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

Reflecting the Sun of Righteousness

Image by Jessica Joh from Pixabay

We are mirrors whose brightness is wholly derived from the sun that shines upon us. ~ C. S. Lewis

Thoughts. Actions. Affect.
Are we givers – or takers
of all Light’s spectrum?
Let us make haste to
be robed in Healing Sonshine
Everywhere present –
Impetus for growth –
Opening our heart’s eyes to
Reflect His Bright Gift!

Only by absorbing His Light can we reflect His Light. Everything we do matters. Every moment, every decision we make affects ourselves, our families, friends, our coworkers in countless… and often imperceptive ways. We are responsible for flavouring each situation. If we can find joy in the smallest of things, we can choose to be joyful, and be as light, reflecting the Light, even in the midst of turmoil.

May we all choose to be swathed today within our Lord’s warm, redeeming Sonshine! May we joyfully reflect His Refulgent Light! Amen!

Happy Saint’s Day Juliana! May God grant you many years! Saint’s Day Cake baked by Anysia.

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.

Chrysalis

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Like a butterfly, we struggle to emerge from life’s various transitional states. Sometimes we’re tired. Sometimes we’re stuck. Sometimes there’s no progress whatsoever. Sometimes the chrysalis darkens and dies. But, if we gird up our loins, and punch our way through the cocoon’s tiny hole – to become whole, we begin anew! This challenging exit strategy fortifies our wings, and prepares us for flying. Through perseverance of trials, and with God’s help, we grow stronger!

May God bless our good intentions and efforts!

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!

Mantle of Salvation

Image by Iryna Bakurskaya from Pixabay

Happy Saint’s Day fr. dcn. Gordian – may God grant you many years!

I remember attending an adult baptism service years ago, and afterwards a non-Orthodox visitor went over and peered into the huge font. Looking perplexed, he came over and asked, “Where did all those lights go?” I wasn’t sure what he meant, and he explained further. “During the service the inside of that font was suddenly full of bright lights which came up and out of the water. I went over expecting to see light bulbs like hot tubs have, but there’s nothing!?” I told him that although I’d never seen this, he was obviously meant to…. and what he saw was holy… the hallowing of the water by the descent of the Holy Spirit.

It must have been beautiful!

Grant unto me the robe of Light, O Thou Who coverest Thyself with Light as with a garment, Christ our God, plenteous in mercy! ~ Irmos from Baptism Service

Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain. ~ Psalm 104:1-2

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. ~ St. John 8:12

While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light… ~ St. John 12:36

We have seen the True Light, we have received the heavenly Spirit, we have found the True Faith, worshipping the undivided Trinity: who hath saved us. ~Hymn at Divine Liturgy

  …having approached Light itself, the soul is transfigured into light. ~ St. Gregory of Nyssa

…O Giver of Light, enlighten the vesture of my soul and save me. ~ Exapostilarion Matins, Great and Holy Tuesday.

Christians, have we understood the great responsibility that we have taken on before God through baptism? Have we come to know that we must conduct ourselves as children of God, that we must align our will with the will of God, that we must remain free from sin, that we must love God with all our hearts and always patiently await union with Him? Have we thought about the fact that our heart should be so filled with love that it should overflow to our neighbour? Do we have the feeling that we must become holy and perfect, children of God and heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven? We must struggle for this, so that we may not be shown unworthy and rejected. Let none of us lose our boldness, nor neglect our duties, nor be afraid of the difficulties of spiritual struggle. For we have God as a helper, who strengthens us in the difficult path of virtue. ~ St. Nektarios of Aegina, The Path to Happiness

April in August

April the Sunflower – was planted from seed in “the month of” and duly designated as such, by a certain young gardener.

O Christian! Remember this once and for all: even on cloudy days the sunflower continues to follow the sun in its focused love, even though it cannot see the sun. The Sun that illumines our life’s path is the will of God. It does not always shine on us without clouds, often, clear days are followed by overcast days when rains, winds, and storms arise, No Christian is safe from these phenomena, these changes in spiritual weather. May our love for the Sun, the will of God, be as strong as the sunflower’s, so that even in days of hardship and sorrow, we will continue to sail unerringly along the sea of life, following the directions of the barometer and compass of God’s will that leads us to the safe haven of eternity. ~ St. John of Tobolsk, from The Sunflower

As requested… the exciting, and surprising conclusion to the April in July posting, regarding the saga of a Sunflower’s struggle to survive.

Yes, indeed!

April the Sunflower BLOOMS!

Despite April’s previous dramatic turmoils… such as literally losing her head, and having her tiny stem chomped on by marauding beetles – that rascally little Helianthus just soldiered on, undeterred by the grim reaper loitering menacingly (complete with scythe) for weeks, beside the compost bin!

Turning her daily tribulations into a tour de force, April overcame all odds, and has faithfully blossomed forth.

Never wallowing in self-pity, she just kept growing, and doing what any sensible sunflower is supposed to do… No matter what!

Meanwhile, April continues to thrive and provide life-lessons, much to our family’s delight.

It’s no mere coincidence that her sunflower leaves are heart-shaped!

You Grow Girl!

💚

From the Belly of Hades

Bleeding Hearts are surrounded by the comforting starry cosmos of Sweet Woodruff’s white flowers.

Greetings on:
The (movable) Feast of MidPentecost!
The annual feast of the Wonderworking Icon of the Inexhaustible Cup (Chalice)!

The Icon’s Akathist to the Theotokos for help with the struggle of various addictions is here.

Congratulations to my dear friend Irena on her Saint’s Day!

In Christianity, the Bleeding Heart flower represents the suffering that Christ endured for our sins, and the Theotokos’ grief seeing her Son on the Cross.

Tiny white stars of Sweet Woodruff flowers are symbolic of hope and humility. This perennial ground cover spreads its cheer where other herbaceous plants may find it difficult to thrive. It bursts into burgeoning blooms come early spring, then quietly seems to diminish in the summer. Its fragrant fresh flowers (mildly reminiscent of vanilla) and leaves were used for everything from air fresheners to bed-straw stuffing. Its flowers flavoured wine and jellies, and were used for other medicinal purposes. (Of course, one should always check with a doctor before using any medical herb they’re not familiar with.) Last, but not least – marauding deer abhor sweet woodruff in gardens… and that alone makes it extra sweet to me!

That being said, and setting rascally deer aside…. the many blessings in our lives are unavoidably peppered with banes, but it’s the banes that make each new blessing a heartfelt consolation!

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. ~ Romans 7:15. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. ~ Romans 7:19-20

Like St. Paul in his epistle to the Romans, we find ourselves in spiritual battles. We want to do what’s right, yet sometimes we do the very things we hate… even when knowing we’re wrong.

Granted, we can look back on the past – but don’t stare. Staring backwards can make one disheartened, overwhelmed and anxious. Everyone has a heartache, and we’re all dealing with struggles of some sort. Focus Forward!

Anxiety about ourselves means lack of faith; anxiety about our neighbour means pain. Feeling the intensity of other’s pain from within is accompanied by prayer and then comes the divine consolation. Therefore, you should pray as much as you can and then leave everything in the hands of God and calm yourself. Does God hurt His creatures less than you? Why worry? God gives a lot of comfort to anyone who is in spiritual pain and suffering for others because otherwise, one could not bear this burden… But from this pain comes true joy. ~ St. Paisios

Let the heavens rejoice; let earthly things be glad; for the Lord hath wrought might with His arm. He hath trampled down death by death; the first-born of the dead hath He become. From the belly of Hades hath He delivered us, and hath granted to the world great mercy. ~ Troparion of the Resurrection (Tone 3)

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