THE HOLY SPIRIT AND SPARROWS

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“And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” How much Love is hidden in this laconic, “modest” statement in Genesis 1:2! “And suddenly a sound came like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And all began to speak in other tongues, other doctrines, other teachings, of the Holy Spirit.” (Great Vespers of Pentecost). How lofty is the Holy Spirit’s descent in fiery tongues at the foundation of the Church! How different Pentecost is to Creation, and yet, it is the same vital outpouring of the Holy Spirit from the Lord, the Giver of Life.
“Beside them will the birds of the heaven lodge, from the midst of the rocks will they give voice.” (Psalm 103:12) Oh, and what a voice! Our balcony is perched on the 5th floor of a neighbourhood full of plane trees. I am lulled to sleep to the trill of nightingales when all other birds shush; I wake up to the chirping of swallows, warblers, swifts, sobre tits, collared doves, chickadees, tit-mice and crows … even if in a city. Branches reach out to our balcony handrail and literally hug our oleanders, jasmine and honeysuckle. I have always loved birds, any bird really, but I have always had a special fondness for sparrows.
“There will the sparrows make their nests; the house of the heron is chief among them. ” (Psalm 103:17) Recently, while in lockdown, I made up my mind to seek “company” in our neighbourhood. I placed a feeding dish on the floor of our balcony and put seed, grains and rice on its ledge. I also put another dish by its side, full of water, as Greek spring tends to get too hot and dry. A large pot of fully-grown oleander was strategically placed by their side. And I waited …
“All things wait on Thee, to give them their food in due season; when Thou givest it them, they will gather it.” (Psalm 103:27). To my disappointment, the first week or so nothing happened. Absolutely nothing, as if my plates were invisible even to branches that outreached towards them, touched them. But then, soon enough, a first visitor arrived, only to bring another one and another … To my excitement, my visitors were mostly sparrows, as this corner is a bit narrow for any bigger bird really to squeeze in. How moving was it to see the response of the sparrows to my care and how fast did they bring others to the feast! Just like the All-Holy Spirit empowered the apostles to bring others to the Feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. Indeed, was it not “the Holy Spirit [himself which] descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him”? (Luke 3:22).
“When Thou openest Thy hand, all things shall be filled with goodness”(Psalm 103: 28) Soon, I would work on my laptop but could not resist, now and then, to peep out, across our living room french doors: my tiny feathered friends outside were joyfully eating, jumping from one oleander branch to another, playing and bathing. How much did they enjoy the sunshine, how carefree were they and what a musical noise did they always make! In no less than another week, those tiny creatures, which were too tiny even for the palm of my hand, began to depend on me for their food, and I felt responsible for them. I noticed that whenever absorbed in my papers, I forgot to replenish their food, they would still arrive and sit in the middle of their empty plate and stare at me in disappointment.
“Thou wilt send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created; and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.” (Psalm 103:30) My heart melts with joy just to watch them no doubt sing praises to our Lord. If I, sinful as I am, have such love and com-passion for those tiny creatures, how much more does our Lord care for them? “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.” Amazing! And what a joy and comfort to hear from our Lord’s infallible lips that “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)
“Likewise the Spirit also helps our weakness: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8:26). I have always felt the Holy Spirit a bit elusive and enigmatic as the third person of the Holy Trinity. So essential, so powerful, and yet so mysterious! St. Seraphim of Sarov revealed to Motovilov that the true aim of our Christian life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. As for fasts, and vigils, and prayer, and almsgiving, and every good deed done because of Christ, they are only means of acquiring the Holy Spirit.
“Did ye receive the Holy Spirit?” (Acts 19:2) What a question that of Paul to the Ephesian
disciples to answer! Isn’t it really asked of every one of us? Is it enough to answer: I have received the mystery or sacrament of the Spirit after my Baptism, when I was anointed with the Holy Chrism? Or does all this go deeper? Lev Gillet thinks that the real question we have to answer is whether and how this seed of the Spirit has been afterwards developed within the soul.
“Heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit of truth, … O treasury of every good thing and Bestower of life” Such a vital outpouring of the Holy Spirit from the Lord, the Giver of Life, even for … sparrows. The Holy Spirit is a breath a wind, may this breath direct us where He wills. “Come and dwell in us, and cleanse us from every stain, and save our souls, O Good One. Αmen”

Christ has Ascended!

