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


St. Caedmon’s Day Greetings

Thank you Fr. Serafim Mull Monastery for kind permission to use St. Caedmon’s Icon.

O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth. ~ Psalm 96:1

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; ~ Ephesians 5:19

…a psalm is the work of angels, a heavenly institution, the spiritual incense. ~ St. Basil the Great

Today is St. Caedmon’s Day! This 7th British Saint heard angels sing and wrote the earliest English poem in existence.

It’s heart-piercingly beautiful, and after wading through these Latin, Northumbrian, West Saxon translations and sources of his work… I knew this poem was just aching to be adapted into a simpler, modern English read.

Sadly, no original music remains of St. Caedmon’s hymn, and alas and alack, I never found any olden West Saxon melodies to work with… They’re scarcer than hen’s teeth!

You can imagine how thrilling it was to encounter the ancient 13th century Byzantine Greek Chant, Defte Lai and know how the majestic melody would also suit the adaptation of St. Caedmon’s poem. It’s pure joy to reclaim Defte Lai’s ageless air for another venerable Orthodox Hymn.

One of St. Caedmon’s contemporaries was the Greek monastic – St. Theodore of Tarsus, who became the 8th Archbishop of Canterbury England, so my Byzantine nod isn’t too far removed.

Here’s the pdf sheet music for my 2022 adaptation and recording below of St. Caedmon’s Hymn.

3 chords used in this recording – while leaning on my ukulele crutch are: Fm; Cm; and B♭m

St. Caedmon’s Creation Hymn:

Come magnify Him,
Creator of the firmament,
Author of each and all,
And glorify His purpose;
Love, Invincible.

Come and honour Him,
Protector of Fair Paradise,
Holy, Mighty, Immortal,
Architect, Omnipotent;
Father of Glory.
Blessed, Timeless, Lord,
Thou hast established Thy wonders,
Before middle earth* was formed,
Or adorned with Thought of Mind;
Lord, God Almighty!

For the sons of men;
Thou formed the Roof of Heaven!

* Middle earth (not just a Tolkien invention)- it means the world, the middle enclosure – which exists between heaven and hell. From Middle English middel-erde, and Old English middangeard.

Through the Holy Prayers of St. Caedmon, may we – through the Wonderful Mystery of Creation, magnify our Blessed and Timeless Lord!

Through Stillness

Image by John from Pixabay

Monastery in Meteora, Greece

When you go forth, guard what you have gathered. When the cage is opened, the birds fly out. And then we shall find no further profit in stillness. ~ St. John Climacus (The Ladder of Divine Ascent)

Love of God proceeds from conversing with him; this conversation of prayer comes about through stillness, and stillness comes with the stripping away of the self.  ~ St. Isaac the Syrian (The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life)

True wisdom is gazing at God. Gazing at God is silence of the thoughts. Stillness of mind is tranquillity which comes from discernment.  ~ St. Isaac the Syrian (Homily 64)

Angelic Efforts

Progress on Altar Angel by Parish Mosaicists based on detail from background angels of a 6th century icon at the ancient St. Catherine’s Monastery of Mt. Sinai.

When we once begin to form good resolutions, God gives us every opportunity of carrying them out. ~ St. John Chrysostom

You can set up an altar to God in your minds by means of prayer. And so it is fitting to pray at your trade, on a journey, standing at a counter or sitting at your handicraft. ~ St. John Chrysostom

Do not be surprised that you fall every day; do not give up, but stand your ground courageously. And assuredly, the angel who guards you will honour your patience. ~ St. John Chrysostom

We all do nearly nothing – some a little more, some a little less. When Christ sees our little effort, He gives us an analogous [matching] token; and so our “nearly nothing” becomes valuable, and we can see a little progress. For this reason we must not despair, but hope in God. ~ Elder Paisios of Mount Athos

Happiness is Found Within Ourselves

Happiness is found within ourselves, and blessed is the man who has understood this. Happiness is a pure heart, for such a heart becomes the throne of God. Thus says Christ of those who have pure hearts: “I will visit them, and will walk in them, and I will be a God to them, and they will be my people.” (II Cor. 6:16) What can be lacking to them? Nothing, nothing at all! For they have the greatest good in their hearts: God Himself! ~ St. Nektarios of Aegina

… the human heart, along with the mind, is an organ of knowledge. And the knowledge of the heart is higher than the knowledge of the mind. ~ St. Luke of Crimea

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. ~ Psalm 51:10

Budding Promises

Rose from Pixabay ~SchneeKnirschen

Rosebuds contain mysterious layers of hidden beauty. Immature buds have no perfume until they mature and bloom. Upon fruition, they radiate a myriad of fragrances which correspond to their various transformations. All buds promise the possibility of flowers, and fill us with joy, hope, and reflections of Sonshine.

