The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustinik — 35

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Remember the little things- lifting the leaves–a Peace Plant and Basil miracles

 

Dear Friends in Christ 

Christ is Risen!

My peace plant that one Parishioner gave to me earlier this year is thriving. I was reading about the care of Peace Lilies and it said in the blog that when they need some water they will tell you as their leaves will begin to droop. Do not overwater! Plants may speak to us but what about us speaking to the plants? Eyebrows were raised some years ago when a prominent person admitted to talking to plants. I did not think this was odd.

 

Whilst not indulging in philosophical debate or tiresome monologue with my plants, I often say “Christ is Risen!” to them and show them a little attention by making sure that they have light, warmth, sustenance and care. Love, it seems, lifts the leaves.

 

I am reminded that God created the plants by speaking and they came into being:

 

Genesis 1:11-13 

11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

We have been placed on this earth as stewards of God’s creation.

 Our Lord Jesus Christ told us to behold the lilies of the field and that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Matthew 6:28) Indeed!

If speaking kindly words to plants helps them to grow, how much more will speaking encouraging words to our fellow humans help them develop and “lift their leaves”. We humans, it seems, require much the same as plants: love, warmth, sustenance, light and care.

 

I also want to share with you the little miracle that a parishioner witnessed back in 2013 when he transferred his Basil to Holy Water!

image

Glory to God

 

Love and prayers

Eν Χριστώ

Father Pustinnyk

 

The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustinik — 34

st dymphna

St Dymphna

Dear friends in Christ

 Christ is Risen!

I hope you are all well.

 Since I have not written a diary for a few days, some people are asking if I am well!  Glory to God, by your prayers. I am well. I thought that I would write a little note to you all on the Feast of  St Dymphna!

I wish you every blessing on this Feast of St Dymphna the Virgin Martyr or Ireland (650). I was introduced to her by the priest who Chrismated me. I recall that we were visiting St Patrick’s Chapel. I think he had an affinity with saint being himself of Irish descent but his spiritual father, Blessed Seraphim Rose held her in veneration and had a garden in the Monastery in California dedicated to the Celtic saints. He said, as he spread himself upon the chapel walls, how powerful were her prayers and that since ” not many people know her, she is not so busy, so she has time to intercede for us.” If you don’t know her then please read about her extraordinary life.

A short time later, I had cause to call upon her intercessions on behalf of someone. St Dymphna put it into my mind to go and to search for the article that the person had lost and to go three times to this certain place and on the third occasion, I would find the missing article. It was a test of faith, but sure enough on the third visit there was the missing article, and I can tell you that there was much joy when it was found. I have had occasion to call upon the saint subsequently and each time her intercessions have proved most powerful and fruitful. I share this story, so more people may come to know her and call upon her prayers before Christ.

 

Through the prayers of St Dymphna

Eν Χριστώ

 

The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustinik — 32

the way we were

Identification 

Christ is Risen!

Our identity is significant, knowing who we are and to whom we belong is important. A royal visitor came to the school where I taught some years ago. One of the retinue seeing a decorative Pectoral Cross I was wearing asked:

 “Are these jewels real?” 

“No” I replied “I believe they are paste, but the faith is real!”

When I passed through an airport security check more recently wearing my cross I was just about to remove it when the security officer said “you can leave it on, that is your identity!”

The Cross worn around the neck is not an ornament or jewelry for Christians but is the Sign of their identity and signifies to Whom they belong.

Identification

John 17:22-24 

22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

The sighs of present, future, past

On holy limbs were laid

What price redeemed the groaning earth

In flowing crimson paid?

We greet our smaller Golgothas

Christ’s scenes become our own

Sprinkled by dry orient dust

From Zion’s fortress blown.

Each insult that Our Lord received

The Suffering He endured

Transfers to us in Union;

By His pure Body cured.

We live His life, we share His death

By Perfection we’re appraised

By mercy saved, by grace forgiven

By Holy power we’re raised.

“I in them, and You in me”

From Jordan to the Tree

We travel, grow in faith and find

Our true Identity.

identity

Suffering is an indication of another Kingdom which we look to. If being Christian meant being “happy” in this life, we wouldn’t need the Kingdom of Heaven.

