Thank You God

Sunrise on the Reef ~ Kauai 2023

Thank you God, for giving me this morning!

Each Dawn’s a Blessing!

Sing unto the Lord a new song and His praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea and all that is therein… ~ Isaiah 42:10

Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever… ~ Psalm 146:6

Every morning open a new page and put your signature on the blank. Whatever God wants, let Him write. ~ Gerontissa Gavrilia

May we grant Jesus – the Author of Life, to direct our day.

Let us Focus Forward!

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.!

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.

Receiving Him Into Our Own Arms

Parish Festal Icon of The Meeting of the Lord in the Temple ~ St. Luke 2:22-40

Greetings on the Feast! (February 15/2)

Today’s bright and beautiful feast day falls 40 days after the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is among the most ancient feasts, and since 450 AD, church candles are also blessed on this day as we remember Christ is our salvation, and the Light of the World.

Our lighted candles are a sign of the divine splendour of the One who comes to expel the dark shadows of evil and to make the whole universe radiant with the brilliance of His eternal light. Our candles also show how bright our souls should be when we go to meet Christ... We too should carry a light for all to see and reflect the radiance of the true light as we hasten to meet Him. The Light has come and has shone upon a world enveloped in shadows; the Dayspring from on high has visited us and given light to those who lived in darkness. This, then, is our feast, and we join in procession with lighted candles to reveal the light that has shone upon us and the glory that is yet to come to us through Him. So let us hasten all together to meet our God. The true Light has come, the light that enlightens every man who is born into this world. Let all of us, my brethren, be enlightened and made radiant by this light. Let all of us share in its splendour, and be so filled with it that no one remains in the darkness. Let us be shining ourselves as we go together to meet and to receive with the aged Simeon the Light whose brilliance is eternal... ~ St. Sophronius of Jerusalem (638 AD)

Detail from Meeting of the Lord in the Temple, parish Icon – St. Joseph the Betrothed holds two turtledoves (pigeons), and the Virgin Mary passes the Christ Child to St. Simeon, and aged St. Anna the Prophetess holds a scroll pertaining to the Babe’s Divinity, “This Child has created heaven and Earth.”

On today’s Feast of the Meeting of the Lord, when the heavens meet the earth, God meets man, history meets eternity, when – as our people beautifully say – spring and winter meet, may we also open our hearts for an encounter with the Lord… Open your hearts, listen to the depths of your thoughts, desires, feelings, anticipations, nostalgias, yearnings, the pursuits of your hearts. For our hearts are created in the image of God and they yearn for God; the truth is often buried in passions, desires, appetites, ambitions, prejudices. Let us free ourselves of them and meet the Lord, for He always comes to meet us. He is the One who came, who is with us, Who always comes to be with us. ~ Bishop Atanasije (Homily on the Meeting of our Lord)

In some places, white snowdrop flowers traditionally decorate churches on this special day. Old English Names for Snowdrops are Christ’s Flowers, Purification Flowers, Candlemas Bells, and Fair Maids of February.

Congratulations on the Feast! Today, spring and winter meet, and like blessed spiritual candles, may our hearts and souls shine and wax brightly… as we open our noetic arms to embrace Christ’s Divine Warmth, and Illumination!

The Only Constant

Skopelos Greek Church Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

Everything changes
Except our Lord Jesus Christ,
The only Constant.

He is Light, Life, Love,
Perpetual Truth, and Strength,
Hope, and Salvation.

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. ~ Hebrews 13:8

…lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. ~ St. Matthew 28:20

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. ~ Psalm 46:1

Greeting you on the 6th Day of Christmas!

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Happy Saint’s Day Anysia!

Aflame With Zeal

Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay

When you look at the candles and lamps burning in church, rise in thought from the material fire to the immaterial fire of the Holy Spirit, ‘for our God is a consuming fire.’ When you see and smell the fragrant incense, rise in thought to the spiritual fragrance of the Holy Spirit, ‘for we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ.’ ~ St. John of Kronstadt

In order to teach us that just as the vigil lamp cannot be lit without our hand, so too, our heart, our inward vigil lamp, cannot be lit without the holy fire of God’s grace, even if it were to be filled with all the virtues. All these virtues of ours are, after all, like combustable material, but the fire which ignites them proceeds from God. ~ St. Nikolai Velimirovich

In order to remind us that before anything else the Creator of the world created light, and after that everything else in order; And God said, let there be light: and there was light. And it must be so also at the beginning of our spiritual life, so that before anything else the light of Christ’s truth would shine within us. From this light of Christ’s truth subsequently every good is created, springs up and grows within us. ~ St. Nikolai Velimirovich

May the Light of Christ Illumine us all! Keep looking up… there’s always bright Sonshine above those heavy snow clouds!

