Perceiving Divine Simplicity

Boulevard Snowdrop Flowers Signal the Nascence of Spring

Love all creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand within it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. ~ Staretz Zosima; The Brothers Karamazov – by Fyodor Dostoevsky

…See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. ~ St. Matthew 6:28-29

All created things are marked with the seal of the Trinity... The contemplation of nature has two correlative aspects. First, it means appreciating the “thusness” or “thisness” of particular things, persons and moments. We are to see each stone, each leaf, each blade of grass, each frog, each human face, for what it truly is, in all the distinctness and intensity of its specific being. As the prophet Zechariah warns us, we are not to “despise the day of small things” (4:10). “True mysticism”, says Olivier Clément, “is to discover the extraordinary in the ordinary.” ~ Metropolitan  Kallistos Ware; The Orthodox Way

Even during a simple walk, it’s a mystery how easily the Great can be seen in the Small. Whether it be stoic flowers bursting through cement cracks, or a cheery family of four snowdrops, popping up like unexpected company – on a grassy boulevard.

God’s beautiful gift of nature is all around us.

All we have to do is to see what we’re looking at.

Happy Saint’s Day Zoe! God grant you many years!

However Difficult It May Seem

At Holy Virgin Cathedral San Francisco, January 7th 2024 – Shared by Anastasia

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Greetings on the 6th Day of Christmas!

There’s nothing more beautiful or sweeter than to love the Lord Jesus. ~ St. Joseph the Hesychast

We don’t pursue hardships but if they come, we face them through steadfastness and prayer. ~ St. Paisios

Lord, I beg you… Do Your own will in me. However difficult it may seem to me, it will be easy because it will be Yours! ~ St. Gavrilia

Congratulations on your Saint’s Day, Anysia! May God grant you many years!

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.

St. Barbara’s Day Greetings!

Happy Feast Day!

This icon (painted by a dear friend) is of the Holy Great-Martyr Barbara, my patron saint.

Today is her heavenly birthday, so she’s only a prayer away!

St. John of Damascus (7th century) is also commemorated today.

Troparion of St. Barbara (Melody in Tone 8): Let us honour the Holy Barbara, for she broke the snares of the Enemy, and like a bird, escaped from them by the help and weapon of the most Honourable Cross.

St. Barbara’s life is both spiritually poignant and victorious. What faith!

St. Barbara is the patron saint of artillerymen, military engineers, soldiers, firefighters, miners and others who work with explosives. She is invoked against lightning and sudden death. She, along with St. George the Great-Martyr and Trophy Bearer, is a protectress for soldiers in times of war.

St. Barbara (3rd century) was born in the Greek city of Heliopolis in Syria, now called Baalbek, in eastern Lebanon. St. Barbara’s feast day is known as Eid il-Burbara to Christians in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and there is a special St. Barbara’s Day dessert made to celebrate. Although the dish is traditionally prepared from boiled wheat hulls, rose water, cinnamon, anise and nuts, I like to use Cream of Wheat. This aromatic sweet recalls the tradition that freshly planted wheat fields miraculously sprung up behind St. Barbara covering her initial escape path to the mountains.

Here is my own festal, and celebratory breakfast/dessert recipe for St. Barbara’s Day! It’s easy to make, and delicious.

May your day be filled with Light, and gladness. And during these troubled times, may the Lord’s Peace from Above shine down upon all those inflicted with the sufferings of war.

Blessings of Beauty

Collage of leaves and petals from last night’s storm, congregate in a corner outside my front door.

Blessed is God who uses corporeal objects continually to draw us close in a symbolic way to a knowledge of God’s invisible nature. O name of Jesus, key to all gifts, open up for me the great door to your treasure-house, that I may enter and praise you with the praise that comes from the heart. ~ St. Isaac of Syria

The blessings of beauty… It’s here. It’s there. It’s everywhere, and simply seen when we open the physical or spiritual eyes of our hearts.

This morning, I literally opened my front door to a windswept blessing of beauty by He Who walketh upon the wings of the wind.

Thank you, sweetest Jesus – for giving me this splendid morning!

Congratulations dear Anastasia, on your Saint’s Day! May God grant you many years!

May we all see the brightest blessings of Beauty today! It’s everywhere present – and sometimes found in the least likely of places!

A Prayer For Peace on this Remembrance Day

Lord, have mercy!

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!

Angelic Pearls

Feature photo from yesterday’s beautiful Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos (September 21/8). Such a Light and Happy Celebration! Even the bright church flowers seem to point joyfully to the Altar’s Angel Doors.

