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.

Called to Be Saints

Image by Albrecht Fietz from Pixabay

Greetings on All Saints’ Day!

In the New Testament we are called to be saints, and the Orthodox Church gives the title of saint to those who throughout history, have lived and died in Christ.

While Canonized (Glorified) Saints have their own feast days, there are countless multitudes of saints who don’t have a feast day… and some of these are even nameless Saints – known only to God!

Since the 4th century in Eastern Christendom, on the first Sunday after Pentecost, the Church continues to commemorate All the Saints (both past/present, known/unknown)! As all are alive in Christ, the saints are our friends and alive in Heaven. They are venerated, but not worshipped.

Today is a joint celebration honouring the Holy Apostles who spread the Gospel to the four corners of the earth, as well as All the Saints who’ve shone forth great love of Christ… whether by living a God-pleasing, righteous life, or by receiving a martyric crown. 

[During the 8th century in Western Christendom, the Sunday of All Saints was transferred to the first Sunday in November – and even more recently was moved again to November 1st.]

Previous *All Saints’ Day* Blisswood Posts
God’s Garden ~ Posted June 14, 2020
Sunday of All Saints ~ Posted June 27, 2021
God Giveth the Increase ~ Posted June 19, 2022

Every one of us is the painter of his own life. Our soul is like the canvas, and the virtues are the paint. Jesus Christ is the image we should copy. ~ St. Gregory of Nyssa

To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Romans 1:7

Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their’s and our’s: ~ 1 Corinthians 1:2

We live together with them (the Saints in heaven), in the house of the Heavenly Father, only in different parts of it. We live in the earthly, they in the heavenly half; but we can converse with them, and they with us. ~ St. John of Kronstadt

In God and in His Church there is no division between the living and the departed, but all are one in the love of the Father. Whether we are alive or whether we are dead, as members of the Church we still belong to the same family, and still have a duty to bear one another’s burdens. Therefore just as Orthodox Christians here on earth pray for one another and ask for one another’s prayers, so they pray for the faithful departed and ask the faithful departed to pray for them. Death cannot sever the bond of mutual love which links the members of the Church together. ~ Metropolitan Kallistos Ware

May you have a blessed All Saints’ Feast Day!

Silent Peace of Prayer

Image by Basil Smith from Pixabay

More than all things love silence: it brings you a fruit that tongue cannot describe. In the beginning we have to force ourselves to be silent.  But then there is born something that draws us to silence.  May God give you an experience of this ‘something’ that is born of silence.  If you only practice this, untold light will dawn on you in consequence…after a while a certain sweetness is born in the heart of this exercise and the body is drawn almost by force to remain in silence. ~ St. Isaac of Syria

It is good to learn to pray without words, with the breath and the beating of our hearts, for silence is the perfect prayer. Silence is the language of God. We learn His language as we do other languages, through listening intently and practicing what we hear. ~ Fr. Antony Hughes

We can only meet God in the present moment. This is an area where God chooses to place limits on His own power. We choose whether or not to live in the present moment. Because we can encounter God only in that present moment, whenever we live in the past or in the future, we place ourselves beyond His reach.~ Archimandrite Meletios Webber

           

She Who is Quick to Hear

For the health of a dear friend, family prayers were recently said in front of this special Icon, She Who is Quick to Hear.

The original wonderworking icon resides on Holy Mount Athos at the Dokhiareia monastery. There are many copies of it throughout the world. Tradition states the icon was written in the tenth century when the head of this monastery was St. Neophytes – who is also commemorated on the Icon’s Feast Day November 22/9. At its first miracle in 1664 AD, our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary promised, “From this time on, my icon shalt be named Quick-Hearing, and for all hastening to it, shalt there quickly appear, mercy and fulfillment of entreaties.”

To this day, the Most Holy Mother of God continues to fulfill Her promise and quickly offers help and consolation for all, who with faith, hasten to her. She hears every prayer!

This icon, a copy of She Who is Quick to Hear, belonged to my grandmother and given upon her baptism at 89 years of age, by a venerable matushka (the same age as she), who became her godmother, by proxy.

I’ll always remember my grandmother’s first visit to the church after her baptism. It was an arduous journey, for at that time we had no Orthodox church in our city and had to travel by car and ferry, a trip (3-4 hours each way) to church.

