Riding the Thermals

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. ~ Isaiah 40:31

Yestereve I watched an eagle ride the thermals over local sea cliffs. Ignoring the inclement weather and taunting gulls, it persevered, soaring higher and higher, searching a broader scope and clearer vision of the tumultuous ocean below. It was hungry. It needed sustenance. It gently reminded me that when spiritually peckish or famished, we need to remember to unfurl our own little soul-wings… and seek to ride the Life-Giving Thermals of the Holy Spirit… Who uplifts us to sweet, incomprehensible heights, which our own little wings are much too fragile to attain, solely by their own power.

The cause of all preservation lieth in the Holy Spirit. If He think it fit to blow upon a man, He taketh him up above the things of the earth, maketh him grow, and settleth him on high. ~ Matins, Sixth Tone

Happy Feast Day! Today is also the Translation of the Relics of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker from Myra to Bari, Italy in 1087 AD. St. Nicholas’ other feast day is December 19/6.

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. Nicholas Feast Day

December 19/6

Happy St. Nicholas the Wonderworker Feast Day!

Children, I beseech you to correct your hearts and thoughts, so that you may be pleasing to God. Consider that although we may reckon ourselves to be righteous and frequently succeed in deceiving men, we can conceal nothing from God. Let us therefore strive to preserve the holiness of our souls and to guard the purity of our bodies with all fervor… ~ St. Nicholas of Myra (From the Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints, Vol. 4: by St. Demetrius of Rostov)

Today we’re also half way through the joyous Nativity Fast, in anticipation and preparation for the Birth of Christ!

Sung by the GG’s after Liturgy, on a past St. Nicholas Day… before heading home and tucking into a slice of our family’s traditional lenten St. Nicholas Day Pie recipe!

Wishing a most blessed and happy St. Nicholas feast day, to you and yours!

The Journey & Destination

Heading Out the Front Door and Looking to the Cross

Happy St. Nicholas Day! (December 19/6)

As with all great Journeys, we make the path by travelling it… and mindful, active preparation is paramount!

Today is the halfway point of the 40 day Nativity Fast!

Faithfully fixing our eyes on the Joyous, Inspiring Destination ahead, we trim our wicks as it were, and proceed with continued efforts (that, speaking personally… may feel huge, but in reality are mostly quite small) to greet the Shining Feast of The Nativity of Christ.

Beginning with this month’s earlier Feast Day of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple, the Katavasia Christ is Born is sung encouragingly at all vigil services… combining aspects of both the Journey and the upcoming Festal Destination. The hymns brim with Old Testament prophecies and exude mysterious prefigurements of His coming.

The Heavenly Babe calls each one of us to come to Him, with childlike faith… and fasting is a spiritual aid to do this. While there are also many celebratory fast-free periods throughout the church calendar year, half the church year is literally spent in fasting together.

Besides the Church’s usual weekly Wednesdays and Friday fast days, there are other Lenten times during the church calendar year. The most lengthy and strictest fast is the Great Lent before Pascha. Depending on the individual of course, practical health considerations (such as age, pregnancy, diabetes, etc.) may exclude full physical fasting… but there are countless other ways to spiritually fast.

Fasting of the body is food for the soul… Do you fast? Then feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, visit the sick, do not forget the imprisoned, have pity on the tortured, comfort those who grieve and who weep, be merciful, humble, kind, calm, patient, sympathetic, forgiving, reverent, truthful and pious, so that God might accept your fasting and might plentifully grant you the fruits of repentance. ~ St. John Chrysostom

Because we did not fast, we were chased out of Paradise; let us fast now, so that some day we return there. ~ St. Basil the Great

Of course, it would be easier to get to paradise with a full stomach, all snuggled up in a soft feather-bed, but what is required is to carry one’s cross along the way, for the kingdom of God is not attained by enduring one or two troubles, but many! ~ St. Anthony of Optina

Christ comes from heaven, meet ye Him! And so, like little children… let our souls fly and cling to the Heavenly Babe, and praise Him, for He is a God is Love. Let us spiritually reap the rays of His Light that illumines the world’s darkness… For He is the Sun of Righteousness, which knows no rising or setting, and He Shines ceaselessly!

Lord, Help

Crypt of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in Bari, Italy – 2017

There is no need to make long prayers, but extend your hands and say, ‘Lord, as you will and as you desire, lead me.’ If the conflict us urgent within you, say, ‘Lord help.’ He knows what is good for us, and He acts with mercy toward us. ~ St. Macarius the Great

Spiritual Vitamins

St. Nicholas Orphanos Church – Thessaloniki, Greece 2008

Christ is Risen!

Read often and insatiably the books of the teachers of the Church on divine providence, for they lead the mind to discern the order in God’s creatures and His actions, give it strength, and by their subtleness they prepare it to acquire luminous intuitions and guide it in purity toward the understanding of God’s creatures. Read also the Gospels, which God ordained for knowledge for the whole world, that you may find provisions for your journey in the might of God’s providence for every generation, and that your intellect may plunge deeply into wonder at Him. Such reading furthers your aim. Let your reading be done in a stillness which nothing disturbs… Reading assists the soul when she stands in prayer… From reading the soul is enlightened in prayer… Whenever it happens to you that your soul is shrouded by thick darkness from within and… for a brief time is deprived of spiritual comfort and the light of grace on account of the cloud of passions that overshadows her; and further, that the joy-producing power in your soul is curtailed for a little, and your mind is overshadowed by an unwonted mist: then do not be troubled in mind, do not lend a hand to despondency. But be patient, be engaged in reading the books of the Doctors of the Church, compel yourself in prayer, and expect to receive help. ~ St. Isaac the Syrian

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

Truly He is risen!

Happy Family Day!

Rear view of family housing in Bari, Italy – 2017. This is near St. Nicholas the Wonderworker Basilica, which houses his myrrh-streaming relics. They were moved in the 11th century from his original shrine in Myra, Turkey, to Bari, Italy- for protection, when Myra came under Saracen rule.

This year, secular Family Day also falls on the ancient and beautiful Feast of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple.

Happy Feast Day and Family Day to my family, near and far… Related by blood or Spirit. May God grant all your petitions according to your salvation!

Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. ~ Exodus 20:12

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brethren dwell in unity! ~Psalm 133:1

My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. ~ Proverbs 6:20

Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers. ~ Proverbs 17:6

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6

Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her… ~ Proverbs 31:28

As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. ~ Isaiah 66:13

For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother. ~ St. Matthew 12:50.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named… ~Ephesians 3:14-15

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. ~ Colossians 3:20

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers… ~ 1 Timothy 5:1

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. ~ 1 Timothy 5:8

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation… ~ 1 Peter 2:2

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. ~ 1 Peter 4:8

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