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.

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! May God grant you many years!

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

In the Form of a Dove

Beautiful Dome Painting on round canvas, by Marie Proe ~ Niagara Falls, New York

January 19/6

Greetings on Holy Theophany!

Christ is Baptised! In the Jordan!

Today’s Great Feast commemorates the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River by St. John the Baptist. Today the Heavens are opened. Today the Holy Spirit descends in the form of a dove. Today God the Father’s Voice from heaven declares Jesus Christ is His beloved Son. Today the Illuminating Light and Mystery of the Holy Trinity appears to the inhabited earth!

May blessings abound
With God’s gracious Love,
So let our hearts soar
On wings like a dove!

Good Day and Good Feast to you!

Epiphany Carol from Patmos, Greece.

A Blessed Christmas! Meriġe Crīstesmæsse!

Detail of the Nativity Icon brings to mind the Nativity Kontakion (Short Hymn of a Feast): Today a Virgin giveth birth unto the Supersubstantial, and earth offereth a cavern to the Unapproachable, angels together with shepherds sing praises, the Wise Men journey on with the Star. For, for our sakes, God Who is before all the ages, is born a little Child. ~ 5th Century St. Romanus the Melodist

Christ is Born! Happy First Day of the Nativity!

Meriġe Crīstesmæsse is an ancient salutation from pre-12th century Old English, which meant a Blessed Christ’s Mass.” Today Meriġe Crīstesmæsse has morphed into the joyful Seasonal Greeting of Merry Christmas, or Happy Christmas!

Thy Nativity O Christ our God, hath arisen upon the world as the Light of Wisdom. For at it, those who worshipped the stars, were, by a Star, taught to adore Thee. The Sun of Righteousness and to know Thee, the Orient from on high. O Lord, glory to Thee! ~ Nativity Tropar (Longer Hymn of the Feast) Composed by 5th century St. Romanus the Melodist

Christ is Born! Give ye glory! Christ comes from heaven meet ye Him! Christ is on earth be ye exalted, O all the earth sing unto the Lord, and sing praises in gladness O ye people, for He hath been glorified. ~ Ode 1 of the Nativity Canon

In keeping with the situation… Here is a beautiful, a cappella Nativity Folk Carol, “Heaven and Earth” as recorded by our parish in 2014.

Heaven & Earth

Past Nativity Posts’ Resource

Church Bells in Ayia Napa, Cypress – Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

May the Light of Bethlehem’s Star illuminate and warm our hearts on this coming Bright Feast of Christ’s Holy Nativity!

National Public Radio NPR Broadcast with Blisswood on Orthodox Christmas Published January 6, 2023

Our Little Nativity Creche Published by issuu magazine 2022

Re-Gift Boomerang Published by issuu magazine 2022

Christ is Born! Posted January 6, 2022

Christ is Born! Glorify Him! Posted January 7, 2021

Happy 2nd Day of Christmas Posted January 8, 2022

Happy 3rd Day of Christmas Posted January 9, 2022

4th Day of Nativity Posted January 10, 2022

5th Day of Nativity – the Holy Innocents Posted January 11, 2022

6th Day of Nativity Posted January 12, 2022

Apodosis of Nativity Posted January 13, 2022

St. Basil’s Feast Day Posted January 14, 2022

St. Basil’s Day Cake Recipe Posted January 14, 2021

Greetings on St. Basil’s Day Posted January 14, 2021

Holy Theophany Posted January 19, 2022

St. Sophia Voices of Faith Hope and Love – Youth Choir Virtual Nativity Concert 2020

St. Sophia Voices of Faith Hope and Love – Youth Choir Virtual Nativity Tropar 2020

St. Sophia Adult Choir Sing the 16th Century Coventry Carol – 2014 Concert (In Honour of the Holy Innocents)

It’s Nativity Poem/Song

Little Pine Tree Poem/Song

The Holly Poem

The Candy Cane Poem/Song

St. Sophia Adult Choir Sing Little Pine Tree – 2014 Concert

Prayerfully wishing you God’s Blessings of good health, strength of spirit, and peaceful joy!

With Love in Christ.

Greetings on the Dormition

Photo and quote by Juliana

Greetings on the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God!

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… She is constantly, by our side, and all too often we forget her. ~ Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

The Venerable Bede (7th century) likened the Virgin Mary to a white lily… symbolizing her purity, innocence and virginity. The floral centre of yellow anthers, are as the golden radiance of her soul.

 As long as they (Christ’s Disciples) were in Palestine, holy Mary spent time with them, helping them confirm themselves in the Saviour’s commandments, encouraging them to all goodness and cheering them. But when the disciples departed from Palestine to distant lands alien and unknown, She remained in John’s house. She did not waste Her time with trifles, but used every minute for the benefit of mankind, the very human race that crucified Her innocent Son! She dedicated her labours and care to visiting the sick and the imprisoned; she comforted, taught, and instructed anyone who needed support or counsel. She lived strictly according to Her Son’s commandments and therefore she could assuage people’s sorrows. She was a source of healing, and shade, and all who drew from that source felt freshness and relief and were fortified by heavenly love. The good works to which she entrusted Herself filled her soul with great blessedness and consolation, which were the reward for the woes and calamities she previously bore. For only after Her Son was resurrected did her eyes open to what had happened, and hope arrived. St. Nikolai Velimirovic  (Excerpt from The Theotokos on Her Deathbed)

An old English name for the Hosta garden plant, is the Assumption Lily, as it blooms close to the Dormition. 

