St. Nicholas Day Greetings!

Happy, happy, St. Nicholas Day!

Our dear, Holy Father, St. Nicholas the Wonderworker and Archbishop of Myra and Lycia, was born circa 270 AD, and reposed around 343 AD.

He is the patron saint of travellers, children, orphans, widows, sailors, bankers, pawnbrokers, and victims of judicial mistakes.

Troparia to St. Nicholas (Tone 4): The truth of things revealed thee to thy flock, as a rule of faith, a model of meekness, and a teacher of abstinence, wherefore thou hast attained the heights through humility, and riches through poverty. O hierarch Nicholas our father, entreat Christ God that our souls be saved.

Kontakion to St. Nicholas (Tone 3): In Myra thou wast shown to be a performer of the sacred mysteries, O holy one, for, fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, thou didst lay down thy life for thy people, O venerable one, and didst save the innocent from death. Wherefore, thou hast been sanctified as a great initiate of the grace of God.

There is a lovely children’s tradition associated with the evening before St. Nicholas Day. Children leave their shoes outside their front door, and during the night, they’re filled with small gifts. (Canadian $1 “Loonies” make excellent “gold” coinage!)

Above’s a short St. Nicholas Children’s Carol, sung (a few years ago) after Liturgy by my GG’s (grand-girls) in front of the St. Nicholas icon, before heading home to tuck into a delicious slice of our family’s traditional St. Nicholas Day Pie!

Today’s not only St. Nicholas day, but we’re now also halfway through our Advent journey to Nativity! We’re on the home-stretch!

To this very day, St. Nicholas continues to help and protect us from misfortunes. He’s very close and attentive to the poor and destitute. St. Nicholas is only a prayer away.

Some more Modern Miracles of St. Nicholas.

St. Nicholas helps those who believe, to affirm their faith, and those who do not yet know God, to kindle in them the flame of faith... As the Lord makes the sun to shine upon all, whether good or evil, and the rain to fall upon all, and calls everyone to salvation and knowledge of the truth, so St. Nicholas does good deeds for those who do not know the true God in the hope that they will understand and turn to the Creator. ~ Metropolitan Onuphry of Ukraine

Wishing you a most blessed, bright, and happy feast day!

Perhaps, when next encountering someone needy, we may remember this wonderful Saint, and give alms.

If one doesn’t have money on themselves, then share a warm smile, or a kind greeting… as these are precious Gifts of Hope and Love.

Give Something, However Small…

Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

Give something, however small, to the one in need. For it is not small to the one who has nothing. Neither is it small to God, if we have given what we could. ~ St. Gregory Nazianzen

Someone recently shared; when they’re driving past a street person, they’ll pray for them with all their heart, “Lord have mercy on (that person or him or her).” A poignant consideration… perhaps that might be the only prayer offered on behalf of that soul for today – or ever.

If unexpectedly walking by someone in need, with nothing material to give at that moment, we can always share Christ’s Love – even through the joyful gift of a warm smile.

Good Deeds, however small, are never lost!

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. ~ St. Matthew 5:7


Clinging to the Lord

Golden, Lenten Lillies (Daffodils), peep out through the shelter of a neighbour’s fence.

Only the poor in spirit who cling to the Lord by prayer on account of the constant sense of their poverty and need are capable of discovering within themselves the greatness of the name of Jesus. ~ St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov), Bishop of the Caucasus and the Black Sea

May your Lenten Journey be peaceful and fruitful.

Eleos

Image by congerdesign Pixabay

Greetings on Clean Friday!

The word alms in Old English was aelmysse. In Latin – eleemosyna.

Alms in Greek is eleemosune – meaning compassion; while eleemon and eleos, also used for alms – imply mercy.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. ~ Matthew 5:7

A poor man when he reaches out to you does not beg, but offers you the Kingdom of God. ~ St. Arsenie Papacioc

He who gives alms in imitation of God does not discriminate between the wicked and the virtuous, the just and the unjust, when providing for men’s bodily needs. ~ St. Maximos the Confessor

Sins are purged by alms and acts of faith. ~ St. Clement of Alexandria

May your Lenten Journey be peaceful and fruitful.

St Geneviève of Paris

January 16/3 (423 -512 AD)

Happy Feast Day!

St. Geneviève’s reliquary at the church of St. Étienne du Mont (St. Stephen the Protomartyr of the Mount) in Paris, France -2006

There’s a special reason St. Simeon the Stylite and St. Geneviève are portrayed together in the Icon on the far wall.

General knowledge of St. Geneviève’s lifelong holiness, care for the poor, and miracles, became so widespread, that news of it reached her Syrian contemporary, St. Simeon the Stylite. He was inspired to send a delegation to Paris with greetings, asking her prayers for his salvation.