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Dear Friends in Christ,

The Icon was painted on glass by Georgiana Necula, the flowers were given today by one of the sisters of the Parish and the icon stand drape was a curtain embroidered by my grandmother in the 1930s.

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“Leaving the things of earth upon the earth, and surrendering to the earth things of ashes, come, let us come to our senses and raise our eyes and thoughts on high; let us, O mortals, turn our gaze together with the senses up unto the heavenly gates. Let us consider ourselves present at the Mount of Olives, and gaze intently at the Redeemer Who is riding upon a cloud; for the Lord hath hastened up from there into the heavens. And there the bountiful Giver of gifts distributed gifts unto His Apostles, calling to them as a Father, and strengthening them; He guided them like sons and said unto them: I am not separated from you; I am with you, and no one shall be against you.” (OIKOS FOR THE ASCENSION)

Christ is in our midst

A Joyous Pustinnyk

Reflections on the Sunday of the Myrrh Bearing Women

Freedom concept

ACTS OF THE APOSTLES 6:1-7

… “it is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 

MARK 15:43-47; 16:1-8

“… and he rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. …  “Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back; for it was very large. “

“Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?” This is the question that the holy women myrrh bearers were considering as they made their way to anoint the body of Our Lord in accordance with the funerary rites. The tomb of our Lord was sealed. Who will roll away the stone….is a question which we should consider today? For today there are tombs of indifference towards Our Lord- for the unbeliever, He remains buried in history. We must not leave Christ in the sepulchre but bring His Light out to the people and share the message of the Resurrection.

It is this very point that the first disciples were considering as we read in the Acts of the Apostles.

“it is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

The Apostles considering the needs of the widows, orphans appointed seven deacons to administer the diaconal ministry to the poor so that they could devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word. The Church in her wisdom provides for both aspects of service; the spiritual and bodily needs.

We do not bury Christ in the Church but we take His message and His compassion out into the world. We see how the Church in the first century was not inward-looking at all but took the message with great zeal to the nations. The Church was missionary in outlook from the very beginning. The word Apostolic Church is self-defining and denotes those who are sent out!

We can bury Christ in the Bible unless we open it, read it, mark the words, learn the message and inwardly digest the truth for our salvation under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is not an ornament on our bookshelves, neither is the Bible just some historical document; it is the place where we encounter the inspired word of God and where we meet the Word of God in Christ.

“Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?”

Christ can remain buried in our minds. There are those who say: “ Oh I worship God in my own way, there is no need to go to Church!”  Such people shut Our Lord up in the tomb of their own imagination, worship Him at their own convenience and apply misguided reasoning to what constitutes faith.

There are those who are embarrassed to talk about Christ when the opportunity arises or to profess their Christian faith lest others, conforming to a more liberal, secular disposition, would see them as odd or be worse, be offended.  At such time we leave the stone sealed at the tomb!

We are in a sense to be myrrh bearers but we must ask the question “Who will roll away the stone of the tomb for us?”

“And looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back; for it was very large.”

As the women go into the tomb they see an angel in the form of a young man who gives them the message- for that is what angels do – they give messages:

And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, He is not here; see the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.”

We often find ourselves vulnerable and afraid like the myrrh bearers, but we are compelled by the love of God to become human messengers of this Gospel!

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

We must not leave Christ buried under the concerns of worldly cares, we must roll away the stone from the tomb of our heart and soul, and open our mouth to proclaim the message of salvation: Christ is Risen!

By a Joyous Pustinnyk

The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustinik — 25

White-horse-in-the-sea-waves
Christ is Risen!

Animals have a sensitivity that is quite remarkable. I know someone who is blind who has a guide dog. The dog is not only obedient to its master and disciplined to knowing what it should do but is sensitive and even anticipating the needs of its master. It is known that a dog’s acute sense of smell is sensitive to human emotion, anxiety and depression and has the ability to detect ailments and disease. Horses too can read human facial expressions. They possess a gift that can distinguish human mood.

