The Healing Strength of Tears

On a recent gray day, raindrops on our patio’s Montana Clematis reminded me of tears.

There are tears that burn and there are tears that anoint as oil. ~ St. Isaac the Syrian (Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian)

True tears, flowing from love for God, possess such power. Greater than Baptism itself is the fountain of tears after Baptism. ~ St. John Climacus

When said with pain, the prayer gives birth to mourning. Mourning brings tears. Tears in turn give birth to purer prayer. For tears like a fragrant myrrh wash away the filth, and thus the inbreathing of God is cleansed, which like a dove is confined within four walls, as if made of the four elements… And then, as soon as the walls break down and collapse, the dove immediately flies to the Father whence it came. ~ St. Joseph the Hesychast

You know how troubled I am; you have kept a record of my tears. Aren’t they listed in your book? The day I call to you, my enemies will be turned back. Because I know God is on my side. ~ Psalm 56:8-9

All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you. ~ Psalm 38:9

Everyone has heartache. That’s part of life, and there are many kinds of tears. There are tears of sorrow, contrition, and frustration… to name a few. There are also good, and joyful nourishing tears of gratitude that flow from the love of God.

Accept the fountain of my tears, Thou who dost gather the waters of the sea to clouds... ~ Hymn of Kassiani

Standing in front of an holy icon, and looking into the eyes of our Saviour or His Most Pure Mother, or our Patron Saint…. our tears can become prayers when we can’t speak. Tears bring us back to God, closer to God.

A place without sorrows can only be in the heart, when the Lord is within it. ~ St. Nikon of Optina

May we bathe more often in the sweet consolation of prayerful tears and God’s holy, healing, spiritual myrrh. Both now and ever.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. ~ St. Matthew 11:28-30

Hope’s Patient Persistence

Behind the Altar, facing Royal Doors’ Curtain

We have within us deeply rooted weaknesses, passions, and defects. This can not all be cut out with one sharp motion, but patience, persistence, care and attention. The path leading to perfection is long. Pray to God so that he will strengthen you. Patiently accept your falls and, having stood up, immediately run to God, not remaining in that place where you have fallen. Don’t let anything deprive you of hope. ~ St Nektarios of Aegina

You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. ~ James 4:2-3

All of us sin constantly. We slip and fall… The Holy Fathers and the Saints always tell us, “It is important to get up immediately after a fall and to keep on walking toward God. Even if we fall a hundred times a day, it does not matter; we must get up and go on walking toward God without looking back.” What has happened has happened – it is in the past. Just keep going all the while asking for help from God. ~ Elder Thaddeus Vitovnica

We know God is with us, but sometimes there may be struggles to feel His Presence and Love, or even to pray. During times of spiritual dryness, it is the faithful perseverance in prayer which is the sweetest of all our prayers to God.

We slip.

We fall.

We rise.

We persevere.

We never give up.

We focus forward.

We don’t look back.

Our life is blessed… God’s gift…. We have a treasure in us – our souls…. ~ Elder Nikolay Guryanov

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!

🏄🏽‍♀️

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.

Privilege of Prayer

Image by Ri Butov from Pixabay

No matter what misfortune might befall you, no matter what unpleasantness might occur, say ‘I will endure this for Jesus Christ’s sake!’ Just say that, and you will feel better, for the Name of Jesus Christ is powerful… Before It, all difficulties abate, and demons disappear. Your annoyance and faintness of heart will abate when you repeat His most sweet Name… ~ St. Anthony of Optina

When life hurls kitchen sinks our way; duck, cover, carry on, and ask God for help!

Or, we can choose to sit like a bump on a log, waiting for help to be doled out like a grand prize, as if it’s our due… because why should we have to ask for help? Doesn’t God know everything, anyway?

We are indeed given free will. God wants us as collaborators, and it’s up to us to decide whether to ask, or not ask for help. Even if we’ve never asked for help before! God loves us, truly loves us, and waits patiently for us to come to Him.

