Friday, October 21, 2011

Oh what a bee oot iful morning!



Oh what a beautiful day!

It is truly that. Fall is the MOST beautiful time in Taos. Who ever saw such dramatic colors - gorgeous golds and reds and blues, crisp air and amazing light.
Artists came to Taos to paint early in the last century, actually beginning to travel here late in the previous one. The air is still clear,color is magnified, and often as the weather cools it is scented with the smell of pinon (sorry no tilde) wood smoke.

Taos Mountain (Elevation 13161 feet elevation) is so beautiful. Close to to the town (7000 feet elevation)that nestles at its feet ; it is rugged and spectacular, the colors clear and personal with shadows outlining deep forest canyons in which you can imagine yourself walking.

I will show some pictures so you can enjoy it this morning too. God is AMAZING, ASTONISHING in His Creation! Thanks be to God!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A beautiful video



Here is a wonderful video I just came across. Beautiful imagery and chant from Optima Monastery in Russia.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thoughts on Beginning


There are some wonderful and powerful little prayers that are in my little red Antiochian Orthodox prayer book.

They are an excellent beginning to a project or to a day.
First and very important:

A PRAYER OF REPENTANCE
O Lord our God, good and merciful, I acknowledge all my sins which I have committed every day of my life, in thought, word and deed; in body and soul alike. I am heartily sorry that I have ever offended thee, and I sincerely repent; with tears I humbly pray thee, O Lord: of they mercy forgive me all my past transgressions and absolve me from them. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy Grace, to amend my way of life and to sin no more; that I may walk in the way of the righteous and offer praise and glory to the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

A PRAYER BEFORE COMMENCING ANY TASK

Almighty God, our Help and Refuge, Fountain of wisdom and Tower of strength, who knowest that I can do nothing without thy guidance and help; assist me, I pray thee and direct me to divine wisdom and power, that I may accomplish this task, and whatever I may undertake to do, faithfully and diligently, according to thy will , so that it may be profitable to myself and others, and to the glory of thy Holy Name. For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Often within a day or a project we can get moved away from our direction and start thinking about ourselves, our image, our success. That is a bad place to be for a fact, for it is painful and stunts our abilities. If we move in the flow of God's blessing and His Way in what we are doing then what a joy it is! Thanks be to God!
Remember that is sin is defined as getting off of the path that God has set before us. In sin we separate ourselves from Him.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Christ as a Man


I came across an very interesting video the other night that was downloadable through ITunes at the time to computer or I phone/I pad, or for purchase.
The series from the History Channel, is called "The Real Face of Jesus?".

Ray Downing a computer graphics artist worked to recreate Jesus' form and face in 3D imagery. He and his team used the Shroud of Turin as reference to recreate the way that Jesus may have looked. It is highly fascinating. Never before has the reality of Jesus as a human being, as a man , been so real to me.

I can say that mentally I know that he is both Man and God, but seeing the images and viewing the discussion changed my sense of His physical reality from a mental idea to one of personal conviction.

On the down side, the film is repetitive which is tedious, because it was intended to be shown in shorter segments and as such has a lot of reviewing of previous segments. The music is highly dramatic and charged. Also some things in it were questionable, but there are many things that are covered that are very interesting and remarkable.

Currently a group of scientists and researchers have formed STURP (The Shroud of Turin Research Project)in an ongoing effort to examine the shroud in detailed analysis.

A little of that background:
"In 1978, a group of scientist conducted a round-the-clock examination of the Shroud for 120 hours.
During this time the Shroud is lengthily submitted to photographic floodlighting, to low-power X-rays and to narrow band ultraviolet light. Dozens of pieces of sticky tape are pressed onto its surface and removed. A side edge is unstitched and an apparatus inserted between the Shroud and its backing cloth to examine the underside, which has not been seen in over 400 years. The bottom edge (at the foot of the frontal image) is also unstitched and examined...Baima Bollone obtains sample of Shroud bloodstain by mechanically disentangling warp and weft threads in the area of the 'small of the back' bloodstain on the Shroud's dorsal image...performing dozens of tests, taking thousands of photographs, photomicrographs, x-rays and spectra. A total of 120 continuous hours of testing is done, with team members working on different parts of the Shroud simultaneously. This is the most in-depth series of tests ever performed on the Shroud of Turin."

(From the web page-http://www.shroudstory.com/topic-sturp.htm)

Working together these two groups have created a very interesting video. Despite its shortfalls it is very well worth watching.

Please see comment below(Thanks for this info, Episcopalian!) -for some other options on seeing this on You Tube, as well as Itunes. It is probably rent-able from Netflix as well.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Check this out- Very worth listening to!