For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; ~ 2 Corinthians 2:15

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. ~Ephesians 5:1-2

Oil and perfume make the heart glad, So a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend. ~ Proverbs 27:9

Your mind is the garden, your thoughts are the seeds, the harvest can either be flowers or weeds. ~ William Wordsworth

As From One Great Heart

You cannot pray at home, like you can at church, where there is a great multitude; where exclamations are cried out to God as from one great heart, and where there is something more: the unions of minds, the accord of souls, the bond of charity, the prayers of priests. ~ St. John Chrysostom

The Church, through the temple and Divine service, acts upon the entire man, educates him wholly; acts upon his sight, hearing, smelling, feeling, taste, imagination, mind, and will, by the splendour of the icons and of the whole temple, by the ringing of the bells, by the singing of the choir, by the fragrance of the incense, the kissing of the Gospel, of the cross and the holy icons, by the prosphoras, the singing, and sweet sound of readings of the Scriptures. ~St. John of Kronstadt

We ought to have the most lively spiritual union with the heavenly inhabitants, with all the saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs, prelates, venerable and righteous men, as they are all members of one single body, The Church of Christ, to which we sinners also belong, and the living Head of which is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. This is why we call upon them in prayer, converse with them, thank and praise them. It is urgently necessary for all Christians to be in union with them, if they desire to make Christian progress; for the saints are our friends, our guides to salvation, who pray and intercede for us. ~ St. John of Kronstadt

The Great Mystery of Him

Wild Backyard Poppy

…Whenever you discern something… which is a revelation of harmony and beauty, emphasize it and help it to flower. Strengthen it and encourage it to live. ~ Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

In love did He bring the world into existence; in love does He guide it during this its temporal existence; in love is He going to bring it to that wondrous transformed state, and in love will the world be swallowed up in the great mystery of Him who has performed all these things; in love will the whole course of the governance of creation be finally comprised. And since in the New World the Creator’s love rules over all rational nature, the wonder at His mysteries that will be revealed then will captivate to itself the intellect of all rational beings whom He has created so that they might have delight in Him, whether they be evil or whether they be just. ~ St. Isaac of Syria

The soul leaves all surface appearances, not only those that can be grasped by the senses but also those which the mind itself seems to see, and it keeps going deeper until by the operation of the spirit it penetrates the invisible and incomprehensible, and it is there that it sees God. The true vision and the true knowledge of what we seek consists precisely in not seeing, in an awareness that our goal transcends all knowledge… ~ St. Gregory of Nyssa

To the Pure

To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; both their minds and their consciences are defiled. ~ Titus 1:15

He who busies himself with the sins of others, or judges his brother on suspicion, has not yet even begun to repent or to examine himself so as to discover his own sins ~ St Maximus the Confessor

Never confuse the person, formed in the image of God, with the evil that is in him: because evil is but a chance misfortune, an illness, a devilish reverie. But the very essence of the person is the image of God, and this remains in him despite every disfigurement. ~ St. John of Kronstadt

Thoughts are like airplanes flying in the air. If you ignore them, there is no problem. If you pay attention to them, you create an airport inside your mind and permit them to land! ~ St. Paisios of Mt. Athos

Spiritual Vitamins

St. Nicholas Orphanos Church – Thessaloniki, Greece 2008

Christ is Risen!

Read often and insatiably the books of the teachers of the Church on divine providence, for they lead the mind to discern the order in God’s creatures and His actions, give it strength, and by their subtleness they prepare it to acquire luminous intuitions and guide it in purity toward the understanding of God’s creatures. Read also the Gospels, which God ordained for knowledge for the whole world, that you may find provisions for your journey in the might of God’s providence for every generation, and that your intellect may plunge deeply into wonder at Him. Such reading furthers your aim. Let your reading be done in a stillness which nothing disturbs… Reading assists the soul when she stands in prayer… From reading the soul is enlightened in prayer… Whenever it happens to you that your soul is shrouded by thick darkness from within and… for a brief time is deprived of spiritual comfort and the light of grace on account of the cloud of passions that overshadows her; and further, that the joy-producing power in your soul is curtailed for a little, and your mind is overshadowed by an unwonted mist: then do not be troubled in mind, do not lend a hand to despondency. But be patient, be engaged in reading the books of the Doctors of the Church, compel yourself in prayer, and expect to receive help. ~ St. Isaac the Syrian

The various patristic texts, which thank God are available by the thousands today, are very helpful. One can find whatever one needs and desires in these books. They are authentic spiritual nourishment and a sure guide on the spiritual path. However, in order to be of benefit to us, they have to be read with humility and prayer… We do not need great knowledge to be devout. If we concentrate and ponder on the few things we know, our heart will be spiritually embroidered. One may be profoundly affected by a single hymn, while another may feel nothing, even though he may know all the hymns by heart, as he has not entered into the spiritual reality. So, read the Fathers, even one or two lines a day. They are very strengthening vitamins for the soul. ~Elder Paisios the Athonite

Truly He is risen!

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