Throughout her life and prayerful intercessions to God, St. Geneviève helped protect Paris from an invasion by Attila the Hun, starvation during a Frankish siege, and plagues.

St. Geneviève’s icon usually depicts her with a candle, as sometimes when holding an unlit candle, it would miraculously ignite, and stay lit… even if outside, during wind or rainstorms.

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St. Geneviève had a particular devotion to an earlier saint… St. Dionysius the Areopagite. He was baptized by the Holy Apostle Paul, became the first Bishop of Paris, and was later martyred. St. Geneviève often visited the place of his martyrdom to pray, and later motivated the Parisians to have a church built over St. Dionysius’ and his fellow martyrs’ relics.

St. Geneviève and St. Dionysius the Areopagite (St. Denis of Paris), are the patron saints of Paris.

We only need to open our eyes to see the gifts that abound around us. These are the simple joys of life. ~ St. Geneviève

If we open our hearts to give love we are immediately transported into the joy and blessings of love. ~ St. Geneviève

The footsteps of an Angel in your life are Love. ~ St. Geneviève

Congratulations to a dear friend, whose patron saint is St. Geneviève. God grant you many years!

Happy 3rd Day of Christmas

Christ is Born!

Today we celebrate Righteous Joseph the Betrothed, protector of the Virgin Mary, as well as the Feast of St. Stephen the Archdeacon and Protomartyr.

St. Stephen was one of the seven original deacons of the Church, ordained by the Apostles to care for widows and the poor.

The eastern church observes St. Stephen’s Day on the third day of Nativity, and not on the second day, as western churches do. Since times of antiquity, on this day the Church Collection Boxes, of cash, food and clothing hampers were opened and given to the poor and needy... the Original meaning of Boxing Day!

Of course, it’s spiritually beneficial to distribute alms in the memory of a loved one, not only at Christmas, but on any day of the year. …Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing! Many have heard about the “Feast of St. Stephen” from Good King Wenceslasa carol set to a 13th century melody.

An Everyday Carol below – by 9th century St. Joseph the Hymnographercan be sung to the 13th century melody we know as Good King Wenceslas!

Christian friends, your voices raise, wake the day with gladness.

God Himself to joy and praise, turns our human sadness:

Joy that martyrs won their crown, opened heaven’s portal,

When they laid the mortal down, for the Life Immortal.

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Christians Love One Another

Floral Petal Confetti on Marble Mosaic Floor

…They never fail to help widows; they save orphans from those who would hurt them. If a man has something, he gives freely to the man who has nothing. If they see a stranger, Christians take him home and are happy, as though he were a real brother. They don’t consider themselves brothers in the usual sense, but brothers instead through the Spirit of God. And if they hear that one of them is in jail, or persecuted for professing the name of their redeemer, they all give him what he needs. If it is possible, they bail him out. If one of them is poor and there isn’t enough food to go around, they fast for several days to give him the food he needs. This is really a new kind of person. There is something divine in them… ~ Excerpt from Section XV , The Apology of St. Aristides from around the year 125, when Emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD) visited Athens, and was seeking justification to outlaw Christianity

Christian Love St. Matthew 22:37-39; St. John 13:34; St. John 13:35; St. John 15:12; St. John 15:17; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:11

Good Deeds are Never Lost

Japanese Anemone flower, a lovely and vigorous perennial that blooms late summer until first frost, providing a welcome splash of garden colour.

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. ~ Proverbs 16:24

A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love. ~ St. Basil the Great

Out and about on errands recently, we pulled into a shopping mall and parked outside a coffee shop. To save time, I nabbed the groceries while my husband picked up wine for dinner. When I returned to the car, my husband related how a street person gently approached him asking for spare change. He actually found several dollars worth of coin, handed it to the street person and asked him to accept it in memory of his deceased brother. The man nodded, took the coin, walked around the corner of the building – and returned several seconds later. A forgotten purse sat on an empty bistro table outside the cafe. He picked up the purse, took it into the coffee shop, handed it over to the barista, then quickly exited and continued on his way. May God help that honest man and reward his good deeds!

Excerpts from Everyman a late-15th-century English morality play. Called by Death, Everyman can persuade none of his friends – Beauty, Kindred, Worldly Goods – to go with him, except Good Deeds

Good Deeds: Everyman, I will bide with thee, I will not forsake thee indeed; Thou shalt find me a good friend at need.

Everyman: I see my time is nigh spent away. Take example, all ye that do hear or see, How they that I loved best do forsake me, Except my Good-Deeds that bideth truly.

Good-Deeds: All earthly things are but vanity: Beauty, Strength, and Discretion, do man forsake, Foolish friends and kinsmen, that fair spake, All fleeth save Good-Deeds, and that am I. 

Everyman: Heaven have mercy upon me, and stand by me!