Eastern Orthodoxy and Mysticism: The Transformation of the Senses - Hieromonk Irenei Steenberg
November 2010

In the silence of the desert, in the solitude of the cell, free from worldly entanglements, one could ascend to the contemplation and knowledge of God, and loving union with Him. This inner tradition of becoming “sharers of the divine nature” (2 Peter: 4 ) — all but lost to modern Christianity — survives, almost unchanged over the centuries in certain corners of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Hieromonk Irenei Steenberg is the founder of Monachos.net, the world’s premier site on the Church Fathers, monasticism, spirituality, and Church history and theology. He can also be heard on Ancient Faith Radio on his podcast ‘A Word From the Holy Fathers’. Hieromonk Irenei is one of Orthodoxy’s most gifted thinkers, writers and public speakers and this is his exclusive seminar in southern California in 2010.



http://ancientfaith.com/specials/eastern_orthodoxy_and_mysticism

Check this out-

Eastern Orthodoxy and Mysticism: The Transformation of the Senses - Hieromonk Irenei Steenberg
November 2010

In the silence of the desert, in the solitude of the cell, free from worldly entanglements, one could ascend to the contemplation and knowledge of God, and loving union with Him. This inner tradition of becoming “sharers of the divine nature” (2 Peter: 4 ) — all but lost to modern Christianity — survives, almost unchanged over the centuries in certain corners of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Hieromonk Irenei Steenberg is the founder of Monachos.net, the world’s premier site on the Church Fathers, monasticism, spirituality, and Church history and theology. He can also be heard on Ancient Faith Radio on his podcast ‘A Word From the Holy Fathers’. Hieromonk Irenei is one of Orthodoxy’s most gifted thinkers, writers and public speakers and this is his exclusive seminar in southern California in 2010.



http://ancientfaith.com/specials/eastern_orthodoxy_and_mysticism

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pain Relief


I have been doing some silent sitting focusing on areas of pain...my feet hurt!!!
I put the Mother of God in those places of pain. Sitting silently and searching out each little place that hurts. I spend some time with this and it really, really helps.
Thanks be to God for His Beloved Mother!

Above: The Kursk Mother of God Icon

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I have a new eye!



I had a cataract operation today and it was most interesting. I could go back and do it again! (And will probably have to as I have one more of them.)
What a science! Refined to the inth degree.

I understand that an English doctor who invented the process found out that pilots, during World War 2, could still see with plastic from broken windshields embedded in their eyes. Through trial and error (and blindness) we have the procedure that was used today on me in Santa Fe. Amazing.

The Eye Surgeon was Dr. Arthur Weinstein (Eye Associates of New Mexico) who has not only great skill but a remarkable team of helpers. I can see why he has such high recommendations.

May God's grace help the inner eye of my heart to improve as well!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Look what Heavenly Ladder just got!

Thought I would start sharing with you some of the treasures that we have just gotten at the bookstore.
It's great to unwrap those mystery packages and see what the object that I thought looked so good online really looks like!


Here is a peek:


Uh-oh...Looks like it has peanuts. I wish that they had never been invented. What a mess. But I guess I have to remember how many fragile things that they have protected from here to there. Well this is kind of fragile so I guess they probably do a better job that some other things. I would sure vote for those blow up bags, they at least are recyclable.



Must be that peanuts is what the company thinks is best. Guess I'll put all of these top Styrofoam puffs in a bag so at least they are contained.




Well lets see how this looks.



Oh! Cute. Look at these clever little cookie presses. They could be used for bread too.



Here are some of the kinds that I got:



Jerusalem Cross...wow huh!



Look at this...a Celtic Shield. Very cool!



Here is a Russian Cross. I like that one.
There is also a Greek Cross.
This is how they look on my window table ready to sell. I like that they come with a cookie recipe that works well with them.



Pretty neat!

Want to know what else is in that corner of the Book Store?
Look at these candles that the Monastery of Saint Michael the Archangel makes in Canones, New Mexico. They are beeswax and they smell wonderful, like honey. Two sizes as you can see, a church candle size and a Bishop's candle (just right for a dinner table!)



These items will be posted on our website for sale. If you are interested check them out
http://heavenlyladder.weebly.com/look-at-this.html (Will need to copy and paste...link didn't work.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

On a 'Spiritual Testament'




A 'Spiritual Testament' was reviewed in this interview by Bobby Maddox at Ancient Faith Radio.

http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/features/

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Deep Thought for Great Lent







A friend and I have been doing a bookstudy on We Shall See Him As He Is: The Spiritual Autobiography of Elder Sophrony .
This is a very rich book, full of deep insight. Which incidentally we carry at Heavenly Ladder Books.

Here is to me a powerful statement from that book:

God does not participate in our darkness.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

More on Icons


Here is a wonderful quote from Metropolitan Jonah:

As St. John Chrysostom wrote, somewhere, "When you pray before your Icons, light a candle and then close your eyes! The icon is a sacrament of the Presence."

Tonight the lampada that hangs at my altar sends its red glow onto an icon of St. Nicholas. It gives the appearance of a fiery glow on his heart and I can almost see the face of Christ in that glow.

Doesn't St. Seraphim of Sarov say something about becoming truly fire?

