Saint Paraschiva of the Balkans

Saint Paraschiva of the Balkans2Saint Paraschiva of the Balkans

Saint Filothei was the first to arrive in my home, but the most tenacious saint was Saint Paraschiva of Iaşi.

I feel most humble and sad about my behaviour to Saint Paraschiva. The story goes that around 10 years ago a very pious Romanian lady moved away and gave me a quantity of spiritual books and religious objects and icons. I was by then more open to icons and decided I had to find a place for them. Since I had little contact with the Romanian church, I had not actually heard of Saint Paraschiva and did not know who she was. There was a very large and imposing icon of her, which I placed in the dining room as the only room large enough to accommodate it. There it remained, but I never felt any connection with it. I found it a little frightening if anything.

A few months ago, I decided I had to make room for more icons because the saints were beginning to arrive to my home in numbers. I decided to ask of my Romanian friends if anyone could accommodate St. Paraschiva. Someone was thrilled to welcome her, and I was so humbled to see the love with which this friend took the icon. Back home I felt a little sad that I was so lacking in love and hospitality. Since the lockdown began, I started tackling my cellar which is a little like Alladin’s cave, but mostly full of old and useless things. Hidden behind a pile of books I found a very large print of St. Paraschiva!

I have no idea where it came from. My heart leapt up with joy and found it very beautiful. I felt she gave me the chance to make up for my previous indifference and unkindness. I placed her icon at the centre of my icon corner, and everything felt right in the house after that. How patient and kind the Saint was! Around the Figure of the saint there are 4 other Romanian women saints among which St Filofteia herself. I would like to think that she brought friends. I might be wrong, but I feel the arrival of these Romanian great saints is like a call from afar for me to go back in some way to my spiritual roots and discover new riches.

Anyway, St Paraschiva is here to stay at the heart of my home, and I hope that through prayer we may become closer and closer. Reading about her life was most interesting because I had thought she was a purely Romanian saint since her relics are to be found in Iaşi and there is such great devotion to the saint all over Romania. I remembered that two parishioners had a very lively argument about Saint Paraschevi or Paraschiva or Petka (not to be confused with St Paraskevi of Rome, 2nd century martyr) and whether she was Romanian or Greek. Both ladies must have loved her very much and wanted to claim her as their own. As a matter of fact, she is well known and greatly loved in all Orthodox countries.

I discovered that she was as most people know, born in modern day Turkey of Byzantine parents in the 11th Century. As a child, she heard the words of St Mark’s Gospel in church: “Whoever wants to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me,” and was greatly moved. They awakened in her great zeal to relinquish her comfortable life and embrace asceticism. She gave away all her clothes to the poor. As her family opposed her calling, she ran away from home to Constantinople and then to Chalcedon and then to Heraclea Pontica. The Theotokos appeared to her on many occasions. She lived a very austere life and her voyages took her to Jerusalem, where she wanted to spend the rest of her life.

She entered a monastery in the Jordanian desert where she lived a greatly ascetic life. She saw an angel who asked her to return to her birthplace, where she continued her life for 2 more years as a stranger. She died at the age of 27. Her body was buried by the sea as a stranger in an unmarked place. By divine providence, her body was discovered uncorrupted and placed in the church of the Holy Apostles and great miracles were performed by the saint there. Her relics travelled all over the Balkans including Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia until, in 1641 her relics were brought to Iaşi in Romania. On the 26th December 1888, her relics have miraculously survived a great fire which turned to ashes everything around except the relics of the saint.

Her feast day is on the 14th October. Pilgrimage at the shrines located in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Iaşi has become one of the major religious events in Romania. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims gather each year in Iaşi in the second weekend of October to commemorate St. Parascheva, while the city itself established its Celebration Days at the same time. Innumerable are her miracles and it seems whatever the problem, Saint Paraschiva will intercede successfully.

Troparion of St. Paraschiva, Tone 4:

You are worthy of praise, Paraskeva. You loved the ascetic and hesychast life. You ran with longing to your Bridegroom, Christ. You accepted His good yoke in your tender years, marking yourself with the sign of the Cross. You fought against impure thoughts; through fasting, prayer and the shedding of tears you quenched the burning coal of the passions. Now in the heavenly bridal chamber of Christ, as you stand together with the wise virgins intercede for us who honor your precious memory.

