Blossoming in the Next

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When St. Gavrilia was asked if she feared death, she responded:

That’s what I don’t fear – not a bit! Every year till Ascension Day I love the Funeral Service to include the Hymn “Christ is Risen.” …It seems to me that when the time of my departure comes, it will be something very simple, because Death does not exist. It will be like closing one door and opening another! I remember a fine painting showing two rose gardens separated by a wall. A twig, from one of the rose bushes, had worked its way through a crack in a wall and a beautiful rose had bloomed on the other side. That’s how it is with our life. We leave this world and go to blossom in the Next. ~ St. Gavrilia (The Ascetic of Love)

Memory Eternal, Julia – who left today to go blossom in the Next… Where there is no more pain, sickness, sighing, nor sorrow, but Life Everlasting!

Icon of St. Juliana

Festal Blessings of the Heart

Veneration of the Cross, Third Sunday in Great Lent, coincided this year with the set Feast of the Annunciation, on April 7th. The Precious Cross was decorated in traditional red colours… using roses and carnations. However, and alas, even after scouring the grocery store, there was no fresh basil (also traditional to use when decorating the Cross) to be found. So, from our garden, fragrant pink pieris japonica and white viburnum were added.

Yesterday, the morning sun danced and blazed brightly on my face. I closed my eyes to bask in its warmth.

Antiphonal chirps and trills of birdsong resounded. At the raucous cry of a seagull overhead, I opened my eyes and smiled at the added ambience.

Not to be outdone, budding catkins nodded vehemently over the top of the pergola, each fuzzy leaflet highlighted with a tiny halo of luminous, Gladsome Light. I desperately wanted to run and grab my phone camera to catch this breathtaking beauty… but knew the special light would change in a second or two, and I would forever lose the moment – without being in the moment. I took a picture instead… with my mind’s eye, and can see this sight even now as I type. I hope to remember it forever.

From the porch roof, remnants of raindrops stubbornly clung as lustrous, pearly, stalactites, until they chose to let go. Their occasional drips echoed as muffled percussion on the patio flagstones below, perfectly complimenting the surrounding avian symphony.

And the trees! With branches lifted skyward as if in supplication, they swayed and danced with expressive abandon (as only trees can in a festal morning wind)… kicking up their rooty heels with joy!

Stop. Look. Listen with your heart. Let it dance with the trees, in joy and gratitude at God’s Creation!

Let all the trees of the forest dance and sing, as they behold their fellow-tree, the Cross, today receiving veneration: for Christ, as holy David prophesied, has exalted it on high. I died through a tree, but I have found in thee a Tree of Life, O Cross of Christ. ~ Sunday of the Cross, 8th Ode

God is everywhere present and fills all things! The Three-Branched Cross of Christ is Life!

Alleluia and Amen!

Spiritual Fragrance

Roses of Spiritual Friendship from Olga

Today is the Feast Day of St. Xenia! (A very special Saint who has greatly helped our family) Congratulations also, to goddaughter Xenia on your Saint’s Day. May God grant you many years!

Yesterday, after service, our youth choir rehearsed It is Truly Meet to Bless Thee, O Theotokos… a hymn they’ll be singing for an upcoming liturgy. Sung from the heart, their pure, prayerful voices filled the air with spiritual fragrance – and arose like incense.

It is Truly Meet – Parish Youth Choir 2023

It is truly meet to bless thee, O Theotokos,
Ever blessed and most pure,
And the Mother of our God.
More honourable than the cherubim,
And more glorious beyond compare
Than the seraphim,
Who without corruption gavest birth
To God the Word,
True Theotokos we magnify thee.

May the Mother of God keep you and your family.

Whatsoever Things…

Patio Nasturtiums, Roses and Chamomile Glow in Hazy Light

…whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. ~ Philippians 4:8

Bright Greenery

Our Potted Patio Garden Flowers, Herbs, and Veggies Blossom Forth!