Her godmother – an aged matushka, could only speak Russian, and my grandmother could only speak English. However, upon greeting each other joyfully for the first time (before the church service began – and what would be their last time to ever see one another upon this earth), they embraced and chatted non-stop with each other… Matushka Eudocia in Russian, and my grandmother in English! I stood perplexed at this exchange. Then one of them apparently said something amusing to the other, and they both glanced over at me, giggled simultaneously over the anecdote… and happily continued their conversation until the service began.

Journeying home after church, I was bursting to know what my grandma and matushka Eudocia were chatting about? She responded matter-of-factly, “Surely you heard, my dear? You were standing there right beside us… and now Eudocia and I know each other better – before one of us heads off to Glory!”

I asked my grandma how could she understand matushka Eudocia, because matushka was speaking Russian?!

My grandmother smiled serenely, looked out the car window at the passing scenery and said, “We understood each other perfectly, my dear”.

And that was that!

Little Miracles occur everyday!

Memory Eternal dear Faith, and matushka Eudocia, who through the Power and Mystery of the Holy Spirit… transcended the barrier of language! Amen!

Surrendering to Divine Wisdom

Image by Taken from Pixabay

Orthodoxy is a faith that is deep enough to allow her believers to confront the complexities of our human experience, while at the same time recognizing that not all is understood in this life, but viewed as a Mystery. So, the view that believers never doubt, is simply not true. Doubt is not the opposite of faith, but rather the vehicle by which we are challenged to go deeper into the Mystery that is true faith. Nothing keeps we true believers from struggling with uncertainty, for it is this very uncertainty that keeps us from complacency. Complacency is the true enemy of faith, and the inhibitor of spiritual growth. It is complacency that keeps us from the Kingdom of God, and the joy that comes when we are in Communion with Christ. It is not a question of choosing sides, but of surrendering to Divine Wisdom. ~ Abbot Tryphon

In the mystical theology of the Orthodox Church, Wisdom is understood as the Divine Logos (God the Word), Who became Incarnate as Jesus Christ. In Greek, Ἁγία Σοφία (Hagia Sophia) is defined “Holy Wisdom” meaning “Jesus Christ”…The Wisdom and Power of God. ~ 1 Corinthians 1: 24,30; 1 Corinthians 2:7

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made… And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us; and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth… No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him. ~ First chapter of 1 John

Shared by a friend…
Some Aspects of Surrendering to Divine Wisdom

Surrender = Conscious, Willing, Choice.
Surrender = Unconditional Seeking Refuge within the Divine.
Surrender = Faith.
Surrender = Effort.
Surrender = Hope.
Surrender = Love.
Surrender = Trust.
Surrender = Strength.
Surrender = Recognizing Blessings.
Surrender = Gratitude, Thankfulness.
Surrender = Action with Consistent Prayer.
Surrender = Communication.
Surrender = Understanding that Christ Knows What’s Best For Us.

Accepting God’s Will = Learning to let go, and let God!

One step at a time… It’s a lifelong process!

Making Impossible Possible

St. Nicholas Church in Juneau Alaska: Image by Simeon_B_Johnson from Pixabay

Nothing you see equals prayer, it makes the impossible possible, the difficult easy, and the crooked way straight. ~ St. John Chrysostom

If God is slow in answering your request, or if you ask but do not promptly receive anything, do not be upset, for you are not wiser than God. ~ St. Isaac the Syrian

God only gives three answers to prayer (Anonymous quote):
1. Yes!
2. Not yet.
3. I have something better in mind.

A snowflake is one of God’s most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together! ~ Vesta M. Kelly

For new-calendar friends and family celebrating Christmas this weekend, I wish you a most Happy, Blessed Christmas!

Annotation:
Merry Christmas is a greeting from the Old English (pre-12th century) words “Meriġe Crīstesmæsse” which, in the ancient sense, meant Blessed Christmas” and was used with the time-honoured salutation – Christ is Born!

Here is a joyful carol on why snowflakes dance! Little Pine Tree

With Love in Christ.

Heart and Soul

Image by Cheryl Holt from Pixabay

A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he that has found one has found a treasure. There is nothing so precious as a faithful friend, and no scales can measure his excellence. A faithful friend is an elixir of life; and those who fear the Lord will find him. ~ Sirach 6:14-16

Spiritual Friendship means we are deeply rooted by heart and soul- with each other through Jesus Christ, the Theotokos, and all the Saints.

Faithful Friends cultivate a mutually thriving, inner stillness of soul, as we walk along Life’s Path together. They are Dearer Than the Light of Heaven!