Kontakion of St. Paraschiva, Tone 6:

Let us all piously praise all-honorable Paraskeva, the intercessor for the afflicted. She gave up her earthly life and received eternal incorruption. Therefore, she has been granted the grace to work wonders by the command of God.

ENCOUNTERS WITH SAINTS/ PART B

By Alexandra McC.

The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustinik — 46

SONY DSC

The Birds’ Symphony by George Tsintsifas

Symphonia

Yesterday, I heard two familiar pieces of music on the radio. It took me back to when I studied music at school. There, as part of preparations for our examinations we followed the music scores of Bach’s Brandenburg Concert #3 and Schubert’s Fifth Symphony whilst listening to vinyl L. P. recordings of these works. It was both a duty and joy to follow and listen under the observations and instructions of a good teacher. Over and over again, our small group of pupils would listen to the recordings until we became so familiar that we knew them off by heart for the exam to follow. Some years later, I was pleased to hear these works played in concert by a live Orchestra. That initial schoolboy learning process was transposed into wonder as I witnessed each member of the Philharmonic playing their part under the conductor for the audience’s delight. 

In an Orchestra, breath and hands on musical instruments bring sound to notes, as breath gives voice to words in praise of God and hands bring mercy and kindness to others. Just as music is the fuel to stir emotions, Christian love is the engine to move faith and hope into action. Our Christian life too, often starts with listening and following the scores (the Bible/the Liturgy/the Church Fathers), paying attention to the Teacher and Conductor of our life (Christ), and then working together (in fellowship)for the benefit and joy of others(evangelism). 

 

 Theme: Working together in Harmony

Luke 15:25
“Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.

 

When one desert father told another of his plans to “ shut himself into his cell and refuse the face of men, that he might perfect himself,” the second monk replied, “ Unless thou first amend thy life going to and fro amongst men, thou shall not avail to amend it dwelling alone.”

 

Many arrived and adjusted themselves to a listening mode in the auditorium.

The orchestra entered, settled themselves, tuned up and looked intently for the Conductor’s command.

Sound and silence became a dialogue.

Both the ones who played and those who listened melded into a dynamic organism;

 a heartbeat giving life to a body.

The union of loving strings buzzed as bees in a hive,

To shrive the withered minds and weary limbs,

 And having worked the nectar and shared the pollen from the hours of practice and rehearsal,

Produced the honey for those seated to taste.

 The audience feasted on the abundant sweet notes

 And were swept along and above to a higher form;

 from their mundane routine to another dimension.

They were moved, transported to the land

Of awe filled tears,

Where harmony is the currency,

Where sunshine sparkles

and dances on the ears.

 Beads of infinity permeate the throng in this communion song;

Inspiring first emotion, then empathy, followed by wonder and finally joy.

Such joy as can never be captured but glimpsed-only glimpsed,

In a gilded moment, felt in the heart,

digested in that part 

of the mind which is forever a child’s laugh or first remembered summer.

As food is energy to the body so is music nourishment for the soul.

Such provision was encouraged by a ministering angel’s smile, sent

In order for us to repent from worldly guile.

 

We are drawn into that scented circle, inexorably and imperiously drawn

By that mysterious sound that claims and wraps our tender frame.

“But why so little music in the Gospels?”

“Hosannas” with palms endorse a King 

And older Psalms, of course, to sing!

But where is the chorus for our dreams? 

Only for the Prodigal it seems!

Was music not given by God to grace the mind of all,

 make glad the heart, to heed the call?

Is there not harmony at the centre of the Universe?

Or is it that our lives in Christ should rehearse

 for heaven;

 reverse the ego’s trend and blend to be

 a sounding board with others in that greater symphony.

Epilogue

A Harmony with Thee

Glory be,

 Viva Vivaldi,

 Not I but we, 

Was blind now see, 

Oh Mystery,

Oi Agioi kai Angeloi,

 In unity 

with The Holy Trinity. 

 

A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.

