faith · family · http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post · Orthodoxy

I Have Missed You

It’s been a long season of no blogging…and I cannot explain why.  I have been busy, yes, but that’s not it.  I think I was just too lazy to write anything, and when I did have the enthusiasm I spent it on other things.

But, I have missed it.  I have missed it because I miss my Orthodox connections and friends.  I did not realize how much of a part of my life you all were…all you wonderful Orthodox bloggers.  I visit your sites from time to time, but I have not participated in the network.

It’s made me really think of the wonderful support we are for each other. Orthodox life is difficult when we try to go at it alone, and sometimes we do not find the kind of support we need in our parishes.  Mostly I am speaking of homeschooling, but the support also extends to the everyday life of an Orthodox family that is seeking to live the faith in the home.  I have missed the support I received from writing here regularly.

I hope I can reestablish the habit of blogging…because now more than ever I feel a kind of distraction here in the outside world that scares me.  Many of my friends have confessed the same thing…a strong distraction.  Somehow I think blogging in a group of Orthodox women kept me centered and focused, at least focused on different things, good things.

Thank you for reading my blog….thank you for commenting…and thank you for being my blogging friends.  I have missed you dearly.

family · Orthodoxy · Pascha · Spring

Holy Friday

Keeping the lights low. Asking everyone in the house to be mindful of the noise.  Hush little children.  Today we mourn.  We mourn, but not without hope.  

faith · Lent · Orthodoxy

Hymn of Kassiani

 

“Keep this spirit.”  These were the final words of Father tonight.
faith · Lent · Orthodoxy · Pascha

Holy Monday

This lent has been the most difficult.  I have been extremely distracted, not wanting to dive into the full experience.  It has also been a hard Lent in terms of dealing with inward sins and weaknesses.  I feel like I have been dug up, and now it’s time to replant.

At Lazurus Saturday services I saw that not every Lent will be the same, and that this Lent is not a failure…maybe something deeper is at work.  I am weak; emotionally and physically, and the hymns of the service made me realize that I cannot resurrect myself.  I need a Savior.  I am powerless, and this flesh will rot if it is left in the grave.

Lent is almost over, Pascha is drawing near…our Savior draws near. And I am the laborer who has come at the last hour.  May we all labor in the last hour.  Blessed Holy Monday.

faith · family · Orthodoxy · parenting · pregnancy

Sanctity of Life Sunday 2015

Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon

To the Venerable Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America:

Dearly beloved,

Today (January 18), has been designated by the Orthodox Church in America as “Sanctity of Life Sunday,” a day on which we re-affirm our faithfulness to the eternal value of human life and re-commit ourselves to the defense of the lives of the unborn, the infirm, the terminally ill and the condemned.

Our proclamation of life is offered in the context of a world in dismay at the terrorist attacks that recently shook Paris, the latest in a series of seemingly endless tragedies throughout the world that unnecessarily claim many innocent lives.  Following this latest tragedy, Christians, Muslims, Jews and non-believers have engaged in discussion and debate about a range of issues, from human dignity to the responsibilities of political cartoonists, from freedom of expression to humanity’s capacity for tolerance.  Unfortunately, much of this debate is framed in an atmosphere of ideological violence, whether this be a “war on infidels” or “war on terrorism.”  In such divisive engagements, there are rarely any victors but only more victims.

As Orthodox Christians, who hold dear the revealed truth that the life of “all mankind” is
sacred, we might reflect, along with St. Nikolai of Zhicha, on the paschal victory of Christ over death and corruption:

“Christ’s victory is the only victory in which all humanity can rejoice, from the first-created to the last. Every other victory on earth has divided, and still divides, men from one another. When an earthly king gains the victory over an another earthly king, one of them rejoices and the other laments. When a man is victorious over his neighbor, there is singing under one roof and weeping under the other. There is no joyful victory on earth that is not poisoned by malice: the ordinary, earthly victor rejoices both in his laughter and in the tears of his conquered enemy. He does not even notice how evil cuts through joy.”

Our world is so full of these joyless and dark victories that we might despair of being able to put forward the hope and light of the Gospel message. We would do well to heed the words of St. Nikolai and keep our hearts and minds focused on our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, in Whom alone can solace, hope and joy be found in any meaningful and lasting way.

Indeed, Christ did not say: “I offer one of many complimentary paths”;  He said: I am the Way. Christ did no say: “I hold to the correct philosophical principles;” He said: I am the Truth. Christ did not say: “I subscribe to the only viable political agenda;” He said: I am the Life.

It is only possible to attain to this Way, this Truth and this Life through Christ and through the light that He bestows to those who strive to allow even a small beam of that light to enter their hearts and illumine their path. As St. Nikolai writes: “Christ’s victory alone is like a sun that sheds bright rays on all that are beneath it. Christ’s victory alone fills all the souls of men with invincible joy. It alone is without malice or evil.”

Let us therefore make every effort to offer this “victory of light and life” to those who are surrounded by darkness and death. Let us be bold in our adding our Orthodox voices in support of the value of every human person, born or unborn; let us offer consolation to the mothers who have undergone abortions and offer our prayers to them and to all who have been affected by this tragedy; let us affirm our Orthodox understanding of the human person as created in the image and likeness of God and yet in need of healing in Christ.

Let us, together with St. Nikolai, proclaim the great victory of Christ:

“A mysterious victory, you will say? It is; but it is at the same time revealed to the whole human race, the living and the dead.

“A generous victory, you will say? It is, and more than generous. Is not a mother more than generous when she, not once or twice, saves her children from snakes but, in order to save them for all time, goes bravely into the snakes’ very nest and burns them out?

