Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The winds of change

Starting tomorrow, September 1st, this blog will take on a new direction. Each month I am going to pick a topic and post things related to said topic.

However, being that I am the czarina of this blog, I reserve the right to occasionally intersperse things not pertaining to this topic, like on second day of September.

So having been duly warned, the topic for September is.......Trees. Yes, that's right, trees. Don't understand? I suggest you either open a dictionary or perhaps step away from the computer, open your front door and take a peep outside. They are the mostly tallish objects protruding from the ground with green things hanging off the top. I mention the green things in case you happen to be looking at a telephone pole.

At any rate, trees, coming to this blog tomorrow. Get psyched!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

About Me page

In case you're interested, I updated my "About Me" page. If you could care less about me, which is fine of course, then simply carry on.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Some Friday Fun

Atheists Don't Have No Songs-Steve Martin With The Steep Canyon Rangers

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Let there be light!

I have not read Alexander Kalomiros' "River of Fire" in its entirety but I have heard that it can be a bit difficult to digest especially if your Christian worldview has been shaped by something other than ancient (Orthodox) Christianity. Having said that though, I received this in an email yesterday and thought it would be worthwhile to share.

God's judgement is nothing else than our coming into contact with truth and light. Our hearts will be opened by the penetrating light of God, and what is in these hearts will be revealed. If in those hearts there is love for God, those hearts will rejoice seeing God's light. If, on the contrary, there is hatred for God in those hearts, these men will suffer by receiving on their opened hearts this penetrating light of truth which they detested all their life.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More from your Love

The Essential Bond

My child, widen thy vision to the dimensions of universal Love, to the dimensions of My Heart.

Limitless Love does not end in man. The entire universe is upheld by My Love. It is the essential bond between all beings, between all things, and the One who gives them life.

Be swept away by the immense tide of limitless Love, by that energy, by that hope with which the whole of nature waits, groaning, to be delivered from the consequences of the fall.

Man reaches upward toward Me. But do not lose sight of My reaching down to man, to all things.

Take a flower in thy hand. Take a stone. Think about them, not from a scientific point of view, but from the point of view of Love. They form a summary of the evolution of the world. They symbolize Love aspiring to its heights and also Love coming to us down the centuries, disclosing itself to us, giving itself to us, coming ever closer to us.

See the Beauty of Love in a blade of grass, in a leaf, in a branch. Make an offering of a scent or a colour. Include thy life in the life of the universe, submitting it to the same divine plan. Think of the mountains and of the sea, of the winds and storms, of wild beasts and of very small animals. All of them have a place in My Heart. Make room for them in thy prayer. That through them it may be guided into wider avenues than that of a piety in which the universe has no part.

Learn to recognize Love's purpose in every creature. I have loved each grain of sand, each tree, each animal. Each one of them represents a reaching upward and a stooping down. Enter into all this and yield thyself to it. Give thanks in the name of nature which cannot speak. Let thy response to limitless Love be reverence as vast as the world.

Dost thou love the sun? Dost thou love the stars? Dost thou love the galaxies? Dost thou give thanks to Me for their creation and their presence? Dost thou enter into Divine Love for all that exists?

Perhaps this is difficult for thee. To love snakes...Even if thou wert bitten by a snake, thou shouldst try to love it at the very moment of its biting thee. Animals are not culpable. They only act in accordance with the needs of their nature. They, too, are the victims of man's original fall. But I do not cease from loving them all.

The stone which is thrown into water causes ever-widening circles to be set in motion. This invisible movement affects all of the molecules of the universe. Thus is it with my limitless Love. My Love is an emotion which spreads to infinity, and unites in essence all that exists.

This mediation is also from the book In Thy Presence by Lev Gillet. SVS Press

The photo is from the Hubble Site. I could spend days there.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A meditation from your only true Lover

But I know thee

My child, thou hast not known what thou art. Thou dost not know thyself yet. By this I mean: thou has not really known thyself as the object of My Love. And, as a result, thou hast not known what thou art in Me, nor all that is potentially in thee.

Wake up from out of thy sleep and from thy bad dreams. Thou seest thyself, in certain moments of truth, only the failures and the defeats, the falls, the defilements, perhaps the crimes. But all this is not thee. That is not thy real 'self', thy deepest 'self'.