—Blessed Seraphim Rose
 
My prayers
Eν Χριστώ
*Photographs by Pedro Quintela‎ and Bahram Pourshahbazi

The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustinik — 31

 

The ruins and rock-hewn graves of St. Patrick’s Chapel, Heysham 2

The ruins and rock-hewn graves of St. Patrick’s Chapel, Heysham

There is an ancient Chapel dedicated to St Patrick which I often visit. I like to take friends and visitors there( when possible) and each time it is a blessing for us. The place is holy, graced by God and visited by His saints. There is a tangible feeling of the eternal energies breaking through time and space. It is a place which attracts people like metal to a magnet. Some are drawn by the sheer beauty of the place, some come for daily exercise or recreation and others come to pray and experience harmony with God.

saint-patrick-s-chapel Heysham

Saint Patrick’s Chapel, Heysham

At Tara today in this fateful hour

I place all Heaven with its power,

And the sun with its brightness,

And the snow with its whiteness,

And fire with all the strength it hath,

And lightning with its rapid wrath,

And the winds with their swiftness along their path,

And the sea with its deepness,

And the rocks with their steepness,

And the earth with its starkness

All these I place,

By God’s almighty help and grace,

Between myself and the powers of darkness.

 

The Rune of St Patrick

 

Inside st Peter's church heysham

Inside st Peter’s church Heysham

 

Here and now.

 

Matthew 28:19: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,

baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

 

Here, St. Patrick’s monks made toil of prayers

And shared the task to foil the demons snares,

Here on this headland of Bannavem Taburniæ,

The work of saints confer a blessing still today.

 

Near is that realm on high where heavenly host

 Disperse the thoughts that charm us most.

 Here, upon this ancient Celtic Christian place

 A light shines upon the weary pilgrim’s face;

 

So that we may too reflect in holiness of life

 Struggling human flesh in ascetic pious strife.

 Here, where holy bread was broken

 Lies a shadow of that most holy token

 

A simple meal in fellowship

 A contract signed in partnership.

 Here, on Britain’s western edge of land and sea

 An eastern promise is fulfilled, made once in Galilee:

 

“Lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age.”

 He is with us now, to bestow upon the simple sage

 A truth perceived, perhaps a joy or word of inspiration,

 To those who gather here from every nation.

 

 Here where sea and human efforts ebb and flow

 The eternal veil is lifted high on those below.

 Here, where gold-red beams of sunset sink beneath the waves

 Christ, the Rising Son of times past, future and of present, saves. 

 

“What is a merciful heart? It is a heart on fire for the whole of creation, for humanity, for the birds, for the animals, for demons, and for all that exists. By the recollection of them the eyes of a merciful person pour forth tears in abundance. By the strong and vehement mercy that grips such a person’s heart, and by such great compassion, the heart is humbled and one cannot bear to hear or to see any injury or slight sorrow in any in creation. For this reason, such a person offers up tearful prayer continually even for irrational beasts, for the enemies of the truth, and for those who harm her or him, that they be protected and receive mercy. And in like manner such a person prays for the family of reptiles because of the great compassion that burns without measure in a heart that is in the likeness of God.”

St. Isaac the Syrian

My prayers
Eν Χριστώ

Judgment in Three Acts

spring storm

 I was busy, stressed and prayer-less shopping at a supermarket when one of the employees called me out persistently, at least 3-4 times, ‘insisting’ I stop right there and turn around. Why? … She wanted to greet me with “Christ is Risen!” 

*

I finally met that person I had spent the whole day judging and quarrelling about with my family. How dare he try to solve that problem, my problem –my pain and my suffering–  in a different way than I would? … He was right! Not only did he also help me but he did so gently, with a great sense of humour and compassion.

*

I was walking back home when a wretched, ragged beggar stopped me and asked for a little money.  “Excuse me, ma’am. Please help me. I have not had anything to eat for the last two days!” He followed me pleading for quite some time. My heart was cold and I gave him nothing. I only turned back and looked at him perplexed at the softness of his voice. Then, he looked me in the eyes and gently blessed me: “May the Theotokos intercede for you and keep you under Her Protecting Veil!”  Ashamed, I changed my mind and decided to give him a little money, but  … too late! He vanished before my eyes!

*  Text by C. Photo by Jason Tiilikainen

 

 

 

The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustinik — 30

icarus1
#Icarus 

 

Christ is Risen!

 

Being of a certain age, I often have to call upon one of my trusted “computer savvy techies” as they are known, to help me when my computer fails. I am hopeless when it comes to technology having been brought up with “chalk and talk”. So I would like to put a good word in for modern and ancient technology; for those who enable and help today and for the default reliability of books and pencils of ” yesterday”.

I see the great benefit of modern technology, particularly in these days of lockdown, but the internet is a Pandora’s Box. Information requires distillation and discernment if we are to sift the good from the bad. We have to know the boundaries and limits.  The fear of big brother and artificial intelligence is far removed from the fear of God and Divine illumination. Where are we, if and when this technology crashes? Back to pencils and books!

Although today most records in space are electronic, in the original space race, faced with the fact that ballpoint pens do not operate in zero gravity, a vast amount was spent on developing an alternative that would write in conditions experienced during space flight. Russia took the simple option of using pencils for recording data.