As the earth, long awaiting moistening and at last receiving it in abundance, suddenly is covered by tender and bright greenery, so also the heart, exhausted by dryness, and afterwards revived by tears, emits from itself a multitude of spiritual thoughts and feelings, adorned by the common flower of humility.~ St. Ignatius Brianchaninov

If our thoughts are kind, peaceful, and quiet, turned only to the good, then we also influence ourselves and radiate peace all around us – in our family, the whole country, everywhere. This is true not only here on earth, but in the cosmos as well. When we labour in the fields of the Lord, we create harmony. Divine harmony, peace, and quiet spread everywhere.~ Elder Thaddeus of Vitnovica

Truth is the Beverage of Life

Image by Manfred Richter from Pixabay

One should not seek among others the truth that can be easily gotten from the Church. For in her, as in a rich treasury, the apostles have placed all that pertains to truth, so that everyone can drink this beverage of life. She is the door of life. ~ St. Irenaeus of Lyon

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. ~ Psalm 100:5

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. ~ St. John 1:14

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. ~ St. John 4:24

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. ~ St. John 8:32

For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth…~ Ephesians 5:9

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. ~ 1 John 3:18

Inexpressible Wonder

Our Garden’s Rosa Tropicana (Warm Coral) & English Lavender

It’s been said we may catch glimpses of the Holy Trinity’s Mystery more readily through the temple of our hearts, rather than by using our ineffective, logical minds. Beholding the beauty of God’s Creation – whether in the garden, or a child’s smile, quite simply takes my breath away. When our Heavenly Father already gives us countless aesthetic blessings to delight in, one can’t help but wonder… if this is just earth… how much more beauteous will our Heavenly Home be?! Amen!

You see the Trinity if you see love. ~ Blessed Augustine

Master how could I describe the vision of Your Face? How could I ever speak of the ineffable contemplation of Your Beauty? How could mere words contain One Whom the World could never contain? . . . suddenly You appeared from on high, shining greater than the Sun itself, shining brilliantly from the heavens down into my heart .. . . . What intoxication of the Light! What swirlings of fire! ~ St. Symeon the Theologian hymn

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life to behold the beauty of the LORD and to enquire in his temple. ~ Psalm 27:4

Kneading One Another

Wedding Bread Gift represents Marriage Crowns for Michael and Laura. May God grant them Many Years!

Garden Flowers Bouquet: Golden Celebration Rose, Spirea Bridal Wreath, and Lady’s Mantle which is affiliated with the Virgin Mary.

Wedding Prokeimenon sung in Eighth Tone:
Thou hast set upon their heads crowns of precious stones. They asked life of thee, and thou gavest it them. ~Psalm 21: 3-4

Greetings on the Beginning of the Apostles’ Fast!

The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. ~ Exodus 16:31
(God Can Fill Us)

And you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before me regularly. ~ Exodus 25:30.

He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart. ~ Psalm 104:14-15

Jesus answered, It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ~ Matthew 4:4

Give us this day our daily bread. ~ Matthew 6:11

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. ~ John 6:35

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life.  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. ~ John 6:47-51

Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. ~ 1 Cor. 5:8

May your Journey through the Apostle’s Fast be Peaceful and Fruitful!

As the Warmth of the Sun

Roses and beeswax candles beside icon of St. Gregory Palamas – from Second Sunday of Great Lent.

We know that prayer in and of itself cannot save us, but carrying it out before God can. For when the Lord’s eyes are upon us He sanctifies us, as the sun warms everything upon which it shines. ~ St. Gregory Palamas

May your Lenten Journey be peaceful and fruitful.

Gentle Hearts

God rests within gentle hearts. The gentle and merciful shall sit fearless in His regions, and will inherit Heavenly glory. ~ St. John Climacus

Why does the Lord command us to love our enemies and to pray for them? Not for their sake, but for ours! For as long as we bear grudges, as long as we dwell on how someone offended us, we will have no peace. ~ Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

We are the sons of light and love, the sons of God, His children. As such we must have His qualities and His attributes of love, peace, and kindness towards all. ~ Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

Yesterday afternoon, in broad daylight, our dear little Orthodox church was vandalized by some poor soul, who must have been in great spiritual pain. Little did they know our congregation is a veritable united nations in itself… composed of Canadian, American, Serbian, Ukrainian, Russian, Greek, Romanian, Spanish, Asian parishioners – worshipping together “as one” in the Lord Jesus Christ… with love, peace and harmony.

My spiritual Father Vladimir (of eternal memory), who served in a cathedral of Kiev, and fled Russia in its earlier times of grievous persecution, related how the Communists turned the ancient cathedral into a car repair garage, leaving the icons on the walls. When someone asked him about these events he tenderly said, “Churches come and go. Build a church in your heart.”

Grieved by the horrific events unfolding in Ukraine and Russia, this beautiful Prayer for Peace is being read at Divine Liturgies. May God grant us all help, reigning down His Peace from Above – for the whole world.

May we build little churches in our hearts… gentle, loving, merciful… and worthy abodes for our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

From our Metropolitan Hilarion to Metropolitan Onouphry of Kiev and All Ukraine

From from the OCA

From our Local Newspaper

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