Under all that, behind all that, under thy skin and behind all thy transgressions and all thy failings, I Myself see thee.

I see thee and I love thee. It is thy own self that I love. It is not the wrong thou doest-that wrong which one must neither ignore, nor deny, nor extenuate (can black be white?) But underneath, at a greater depth, I see something else, something that is still alive.

The masks that thou dost wear, the disguises with which thou dost clothe thyself, may serve to conceal thee from the eyes of others and even from thine own eyes. But they cannot hide thee from Me. I pursue thee to a greater depth than anyone has ever pursued thee before.

That look - thy look - which is no longer clear and open, and thy feverish, breathless greed for what seems important to thee, all those uncertain contortions, and thy hard and miserly heart - all that, I separate from thee. I cut it away from thee. I cast it far away from thee.

Listen. No one really understands thee. But I understand thee. I could say such splendid, such beautiful things about thee! Of thee I could say them: not of that 'thee' that the power of darkness has so often led astray, but of the 'thee' such as I desired it to be, of the 'thee' who lives in Me, concept and purpose of love, of the 'thee' which could still visibly exist.

Become visibly what thou art in My thought. Be the fulfilled reality of thyself. Allow the powers that I have put in thee to become active.

In no man or woman is there the possibility of any interior beauty or goodness that does not also exist in thee. There is no divine gift whatsoever to which thou mayest not aspire. For thou shalt receive them all if thou lovest with Me and in Me.

Whatever thou mayest have done in the past, I sever thy bonds. And if I sever thy bonds, who can prevent thee from getting up and walking?

This mediation is from the book In Thy Presence by Lev Gillet. SVS Press

I wish I could give a copy of this book to every person I know. If you have a beating heart, this book will speak to it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Elder Porphyrios finishes his train of thought

The elder continues a few paragraphs later about praying rightly...

The same is not true if we say with a sense of awe that another person is not living well and that we should pray for God to help him and grant him repentance; that is, neither do we say, nor deep down do we desire that God will punish him for what he does. In this case not only do we not do harm to our neighbor, but we do him good. When someone prays for his neighbour, a good force proceeds from him and heals, strengthens and revives him. It is a mystery how this force leaves us. But, in truth, the person who has good within him radiates this good power to others, mystically and gently. He sends light to his neighbor and this creates a shield around him and protects him from evil. When we possess a good disposition towards others and pray, then we heal our fellows and we help them progress towards God.

There is an invisible life, the life of the soul. This is very powerful and can have effect on the other, even if we are miles apart. This also happens with the curse, which is a power that works evil. But if, conversely, we pray with love for someone, whatever the distance that separates us, the good is transmitted. So distances do not affect the power of good and evil. We can transmit these across boundless distances. Solomon the Wise says this very thing: 'The noise of murmurings shall not be hidden.' (Wisdom 1:10) The noise of our soul is transmitted mysteriously and affects the other, even if we don't say a word. Even without speaking we can transmit good or evil, irrespective of distance which separates us from our neighbour. What is not expressed generally has greater power than words.

Such simple wisdom. The trick is snatching those evil feelings and thoughts before they leave the building! May God help us always to disseminate peace to each other and the world!

Again this is from the book Wounded by Love: The Life and the Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios. Available at Uncut Mountain Supply.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Good and evil thoughts, part 1 of a 1,000,000,000 in a series

More about those who harm us from Elder Porphyrios:

We need to be careful not to harbour any resentment against those who harm us, but rather to pray for them with love. Whatever any of our fellow men does, we should never think evil of him. We need always to have thoughts of love and always to think good of others. Look at St. Stephen the first martyr (Acts 7:60). He prayed, Lord, do not hold this sin against them. We need to do the same.

We should never think about someone that God will send him some evil or that God will punish him for his sin. This thought brings about very great evil, without our being aware of it. We often feel indignation and say to someone: 'Have you no fear of God's justice, are you not afraid of God's punishment?' Or else we say. 'God will punish you for what you've done,' or 'O, God, do not bring evil on that person for what he did to me,' or, 'May that person not suffer the same thing.'

In all these cases, we have a deep desire within us for the other person to be punished. Instead of confessing our anger over his error, we present our indignation in a different way, and we allegedly pray to God for him. In reality, however, in this way we are cursing our brother.