I’d like to re-share these short, powerful, (tried and true) prayers, to use when sucker-punched with anxiety over any (or constant) painful situation that rears its ugly head, or even if we’re not quite sure of what to pray for someone:

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on (fill in the blank)!

Or… Lord, help!

Or…

O Lord, You love (name) more than I,
And You can help (name) better than I,
And You know better than I, what is profitable for (him)(her).
So do for (name) what is best- only save (him)(her).

The short prayer above “O Lord, You love” is so very helpful, and positively over-rides useless, worrisome thoughts that may otherwise spin those windmills of our mind out of control. It also helps teach how to pray for someone when we’re not sure of how to pray. Feel free to add on your concerns in your own words. Unselfish, heartfelt prayer is prayer.

Prayer helps us to Faithfully endure uncertainties.

The Powerful and Sweetest Name of Jesus imbues us with Strength.

St. Gavrilia, the newly canonized saint (Oct. 3, 2023) whom I deeply revere, says in The Ascetic of Love (page 246):

When we… think of those for whom we wish to pray, we are induced to so by love. “Lord, You are the Source of Love. It is from this Source of Love that I draw too, and I offer you this person. Lord, I pray to You, grant him [her] Your Light, grant him Your Mercy, grant him Strength, grant him Faith, grant him all the abundant Blessings that You grant. All I can offer is my humble love.” After this introduction, you take a knot of the Komboskini [Prayer Rope] and say: “I pray for so and so… and for so and so…” visualizing each of these persons at the Feet of Christ, praying on their knees before Him – themselves in person, as the anonymous author of the Way of a Pilgrim says. I have long years of experience that with this prayer God works many miracles. Because God wants us as <<collaborators>>, no matter how worthless we may be. For we are His Creatures, and it is with these Creatures of His that He has to work…

 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ~ Philippians 4:13

There’s nothing is quite so precious as our praising God, even in adversity, and to humbly show gratitude thanking Him for all His Blessings… and for hearing us (even if the situation currently seems unresolved)! Because He HAS heard us, and WILL DO what’s best, according to His Plan.

What a privilege to carry what weighs upon our hearts to the Lord in prayer!

Through the prayers and intercessions of our most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, our Guardian Angels, St. Gavrilia, and all the saints… thank you dear Lord, for hearing our prayers!

Amen!

Autumnal Prayer

Image by Joe from Pixabay

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. ~ Psalm 90:14

November 27/14

Happy Eve of the Nativity Fast!

Tomorrow we begin our spiritual pilgrimage into the Advent season… to contemplate the upcoming Great Feast of Christ’s Incarnation.

Just like Great Lent is before Easter/Pascha, the ancient Nativity Fast is a reflective, joyful time for spiritual preparation – nourished with prayer, love of one’s neighbour, and generous almsgiving.

Each fast is fresh, new, and a collective reminder to shift focus away from oneself, and onto the needs of others, instead.

Together we’ll begin the late autumnal journey with sweeping the dried leaves and debris away from body and soul.

We fast before we feast, and the feasting aspect is saved to start on the actual Nativity Feast Day itself, including the following bright “12 days of Christmastide”.  

May your Nativity Fast be peaceful and fruitful!

With love in Christ.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

The Theotokos of the Passion Icon – also known as Our Lady of Perpetual Help, is a great spiritual consolation.

Holy Tradition says the original icon was painted by St. Luke the Evangelist… who knew her.

Although the Icon’s Feast Day is celebrated April 30 and on the sixth Sunday after Pascha (Sunday of the Blind Man), one can always reach out any time for Our Lady’s help and compassion – especially during topsy-turvy times of heartache, confusion, and disappointment.

About the Icon – approx 2 minutes

Here is the beautiful, ancient 6th century Akathist Hymn of prayer and praise (attributed to St. Romanos the Melodist) to Our Most Holy Theotokos.

