Privilege of Prayer

Image by Ri Butov from Pixabay

No matter what misfortune might befall you, no matter what unpleasantness might occur, say ‘I will endure this for Jesus Christ’s sake!’ Just say that, and you will feel better, for the Name of Jesus Christ is powerful… Before It, all difficulties abate, and demons disappear. Your annoyance and faintness of heart will abate when you repeat His most sweet Name… ~ St. Anthony of Optina

When life hurls kitchen sinks our way; duck, cover, carry on, and ask God for help!

Or, we can choose to sit like a bump on a log, waiting for help to be doled out like a grand prize, as if it’s our due… because why should we have to ask for help? Doesn’t God know everything, anyway?

We are indeed given free will. God wants us as collaborators, and it’s up to us to decide whether to ask, or not ask for help. Even if we’ve never asked for help before! God loves us, truly loves us, and waits patiently for us to come to Him.

I’d like to re-share these short, powerful, (tried and true) prayers, to use when sucker-punched with anxiety over any (or constant) painful situation that rears its ugly head, or even if we’re not quite sure of what to pray for someone:

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on (fill in the blank)!

Or… Lord, help!

Or…

O Lord, You love (name) more than I,
And You can help (name) better than I,
And You know better than I, what is profitable for (him)(her).
So do for (name) what is best- only save (him)(her).

The short prayer above “O Lord, You love” is so very helpful, and positively over-rides useless, worrisome thoughts that may otherwise spin those windmills of our mind out of control. It also helps teach how to pray for someone when we’re not sure of how to pray. Feel free to add on your concerns in your own words. Unselfish, heartfelt prayer is prayer.

Prayer helps us to Faithfully endure uncertainties.

The Powerful and Sweetest Name of Jesus imbues us with Strength.

St. Gavrilia, the newly canonized saint (Oct. 3, 2023) whom I deeply revere, says in The Ascetic of Love (page 246):

When we… think of those for whom we wish to pray, we are induced to so by love. “Lord, You are the Source of Love. It is from this Source of Love that I draw too, and I offer you this person. Lord, I pray to You, grant him [her] Your Light, grant him Your Mercy, grant him Strength, grant him Faith, grant him all the abundant Blessings that You grant. All I can offer is my humble love.” After this introduction, you take a knot of the Komboskini [Prayer Rope] and say: “I pray for so and so… and for so and so…” visualizing each of these persons at the Feet of Christ, praying on their knees before Him – themselves in person, as the anonymous author of the Way of a Pilgrim says. I have long years of experience that with this prayer God works many miracles. Because God wants us as <<collaborators>>, no matter how worthless we may be. For we are His Creatures, and it is with these Creatures of His that He has to work…

 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ~ Philippians 4:13

There’s nothing is quite so precious as our praising God, even in adversity, and to humbly show gratitude thanking Him for all His Blessings… and for hearing us (even if the situation currently seems unresolved)! Because He HAS heard us, and WILL DO what’s best, according to His Plan.

What a privilege to carry what weighs upon our hearts to the Lord in prayer!

Through the prayers and intercessions of our most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, our Guardian Angels, St. Gavrilia, and all the saints… thank you dear Lord, for hearing our prayers!

Amen!

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 

No Matter Where…

Moloa’a Bay Sunrise on Kauai – July 2023

God travels our road,
and no matter where we go…
our angel’s there too!

I’m out of practice with international travelling. It’s been a few years!

Thankfully, we received a trip blessing before departure on our recent and amazing family vacation – which began with a huge hiccup at a connecting airport… with hundreds waiting in line to go through customs, (many apparently) for a Taylor Swift concert.

I accepted the possible inevitability it was God’s Will we might miss our next flight. There was nothing to do but patiently go through the long process. In the near 2 hour line up, I found myself quietly humming Lord Have Mercy a prayer of the heart I’d taught the Youth Choir – who sang it (as recorded below) at concert, during Palm Sunday Liturgy this year.

Lord Have Mercy Hymn – Youth Choir 2023

This serene piece (possibly hummed several hundred times while waiting in line) calmed me, and it seemed I could almost hear the Youth Choir’s precious voices singing along, as if in accompaniment!

In a nutshell… once passed security, we made a desperate, sweaty 10 minute dash (dragging our carry-on), and actually boarded the plane shutting its doors! Whew! Six hours later we arrived safely in beautiful Kauai, Hawaii.

Mahalo ke Akua (thanks be to God)!

Be that as it may, it was still surprising and disconcerting to remember (I’d conveniently forgotten) that no matter where we go, we always manage to pack along our imperfect inner selves. Ack! There’s no escaping this, even on holiday in paradise!

