When the Soul Kneels

Photo by Elimende Inagella on Unsplash

Someone said: “When the soul kneels at the Feet of Christ, what does it matter if the body is lying, standing, kneeling or prostrated?” It does not matter at all! When you will stop thinking of your body and of yourself, then you will be truly able to feel in union with the Power of God. ~ St. Gavrilia, from The Ascetic of Love

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:4-7

Divine Beauty of Simplicity

A fistful of garden bluebells and bonnie heather adorn my sunny windowsill.

Orthodoxy is really very simple, although some theologians try to make a complicated system of it. ~ Father George Cheremetieff (Embassy, Emigrants and Englishmen)

If you would be simple-hearted like the Apostles, would not conceal your human shortcomings, would not pretend to be especially pious, if you would walk free from hypocrisy, then that is the path. While it is easy, not everyone can find it or understand it. This path is the shortest way to salvation and attracts the grace of God. Unpretentiousness, guilelessness, frankness of soul – this is what is pleasing to the Lord, Who is lowly of heart. Except ye become like children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of God (Mt. 18:13). ~ Elder Leonid of Optina quoted in Living God’s Word by Fr. Silouan Benedict, Bangalore, India

Orthodoxy is life. One must not talk about it; one must live it. ~ Elder Nektary of Optina

Introduction to the Orthodox Church (short, simple, edifying videos) ~ Frederica Mathewes-Green

Reflecting the Refulgent

Orans Icon

The fasting season is a period of spiritual illumination and of adorning the soul with the sanctifying presence of God. ~ Patriarch Daniel of Romania

Fasting supports the prayer of a believer who considers his connection with God as the centre, the Light, and the nourishment of his soul. ~ Patriarch Daniel of Romania

Today is also one of the feast days for the ancient, Miraculous Kursk Root Icon: Theotokos of the Sign (Orans). It’s a Holy Consolation which many of us have been blessed to venerate in person.

May we try to emulate our Most Holy Theotokos by always saying “yes” to God, for in doing so… we shall thrive and shine – reflecting the True and Illuminating Light of Christ!

May your Lenten Journey be Peaceful and Fruitful!


6th century Akathist (Hymn) to the Theotokos chanted in English

Ocean of Love

Detail of Shell Mosaic, Angel Wing, by Marie

…whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! ~ Psalm 8:8-9

When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you… the hard trials that come will not hurt you. ~ Isaiah 43:2

The soul cannot get enough of beholding the beauty of nature. Oh, if man would only lift his mind above this earthly realm to the Heavenly Jerusalem, to the inconceivable beauty of Paradise where the finite, earthly mind ceases to operate… There every saved soul will live in an ocean of love, sweetness, joy, amazement, and wonder! ~ Elder Ephraim, Arizona Monastery


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

Spiritual Yum Yums

Photo by Irena

The various patristic texts, which thank God are available by the thousands today, are very helpful. One can find whatever one needs and desires in these books. They are authentic spiritual nourishment and a sure guide on the spiritual path. However, in order to be of benefit to us, they have to be read with humility and prayer… We do not need great knowledge to be devout. If we concentrate and ponder on the few things we know, our heart will be spiritually embroidered. One may be profoundly affected by a single hymn, while another may feel nothing, even though he may know all the hymns by heart, as he has not entered into the spiritual reality. So, read the Fathers, even one or two lines a day. They are very strengthening vitamins for the soul. ~ Elder Paisios the Athonite 

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.

Happy Sts. Peter & Paul Day!

July 12/June 29

Icon of Saints Peter (left) and Paul (right).

The long Apostles’ Fast is over!

Greetings on this ancient, joyful feast day, commemorating the Holy Apostles Saints Peter and Paul. They are celebrated together because of their great roles in the Church as fathers and guides to all Christians.