Some years ago I was able to help a rather concerned student in revision mode whose computer had a problem- the solution, a book on the precise academic subject he was studying. Glory to God, he passed his exam!

icarus2

Icarus

 

Ecclesiastes 1 

16 I communed with my heart, saying, “Look, I have attained greatness, and have gained more wisdom than all who were before me in Jerusalem. My heart has understood great wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I set my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is grasping for the wind.
18 For in much wisdom is much grief, And he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.”

 

High flyers soar upwards to enthral 

Little knowing the sun’s own ire

“As wax melts before the fire”

So too “Pride comes before a fall.”

In Paradise we make our wings

And think escape so great, so smart

To ply our course in scientific art,

As in the tree a mocking bird sings.

Satan still whispers “bow to me”

“Be free!” and “all these kingdoms own.”

Whilst angels standing round the throne

Weep at feathers floating on the sea.

“Poor human reason, when it trusts in itself, substitutes the strangest absurdities for the highest divine concepts”  St John Chrysostom

The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustinik — 27

under the stars

Under the Stars

Χριστός Ανέστη!
Some years ago I visited a monastery in a remote part of Greece and was taken aback somewhat being greeted by a nun with a most refined English accent: “ Your blessing! Oh, it’s so lovely to see you dear Father, welcome!” The nun was indeed from England, but in that Monastery there were nuns from all over the world; from Germany, Sweden, Finland, Philippines, Greece, Cyprus and one from the USA who knew the priest who had Chrismated me. It was like a little microcosm of Pentecost.

St Brigid and her Monastery

St Brigid became a hermit and built herself a cell near a large oak tree. But soon men and women came to join her, to live as monks and nuns; so she built a double monastery which became larger than any town in the country.

 Each evening the monks and nuns would go to the surrounding countryside to see if anyone required any food or accommodation. If someone was homeless, they brought them back to the monastery for food, rest and shelter. In addition, St Brigid built a hospital for those who were sick and who were cared for by the monks and nuns.

Near to the Monastery lived a rich merchant who had a disdain for religion and expressed his contempt for the monastery. Nevertheless, Brigid visited the man regularly despite his insults and the man came to have admiration for her convictions and persistence

The rich man fell sick with a fatal illness and called for St Brigid. He could not speak and she knew that no words would comfort him, so she made a cross of some new rushes and placed it in his hands. He lifted the Cross to his lips, kissed it and then departed this life.

Ekklesia-

John 15:18,19: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. if you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

Based on the Letter of Mathetes to Diognetus 180 A.D.

 

These Christians who look down on death

With loving grace for one another,

Praise Christ with every living breath

Place Him above son, wife and mother.

 

As the soul is to the body

So are Christians to the world.

No country, language, custom, race

No philosophy of human health,

They live as aliens and trace

 Love to a heavenly commonwealth.

 

As the soul is to the body

So are Christians to the world.

They share everything and endure

Torture, death and hardship as gain,

Obeying laws they help the poor

Loving all, by all they suffer pain.

 

As the soul is to the body

So are Christians to the world.

We are unknown and yet still condemned

Defamed but are vindicated,

Destitute, broken hearts we mend

Reviled we bless, dying, to life translated.

 

As the soul is to the body

So are Christians to the world.

 

 

“O strange and inconceivable thing! We did not really die, we were not really buried, we were not really crucified and raised again, but our imitation was but a figure, while our salvation is in reality. Christ was actually crucified, and actually buried, and truly rose again; and all these things have been vouchsafed to us, that we, by imitation communicating in His sufferings, might gain salvation in reality. O surpassing loving-kindness! Christ received the nails in His undefiled hands and feet, and endured anguish; while to me without suffering or toil, by the fellowship of His pain He vouchsafed salvation.“

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, On the Christian Sacraments. 

 

Eν Χριστώ
* Photograph by Evgeni Tcherkasski

A DAY IN LOCKDOWN — the diary of a gardening mum

Faith

 4.30 am Wake up positive and well-rested; Quick prayer

4.45 am Tidy up, get school set up for the day, bake bread with the last packet of flour 5.30 am Coffee. Coffee. Think of many cunning and unlikely ways in which to obtain more flour and yeast

5.40 am Water garden

6.00 am Prayer

6.30 am Pack gardening kit

7.00 am Prayer. Ask St. Hilda for her intercession to be granted strength to do my work ahead

7.15 am Walk energetically and still positive to the allotment. Shout hello to every single stranger I meet on the way and who now feels like a friend

7.30-9.00 am Get impossibly muddy and think up ways in which to stop the bunnies, rats, mice, ants, snails, slugs, caterpillars from eating my crops without becoming or feeling like a mass murderer. It is very hard to share one’s crops with uninvited guests. Moral issue still unresolved

9.00 am Run back home always late for the beginning of homeschooling day. Supervise whining children and appear knowledgeable on various topics I have never come across.

