom… and although it seemed I was there for quite some time (in reality – only several seconds), a Warm Wave of Consolation washed over me… a Spiritual Embrace. The next one-word prayer I offered was ‘Thank you’And I know that She’s sad too.”

Epilogue: I was also told a few days later, that a long-standing family issue my friend was going to especially pray for in front of the Icon (she had also been praying separately for), has miraculously been resolved!

Help and Thank You are two very simple, powerful, prayer words.

Our Most Holy Theotokos knows what we need even when words won’t suffice. When we turn to her with hope and faith, she always hears the wordless groaning of hearts.

O Most Holy Theotokos, thank you for your blessings – both known and unknown!

Dormition of St. Anna

Church Icons of The Most Holy Theotokos – Image by Iulia Radu from Pixabay

Greetings on this wonderful Feast! What a glorious day! Our priest brought a small relic of St. Anna (from Mt. Athos) this morning for the parish to venerate after Divine Liturgy. Blessed joy!

Greetings on the Dormition of St. Anna the mother of the Theotokos. (Julian Calendar July 25/Aug. 7)

Beautiful Icon of St. Anna

St. Anna (Ann or Anne, from Hebrew Hannah – means favour or grace) is descended from the lineage of King David, and the mother of the Virgin Mary, and grandmother of Jesus Christ. 

O Godly-minded Anna, thou didst give birth unto God’s pure Mother who conceived Him Who is our Life. Wherefore, thou hast now passed with joy to thy heavenly rest, wherein is the abode of them that rejoice in glory; and thou askest forgiveness of sins for them that honour thee with love, O ever-blessed one. ~ Troparia


The Orient From on High

Yesterday’s Dawn by Juliana T.

The Dayspring, the Dawn, the Sun of Righteousness, the Orient from on High, refers to our Lord God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

God Himself is called the Sun, (Psalm 84:11). As the Source of Light, and Light itself, God gives this same title to His only-begotten Son, who appears on earth as the Dawn of a new day… the Day of the Lord which enlightens those who sit in darkness and in the land of the shadow of death (Isaiah 9:2).

It is not without reason or by chance that we worship towards the East. But seeing that we are composed of a visible and an invisible nature, that is to say, of a nature partly of spirit and partly of sense, we render also a twofold worship to the Creator; just as we sing both with our spirit and our bodily lips, and are baptized with both water and Spirit, and are united with the Lord in a twofold manner, being sharers in the Mysteries and in the grace of the Spirit. Since, therefore, God is spiritual light, and Christ is called in the Scriptures Sun of Righteousness and Dayspring, the East is the direction that must be assigned to His worship. For everything good must be assigned to Him from Whom every good thing arises. Indeed the divine David also says, Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth: O sing praises unto the Lord: to Him that rideth upon the Heavens of heavens towards the East. Moreover the Scripture also says, And God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed: and when he had transgressed His command He expelled him and made him to dwell over against the delights of Paradise, which clearly is the West. So, then, we worship God seeking and striving after our old fatherland. Moreover the tent of Moses had its veil and mercy seat towards the East. Also the tribe of Judah as the most precious pitched their camp on the East. Also in the celebrated temple of Solomon, the Gate of the Lord was placed eastward. Moreover Christ, when He hung on the Cross, had His face turned towards the West, and so we worship, striving after Him. And when He was received again into Heaven He was borne towards the East, and thus His apostles worship Him, and thus He will come again in the way in which they beheld Him going towards Heaven; as the Lord Himself said, As the lightning cometh out of the East and shineth even unto the West, so also shall the coming of the Son of Man be. So, then, in expectation of His coming we worship towards the East. But this tradition of the apostles is unwritten. For much that has been handed down to us by tradition is unwritten. ~ St. John of Damascus

Christ, the Sun of righteousness (Malachi 4:2), is without beginning and pre-eternal. He is both immutable and unchangeable, as with Him there is no variableness, nor shadow of turning (James 1:17). He is without end, never-setting, beaming out the true and heavenly light of day without evening, in which the spirits of the righteousness live with the good angels. When this present age reaches its end, the righteous shall also have their bodies with them, as heirs of the light and sons of the true day. That day continues forever without evening, and neither has, nor ever did have, a morning, since it has no beginning. ~ St. Gregory Palamas

error: Content is protected !!