Rising Up Through the Cracks

Greetings on the Afterfeast of the Ascension!

I’m always rooting for those hardy Sweet Alyssum seed volunteers (dispersed from last year’s window-boxes) that rise up through the cracks in our patio walkway! They emerge. They flourish. Their appearance softens and beautifies the terrace flagstones. They become part of the whole.

A reward is bestowed for a conflict, and no one speaks of a victory where there is no struggle. ~ St. Isaac the Syrian

Do not be cast down over the struggle – the Lord loves a brave warrior. The Lord loves the soul that is valiant. ~ St. Silouan the Athonite

The heavier the burdens we’ve got to lift in this world, the greater God’s blessing will be… ~ Elder Symeon Kragiopoulos

Don’t let anything deprive you of Hope. ~ St. Nektarios of Aegina

Like impossibly fragile plants, people too (with God’s help), become as valiant Seedlings of Light… breaking through seemingly impossible barriers – to grow, and flourish, despite whatever they’re buried beneath.

Nature’s resilience is amazing.

People’s resilience is astounding!

Jesus said… “with God all things are possible.” ~ Matthew 19:26

May we too, with the help of Creation’s Planter, ascend like the fragrant, sweet alyssum, to blossom forth – through the personal flagstones of life!

Infinity Within

Holy Gospel Book, brass covered, depicts an Icon of the Resurrection of Christ. The Gospel (in Greek “ευαγγέλιο” means “good news”) and is the timeless record of Christ’s life and teaching as written by the four Evangelists, Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, also seen in each of the cover’s four corners.

The Christian journey is not just a journey to theosis [a transformative process whose aim is likeness to or union with God, and the purpose of human life], but also a journey to a greater awareness of the theosis already given us in baptism and chrismation… So, in the light of your baptism, praying for a spirit of repentance will fairly soon show you an absolute infinity within you, and it’s a little terrifying. But one step at a time. ~ Nicholas Kotar

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

Christ is Our Peace

Christ is Born!

Christ is our peace… ~ Ephesians 2:14

Peace has a Heavenly Perfume

All anxiety disappears. This is the aim of the Orthodox way of life… To put God first and seek the Holy Spirit. The anxieties of modern life are only symptoms of our separation from God. ~St. Paisios the Athonite

Whatever gentleness you use in speaking with others, that very same gentleness will Christ use with you. ~ St. Joseph the Hesychast

This life is nothing but to prepare for the Eternal life. If eternal life is a whole ocean, this life is a drop of the ocean, but on this drop, depends our eternal life. ~ Elder Dositheos

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Georgia – shared by Garret

Greetings on the upcoming Feast of St. Basil’s Day tomorrow!

As we celebrate St. Basil the Great’s Day and attend that liturgy, we also remember his many miracles, and perhaps bake the very special and traditional – “Vasilopita” Cake, which commemorates one of his miracles in particular.

Words are truly the image of the soul. The time for prayer is one’s whole life. ~ St. Basil the Great

Congratulations on your Saint’s Day today Melania! (Dec. 31/Jan. 13) God grant you many years!

St. Melania (service); Monastery on Mull, Scotland

May your day be filled with God’s plentiful Blessings, and with His Peace from Above – which surpasses all understanding!

Glorify Him!

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!

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!

The Whys and Hows

Icon of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ

Christ is Risen! Greetings on Thomas Sunday!

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. ~St. John 20:29

I do love hearing that passage and the Lord Himself saying with timeless inclusiveness… blessed are those who have believed without seeing! He’s also referring to us! Right now!

Today, weather permitting, our parish will visit two cemeteries after Liturgy, and the priest will bless the graves of parishioners who’ve fallen asleep in the Lord. These Radonitsa Prayers are short, beautiful, and concluded with the Bright and Joyous singing of Paschal hymns at each grave site.

Another sweet consolation…

After our death, when we come face to face with Christ, we will understand the why and how of our lives and we will be told everything we went through in this world. Then, with all the power of our existence, we will say to Him, “Thank you my God, for allowing these for me!” ~ St. Paisios the Athonite

Truly He is Risen!

Branches of Inner Stillness

Photo shared by Irena

Silence fosters stillness; it is indispensable for stillness. Inner stillness, however, goes beyond silence insofar as its aim is to purify the heart and issue in pure prayer. That purification involves the body in its entirety, because body and soul, like mind and heart, are ultimately inseparable. In the words of St. Mark the Ascetic, “The intellect cannot be still unless the body is still also; and the wall between them cannot be demolished without stillness and prayer.” Silence is the prerequisite for inner stillness, and only inner stillness enables us truly to listen to God, to hear His voice, and to commune with Him in the depths of our being. Yet silence and stillness are, like prayer itself, gifts that God can and wants to bestow upon us. The greatest truth about us is that God has created us with a profound longing, a burning thirst for communion with Himself. We can easily pervert that longing into an idolatrous quest for something other than God. Yet God remains faithful even in our times of apostasy. Like the father of the Prodigal Son, He always awaits our return. Once we begin that journey homeward, through repentance and an ongoing struggle against our most destructive passions, God reaches out to embrace, to forgive and to heal all that is broken, wounded and wasted. He reaches into the very fabric of our life, to restore within us the sublime image in which we were made… ~ Fr. John Breck

It’s coming to that amazing time again of recharging our spiritual batteries together. With purpose, we prepare our own humble journeys home to the Greatest Christian Feast of Feasts, Holy Pascha (Easter), the Resurrection of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Travelling the quiet routes of the Great Lenten roads ahead, we choose to make bright efforts in good faith, and to the best of our abilities. Our dear Lord desires us to come to Him and fill us with good things… now and forever!

Tomorrow is an invitation of God’s Grace.

Tomorrow is Forgiveness Sunday.

However, today, I bow to you in spirit, bending the knees of my heart, and ask you to please forgive me.

God forgives!

Isn’t that beyond wonderful? God FORGIVES!

May your upcoming Lenten Journey be Peaceful… and may your Branches of Inner Stillness bear Good Fruit.

With Love in Christ.

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