No Greater Sin

Image by Daniel from Pixabay

I was somehow taken by the feeling of the universe’s sufferings. My experience from the First World War and the Russian Revolution that followed contributed to this. I lived for years in a suffocating atmosphere of Fratricidal hatred, first because of the World War and then because of the civil war. Since then it is better for me to hear about perhaps the thousands of victims of earthquakes, floods, epidemics and other disasters and catastrophes, which usually provoke the sympathy of all, than for wars – which almost without exception entice everyone to moral involvement in the killings. There is no greater sin than war. ~ St. Sophrony the Hagiorite

Pray for Peace!

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. ~ St. Matthew 5:9

Lord have Mercy!

Let Us Make a Joyful Noise!

Image by mokca from Pixabay

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. ~Psalm 100:1-5

…but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ… ~ Ephesians 5:18-20

Nothing elevates the soul, nothing gives it wings as a liturgical hymn does… We should offer up doxologies to God with fear and a contrite heart, in order that they may be accepted like fragrant incense… Nothing so arouses the soul, gives it wing, sets it free from the earth, releases it from the prison of the body, teaches it to love wisdom… as concordant melody and sacred song composed in rhythm. ~ St. John Chrysostom

Pray gently and calmly, sing with understanding and rhythm; then you will soar like a young eagle high in the heavens. Psalmody calms the passions and curbs the uncontrolled impulses in the body. ~ Evagrios the Solitary

To sing is to pray twice. ~ St. Augustine

Wherever there are spiritual melodies, there does the grace of the Spirit come, sanctifying the mouth and the soul. ~ St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain

Sing to God in love and humility of spirit, for the Lord rejoiceth therein. ~ St. Silouan the Athonite 

Only ecclesiastical music can express the secret movements of the heart, which are completely different than what worldly music expresses. For this reason the two kinds of music are totally different, just as shown by the words: “sing” and “chant.” ~Photios Kontoglou

In case you haven’t yet discovered this wonderful site of hymnody (in multiple languages), please enjoy: The Rudder Internet Radio Station Streaming Orthodox Music 24/7

May your day be harmoniously tuned with the Spirit… in holy, heartfelt psalmody!

As Trees of the Wood

Image by Peter H from Pixabay

Let us strengthen our roots by unfurling our prayers!

…let the fields rejoice, and all that is therein. Then shall the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the Lord, because he cometh to judge the earth. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. ~ Chronicles 16:34

Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary. ~ Psalm 28:2

Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. ~ Psalm 63:4

Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven. ~ Psalm 85:11

Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens. ~ Psalm 123:1

For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.~ Isaiah 55:12

Let all the trees of the forest dance and sing, let all the trees clap their hands. ~ Sunday of the Cross

…All things become opportunities for us to be joined  more closely with everything and everyone. They become occasions for thanksgiving and prayer.  Live in the midst of everything, nature and universe.  Nature is the secret Gospel. But when one does not possess inner grace, nature is of no benefit. Nature awakens  us, but it cannot bring us into Paradise. ~ St. Porphyrios (Wounded by Love)

Through Stillness

Image by John from Pixabay

Monastery in Meteora, Greece

When you go forth, guard what you have gathered. When the cage is opened, the birds fly out. And then we shall find no further profit in stillness. ~ St. John Climacus (The Ladder of Divine Ascent)

Love of God proceeds from conversing with him; this conversation of prayer comes about through stillness, and stillness comes with the stripping away of the self.  ~ St. Isaac the Syrian (The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life)

True wisdom is gazing at God. Gazing at God is silence of the thoughts. Stillness of mind is tranquillity which comes from discernment.  ~ St. Isaac the Syrian (Homily 64)

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