I logically don't really need to see it to know that for St. Nicholas it is there,Christ perpetually in the heart. However have to say, I'm glad that I did see it just like that.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Observation


There is a very wonderful icon in our Mother of God’s little Chapel – Holy Annunciation.
It is an icon of St. Peter raising St. Tabitha. St. Peter is standing above her as she is laying on her couch, while the women standing behind her are mourning. I was startled by what one doesn’t see as I was waiting for the service to begin. It is the triad that is part of the intent of the icon, God the third ‘person’ in that image.
(Note: In any icon there is always the "outside" image of God. God is seen in a variety of ways, as a small Christ with a blessing hand in the corner, or as in the case of the Annunciation icon or Descent of the Holy Spirit icon as a circle with rays and perhaps a dove descending and sometimes with no image depicted but an understood Presence.)_

How like the Trinity that is in concept, three persons, The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit, all entities loving one another in absolute harmony, and One in thought, in regard for one another, and in equality. Behold, the One who makes the healing possible. And what a revelation in the concept of healing. The doer, the do-ee, and the God Head making all things happen.

Returning to the theme of the previous two blogs written about giving to God on a personal level = it could be said that a gift needs to be especially aimed at the receiver. We wouldn’t give a cook a shovel, unless the cook also loved to garden.

One thing we surely know about God is how much He loves his people. What great lengths he has gone to help them out of their fall into sin! (departure from God).

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. (John 15:12)

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. (James 2:8)

The Peter/Tabitha icon is a type for who we need to be in our relation to God - as loving, helping people and in our relation to our neighbor - as loving, helping people.


Some background:
36In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which, when translated, is Dorcasb), who was always doing good and helping the poor. 37About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. 38Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!”
39Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.
40Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. 41He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called the believers and the widows and presented her to them alive. 42This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. 43Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Strawberries


Continuing in the same vein, as the entry below, that is, moving in a truly personal relationship with God lets think about this. How does this work?

With a loved one you would say for example… ‘Here I brought you a chocolate truffle. I bought it just for you.’

This entails your going down to the store (time), using your money to buy something very special and maybe a little pricey (so perhaps there is some added sacrifice there), for the person that you love. In your attempt to show them how much you love them you step out of your way to do or even create something that is thoughtful and special for them.

How can one do that for God? Here is a beautiful example!

HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINT MACARIUS THE GREAT
In Egypt, in the desert
Great loved reigned
Among the simple monks,
As in the kingdom of the saints.

Saint Macarius was
as a cherubim among them.
In every good deed
An example to the monks was he.

Macarius became ill;
For him, a monk went out to seek wild strawberries,
He went forth, he found, and he brought them
To soothe his elder's pain.

To partake of them, Macarius did not want,
He said, "There is a brother more ill.
Bring it to him; this gift is
more needed to that brother."

The second ailing brother cried and,
To the gift-bearer, said: "Forgive me!
But my neighbor is more needy
Of this charity than I."

The gift-bearer, the gift he took away
And, to that neighbor, gave it,
This one gave it to a third,
And that one to a fourth; all in order,

From cell to cell,
And from brother to brother,
Until the last one with the strawberries
To Macarius, at the door!

"Behold, father, you are ill!"
Macarius began to weep,
Seeing this wonderful brotherly love -
Neither did he want to eat.

He spilled them over the hot sand,
And, to God he gave thanks,
That the dead, arid desert,
Because of love, became Paradise.

The more a brother loves his brother
Than he loves himself:
"O Lord, the gift is this,
The gift of love, the gift from You!"

From the Prologue of Ohrid, St. Nikolai Velimirovch for January 19

Here is also an example of St. Nikolai's love of St. Marcarius and of God!

Monday, January 17, 2011

From Personal Blindness



I have been pondering my eyes,that are beginning, rather have begun... to be somewhat useless on their own for close work. I have to put on glasses now to read, where before I could at least squint and get by with it. It is frustrating as a physical reality.

But what does that me to me on a spiritual basis?

How much does God do for me in His amazing Mercy and Grace that I am unaware of?

That is the question of the week.


I see a lot of things that come my way by just thinking, 'Here is a need'. And before I know it, God in His graciousness has filled that need.

Hmmm.

I was thinking today while I was in the grocery store: 'I don't do enough for You.' So I bought an expensive bottle of olive oil to burn. I was surprised that was hard to do. The ready advice says, "What a waste of perfectly good money."

But then I did buy it...'Just for You because you are so wonderful to me.'
As I was taking it down from the shelf, I had another little conversation with myself, saying as I was thinking of buying it:

'Maybe I should give this same money to someone who needs it'. But it seemed very right to buy a really beautiful gift for my beloved God. So I did.

When I got outside the grocery store, there was a young woman who approached me and was begging, needing money to catch a bus home. She was running away from a brutal relationship. So I gave her half the fare. In retrospect I see that it was the same amount as the bottle of olive oil.

God gave me the opportunity to give to him in both ways today. Wasn't that interesting.

God is as close as one's calling upon Him (crying out to Him.)

How much more can I see if I look really closely.