 

Saint Basil the Great

The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustinik — 45

nail

 I am pleased to report that Kimberly the Cucumber, Tom the Tomato plant and Kristian the Capsicum Chili Pepper are flourishing.  Kimberly has many flowers and the small cucumbers are beginning to develop, Tom is growing taller and taller every day and producing many cherry tomatoes and Kristian is, at last, turning from green to yellow, which, I am reliably informed, he should!  The one thing in common with all these plants is that they have all needed some physical support to grow with bamboo garden canes. The cucumber has tendrils, so she wound herself to the cane without any help, the other two have required a little assistance to be tied with string to their main support.

We humans too need all the help and support to grow in the spiritual life.

 

The Nail

 

Trisagion: Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us. 

 

  • Philippians 4:13

 

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

 

Luke 22:32 

“But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

 

The matchstick strikes brief heat and light

The nail stays firm with its great might,

The matchstick though is small and frail

Unlike the large and sturdy nail.

 

But when we place them side by side

The nail assumes parental pride,

The matchstick from the nail will take

Its strength and so it will not break.

 

Good God above whose hallowed name

Invests His strength to gird our frame,

Holy God, Holy and strong

Stay close to us our whole life long.

You cannot destroy the passions on your own, but ask God, and He
will destroy them, if this is profitable for you.

St. Anatoly of Optina

Adam and Eve my little apple trees

20200701_113238

Grown from pips!

20200630_113324

Kimberly, Tom and Kristian

20200630_174046

Dear Friends in Christ,
I hope that you are all well and safe. I apologise for my disappearance but I have recently started “offcially” chanting at two (!) parishes in the suburbs of Thessaloniki. In fact, I am so busy chanting all the time (or preparing for the services) and I spend so much time in church that I sometimes have to politely decline a chanting obedience since I cannot be in both parishes at the same time 🙂
Church services in Greece have dramatically multiplied since the release of the lockdown, for as long as it lasts, so chanters are in great demand as there is no end to our vigils, processions and forty days liturgies!

How are the churches doing in your countries?

sparrow1
PS. Not my hand 🙂 This is from a spiritual brother in Lesvos who is the closest I have known of a “bird whisperer” 🙂
Christ is in our midst!

The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustinik — 45

castles in the air

Building Castles in the Air

One of my parishioners was kind enough to bring me some strawberries and raspberries yesterday from her allotment. Setting apart her own hard work, which is considerable, she had been reflecting on the Wisdom of Creation, especially God’s economy and His timing for the ripening of the fruits.  The vegetables, nuts and fruits ripen at various times of the year, giving us an excellent sufficiency and supply, dispersed over many months.

I have many pots of flourishing Basil on my window sill; all at different stages of growth. I am able to give these little gifts to others as a small offering back to God. His economy, from Greek oikonomia,- “management of a household,”is indeed a mysterious outpouring of grace.

Throughout this pandemic, the beauty of Creation has been a constant source of comfort and encouragement. Sadly, human economics is often motivated by greed, power and self interest, but despite this, we see how God replenishes the earth.

Worldly economy is driven by pride, but simpler values and needs are seen in times of crisis. The Great Wall of China could not contain the coronavirus, but Christ builds human bridges of love to care for others who are sick.

As King David observed in writing the Psalm:

 “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”

 God is humble, loving and plenteous in mercy. What a wonderful world we would have, if we followed His example and obeyed His commands.

 

Building Castles in the air

Reflections on a walk in the City of London

 

Luke 3:5:”Every valley shall be filled 

every mountain and hill brought low;

The crooked places shall be made straight

And the rough ways smooth;”

 

 Soaring glass houses in the London skies

Shrink the deserted souls of EC 1.

There grow commercial plants that fertilize

 The f.t. index by a deal well done.

 

Pretty palaces where the cool, jet set

Drive in darkened windows on alloy wheels;

Which rotate around the secret text and debt

In guarded boardrooms and brunch- type meals.

 

Life is wealth for such giants of the air

 Served by tube and Liverpool Street station;

The stocks and bonds without guilts and care

For the needs of the poor and their own salvation.