With Love and Gratitude to my precious Friends in Christ. Thank you for your prayers and good wishes on my Saint’s Day today!

A hearty congratulations in Spirit, to Julia on our shared Saints’ Day. May God grant all your petitions according to your salvation!

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

Greetings on the Dormition

Photo and quote by Juliana

Greetings on the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God!

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… She is constantly, by our side, and all too often we forget her. ~ Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

The Venerable Bede (7th century) likened the Virgin Mary to a white lily… symbolizing her purity, innocence and virginity. The floral centre of yellow anthers, are as the golden radiance of her soul.

 As long as they (Christ’s Disciples) were in Palestine, holy Mary spent time with them, helping them confirm themselves in the Saviour’s commandments, encouraging them to all goodness and cheering them. But when the disciples departed from Palestine to distant lands alien and unknown, She remained in John’s house. She did not waste Her time with trifles, but used every minute for the benefit of mankind, the very human race that crucified Her innocent Son! She dedicated her labours and care to visiting the sick and the imprisoned; she comforted, taught, and instructed anyone who needed support or counsel. She lived strictly according to Her Son’s commandments and therefore she could assuage people’s sorrows. She was a source of healing, and shade, and all who drew from that source felt freshness and relief and were fortified by heavenly love. The good works to which she entrusted Herself filled her soul with great blessedness and consolation, which were the reward for the woes and calamities she previously bore. For only after Her Son was resurrected did her eyes open to what had happened, and hope arrived. St. Nikolai Velimirovic  (Excerpt from The Theotokos on Her Deathbed)

An old English name for the Hosta garden plant, is the Assumption Lily, as it blooms close to the Dormition. 

The liturgical colour for feasts honouring the Theotokos is blue. The clergy wear blue vestments, and the faithful sometimes wear a bit of blue too, in her honour. In icons, while her veil is red…the colour of divinity, as she is the Theo(God) tokos(Bearer), her clothes under the veil are green or blue, the colours of humanity. Also, upon her veil, are three stars, which represent her eternal virginity: before, during, and forever after the birth of Our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, she remained a pure virgin. At weddings it is still traditional to wear “a little something blue” in honour of the Theotokos.

St. Ambrose Bishop of Milan (330-397), wrote:  “Mary’s life, is a rule of life for all.” …It is important that as Orthodox Christians we know and examine the life of the Theotokos who, after Christ Jesus, so influenced every creature, both the bodiless ones and the earthborn, before, during, and after her earthly sojourn. ~ From The Life of  The Virgin Mary, The Theotokos, written and compiled by Holy Apostles Convent

Beautiful Walking Tour inside the Church built over the Virgin Mary’s empty tomb (Thank you for sharing Irena!)

Troparion Tone 1: In giving birth thou didst preserve thy virginity, and in thy falling asleep thou hast not forsaken the world, O Theotokos. Thou hast been translated unto life, for thou art the Mother of Life, and by thy supplications, thou dost deliver our souls from death.

Kontakion Tone 2: The tomb, nor mortality could not hold the Theotokos, who is tireless her prayers and supplications. For, as the Mother of Life, she was translated unto life, by Him Who dwelt within her Ever-Virgin womb.

Hold on tightly as possible to the Robe of our Great Lady the Theotokos, that she might help you. May the Theotokos, the tender and caring Mother of the entire world, protect you and the entire world. ~ St. Paisios


Have Icon, Will Travel

“Travelling” Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos and our Lord Jesus Christ, on cabin’s dining room table. It is diptych style, with two icons hinged together and a latch door to shut during transit. This beautiful Icon was a gift from our dear friend Elizabeth.

Icons in churches and houses are necessary because they remind us of the immortality of saints; that they live unto Him, (St. Luke 20:38) that in God they see, hear, and help us. ~ St. John of Kronstadt.

Whether camping, glamping, going on a road or business trip, besides having a pre-trip blessing, a portable icon is also important to bring on our travels. (Or to have during a hospital stay.) For years we carefully brought and used a small, blessed, paper Icon when going/staying anywhere.

Upon reaching the destination, place your travelling icon either facing east in your room, or where you will most easily see it for prayer, and to help bring one’s vacationing attention back to God.

If possible, do also bring a small container of Holy Water on your trip for daily use and to also bless your cabin or hotel room, etc. upon arrival. Sprinkle the walls, windows and doorways with it, using the sign of the Cross… each time saying, “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.”

May the dear Lord bless you on your travels, and bring you back from your journey again in peace, health and safety.

error: Content is protected !!