Monday, April 27, 2009

Bright Week

Often it seems that Bright Week, the week following Pascha is a struggle for me. I did some writing about it. Fr. John addressed that issue on Sunday, so it seems apparent that others also have the same problem that I experience. He spoke about Christ before the Ascension exhorting His disciples to tell others what they had witnessed. Act on your faith in Jesus' Resurrection.

I thought also as he was speaking of the mindfulness of putting Pentecost in the forefront during Bright Week.

In prayer earlier in the week, some other thoughts came to mind.

At Pascha the Eucharist must be especially powerful with a strong renewing characteristic to it.

Powerfully, Christ renews us yearly so that we grow in Him continually with growth spurts at the time of Pascha. The fasting and ascetic disciplines that are part of the Lenten season add to our ability to prepare ourselves for new growth. (Emptying ourselves of a focus on the good things of life so that we are focused on Christ in it.)

In an Akathist to the Resurrection which I read this morning, in Kontakion 1, there is this line: "I thy servant renewed and recreated by Thee..." that is an interesting thought. How about using Bright week to be watchful of being recreated. One wouldn't probably see that in a week, but certainly that is a fruitful thought and the beginings of those stirrings are there.
The idea of the thought that we are saved once and for all, doesn't reflect the gift that we continue to be saved again and again, recreated again and again...saved from our own falls and sinful choices, so that we can grow continually more and more into the likeness of Christ. (Theosis)

An interesting exercise would be to write down during the week...or weekly until Pentecost ways we see that we are being recreated each week.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Tumbled Stone

I have just gotten my new children's book, The Tumbled Stone, to the press that will print it in China, for my publisher Protection of the Holy Virgin's publishing arm...New Varatec Publishers. The abbess, does not currently have a web presence but can be reached through her address...P. O. Box 416, Lake George, Colorado, 80827, or phone 719-748-3999. She travels to conferences with her books and bookstore and also does women's retreats.

Because the monastery is small with not a lot of people, I did the managing of the production of the book as well as the writing and illustration of it. Much of that part of it I could do, but came to a stumbling block with the graphics preparation of the images. Wonderfully, my daughter Catherine stepped in and did that portion of the job for us in InDesign. She did a beautiful creative job on the cover and I was very impressed with her ability!! During daylight and work week hours she is a administrator in a University Medical School Library.
From the back of the book:

"A pilgrim finds a smooth stone on the island of St. Herman of Alaska. In it God speaks to him of the Saints of North American."

I think it is a very pretty book. Lots of nice color. Sadly my artistic heart was broken that the purple end sheets which I was hoping to have would have added $.30 to the cost of each book. Ouch!

Had to decide that the book was saying an important message not the end sheets.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Christ is Risen

A Blessed Pascha!
As the fire illuminates the darkness of the Church in the late hours of the eve of Pascha, may Christ light your heart also! What a beautiful celebration at Holy Trinity Church.

I always think of that fire and the mystical fire in Jerusalem.

There was a wonderful article a few years ago in Again magazine by Fr. George Hill (Vol.28, No.2, 2006) who made the trip to the Holy Sepulcher a Pascha for that purpose. He went through much struggle to achieve entry to the church and was rewarded by holding in his had a candle with the mystical fire of God; a fire that does not burn but heals.

"Cries of 'Axios' went up as the patriarch made his way around the tomb, ...I waited with my eyes glued on the Holy Tomb itself, when all of a sudden I heard a woman scream from the balcony. I looked up and saw blue-colored flashes of light flying around in all directions and an orange burst of flame arising from the center of the tomb. I saw the torches the patriarch bore as he exited the tomb, and in a matter of seconds I had the flame on my candle!

"The flame was hot. It was fire, but it did not burn. I moved my hands in it until they were black with soot. I held my hand directly above the flame, close enough to roast a marshmallow or blacken a hot dog, and there was nothing but deep warmth. As I put my hand deeper into the flame , it got hotter until the flames were leaping through my fingers. I pulled my hand out because it got uncomfortably hot, but there was no burn whatsoever!"

Fr. George sums up his article with these words...

"We don't have to go to Jerusalem, every Pascha is a wonderful blessing from the Lord, but becoming one with Him though His Body and Blood is infinitely more profound. It brings us remission of sins and life everlasting, which is truly the miracle of miracles."

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and upon those in the tomb bestowing life!

Christ is Risen!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Great and Holy Friday

Crucifixion from

St. Catherine's Monastery

in the Sinai

Great and Holy Friday has dawned. I awoke thinking of the death of Love. Imagine that, what a heartbreaking,frightening, horrifying thing that would be! Thanks be to God we know that the outcome of Good Friday as a glorious Pascha!
I am counting on going to the early service, but here we see 3-4 inches of snow with the coming light of morning. I live an hour and a half away from church with winding roads in between. Once I almost skidded off of the road on a snowy morning with a deep canyon to one side and a deep depression on the other, not realizing my tires were not as good as I thought they were. I turned around that day and came home again. I will try it this morning. We live off of the beaten track. I will at least go out and check and see what the highway is like. You never know.

At any is a wonderful reading...not complete but a wonderful section of it, from John 14:28-15:13 (The whole reading is John 13:31-18:1 (Matins, 1st Passion Gospel)

28 You have heard Me say to you, 'I am going away and coming back to you.' If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, 'I am going to the Father,' for My Father is greater than I.
29 And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.
30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.
31 But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here.
1 I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
9 As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.
10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.
11 These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.