St. Columba his blessings and the white horse. ( part 2 of2)

The white horse which had pulled the wagon for the saint to bless the Island of Iona came to Columba and laid its head on the saint’s chest. It began to whinny and cry. It seemed to know that the saint was ill. One of the monks wanted to take the horse away but St Columba refused: “Let him alone, for he loves me. Let him pour out his tears of grief. You are a man with a rational soul….but this dumb creature, possessing no reason* has been told by the Creator Himself that I am about to leave him.”

 His World

 

Matthew 6:28: “So why do you worry about clothing?

 Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow they neither toil nor spin.”

 

 

God’s creation is too beautiful for the worldly-wise,

            It takes the simple, humble mind to stand in awe with open eyes.

The abundance of God’s goodness needs an inner sight and trained,

To wonder at His Universe requires that we have gained;

A sense of veneration for his order and his splendour.

We require a loss of pride and a willingness to surrender,

To gain discernment in our search for beauty and exercise of choice.

We need to listen carefully at that inner, still, small voice

That prompts us to select the best,

And with the angels and the saints attest,

The omnipotence of God in His creation,

The crowning of a Holy Nation,

Dedicated to participation

                    In His world.

We are indeed the stewards of this earth

Called to cherish and conserve that which is of worth.

Illuminate our sight, dear Lord, so that we may grow in grace

Mirrored for a season until we see You face to face.

Working in our clay-bound bodies, a consequence of sin

Resting rarely to consider lilies that neither toil nor spin.

The earth is far too beautiful for the worldly-wise

It takes a simple, humble heart for the soul to rise

Upwards to the heavens, inspired by love

                    For His world.

 

 

 

Amma Theodora

Amma Theodora said, ‘Let us strive to enter by the narrow gate, Just as the trees, if they have not stood before the winter’s storms cannot bear fruit, so it is with us; this present age is a storm and it is only through many trials and temptations that we can obtain an inheritance in the kingdom of heaven.’

The same Amma said that a teacher ought to be a stranger to the desire for domination, vain-glory, and pride; one should not be able to fool him by flattery, nor blind him by gifts, nor conquer him by the stomach, nor dominate him by anger; but he should be patient, gentle and humble as far as possible; he must be tested and without partisanship, full of concern, and a lover of souls

 

*The word for horse in Greek is άλογο which means non-speaking or without logic or reason.

 
 
Eν Χριστώ

A Photo Diary of Little things — 4

Bougainvillea

 Bougainvillaea: most popular especially in Chalkidiki and the islands

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Tendrils! A photo-stroll to the most popular climbers in my suburbs and a few tearful reflections at the end as to why I lately ,often feel like a forlorn tendril …

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Cathedral Bells

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Lately, in my balcony (as sadly I currently live in a big city and have access to only a narrow balcony), and in my long strolls in our suburbs, I have become fascinated with climbers. Especially with tendrils.

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All tendrils reach out, climb over other plants to reach sunlight and twine their stems in particular directions, coiling clockwise and anti-clockwise (no one knows why). Sometimes, tendrils even use tiny grappling hooks on their stems, rather like a mountaineer’s crampons, to get a better grip on their support. 

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Hops

Some tendrils (eg. cathedral bells) have even claws at the end of them that fasten on to objects at the slightest touch; they’ll even hold on to your skin. Such is their need for support, to anchor on to supports. 

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Ivy

Other tendrils climb up steep slopes with ‘instant’ roots, sprouting out of its stems.  Yet others, I read, develop into springs, like a car suspension unit (!), to withstand the elements.

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Jasmin

Some tendrils are slow, but some are fast, like the passionflowers, coiling within about 20-23 seconds after touching. Grapevine tendrils, I am told,  are lined with special, thin-walled cells so they can sense a solid support more easily.

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Beans 🙂

Such Beauty all around me! And yet, sometimes, in so many ways, I feel like a hopeless, forlorn tendril these days, reaching out but unable to be in this tight community mode I have so enjoyed in the past. I am not sure what I miss most.

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Sweet Peas

Is it the Holy Services in the church, the Holy sacraments of which we have been deprived since our Coronavirus lockdown, especially Holy Communion? (How is it possible to celebrate Pascha without receiving Holy Communion? I am no Saint to mystically receive Our Lord in my heart as we read in the synaxaria.) Or is it the immediate fellowship of a spiritual father and brothers, as I have experienced time and again, in monastic and tightly woven parish environments, that I so terribly miss? 