Good-Deeds: Fear not, I will speak for thee. Short our end, and minish our pain; Let us go and never come again.

It’s not an abundance of words that supplicate God, but a pure soul which manifests good deeds. ~ St John Chrysostom

Almsgiving

Widow with the Two Mites – Mosaic, St. Sophia Orthodox Church, Canada

Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow putting in two mites *. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on. ~ St. Luke 21: 1-4. [* Mites, from the Greek lepta, meaning very small copper coins]

Almsgiving above all else requires money, but even this shines with a brighter luster when the alms are given from our poverty. The widow who paid in the two mites was poorer than any human, but she outdid them all. ~ St. John Chrysostom

Feeding the hungry is a greater work than raising the dead. ~ St. John Chrysostom

He who gives alms in imitation of God does not discriminate between the wicked and the virtuous, the just and the unjust, when providing for men’s bodily needs. ~ St. Maximos the Confessor 

Love the poor, and through them you will find mercy... If you give something to one in need, let the cheerfulness of your face precede your gift, and comfort his sorrow with kind words. When you do this, by your gift the gladness of his mind surpasses even the needs of his body. ~ St. Isaac the Syrian

The bread you do not use is the bread of the hungry. The garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of the person who is naked. The shoes you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot. The money you keep locked away is the money of the poor. The acts of charity you do not perform are the injustices you commit. ~ St. Basil the Great

St. Brigid of Ireland

St. Brigid’s Cross woven with Rushes and photo by Irena

On February 14th/1st we celebrate St. Brigid of Ireland and St. Valentine.

Born in 451, St. Brigid (pronounced Bree-jyah in Gaelic) was the daughter of Dubtach, a pagan king. Brocca, her mother, was a Christian Pictish slave, baptized by St. Patrick himself.

Even as a child, Brigid noticed poverty and destitution. She responded by giving away her own and her family’s considerable possessions to people in need. This generosity did not meet with her father’s approval, who complained to a friend that his daughter was bankrupting the household. His friend answered, “Let her be… She has more virtue before God, than either you or I.”

Brigid followed her desire to be a nun and was tonsured by St. Mael, Bishop of Armagh, who was a nephew of St. Patrick.

She established a monastic community with several other young women, located under a large oak tree. It became known as the Church of the Oak (in Gaelic Cill-Dara)… sometimes she is called Brigid of Kildare.

The community grew in numbers, reputation and achievement. Brigid was the abbess, and continued her care for the poor, selling whatever she had to give them what they needed. People who lived in the area flocked to the monastery to receive medical help, food, and to pray with the nuns. They would often see the abbess out in the fields, tending to the community’s cattle. Brigid and the sisters cared for the local children and established schools for them. Others heard of these efforts, and before long, the abbess travelled Ireland to start schools, to oversee the building of hospitals, and encourage people in their faith… by her own steadfast, cheerful example. 

Under Brigid’s direction, the monastery itself became an art school, where metal work and manuscript illumination (decoration of manuscript pages with coloured figures and designs) were taught. The products of this school included a Gospel book, famously beautiful for its harmony of colors and intricate designs. To some it almost seemed that this Book of Kildare must have been the work of angels… with humans merely copying the figures shown to them by the angels. Unfortunately, this book and many other Christian relics throughout the land were lost during King Henry VIII’s destruction and pillaging of holy sites.

When St. Brigid died in 525 AD, the nuns kept a fire burning in an enclosure at her Kildare convent. This fire burned for centuries, tended by the Sisters and did not burn out until 1220 AD. It was re-lit and burned for another 400 years.

St. Brigid’s association with fire and the closeness of her feast day to the Feast of the Meeting of our Lord in the Temple (also known as Candlemas), a day celebrating Christ as the Light Unto the Nations, links the two Feasts. 

St. Brigid is also affectionately known as Bride, Bridey, or the Mary of the Gael. She is patroness of dairy maids, infants, midwives, blacksmiths, poets, nuns, and students.

Along with Saints Patrick and Columba (Columcille), she is also the patroness of Ireland. St. Brigid is usually depicted in icons as a nun with a Cross woven from rushes and with fire (a candle, lamp, or bowl of fire).

Here is a link to my simple folk song praising St. Brigid of Ireland.

It is said the origin of the St. Brigid’s cross came when she was called to the bedside of a dying pagan chieftain. While sitting with the dying man, St. Brigid picked up some rushes from the floor and began to weave them into a cross. The sick man asked her what she was doing, and St. Brigid told him of Jesus Christ. Before he died, the chieftain become a Christian.

How to make a St. Brigid Cross, woven from rushes.

As Christians, we are called to help provide for the poor and needy (not just during spells of cold weather).

May we acquire the gift to see Christ in every person, as St. Brigid did.

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