“A healing victory, you will say? It is, healing and saving forever and ever. This gentle victory saves men from every evil and makes them sinless and immortal. Immortality without sinlessness would mean only the extending of evil’s reign, and of that of malice and wickedness, but immortality with sinlessness gives birth to unconfined joy, and makes men the brethren of God’s resplendent angels.”

With love in the Lord,
 
+TIKHON
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada

faith · Orthodoxy

MYSTAGOGY: An Annual Theophany Miracle – The Jordan Reverses …

MYSTAGOGY: An Annual Theophany Miracle – The Jordan Reverses …: “Today the nature of water is sanctified. The Jordan is parted and reverses its flow on seeing its Master being baptized.”

faith · family · motherhood · Orthodoxy · saints

Less Stress

Mark Zuckerberg is a genius, but not for the obvious reason of being one of the co-founders of Facebook. He is also the networking website’s CEO, and is said to have a net worth of over $30 billion…still not why I think he is a genius.  His one dollar salary from Facebook is pretty great, but again I am not all that impressed by numbers, big or small.

What I am impressed by are his habits, the habits that are the foundation for his success.  When my husband told me that Zuckerberg wears a gray t-shirt almost everyday my ears perked up, and not because my husband was making a case for his own gray t-shirt, the t-shirt he says is lucky, the t-shirt he wears every time it is clean, the t-shirt that I don’t “get”.

My wheels began to turn because of the reason Zuckerberg gives for this very quirky habit.  He says that deciding what to wear everyday is a “silly” thing that he would rather not waste time on.  After a quick search I came up with a quote of his concerning his gray t-shirt that I thought was what embodied this young entrepreneur’s real genius,

“I really want to clear my life so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community.”

He also thinks deciding what he will eat for breakfast is a waste of time.  And I could not agree more.  How did this young fella learn this at such a young age…how to manage energy in this way?  I am just now learning the principal of energy conservation and how to manage stress from the inside out not the outside in.

When I was a young mother and wife I thought that managing time, stress, and energy meant I needed to overhaul my house, make strict schedules, and crack down on discipline.  After stumping my toe on that perfectionist bed post enough times I have slowly become aware of where the stress that makes life un-doable comes from and how to go about managing my life in a real and sustainable way.

The most important thing I have learned is that stress is an internal battle, not an external problem.  There are real external challenges that we face as human beings living on this flawed planet; sickness, disease, poverty, conflict, and pain. But the stress we feel as we live among the thorns and thistles is something of a phenomenon that occurs when we cannot surrender.  Being out of control, in any shape or form is what stress is all about.  The real trick of living in this world is to become aware of what we can and cannot control and act accordingly.

Over and over again I notice that successful people live the serenity prayer:

The serenity to accept the things I cannot change, 
The courage to change the things I can, 
and especially, The wisdom to know the difference.

To know the difference…that is key.
To know the difference between what I can and cannot control.

What I wear, what I eat for breakfast are all under my control-for now.  These are simple decisions that do not have to be a stress- they can become passionless.  And when the ascetics speak of passionlessness I wonder if this is how to walk that out in everyday life?  Passionlessness for a mother and wife is about doing without passion.  What I wear should not make me anxious or lustful or prideful.  And this is where a gray t-shirt everyday comes in handy.  Simplicity practiced on a regular basis is a great tool in calming of the passions.

Simple habits of success.
Simple habits that eliminate unnecessary passion.
Simple habits that conserve energy that would best be spent elsewhere.

It is hard for me to admit that stress is a passion.  It is hard for me to imagine a life without stress…is it even possible?  And then I ponder the Panagia and her life. Her fiat makes it all clear, “Be it unto me according to Thy word.”

Her habit, her way, her pondering, her perfection…made perfect in surrender.

Stress is not a habit of the Kingdom.

Lately I have been pondering where my stress really comes from, and the passions that cause it.  I am also learning to accept  what I cannot change and stop wasting energy on those things.  I am learning to recognize the sources of my stress…things like perfectionism, sentimentalism, pride, greed, and unbelief…learning to stop sinful thoughts and thought patterns.  Stress begins with imaginations.

Managing a home is a lot like managing a corporation, and I am the CEO of this enterprise.  What kind of a leader am I?  Home management is not about perfectionism…it is about creating an environment where stress is at a minimum… where passionlessness is a goal.  It is about creating a haven from the world of pain and sorrow, a place where those who need rest find receive it, body and soul.

I like Zuckerman’s attitude.  He wants to eliminate stress to be able to serve his community better.  I like that-eliminating stress is not about making me feel better.

Eliminating stress is about having the energy to serve God and my family better.

It’s what I work towards.  What I seek. What I hope for. Passionless passion.

Prayer to Our Lord Jesus Christ

O Ruler of all, Word of the Father, O Jesus Christ, Thou Who art perfect: For the sake of the plenitude of Thy mercy, never depart from me, but always remain in me Thy servant. O Jesus, Good Shepherd of Thy sheep, deliver me not over to the sedition of the serpent, and leave me not to the will of Satan, for the seed of corruption is in me. But do Thou, O Lord, worshipful God, holy King, Jesus Christ, as I sleep, guard me by the Unwaning Light, Thy Holy Spirit, by Whom Thou didst sanctify Thy disciples. O Lord, grant me, Thine unworthy servant, Thy salvation upon my bed. Enlighten my mind with the light of understanding of Thy Holy Gospel; my soul, with the love of Thy Cross; my heart, with the purity of Thy word; my body, with Thy passionless Passion. Keep my thought in Thy humility, and raise me up at the proper time for Thy glorification. For most glorified art Thou together with Thine unoriginate Father, and the Most-holy Spirit, unto the ages. Amen.

– Prayer of St. Antiochus