Familiar foibles sneakily surfaced, and (unless constantly playing in the ocean) the high humidity magnified an existing (hard to believe I’m sure, ha-ha!) grump factor.

Our travel icons on the lanai – Kauai 2023

With my comfort zone challenged, I happily rediscovered that conscious repetition of Thank you God inspires true appreciation of His Creation.

Sincere gratitude helped me explore and happily embrace more unexpected adventures as they came during our vacation.

All in all, it was a joy to share new and meaningful experiences with loved ones. And, with apologies to my long-suffering Guardian Angel… I learned to embrace higher humidity!

It’s good to go – and good to come home… and very good to gird up one’s loins to resume the Me Battle again!

Mahalo for visiting Blisswood! I hope this finds you well.

With much Aloha in Christ! ❤️

Sufficient to Suffice

Image by Amy Spielmaker from Pixabay

If I do not feel a sense of joy in God’s creation, if I forget to offer the world back to God with thankfulness, I have advanced very little upon the Way. I have not yet learnt to be truly human. For it is only through thanksgiving that I can become myself… Christianity is more than a theory about the universe, more than teachings written down on paper; it is a path along which we journey – in the deepest and richest sense, the way of life… Joyful thanksgiving, so far from being escapist or sentimental, is on the contrary entirely realistic – but with the realism of one who sees the world in God, as the divine creation. ~ Metropolitan Kallistos Ware (The Orthodox Way)

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

As we journey life’s path we sense God’s Presence in the most unexpected places! Numinous Viewpoints pop up everywhere. When our spiritual eyes glimpse the Extraordinary within the so-called ordinary, we perceive that the Little Things in life are in fact – Exceptional!

God satiates our souls with joy and wonder!

He is MORE than Sufficient to Suffice!

Greeting you all today with Love and Gratitude in Christ.

In the Joy of His Creatures

A Harris Hawk, seeking her food from God.

Greetings on the Feast of the Holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon! To this very day, and through his holy prayers and healings, he’s been very helpful with family and friends!

When God, who is absolute fullness, brought creatures into existence, it was not done to fulfill any need but so that his creatures should be happy to share his likeness, and so that he himself might rejoice in the joy of his creatures as they draw inexhaustibly upon the Inexhaustible. ~ St. Maximus the Confessor

He will cover you under his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge. ~ Psalm 91:4

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? … St. Matthew 6: 25-34

My rejoicing heart has taken flight!

One of my most favourite birds in the worlda falcon, flew to – and landed on my gloved arm (several times)!

My wonder-cup brims and runneth over with spiritual delight and gratitude to God – for allowing me the honour and privilege of interacting with these wild and majestic creatures… A day I’ll always treasure and remember.

Thank you God, for your Gift of Nature!

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

Frēond

An Affinity of Apple Blossoms Vie in Tandem for Sunshine

The Old English word frēond is the source of the word friend – which means to love, like, honour, to set free from slavery or confinement.

On the flip side of the coin, the Old English word  fēond, (frēond WITHOUT an “R”) meant fiend an enemy, foe, hater, reviler, devilish. These two completely opposite Old English words are separated by just one letter, as they continue today in modern English.

Throughout my life and like most people, I’ve experienced the many degrees of kith and kin friendships – including affinity of neighbours, classmates, acquaintances, and coworkers. But, I’ve found the most true, meaningful, and lasting of friendships are those rooted in a deep, spiritual bond. Our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ unites us in understanding and purpose… To help us grow together toward the Light… To help us Bloom and acquire the Fruits and Gifts of the Holy Spirit… To help us become the friends of God. What a Friend we have in Jesus! His Amazing Love never changes! Thank you Oh most Holy Trinity our God! Glory be to Thee!

God loves us more than a father, mother, friend, or any else could love, and even more than we are able to love ourselves. ~ St. John Chrysostom

A faithful friend is beyond price, since he regards his friend’s misfortunes as his own, and suffers with him, sharing his trials until death. ~ St. Maximus the Confessor

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. ~ Proverbs 18:24

The genuiness of a friend is shown at a time of trial, if he shares the distress you suffer. ~ St. Thalassios the Libyan

Concern yourself only that you have God for a friend, and do not be afraid of anything. Behold, He is your only friend Who loves you without change. ~ St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Sakura

Japanese Cherry Blossoms Represent Renewal and Optimism

Happy Saint’s Day Owen! March 4/17

Billowing clouds of pink and white Sakura flowers herald winter’s end… And we are as enriched, and as delighted, as our gardens!