And if, instead of praying, we say, 'May God repay you for the evil you have done to me,' then once again we are wishing for God to punish him. Even when we say 'All very well, God is witness,' the disposition of our soul works in a mysterious way and influences the soul of our fellow man so that he suffers evil.

More about this from Elder Porphyrios tomorrow. Good stuff although hard to bear because it exposes false piety. Sigh...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Thou shall not swipe!

From this day, from this hour, from this minute, let us strive to love God above all,
and to fulfill His holy will!

St. Herman of Alaska

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the canonization of St. Herman of Alaska. My own personal link to St. Herman is that he was one of the first saints I really knew anything about. (thx to St. Andrew's Camp) My cousin and I used to sneak out of the girls dorm at night to swipe cookies from the camp's kitchen and sing his troparion all the way there and back to protect us from getting caught. Not so sure St. Herman appreciated that, but his troparion (that's a hymn for all you non-Orthodox Christians) served me well as a lullaby for my babies. A few years ago, my parish priest gave me vial of holy oil from the vigil lamp at his reliquary. It is something I treasure tremendously. I love you St. Herman, pray for us here in America!

Troparion (tone 4)

O blessed Father Herman of Alaska,
North star of Christ's holy Church,
The light of your holy life and great deeds
Guides those who follow the Orthodox way.
Together we lift high the Holy Cross
You planted firmly in America.
Let all behold and glorify Jesus Christ,
Singing his holy Resurrection.

Books on his life can be found at St. Herman Press.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A nursery rhyme

A wise old owl lived in an oak,
The more he saw the less he spoke.
The less he spoke the more he heard;
Why can't we all be like that bird?

I found this in Meditations on a Theme, by Metropolitan Anthony.
Metropolitan Anthony Bloom was a quite a character. He was well-educated having graduated in physics, chemistry, biology and eventually gaining a doctorate in medicine at the University of Paris. Not one to sugar-coat or pull punches, Metropolitan Anthony's writings can make you cringe because of their harsh truths. I highly recommend his biography This Holy Man, by SVS Press. The book quoted from above might be out of print, but you may be able to try Amazon or Abe Books.

Metropolitan Anthony reposed 7 years ago this week. May his memory be eternal!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

We owe no one anything, except to love one another

When someone injures us in whatever way, whether with slanders or with insults, we should think of him as our brother who has been taken hold of by the enemy. He has fallen victim to the enemy. Accordingly we need to have compassion for him and entreat God to have mercy on both on us and on him, and God will help both. If, however, we are filled with anger against him, then the enemy will jump from him to us and make a mockery of us both. A person who condemns others does not love Christ. Our egotism is at fault. This is where condemnation of others stems from. Let me give you a little example.

Let's suppose someone is all alone in the desert. Suddenly he hears a voice crying out in distress in the distance. He follows the sound and is confronted by a horrendous sight: a tiger has grabbed hold of a man and is savaging him with its claws. The man is desperately shouting for help. In a few minutes he will be torn to pieces. What can the person do to help? Can he run to his side? How? It's impossible. Can he shout for help? Who will hear him? There is no one within earshot. Should he perhaps pick up a stone and throw it at the man to finish him off? 'Certainly not!' we would say. But that's exactly what can happen if we don't realize that the other person who is acting badly towards us has been taken hold of by a tiger, the devil. We fail to realize that when we react to such a person without love it is as if we are throwing stones at his wounds and accordingly we are doing him great harm and the 'tiger' leaps onto us and we do the same as him and worse. What kind of love do we have then for our neighbour and, even more importantly, for God?

This quote is from the beautiful book, Wounded by Love: The Life and Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios. This book tells the story of his life and, in simple, deeply reflected and profoundly wise words, he expounds the Christian faith for today. It can be purchased at Uncut Mountain Supply.

The title of this post is Romans 13:8. If you continue to verse 10, it continues on to say, "Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." Also a lovely thing to ponder!

Monday, August 2, 2010

It really is all about me

Whether you live peacefully or not depends on you. If you are patient, you will be peaceful. But if you begin to return evil for evil, peace will depart, and God will leave the mob to serve justice. Where there is peace, there is God. His dwelling is peace.

This quote is from St. Anatoly and can be found in Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina, Holy Trinity Monastery.