 

 God sees the hearts of these important men

Who dispense numbers from their golden towers.

He writes history’s balance sheet with His pen

 New Babel falls by mans’ own fallen powers.

 

Yet in the shadow of Goliath’s feet

Lies a sacred stone of royal David’s line;

St. Botolph’s within the good Bishopsgate

Where wounded souls are healed through bread and wine.

 

High life soon stumbles and submits to grief

 Let white flags of surrender be unfurled,

Your treasure be beyond the hand of thief

Walk humbly in the graveyard of the world.

 

As abba Macarius was returning to his cell from the marsh carrying palm-leaves, the devil met him with a sharp sickle and would have struck him but he could not. He cried out, “Great is the violence I suffer from you, Macarius, for when I want to hurt you, I cannot. But whatever you do, I do and more also. You fast now and then, but I am never refreshed by any food; you often keep vigil, but I never fall asleep. Only in one thing are you better than I am and I acknowledge that.” Macarius said to him, “What is that?” and he replied, “It is because of your humility alone that I cannot overcome you.”

 

The poem was written shortly before the Bank Crisis and great economic recession of 2007-8.

Following Christ

FOLLOW CHRIST ICON

MATTHEW 4:18-23

At that time, as Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left their boat and their father, and followed him. And he went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people.

*

 In the days before Satnav and Google, on the way to a Church wedding, I was driving my car. The friend in the car in front said: “Follow me, I know the way!”

Well it transpired that he did not know the way and did not know even the correct church where the wedding was taking place. Trying to keep up with him was so difficult, he was overtaking, driving fast, the traffic lights changed and he didn’t wait, and if that was not enough, there were road diversions complicating the journey further. In the end, knowing the priest who was taking the wedding I called him and he gave clear and concise directions to the correct Church. Knowing the way is important, following the right person is critical! 

In the Gospel for the second Sunday of St Matthew we read how Christ calls the first disciples. We see how these simple fishermen responded immediately to the call. Such a call was irresistable, courageous on their part and ultimately life changing for them. Christ does not choose the learned scholars and philosophers of His day who are wise in their own eyes but countrymen who knew what hard work involved. They possessed an appetite for common sense, a shrewd judgment, a forthright spirit and sound application to the task. These fishermen, “am ha-aretz”( people of the land) become all wise not because of their intellect but because of their will to follow and accompany Christ in His mission.  

Follow me! I recall at University having to learn the Greek verbs for the New Testament. The Greek verb akoloutheo ( to follow) occurs over 80 times in the New Testament. It is one thing to believe in Our Lord Jesus Christ, it is another to follow Him. Someone on interview, was asked what leadership skills they had? The person answered “Well I’m not sure about leading people, but I am a quick learner and a good observer.” Christ invited and called many others to follow Him, some obeyed the call, others like the rich young man could not. He has called us. It is relatively safe to believe in Christ but following Him intrudes on our time, our lifestyle and our will. 

 The problem today is that not many people know where they are going, so they follow their own inclinations, whims, passions and amusements. Our Lord knew where He was going, to the bosom of the Father and He wanted to take others with Him. He came to lead us to heaven. The world has many would be leaders but their way is confused and compromised by their ideology by materialistic values and by a wong destination. “The road to hell” is is said, “is paved with good intentions”. Hell is full of good meanings, but heaven is full of good works.”Only Christ knows the Way to the Father because He is the Way the Truth and the Life.

 Before Peter and Andrew, James and John could become leaders and apostles they first had to be followers and disciples.  Christ says to them “I no longer call you servants but friends.” God has called us to follow Him but like the lost sheep we offer wander off and go our own way. Without the will to follow we can become self satisfied, calling ourselves Christians in name only, doing our own thing. We become nouns rather than verbs.

“Not he who says Lord, Lord (noun) will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does ( verb) the will of my Father in heaven.”