O first-enthroned among the apostles and teachers of the whole world: Entreat the Master of all, that He grant peace to the world: and great mercy to our souls. ~ Troparion of Apostles Peter & Paul (Tone 4)

With hymns of praise let us honour the true preachers of piety, the all-radiant stars of the Church: Peter, the rock of Faith, and Paul, the teacher of the truth and initiate of the mysteries of Christ. For both of them having sown the word of truth in the ears of the faithful beseech Christ God Who giveth fruitfulness unto all, that our souls be saved. ~ Stichera for Apostles Peter & Paul (Tone 6)

Remembering the Old English Poem associated with the tradition of harvesting lavender on (or around) this particular Feast Day, we added a small, fresh bouquet of Provence Lavender at the festal icon of Saints Peter and Paul. “If you wish lavender bushy and tall, then tend on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

We have 4 lavender bushes that need “tending”. Their harvested stems are bundled securely into individual bouquets, (but not too tightly, and making sure they’re not damp) then hung upside down (flowers at bottom) to dry in the house, avoiding direct sunlight. It can take about 3 weeks for the stems and flowers to dry. Meanwhile, the house smells amazing! Lavender can easily be made into drawer/closet/car sachets, sleep pillows, or kept/shared as a dried floral wall decoration. If they dry straight enough, you can pop them into a dry vase to keep. I also strip some buds off several stems and put them in a lidded glass jar and stored in a dark kitchen cupboard- for use in… tea, lemonade, vinaigrettes, or baking. During winter use, it’s a joy to remember they were picked on a sunny summer Saints’ Day! Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, pray to God for us!

Culinary Lavender Summer Recipes…
Lavender-Rose Vegan Mini Mochi
Lavender Dream Cookies

Happy Saint’s Day – Reader Peter H.! May God grant you many years!

Memory Eternal – J. Paul T. 🐓 and Paul G.!

What Shines Through

Christ is Risen!
Today is Radonitsa, or Day of Rejoicing!

Peaceful sunset in the ancient city of Mtskheta, Georgia. ~ Shared by friends of the parish: Garret and Anastasia.

The Orthodox Church of Georgia traces its ancient origins in tradition to the missionary efforts of the Holy Apostle Andrew in the first century.

A Shining Hymn of Pascha-tide!
Shine O New Jerusalem
The Angel cried unto the Lady full of grace:
Rejoice, O Pure Virgin!
Again I say: Rejoice!
Thy Son is risen from His three days in the tomb.
With Himself He hath raised all the dead.
Rejoice, all ye people!
Shine, shine, O New Jerusalem,
The glory of the Lord has shone on you.
Exult now and be glad, O Zion,
Be radiant, O Pure Theotokos,
In the Resurrection of thy Son!

~ Ninth Ode, Paschal Canon

What shines through us
Comes from inside out…
Our light we must find
To better know ourselves… ~ Garret L.

Hell is a fall, not a place.
Heaven is flight, not a cloud! 
May our souls soar up to Heaven
with the grace of love
and rest comfortably there. ~ Garret L.

Truly He is Risen!

Branches of Inner Stillness

Photo shared by Irena

Silence fosters stillness; it is indispensable for stillness. Inner stillness, however, goes beyond silence insofar as its aim is to purify the heart and issue in pure prayer. That purification involves the body in its entirety, because body and soul, like mind and heart, are ultimately inseparable. In the words of St. Mark the Ascetic, “The intellect cannot be still unless the body is still also; and the wall between them cannot be demolished without stillness and prayer.” Silence is the prerequisite for inner stillness, and only inner stillness enables us truly to listen to God, to hear His voice, and to commune with Him in the depths of our being. Yet silence and stillness are, like prayer itself, gifts that God can and wants to bestow upon us. The greatest truth about us is that God has created us with a profound longing, a burning thirst for communion with Himself. We can easily pervert that longing into an idolatrous quest for something other than God. Yet God remains faithful even in our times of apostasy. Like the father of the Prodigal Son, He always awaits our return. Once we begin that journey homeward, through repentance and an ongoing struggle against our most destructive passions, God reaches out to embrace, to forgive and to heal all that is broken, wounded and wasted. He reaches into the very fabric of our life, to restore within us the sublime image in which we were made… ~ Fr. John Breck

It’s coming to that amazing time again of recharging our spiritual batteries together. With purpose, we prepare our own humble journeys home to the Greatest Christian Feast of Feasts, Holy Pascha (Easter), the Resurrection of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Travelling the quiet routes of the Great Lenten roads ahead, we choose to make bright efforts in good faith, and to the best of our abilities. Our dear Lord desires us to come to Him and fill us with good things… now and forever!

Tomorrow is an invitation of God’s Grace.

Tomorrow is Forgiveness Sunday.

However, today, I bow to you in spirit, bending the knees of my heart, and ask you to please forgive me.

God forgives!

Isn’t that beyond wonderful? God FORGIVES!

May your upcoming Lenten Journey be Peaceful… and may your Branches of Inner Stillness bear Good Fruit.

With Love in Christ.

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