Liturgically, everything’s connected, and I love how the day after the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, we also remember her parents, Sts. Joachim and Anna (September 22/9). St. Anna (Ann or Anne, from Hebrew Hannah – meaning favour or grace) is descended from the lineage of King David, and the mother of the Virgin Mary, and grandmother of Jesus Christ. 

Congratulations on your Saint’s Day today, goddaughter Anna! God grant you many years!

So many blessings! Each church also has its own Guardian Angel that always remains in the Altar. After a service, when the candles are snuffed and the congregation has left for home… if one sits quietly with their physical eyes closed, the eyes of the soul may catch a glimpse of comprehension – regarding that profound, peaceful silence steeped in holiness.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4: 7

After the Divine Liturgy we should linger in church as long as we can. For the Angels. …If we are interrupted while speaking, we must not continue. It means that what we were about to say should not be heard. The Angels do this. …Talk with your Guardian Angel all the time, about everything. Especially when you are in trouble and when you cannot get along with other people. He always helps. … In my evening prayer I tell my Angel: “Take my soul this evening too and place her by the feet of Christ, to be perfected all night through, so that I may find her improved in the morning!” ~ Gerontissa Gavrilia

Memory Eternal Grandma Faith!

With love in Christ.

May the Memory of Trees…

Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees in Lihu’e-Koloa’a Forest Reserve ~ Kauai 2023

Happy Saint’s Day matushka Nataliya! Congratulations, and may God grant you many years!

Casually, one day, she told us that every morning she was having a “little chat with her young tree”. Another time she said that if we got tired walking, we could stop near a tree and touch its trunk: “It will gladly give you some of the strength God gives it”… ~ Gerontissa Gavrilia

After many years I returned to Kauai, and stood once again in a wondrous, tropical Blisswood grove!

Stunning eucalyptus trees thrive in the Lihu’e Koloa’a Forest Reserve… and here, one may curiously discover how refreshing it is to touch those resplendent rainbow trunks.

As my gaze travelled skyward to the tree’s crowning branches, they seemed as graceful arms raised aloft in praise to Creation’s Planter.

Antiphonal Birdsong echoed throughout the forest arboretum. Delicate leaves attached to the trees’ twiggy fingers whispered to each other in the warm trade winds.

Some leaves were loosened, and as if seeming to accept that this was their time, fluttered down trustingly to the ground. A breeze quickly stirred them up again, and with apparent joyful abandon they tumbled away, end-over-end, deeper into the forest… a dance of affirmation and benediction.

I hope to carry this beautiful memory of God’s Creation in my soul, for a long, long, time.

These trees gladdened my heart. They gifted me anew with a peaceful, vibrant jewel of strength, to which I must carefully string yet one more gem of gratitude to the growing strand of a personal, noetic necklace which I sometimes forget to wear… or appreciate.

May we live in more awareness of the Divine Moment and Nature’s Numinous Wisdom – proving His Glorious Presence.

Let all the trees of the forest dance and sing, let all the trees clap their hands. ~ Sunday of the Cross

With Love in Christ.

Snapping Twigs

Icon of Great Martyr Barbara ~ shared by Anastasia

Congratulations, and Happy Feast on your Name’s DaySamuel! God grant you many years!

There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. ~ 1 Samuel 2:2

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 under our feet collapses, Faith and Hope in God give us the strength and joy to fly away ~ Gerontissa (Elder) Gavrilia

Illness always brings spiritual experiences to the person who is ready to grasp their meaning. ~ Gerontissa Gavrilia

Once my mind “un-fuzzed” enough from COVID last month, I recuperated outside under the glorious sunshine amid fragrant patio flowers… and re-read this amazing book.

If you have an opportunity to borrow or buy The Ascetic of Love, DO! It’s such an uplifting, and spiritually practical book, by Nun Gavrilia.

I highly recommend it!!! Yes. Three exclamation marks! (But, if looking to buy online, the book is out of print, and may be super-expensive)

The Holy Prophet Samuel says… there is no other rock than our God. Indeed. So, when those other twigs in our life bend and snap (as they do and will)… May we be mindful enough to immediately embrace the Divine Action Plan, and joyfully fly away (unalarmed)… laying all our cares and burdens directly at the dear Lord’s Feet!

What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!

With love and gratitude in Christ.

Heart’s Journey to Calvary

Image by perfectlypolished1 from Pixabay

The meanings of the Crucifixion Icon explained.

What is Calvary?

Not knowledge you learn, but knowledge you suffer. That’s Orthodox spirituality. ~ Mother Gabrielia

Orthodoxy is life, one must not talk about it, one must live it. ~ St. Nektary of Optina

Congratulations on your Saint’s Day dear Olga! (A brave young woman who fled from Ukraine due to the Russian war) May God continue to grant you many blessings, and many years, Olga! Roses – a Watercolour by Olga.

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