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More Hop climbers

I desperately need to cling to an Elder and senior spiritual brothers. To be sure, the ultimate cling is to God. “My soul hath cleaved unto Thee” (Psalms 63:8) But I do miss obedience for all its struggles. No amount of telephone, mails and emails or digital media can offer the miracle and joy of spiritual osmosis.

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Winegrape; most common in monastery yards in Greece

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

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I have never felt more piercing in my heart these words of Our Lord in John 15, uprooted, separated, cut off, locked down, dejected, as I often, lately feel. Well, this is the closest of a Hell experience I have ever experienced in my life. A most sobering one. If after two months, I feel I can have no more, how scary such an Eternity must be. How many prayers are we to pour out for those departed ones trapped, locked down in ‘this’ Hell… How many tears are we to offer for them and our poor souls, so we do not share their destiny. May we all be saved. Your prayers

 

 

 

The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustynnik — 20

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Christ is Risen!

The Light shines in the darkness

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Some of the Epitaphios flowers are still fresh. Holy Water revives them.

 

Our enforced lock-down gives one the opportunity to call others, to send texts and forward emails. It is always lovely to hear from people, especially the ones you haven’t heard from in a long while. Amidst the sad statistics, it is good to hear pieces of good news which bring hope and encouragement as well as to share one another’s burdens. Perhaps God has given us this time to teach us patience and attentiveness; to listen more to His Word and to the words of others, to hear what the other is saying without the busyness of distraction. We should always take care of course what we hear and discern that which is good from that which is evil. The Welsh have a saying, “Gossip, is the devil’s mailbag!”

Messages lie at the very heart of the “good news” of the Gospel. We repeat in this season of Paschal Joy “Christ is Risen!” It has become a greeting as well as a proclamation.

Nettle soup (part 2)

On hearing the message that the Saint (Columba) was to eat only nettle soup, the cook was rather concerned about such a poor diet for his master. He thought to himself; “I will add some milk!” So he hollowed out the stick used for stirring soup and through it he secretly poured the milk. St Columba ate the soup and ordered that all the monks should follow his example and have this tasty soup. (Part three next time!!)

myrrh-bearing women

The Message

 

Luke 24:9 “Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven

and to all the rest.”

 

Early in the morning with the sorrow that they shared

The women set out with the spices that they had prepared.

 

They came to the place where he was laid, the stone was rolled away

Expecting only death, they found an empty tomb at the break of day.

 

Perplexed and troubled at this scene, two angels then appeared

The women bowed their faces to the ground as they were afeared.

 

The angels in bright garments addressed the myrrh bearers and said:

“Why is it so that you seek the living among the dead?”

 

Remember how he spoke to you of how the Son of Man would die

There is no reason for your presence here, nor need for you to cry.

 

Did he not say that this would come to be at the hands of sinful men,

How he would be crucified and on the third day rise again.

 

Go proclaim the good news to the eleven and to others who will listen,

That Jesus Christ who died upon the Cross has today arisen.

 

 Glory be to the Risen Lord!

 

Faith and love which are gifts of the Holy Spirit are such great and powerful means that a person who has them can easily, and with joy and consolation, go the way Jesus Christ went. Besides this,  the Holy Spirit gives man the power to resist the delusions of the world so that although he makes use of earthly good, yet he uses them as a temporary visitor, without attaching his heart to them. But a man who has not got the Holy Spirit, despite all his learning and prudence, is always more or less a slave and worshipper of the world. 

St. Innocent of Irkutsk, Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of  Heaven. 

 

My love and poor prayers

Eν Χριστώ

 

 

 

The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustynnik — 14

Monastery Vigilromanian orthodox nuns

Christ is Risen!

Remember the little things  — Day #13  

Dear friends in Christ, on this Day of Days, may the Light of the Risen Christ shine in your hearts.

Matthew 28:6 

6 He is not here: for He is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

 

Tismana

Tismana monastery

The New Birth

Reflection on a pilgrimage to Tismana monastery in Oltania, Romania

John 3:3 “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

 

The dawning mist, warmed by the red glowing charcoal of the solar orb

Infused the morning’s breath with pine tree, herb and scented smells.

