In the hollow of His Hand

PASCHA

The time has come again for the little city hermit to ‘disappear’. Holy Week church services demand all our being, preparations for a long pilgrimage to Greece are well under way and spring is beckoning! Should you wish to contact me, while ‘away’,  please send me a message here. Christ is Risen! May the Lord hold us in the hollow of His Hand until we ‘meet’ again! 

 

 

*traditional gaelic blessing

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Awed by the Beauty of thy Virginity

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Iconography Trivia: The fact that Panagia is shown sitting in the presence of an angel illustrates that she is “higher than the Seraphim and beyond compare more glorious than the Cherubim”. I don’t think many would remain seated in the presence of an angel of God, but this icon testifies to the spiritual height of the Mother of God. (Not that she necessarily sat during this encounter – it depicts a spiritual reality more than a historical one)

The miracle depicted and described in this video is so awe-inspiring. The hymn, sung first in Greek and then in English, is so beautiful. It is the same hymn chanted at the end of the Akathist services held on Friday nights during Great Lent.

May we have her blessing!

Awed by the beauty of thy virginity, and the exceeding radiance of thy purity;

Gabriel called out unto thee, O Theotokos,

What worthy hymn of praise can I offer unto thee?

And what shall I name thee?

I am in doubt and stand in awe! Wherefore as commanded, I cry to thee:

Rejoice, O full of grace.

 Source: LESSONS FROM A MONASTERY here and here

 

 

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Rotunda, Thessaloniki, during restoration work

St Gregory the Theologian in Spiritual Warfare

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Gregory the Theologian, 1408 – Andrei Rublev

Flee swiftly from my heart, all-crafty one.
Flee from my members and from my life.
Deceiver, serpent, and fire, Belial, sin,
death, abyss, dragon, night, snare, and frenzy,
chaos, manslayer, and ferocious beast!
Thou didst entice into perdition those
first-formed folk, my foreparents, offering them
at the same time the taste of sin and death.
Christ, the Ruler of all commandeth thee to
flee into the billows, to fall upon the rocks,
or to enter the herd of swine, O baleful one,
as once He bade that presumptuous Legion.
Nay, yield forthwith, lest I smite thee with the Cross,
whereat all things tremble;
Oh, flee!
I bear the Cross upon me, in all my members.
I bear the Cross whene’er I journey, whene’er I sleep.
I hold the Cross in my heart. The Cross is my glory.
O mischievous one, wilt thou never cease from
dogging me with traps and laying snares for me?
Wilt thou not dash thyself upon the precipices?
Seest thou not Sodom? Oh, wilt thou not speedily
assail the shameless herds of ungodly heretics,
who, having so recklessly sundered the Almighty
Godhead, have witlessly destroyed and abolished It?
But comest thou against my hoariness? Comest thou
against my lowly heart? Thou ever blackenest me,
O foe, with darksome thoughts, pernicious thoughts.
Thou hast no fear of God, nor of His Priests.
This mind of mine, most evil one, was verily
a mighty and loud-voiced herald of the Trinity.
And now it beholdeth its end, whither it goeth in haste.
Confuse me not, O slimy one, that I might, as pristine,
meet the pure lights of Heaven, that they might
shine like lightning flashes upon my life.
Lo, receive me; lo, I stretch forth my hands.
Farewell, O world! Farewell, thou who bringest woes upon me!
Pity be shown to all that shall live after me.

 

 

Eis Tin Polin

 

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Pilgrimage to Constantinople 

Mosaïques de l'entrée sud-ouest de Sainte-Sophie (Istanbul, Turquie)

The Hidden and the Forbidden City

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Constantinople, the glittering jewel of Asia Minor and the gateway between two continents! It sits astride on the most historic water channel in the world, the Dardanelles. Constantinople has been host to three empires: The Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman. Invaded, besieged and conquered by countless armies, Constantinople today, remains a city of sparkling domes and minarets and beautiful palaces. Our pilgrimage brought us directly to the heart of Orthodoxy and the cradle of the Byzantine civilization. More importantly, thanks to our tour guide, we bore witness to its solemn existence, spiritual strength and religious devotion by visiting the hidden and forbidden City.

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With the grace of God, a total of fifty Orthodox Christians, along with a hieromonk from the Monastery of Saint Arsenios (Vatopedi, Chalkidiki) and the little city hermit 🙂 went on a Pilgrimage to Constantinople during the Twelve Days of Christmas. It was truly a moving and inspirational trip. Below you will find a sample of pictures capturing the trip.

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Photographs courtesy of Anastasia Avramidou, the artist of our group

The Hidden and Forbidden City to be continued …

You Are Not Alone

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… Even in that place of darkness and suffering, you still retain the control over whether you “throw away” your confidence or you keep it! Even when you feel powerless, you always have the power, the choice, the freedom, to hold onto you confidence and your faith.

And when you hold on, you build spiritual endurance. …

… But even if you stumble and “throw away” your confidence, there is still hope, because you are never alone. You never suffer by yourself. Being a part of the Body of Christ means you don’t stand by yourself, you don’t “believe” by yourself, but in the companionship of all the faithful through the centuries. That’s a mighty big family! And a huge source of encouragement and strength.

I never will forget sitting with one who was in such pain over a certain challenge in his life. This person confided in me that he had lost his faith. His face filled with amazement and wonder when I replied “Don’t worry about your faith, we will hold it for you until you get back!” That’s the power of the Church, the Body of Christ. You don’t have to endure suffering by yourself. We believe, we love, we stand with each other as the Body of Christ.

So, today, when (not if) you come across one suffering, be present to them and assure them they are not by themselves. They do not suffer alone. You are with them. The Church, the Body of Christ adds endurance to their weakness, and hope to their despair.

 

For the complete post “Develop Endurance” by Fr. Barnabas Powell, go to Faith Encouraged

*With gratitude to St. Nektarios and St. John of Krostandt  and all my Church family

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When you are praying alone, and your spirit is dejected, and you
are wearied and oppressed by your loneliness, remember then, as
always, that God the Trinity looks upon you with eyes brighter
than the sun; also all the angels, your own Guardian Angel, and
all the Saints of God. Truly they do; for they are all one in God,
and where God is, there are they also. Where the sun is, thither
also are directed all its rays. Try to understand what this means.

St. John of Kronstadt

Unfading Bloom

 

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Flowers sheltered like cenobitic monks in a crevice at the summit of Mt. Athos.

“How can I plead empty-handed?”

St. Paisos would always cut a few wild flowers outside his hut and take them to the Theotokos icon, whenever he wanted to pray to Her.

Indeed, he urged everybody to always make an offering to Panagia, even a little one, anything within our power

 

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At the hut of St. Paisios

 

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Not Always This Way

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A businessman went to a priest and said:

—Batushka, what’s going on…? I believe in God, I don’t deceive anyone, I don’t steal, I don’t cheat on my wife… I work honestly… My wife has left me for another man, my business is failing, my car broke down, my daughter has problems in college, my son can’t find work, and so on, and so on… What can I do?

—Give thanks to God… Hang a tablet on your door at home that says “IT WILL NOT ALWAYS BE THIS WAY,” forgive everyone, and let go of resentments.

—That’s it?!

—That’s it.

After a while, they met again:

—Batushka, everything is great! My business has taken off, my wife returned, everything with my kids is even better than expected, and so on, and so on. Glory to God!

—I’m very glad for you! But don’t take the tablet down from your door…

 

Orthodox Christianity