We may not consider ourselves worthy of this calling and we may fall into despair when we fall into sin, both of which are tricks of the evil one. Was Saul the persecutor of the Christians worthy when he was called? Was Simon Peter worthy when he denied knowing Christ? It is through God’s mercy, forgiveness and grace and our repentance, that we are made worthy. God’s love is so all-searching that He chooses the weak, the misfits, the eccentrics, the poor, the outcast to do His will. At an ordination of a priest, the Bishop will cry out “axios” (worthy) and the people are invited to reply “axios”! The priest is not worthy in and of himself, no one is worthy before a Holy God but Christ releases the potential in us and equips us for the ministry He has chosen for us:

  1. Ephesians 4:11-13

11And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

We do not follow Christ by our own power but with the power of the Holy Spirit. The young man I was following in my car to the wedding did not know the way but thanks be to the Father, Christ the Bridegroom is in the driving seat to bring us to the great Wedding Feast.

We are called to be members of the Body of Christ. Whether we are “casting our nets in other directions” or “mending our broken ones”, Christ wants us to follow Him. He will not abandon us because He is the good shepherd Who looks after the lost.

 

The Invitation

 

Luke 14:15-18; The Parable of the Great Supper: Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make excuses.

 

I rang your door bell but there was no answer.

I rang the Church bell but you decided to stay in bed.

I e-mailed you but there was no response.

I texted you but you were busy.

I put it on Facebook(!) but it just provoked an argument.

I put posters up but you did not like the design.

I advertised in the local press but you only looked at the headlines.

I called you but it went to recorded message.

 

When you were a baby your God parents brought you to Church to be baptised.

When you were in love your partner brings you to Church to be married

When you die your friends and family will bring you to Church for your funeral.

When are you going to accept the invitation for yourself?

So what is missing from CH_ _CH?

 

“Christianity, if false, is of no importance and, if true, is of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.” — C.S. Lewis “God In The Dock” 

 

Let my prayers be set forth before Thee as incense

censing

Acknowledging Christ

MATTHEW 10:32-33

 

The Lord said to his disciples, “Every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny him before my Father who is in heaven.

The Sunday after Pentecost in the Orthodox Church is dedicated to All Saints.  The purpose of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is to make saints of us all. The first and most important element in this process of sanctification is acknowledging Christ before others. In the early Church, and at subsequent times of persecution and still to this day to acknowledge Christ may require a costly sacrifice, even martyrdom.

 In such a context,”talk is not cheap” and the Holy Apostles knew this when they wanted to share the life giving salvation that they had found and experienced in the Lord Jesus Christ. In the Epistle for the feat Hebrews 11:33-12:2 we read about the price of that confession of faith- “they were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword.”

We must understand that, as Christians, we are engaged in a spiritual battle in the world. Christ Himself said that the world will hate us but that He had overcome the world. We too have to overcome our timidity and fears, our reluctance to speak out for Christ in the world. We are in the world but not of it.

At every service of worship in the Orthodox Church we offer incense to God as a sign of our worship of the One true God Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The action is a powerful symbol of our prayers rising to heaven as the smoke ascends. We read in the Old Testament, the prophet Malachi gives the instruction from God:

Malachi 1:11

From the rising of the sun, even to its going down,
My name shall be great among the Gentiles;
In every place incense shall be offered to My name,
And a pure offering;
For My name shall be great among the nations,”
Says the Lord of hosts.

 The priest blesses the incense which he puts on to the burning charcoal to cense the holy gifts at the Proskomedia with this prayer:

“ Blessed is our God, always now and ever, and unto the ages of ages . Incense we offer unto thee, O Christ our God, as a savour of spiritual sweetness which do Thou receive upon Thy most heavenly altar and send down upon us in return, the grace of thine all-Holy Sprit. Amen”

Incense has a long history in the Bible and in the tradition of the Church. God commanded Moses to use it in the Tabernacle and it was used in the Temple at Jerusalem where there was an altar of incense. Frankincense and sweet smelling myrrh was offered to Christ at His nativity. In our churches, the sacred censer has twelve bells symbolising the twelve apostles sounding forth their teaching with the proclamation of the gospel. The lower bowl represents the earth and the upper bowl heaven. The charcoal is lit and gives off fire and heat and fragrant incense is placed on the burning coal. Our offering in worship likewise should be sweet and full of zeal with the warmth of the Holy Spirit. We see at various points in the Holy Liturgy and at other services the priest censing the holy Icons of Christ, His All Holy Mother and the saints as well as the faithful who are made in the image of God. When we come home, we find that our clothes are permeated with the aroma of incense. One of our Parishioners remarked that her husband always knows when she has been to Church!

