An Ancient Symbol of Prayer

Photo by Andriy Tod on Unsplash

Let my prayer be set forth as incense before thee. ~ Psalm 141:2

Recently, at an evening service, and through the golden glow of candlelight… smokey tendrils of incense swirled as wreaths of living halos about the holy icons, before wafting upwards as billowing clouds – the noetic breath of our prayers… and the setting sun’s beams pierced through the church windows to ignite the mosaics’ gold tessera like fiery embers. Immersed in all this spiritual beauty, my cup overflowed. It took my breath away.

I’d love to share these beautiful reminders listed from St. Vasilios Greek Orthodox Church – of the rich symbolism and significance of Church incense and the Censer.

What is the Censer?
The censer is a covered dish suspended on four chains. It is used to convey the fragrant smoke of the incense to holy objects. It’s parts represent all of God’s creation.

What does it represent?

  • The ring (symbol of eternity) represents GOD.
  • The top represents ‘Alpha’ (A) the beginning.
  • The four chains represent the Four Evangelists.
  • The twelve bells represent the Twelve Apostles, and their teaching.
  • The Cross reminds us of the cross of our Lord.
  • The top of the bowl represents the Heavens.
  • The firepot (where the incense and charcoal go) is the earth, and the charcoal is man who requires the fire of the Holy Spirit to give him light and life. We blow on the charcoal to set it afire just as God put life in man by breathing on him.
  • The bottom of the cup is the universe of which the earth is a part.
  • The base of the censer is the ‘Omega’ (Ω), the end.

May we continually blow breath to spark our own noetic charcoal – keeping it afire with the Love, Zeal, and the Fragrance of Christ.

Surfing the Chunder

Dawn Patrol on Kauai Beach – 2023
Chunder is a surfing term which means totally unsurfable waves.
Mullering means wiping out.

You don’t need to be polite with God, simply pour out your heart before Him. ~ Elder Sophrony of Essex

Never expect anyone to understand you, only God.
~ St. Gavrilia

I pray like this: “Father in heaven forgive me, Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me, Holy Spirit enlighten me.”
~ Gerontissa (Eldress) Galaktia

Let us remember
that pray’r is the first resort –
not the last resort!

🏄🏽‍♀️

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

Reverently & Peacefully

Golden Bamboo Grove, Kauai 2023

Photo Art Quote excerpt from the Morning Optina Elders’ Prayer. Full Prayer here.

Pray sincerely to the Heavenly Father; especially say the Lord’s Prayer, reverently, peacefully, not hurriedly: in general, read all the prayers quietly, evenly, with reverence, knowing before Whom you are saying them. ~ St. John of Kronstadt (My Life in Christ)

My Life in Christ is a wonderful book… bursting with practical and spiritual tidbits. One can pick it up at any time and read small portions. It’s like a great golden dollop of butter accompanying our Daily Bread. I highly recommend owning a copy of these spiritual yum yums!

May we all have good and mindful dealings with those who surround us today, whether in person – or thought! With love in Christ.

Hospital for Souls

Image by Peter H from Pixabay

The Church is a hospital, and not a courtroom, for souls. She does not condemn on behalf of sins, but grants remission of sins. ~ St. John Chrysostom

Prayer is the common medicine for purifying ourselves from the passions, for hindering sin and curing our faults. ~ St. Nektarios of Aegina

Just as a basic concern is to be careful of anything that might be harmful to our physical health, so our spiritual concern should watch out for anything that might harm our spiritual life and the work of faith and salvation. Therefore, carefully and attentively assess your inner impulses: are they from God or from the spirit of evil? ~St. John Maximovitch

As the Morning Light

Image by jplenio from Pixabay

And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain. ~ 2 Samuel 23:4

My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. ~ Psalm 5:3

…Joy cometh in the morning. ~ Psalm 30:5

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. ~ Psalm 118:24

Fractured Routines

While experiencing a broken leg it’s odd to think of such a thing as a blessing, but it is. Really.

Thankfully, I’m healing well, and the pain has mostly subsided. I shouldn’t whine, as the worst part now is just having to wear an aircast boot for a few more weeks… And not being independent.

With my physical limitations it’s bizarre… because I now WANT to do laundry or other household chores! If my leg was fine, there would be mental weeping and gnashing of teeth. Daily patience and acceptance levels also vary, according to either how sunny or rainy it is outside, or the quality of sleep from previous night.

Along with the upset to my other “pre-fractured” routines, I’ve observed that by not planning ahead, I’m rushing through morning prayers, trying to fit them in. If by plain forgetfulness they are overlooked, the resulting day acquires an unpleasant flavour… and the out-of-sorts attitude can always be traced back to this.

We are creatures of habit. Restructuring new and temporary morning routines is hard. A quote from my late godmother comes to mind. “But why shouldn’t the most worthwhile things be the most difficult?”

Of course, my present situation is a short-term inconvenience, while so many others have to contend with real struggles of a more permanent nature. I’m  very grateful to be surrounded by the care of loved ones.

What a joy and relief we can reach out to God anytime and rise (for awhile) above the frailties of our nature – whether physical and spiritual… girding us with His strength from on high.

Right here. Right now. Regardless.

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