The liturgical colour for feasts honouring the Theotokos is blue. The clergy wear blue vestments, and the faithful sometimes wear a bit of blue too, in her honour. In icons, while her veil is red…the colour of divinity, as she is the Theo(God) tokos(Bearer), her clothes under the veil are green or blue, the colours of humanity. Also, upon her veil, are three stars, which represent her eternal virginity: before, during, and forever after the birth of Our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, she remained a pure virgin. At weddings it is still traditional to wear “a little something blue” in honour of the Theotokos.

St. Ambrose Bishop of Milan (330-397), wrote:  “Mary’s life, is a rule of life for all.” …It is important that as Orthodox Christians we know and examine the life of the Theotokos who, after Christ Jesus, so influenced every creature, both the bodiless ones and the earthborn, before, during, and after her earthly sojourn. ~ From The Life of  The Virgin Mary, The Theotokos, written and compiled by Holy Apostles Convent

Beautiful Walking Tour inside the Church built over the Virgin Mary’s empty tomb (Thank you for sharing Irena!)

Troparion Tone 1: In giving birth thou didst preserve thy virginity, and in thy falling asleep thou hast not forsaken the world, O Theotokos. Thou hast been translated unto life, for thou art the Mother of Life, and by thy supplications, thou dost deliver our souls from death.

Kontakion Tone 2: The tomb, nor mortality could not hold the Theotokos, who is tireless her prayers and supplications. For, as the Mother of Life, she was translated unto life, by Him Who dwelt within her Ever-Virgin womb.

Hold on tightly as possible to the Robe of our Great Lady the Theotokos, that she might help you. May the Theotokos, the tender and caring Mother of the entire world, protect you and the entire world. ~ St. Paisios


Dormition of St. Anna

Church Icons of The Most Holy Theotokos – Image by Iulia Radu from Pixabay

Greetings on this wonderful Feast! What a glorious day! Our priest brought a small relic of St. Anna (from Mt. Athos) this morning for the parish to venerate after Divine Liturgy. Blessed joy!

Greetings on the Dormition of St. Anna the mother of the Theotokos. (Julian Calendar July 25/Aug. 7)

Beautiful Icon of St. Anna

St. Anna (Ann or Anne, from Hebrew Hannah – means favour or grace) is descended from the lineage of King David, and the mother of the Virgin Mary, and grandmother of Jesus Christ. 

O Godly-minded Anna, thou didst give birth unto God’s pure Mother who conceived Him Who is our Life. Wherefore, thou hast now passed with joy to thy heavenly rest, wherein is the abode of them that rejoice in glory; and thou askest forgiveness of sins for them that honour thee with love, O ever-blessed one. ~ Troparia


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)

Gabhaim Molta Bríghde 

An Ancient Irish Chapel – Image by Josef Kotarba Pixabay

Gabhaim Molta Bríghde  (pronounced gaw-im molta breejya) means I Give Praise to St. Brigid.

Greetings on St. Brigid of Ireland’s Feast Day!

Along with St. Patrick, Holy St. Brigid is the Patroness and Protector of Ireland.

Here is a link to my simple folk song praising St. Brigid of Ireland.

The YouTube video below is a Gaelic Folk Song about St. Brigid, with an English Translation in the description section. The lineage of Gabhaim Molta Bríghde’s ancient, traditional melody and lyrics are from “unknown sources” however this arrangement of Sheet Music is sometimes attributed to Tomás Ó Flannghaile (Thomas Flannery), 1846-1916.

Gaelic with English Translation

Here is a fascinating article with excellent photos by Clare Monardo, describing An Exploration of the Holy Wells of St. Brigid. (What a wonderful pilgrimage this would make!)

A Gift of Hospitality – St. Brigid Abbess of Kildare.

On St. Brigid’s Day, it can be traditional to enjoy the Irish fare of oat bannocks, colcannon, barm brack, and perhaps a wee draught of beer.

How to make a St. Brigid Cross, woven from rushes. (Thank you for sharing your newly woven St. Brigid’s Rush Cross, Irena and Juliana!)

St. Brigid’s association with the miracles of fire and the closeness of her day to tomorrow’s Feast of the Meeting of our Lord in the Temple (also known as Candlemas), are closely linked.

On St. Brigid’s day, we celebrate Christ, the Light unto all Nations – the Eternal Spring Who draws nigh to all.

Troparion of Venerable Mother Brigid, Enlightener of Ireland (Tone 4): Instructed by the discourses of the holy Patrick, thou didst arrive at the utmost west, heralding the Orient which hath visited us from on high. Wherefore, we bless thee, O venerable mother Brigid, and cry out to thee: Pray thou in behalf of souls.

Kontakion of Venerable Mother Brigid, Enlightener of Ireland (Tone 6): Rejecting thy noble rank, and loving the godly monastic life, from the wood of the oak didst thou raise up a convent, the first in thy land; and having there united a multitude of nuns to God, thou didst teach the surrounding lands to cry to the Lord: Have mercy on us!

St. Brigid continues to bestow blessings upon those who come to her with faith, interceding with Christ our God, that He may have mercy on our souls.

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