12.00 Prayer

12.10 pm Prepare lunch very swiftly followed by tidy up lunch

1.30 pm More ancient Greek, Macbeth, coordinates and proportions, spelling, respiratory system, French, Edith Clarke (“Who was she?” “Mum, you don’t know? How shocking!”)

3.15 pm Big sigh. School is over.

3.20 pm Start making tea

4.00 pm Prayer

4.15 pm Play interminable board game which I never win

5.30 pm Make tea; eat tea; tidy up after tea

7.00 pm onwards: gardening, tidying, laundry, start new projects in the house and garden (since now there is no excuse not to do them since we are at home and do nothing all day – spot of decorating, some in-depth cleaning etc)

9.00 pm Collapse in a heap and go to sleep after the briefest prayer time ever

Also achieved: settled more or less successfully 25 disputes involving various combinations of children and husband; replied to what seems like 100 text messages and emails

Pages read: 0

Beauty treatments: 0

Movies watched: 0

TV watched: 0 minutes

The other day I was talking to a friend who lives alone in a flat. And as we spoke about our daily lives and routines, I was thinking how lucky this person was to live alone. I was thinking how much time they must have for reading and prayer, for watching documentaries and movies and doing their interesting and intellectual job well. I thought they wouldn’t have to justify themselves to their teenage children as to whether a purchase of plant seeds or a jigsaw on line are a justifiable action or a necessity in lockdown! They wouldn’t have to clean, tidy and cook non-stop.

As we spoke, my friend said how lucky I was to have a lot of space in my house and garden and to live with 5 other people for company. This made me think how often we say “If only…”, things would be so much better, so much easier, I could achieve so much more.

So I went back to my daily life decided not to wish for anything else other than what I have but be thankful and make the most of what I have… most days. Determined to give thanks to God for the people I have to cook for even when I argue with them and am not as mild and patient as I wish, for the space I enjoy and need to clean and tidy all the time, for the plants and creatures who live in the garden and on the allotment (I might even start sharing with them), for having my children lively and healthy at home all day before they grow up and leave, for learning new things through them every day. And I also have to admit, if I can face the truth, even if I lived alone, I probably would not do that much reading! I wonder if my friend, reading my daily diary will suddenly feel grateful for his circumstances and enjoy and be thankful for the order, peace and quiet in his life?

Let us give thanks to the Lord for everything and for every precious moment in our lives!

By a dearest friend back at the UK. God bless her!

The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustinik — 26

BELIEVE

Believe …

Hristos a înviat

 

I recall on my first visit to Romania attending the funeral of an old lady in a small village. The Parishioners had kept vigil all night before the funeral, waiting patiently outside her home, saying fervent prayers for their departed friend. There were weeping and sorrow mixed with resurrection hope and humble faith together with profuse expressions of sympathy and compassion for the bereaved family.

St Columba ordains a priest.

In central Scotland, there was a priest called Molluch who wanted to be a priest although he could not read or write. He approached St Columba on one of the saint’s missionary journeys to that region.  St Columba wanting to test Molluch’s faith told him to go and fish in the nearby lake and when he had caught a fish to come back. Puzzled by this instruction but obedient Molluch took a small coracle to the lake and started fishing. For two days and two nights, he caught nothing but on the third day he caught a fish. However, on catching the fish he took pity on it; carefully removing it from the hook, he returned it to the water. Rowing back to shore Molluch confessed to the saint and told him what had happened. St Columba commended him for his patience, compassion, and humility; qualities which he saw as necessary for the priesthood. St Columba ordained Molluch who duly proved to be an excellent priest.

O What Faith

Luke 7:9; “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel.”

Gentle gentile strong and brave

Built a synagogue and gave

A chance of life to his dear slave:

By his faith.

He showed his care and great compassion

In more than any normal ration

When humility was not the fashion:

He showed faith.

A Centurion ruled with iron glove

But this one knew of Him above

Whose hands could heal with powerful love:

Given faith.

Considerate in his way and kind

A virtue one would rarely find

In one so masterful a mind:

Blessed by faith.

His faith was simply of the best

Surpassing Israel and the rest

Such trust which passes every test:

This is faith.

To the glory of God

Sayings from the Desert Fathers

The old men used to say, “If someone has faith in another and hands himself over to him in complete submission, he does not need to pay attention to God’s commandments but he can entrust his whole will to his father. He will suffer no reproach from God, for God looks for nothing from beginners so much as renunciation through obedience.”

 
Εν Χριστώ

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