The Most Holy Mother of God prays for us ceaselessly. She is always visiting us. Whenever we turn to her in our heart, she is there. After the Lord, she is the greatest protection for mankind. How many churches there are in the world that are dedicated to the Most Holy Mother of God! How many healing springs where people are cured of their ailments have sprung up in places where the Most Holy Theotokos appeared and blessed those springs to heal both the sick and the healthy! She is constantly, by our side, and all too often we forget her. ~ Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica (From Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives)

Today is also the Synaxis of the Holy Optina Elders, and I congratulate Abbess Amvrosia, and all the nuns of Holy Protection Convent, (including my goddaughter). May your community continue to grow and thrive under the protecting veil of our Most Holy Lady’s Precious Omophorion – and our dear Lord’s salvific love. Happy Feast Day to you all!

Holy Fathers of Optina, pray to God for us!

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.

Bee That As It May

Image by Erik Karits from Pixabay

For me, writing is usually a joy. But during these troubled times it’s a simple fact that on a global scale, this war physically and spiritually affects everyone – everywhere.

It’s been some time now, that I’ve not been able to write for sheer pleasure, but instead, write solely to help me make sense of the world.

Along with countless other people here in North America, the far-reaching ripples of war have profoundly, painfully, and spiritually impacted my personal life… the least of which, leaves me completely uninspired to write much of anything.

But yesterday something extraordinary happened, something that rekindled a bright little light in my heart! And amazingly, the seemingly smallness of this event is what actually makes it Truly Great.

Playing outside, enjoying nature, my grandchildren encountered a bumblebee in distress. Usually a distressed bee when carefully cupped in (un-allergic) hands, and carried to a quiet place to rest – recovers. It can also be revived if needed with a bit of sugar water. After letting the bee rest awhile, most of the time it’s able to fly away and continue its search for flowers.

But, the bumblebee didn’t make it, and one grandchild said with the simplistic wisdom of an ancient sage, “We tried to help, but it was just its time.”

They buried the bumblebee beneath some ferns in their tiny, treasured Fairy Garden. Digging their fingers into the soil, they gently placed the bee into a shallow well, and tenderly tucked vibrant green moss over it. They thanked the bumblebee for all its hard work, and while brushing the bits of dirt off their hands, they considered how many thousands of flowers and all the places that bumblebee must have visited during its life. They pondered how precious and busy ALL bees are. They deliberated on what great examples bees are to us. “Because bees just do what they need to do- for the good of the hive.” Regardless of what’s happening outside the hive.

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings! Their wise words, a sudden source for a new story – bubbled up from within, just aching to be shared! It’s the first one that’s come to me in a long, long, time. It sprang up from the simple Faith of children, along with their refreshing pureness of Hope, and Love of God’s creatures.

God’s Gift of Nature is a Healing, Secret Gospel and to everything there is a season! May I keep noticing the sweet “little” things that the Good Lord sends to help nourish the rekindled warmth in my writer’s heart!

Interview with a young Bee Whisperer: “To help exhausted bees, I use 1 tsp. of water and 1 tsp. of sugar. Scoop mixed sugar water into a large eating spoon, and place onto level ground, for bees don’t like to climb while they’re tired. Stand back and let it enjoy the sugar water. It may take awhile, but that’s okay. They like to have their sugar water spoon placed in the sun, not shade, (uncomfortable shade reminds them of the rain) and bees like to keep warm. Sometimes if a bee is tired, and just sitting still on the ground, you can place it on a flower, as they like to be in high places where they feel safe and can easily fly off from. Bees are so important to us humans. They are one of reasons we can actually live, because they pollinate the flowers and we can grow and eat food like fruits and vegetables from the flowers. Bees are one of the animals people are scared of (especially if allergic to bees, because that would be really scary) But, bees are harmless creatures, and seem to know if you’re trying to help. They don’t bite or don’t sting. But, if you squash them they’ll sting. They can’t help it then. I’ve only been stung by a bee when I accidentally walked on clover with bare feet. It’s good to help bees and anything that needs help.”

…the person who has good thoughts, no matter what he sees, no matter what you tell him, maintains a positive and good thought. ~ St. Paisios of Mt. Athos

Praying for the Peace From Above.

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