Creation’s glorious incense clouds ascended to the heavenly altar above

To greet and meet before the throne, the vigorous calling of the Temple bells.

 

Beginners in life’s marathon we too climbed to make our prayerful progress in the faith

Joining streams of gliding nuns to Church, those angelic shadows of their Master’s way.

A fresh, cold, sparkling spring gushed from a rock next to the monastery’s holy gates

Quickening our spirits within as living water to refresh this beautiful new born day.

 

Some standing ready for the fight, others prostrate stilling the struggles of the night

Curled, we knelt within the nave as pre-born babies within their mothers’ wombs.

In the dark stillness of that marbled sepulchre burst forth Christ in resplendent light

With resurrection hands outstretched to deliver us in new birth from our earthly tombs.

 

 In Heaven’s panoply of the bright, host-filled company the embers of our spirits glowed

From sparks to flames, we shone as satellite moons orbit and reflect the glory of the Sun.

Whilst shafts of gold and arks of rainbow-promises fulfilled, through windows blazed

Blessing the bescreened holy ones whose crowns after life’s hard labour had been won. 

 

To the glory of God

 

Souls that love truth and God, that long with much hope and faith to put on Christ completely, do not need so much to be put in remembrance by others, nor do they endure, even for a while, to be deprived of the heavenly desire and of passionate affection to the  Lord; but being wholly and entirely nailed to the cross of Christ, they perceive in themselves day by day a sense of spiritual advance towards the spiritual Bridegroom. 

St. Macarius the Great 

 

 

Eν Χριστώ

The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustynnik — 13

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Holy Week Highlights — a photoblog. Christ is Risen!

Nymfiosholy unction

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The Saints are delighted with the flowers! I eventually found the card. Thank you dearest sisters. I am overwhelmed, and all the saints in my icon corner are smiling.

Bleeding Crucifix today, on Holy Thursday, now in Athens, in Holy Andreas Chapel, Nursing Home Care

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Greek style! A flying priest! Go to https://ellada.press/vinteo-o-iptamenos-iereas-tis-chiou-edose-pali-resital-telos-sunelifthi/

And Cypriot style 🙂 Holy Saturday Vespers — How to make holy noise — Cypriot style 🙂
Please watch from 1:14:28 up to 1:17, and later, and pay attention to all details His Eminence Metropolitan Morfou

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This is one of the first Icons I “made.” It is a simple print stuck on to a piece of wood. I found it in my attic at the bottom of a cardboard box. 

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The Coronavirus Diary of a Pustynnik — 12

the prayer of silence

Remember the Little things- Day #12

 

Dear friends in Christ- Amidst the chaos of this pandemic and the disturbance to normal life, the most noticeable aspect of this most unusual period is the silence

You may recall those signs at school, ” SILENCE- EXAMINATION IN PROGRESS”; such a silence that we are experiencing at this present time is also a test of what we have learned as Christians.

The lockdown has changed even the way the earth moves and there is a reduction of seismic noise because of the lack of human activity. Silence for some is difficult and they look for distractions. However, silence is not simply an absence of noise, it is the opportunity and context for noetic prayer.

“Prayer,” as Metropolitan Antony Bloom said in his book Courage to Pray, “is an end to isolation- it is living our life with someone. “

“Compel yourselves in silence, the mother of all godly virtues. Keep silent in order to say the Prayer( of Jesus); for; when someone speaks, how is he able to escape idle talk, from which comes every evil word, which weighs the soul down by the responsibility for it:”

Elder Ephraim of Philotheou Monastery, Mount Athos, “Counsels from the Holy Mountain”

 

The Yoke of Christ

 

Matthew 11:29:” Take my Yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

 

There is no humility of wisdom in argument,

Let the soul be softened by sorrow,

For mysteries are revealed to the humble

And joy the portion of those who follow.

 

Let not anger consume the foolishness of pride

But let the grace of discernment be your diet.

Not every quiet man is humble,

But every humble man is quiet.

 

Meekness is not passive gentleness

It is the strength of contentment through new birth

The imitation of Christ is our Heavenly task

The Blessing, the inheritance of the earth!