Without winter there would be no spring, and without spring there would be no summer. So it is also in the spiritual life: a little consolation, and then a little grief – and thus little by little we work out our salvation. Let us accept everything from the hand of God. If He comforts us, let us thank Him. And if He doesn’t comfort us – let us thank Him. ~ St. Anatoly of Optina

May your Lenten Journey be peaceful and fruitful.

Path of God

Ancient pathway Mystras, Greece – 2017

The path of God is a daily cross. ~ St. Isaac the Syrian

Make your one aim in life the doing of the will of Jesus in every circumstance, however important or trifling it may seem. ~ St. Ignatius Brianchaninov

Continue your path with courage, with much courage. Let your heart rejoice in the Lord, and He will grant it all nourishment and all energy that is needed so that it does not seem to collapse. Nothing should seem difficult to you. ~St. Luke of Simferopol

We travel many paths in life. With God’s help we make our way along the right one. Sometimes distracting side trails appear, but if we aim to do God’s Will, we discern that most navigational “shortcuts” may trip us up. Meanwhile, God protects us, and our guardian angel is always present.

Speaking of paths, don’t forget to have a trip blessing before starting a new adventure… It’s the best travel insurance! I particularly remember a certain vacation of hiking with my family in the wilds (of B.C.). As I plodded along, my husband and children cavorted far ahead, chatting and laughing. Pretty soon they rounded a bend in the trail, and vanished from sight and sound.

I thirstily drank in the beauty and wonder of God’s nature amid tall fragrant forest firs and birdsong. Beside the path, leaf mould and damp mosses covered ancient nursing stumps sprouting new life… And I realized it was high time to catch up with my family, so I broke into a jog.

About 100 feet into my run, I “was stopped”.

I simply couldn’t move, and literally stood still. Frozen.

Within two seconds of wondering what was going on(?!?), a sudden great crack resounded, and a giant limb of a tree, fell directly across the path, about 10 feet in front of me! It was massive, and fell exactly where I would have been jogging, had my Guardian Angel not stopped me.

Able to move freely again, I was shaken with amazement and gratitude for a few minutes. Crossing myself, I thanked God and my Guardian Angel profusely. (I also remember waving an additional thumbs-up, air greeting of hello – to my Guardian Angel.)

Raucous ravens shook my reverie and I sighed, “Okay, okay, I get it, I’m going!” Adrenaline fuelled an easy straddle of the downed limb as I tore off to catch up to my family.

Grace and Protection abounded on that path… with God’s help ever before me, and my Guardian Angel always beside me. Amen!

But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. ~ St. Matthew 10:30

Do not say, “this happened by chance, while this came to be of itself.” In all that exists there is nothing disorderly, nothing indefinite, nothing without purpose, nothing by chance … How many hairs are on your head? God will not forget one of them. Do you see how nothing, even the smallest thing, escapes the gaze of God? ~ St. Basil the Great

In His Garden

Candlelight Streams onto Flowers by the Most Holy Theotokos Icon

We have so many things to be thankful for! Our daily bread, health, family, friends, prayers and kindness from others, and all the so-called ordinary things mistakenly taken for granted – that aren’t ordinary at all.

Children seem more observant of blessings. A mother just shared something precious. Their family baked a Saint Basil’s Day Cake for the Feast yesterday, and her youngest received the special $2 coin hidden in the cake. The thoughtful child insisted the mother take the coin and find a way to give it to the homeless. The child said, “I have everyfing, and some don’t have nuffin’!”

Everything is God’s and we are His guests… although sometimes we feel that everything belongs to us. We become used to His many blessings and blindly expect that all good things are a given.

Nothing stays the same. Everything changes… Except God.

Let’s make efforts to be considerate houseguests appreciating our Divine Host’s Bountiful Blessings.

For, when we’re out in nature, or in church, or going about our daily lives, we are in His Garden, surrounded by the Beauteous Art of Creation.

With opened eyes, we glimpse it… everywhere.

For as long as you are on earth, consider yourself a guest in the Household of Christ. If you are at the table, it is He who treats you. If you breathe air, it is His air you breathe. If you bathe, it is in His water you are bathing. If you are traveling, it is over His land that you are traveling. If you are amassing goods, it is His goods you are amassing. If you are squandering, it is His goods that you are squandering. If you are powerful, it is by His permission that you are strong. If you are in the company of men, you and the others are His guests. If you are out in nature, you are in His garden. If you are alone, He is present. If you set out or turn anywhere, He sees you. If you do anything, He remembers. He is the most considerate Householder by Whom you were ever hosted. Be careful then toward Him. In a good household, the guest is required to behave. These are all simple words but they convey to you a great truth. All the saints knew this truth and they governed their lives by it. That is why the Eternal Householder rewarded them with eternal life in heaven and glory on earth. ~St. Nikolai Velimirovich

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