All this is very beautiful. The aroma and action engages with our senses to elevate our heart towards God, but we should not forget the context of what this meant for early Christians. They were required once a year to appear before a statue of Caesar and put a pinch of incense on burning charcoal and say “Caesar is Lord!”It was seen as an act of political loyalty. But of course many Emperors imagined that they were divine (gods) and the conscience of thousands of Christians would not allow them to do this simple act and say these words, because for them there was only one Lord, Jesus Christ. They were prepared to be killed rather than confess a false god.

Just a pinch of incense but to whom do we offer this?

Last century, St.Gabriel Urgebadze from Georgia was such a confessor. After compulsory service in the army, he became a monk in 1955. He made himself famous by setting fire to a banner of Lenin during a parade in Tbilisi in 1965. He spoke openly to the people: “Glory is not needed to this dead, but glory to Christ, who subdued death and blessed us with an eternal life.”He was arrested, tried, ruled to be psychotic and confined to a mental hospital for seven months. He was treated mercilessly by the authorities who demanded from him confession of an alleged conspiracy in the Church in return for him to escape the death sentence. Despite torture and severe interrogation he would not accede to their political machinations. He put Christ first! He acknowledged Christ.

St Polycarp of Smyrna when he was eighty six years of age was asked to renounce Christ he replied, “Eighty six years have I served Christ and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who served me?” He was burned at the stake. He put Christ first. He acknowledged Christ.

We are strengthened when we acknowledge Christ, when we make a public confession of our faith. The Holy Apostle Paul tells us that if we confess with our lips that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead then we will be saved. Romans 10:9-10. We should tell others how much Christ means to us. At Pentecost we were equipped with all the resources we need to bring others to Christ, we have no excuse. If we acknowledge Him before others then He will acknowledge us before the Father in Heaven.

 Let us pray, that through the strengthening and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we may be found worthy to acknowledge and confess Christ.

Let my prayers be set forth before Thee as incense, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice; hear Thou me, O Lord.

 

Joyous Father Pustinnyk

The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustinik — 43

mount athos ascetics

Huts of the hermits at Karoulia (Athos)

A poem, the Desert Fathers, C.S. Lewis reflection and The Invisible Naked Ascetics of Mount Athos

I live in an old stone faced terraced property, built in the 1850’s. Yesterday morning as I was cleaning the bay windows at the front of my house, I thought to myself: “the Victorians knew how to build things to last.” Some would argue that the Victorian period was the golden age of engineering and architecture in Britain. Even though my house is small and the consequence of a vast building programme because of the industrial revolution, it is built on firm foundations.

 

The Builder

 

Matthew 21:42

  Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:

 The stone which the builders rejected

Has become the chief cornerstone,

This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”

 

The Builder laid the living stones carefully and correctly;

Having mixed the cement of love, every stone had its special place.

Each was uniquely chosen and equipped

To support its neighbours of the human race.

 

There were apostolic and prophetic stones in the foundation.

They formed the base and shape of the temple.

Unseen, these sustained the saintly stones;

Rough hewn, finely crafted and simple.

 

Some builders today construct boxes

For the purpose of separation.

There are others who build Churches

To enable reconciliation.

 

The Father is building a Palace

No mortgage required and no loan,

 for us to live free in His mansions

With Christ as the Chief Cornerstone.

 


“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” 

C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity

 

*

Two old men lived together for many years and they had never fought with one another The first said to the other, “Let us have a fight like other men.” The other replied, ”I do not know how to fight.” The first said to him ”Look ,I will put my brick between us and I will say: it is mine; and you will reply: no, it is mine; and so the fight will begin.” So they put a brick between them and the first said,” This brick is mine,”and the other said,” No it is mine.”And the first replied, ”If it is yours ,take it and go.” So they gave it up without being able to find a cause for an argument.

Saying from The Desert Fathers

 

The Invisible Naked Ascetics of Mount Athos