 

Reflections on the Beatitudes and on the words of St. Isaac the Syrian

To the Glory of God!

 

“I give praise to your holy Nature, Lord, for you have made my nature a sanctuary for your hiddenness and a tabernacle for your holy mysteries, a place where you can dwell, and a holy temple for your Divinity.” St. Isaac the Syrian

*

“If you are praised, be silent. If you are scolded, be silent. If you incur losses, be silent. If you receive profit, be silent. If you are satiated, be silent. If you are hungry, also be silent. And do not be afraid that there will be no fruit when all dies down; there will be! Not everything will die down. Energy will appear; and what energy!” St. Symeon the New Theologian

Dear brothers and sisters, during this Great and Holy Week the Daily Punstynnik Diary to Remember the Little things will be suspended and hopefully resumed after Pascha in order to concentrate on silence and prayer. Let us thus now dive into this holy silence and let this week’s church services and events speak to us, as they can only do! I wish to all of you a blessed Holy Week! 

 

Entry into Jerusalem | The Palm Sunday Icon

Lords_entry_into_Jerusalem_icon

“Who are you?”

The Icon of the Entry into Jerusalem is most striking. We see our Lord seated upon a colt of a donkey. The donkey’s head is bowed low and a child is feeding the donkey. To the right is pictured the walled city of Jerusalem and at the gate are the assembled elders, one is holding a palm branch hailing him as the son of David, the Messiah but another is whispering, one is looking away, yet another is looking towards the palm tree and the remainder are looking at each other. They seem sceptical observers to the event. Their faces portray the overarching question which is voiced in the Gospel of Matthew “Who is this?” Is this the Messiah riding on a donkey?

Had they forgotten the prophet’s words:

Zechariah 9:9 

The Coming of Zion’s King

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Our Lord Himself in the middle of the scene has his head inclined towards his disciples who are following Him to the left of the Icon. He is looking to see if they are still there? In a few days time, of course, they would not be! Only the beloved disciple remained faithful- the others hid and fled, one denied Him and another betrayed Him. Behind our Lord’s Head is the Mount of Olives, outside the city, where he would be handed over to the authorities.

Our Lord rides upon the humble beast of burden that bears the cross on its back. He holds in His left hand a scroll which the Church Fathers suggest refers to the scroll in the Book of Revelation:

Revelation 5:3-5 

But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

The only ones who are active in this scene are the small children. One is cutting the branches from the tree and two others are strewing branches and garments before Christ’s path.  They are often pictured in white garments for purity. In their child-like innocence and enthusiasm only they are truly engaged in this historic ride into Jerusalem.

So who is this One who comes riding into Jerusalem? This is a question that Christ Himself asked His disciples-“Who do men say that I am?”  Who are you?  Was the question the High Priest asked of Jesus at His first-night trial. The same question Pilate asked of Jesus when He stood before Him at the Judgement seat. It is the question that Saul asked on the road to Damascus Who are you, Lord? It is the question the Holy Fathers considered at the First Ecumenical Council in 325 A.D.  Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they gave the definitive answer in the Creed: He is God of God, Light of Light, True God of True God being of one essence with the Father by whom all things were made.

But this question “Who are you?”  is for us to answer and confess for ourselves. We are told in the scriptures that many admired the work of Jesus but they went their own way. They witnessed the miracles and were amazed by his teaching yet they refused to accept Him. The same voices that cried out Hosanna to the Son of David after a few days cried out Crucify Him!

If Christ is King then we must follow Him to the Cross and beyond to the Resurrection. We must make our heart a throne for Him to come and reign as Sovereign Lord. Our Lord comes to us today and we have to make up our minds, to open our hearts and to commit our souls to Him as our Lord and God. Our Christian Faith is of ultimate importance.

C. S. Lewis once wrote:

“Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance, the only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

This is no time for fair-weather Christians. We know what Christ will do to those who have a lukewarm faith. (Revelation 3:16)

    The One who comes into Jerusalem today is the One Who is the Prince of Peace the Son of God, the servant and King. We cry out to Him Hosanna in the Highest. Save us O Master!

Palm Sunday 2020

Entrance to Jerusalem - 4- 2020