I was blessed to attend Vespers tonight, on the feast day of St. Porphyrios. The service was in our little church with mostly candles for light. That building is 85 years old and the wood is infused with incense from all those decades of its being a house of worship. I love to be in there and soak up the unique atmosphere.
Another good scent associated with our Orthodox worship is beeswax; did you know that St. Porphyrios has been venerated by bees?
“In the region of Kapandriti near Athens, a wonderful thing happens. Ten years ago, a devout beekeeper named Isidoros Ţiminis thought to place in one of his hives an icon of the Crucifixion of the Lord. Soon thereafter, when he opened the hive, he was amazed that the bees showed respect and devotion to the icon, having “embroidered” it in wax, yet leaving uncovered the face and body of the Lord. Since then, every spring, he puts into the hives icons of the Savior, the Virgin Mary and the Saints, and the result is always the same. He placed a photograph of Elder Porphyrios (before he was canonized) in the hive, and the bees showed the same respect and veneration as towards other saints.” [See photo below.] (Mystagogy Resource Center)
I’m focusing here on a few paragraphs from the collection of his sayings in the book Wounded by Love. To me St. Porphyrios is the patron saint of joy, because it flows out of him like a river of Life, and I pray that some of that grace rubs off on me:
“Christ is joy, the true light, happiness. Christ is our hope. Our relation to Christ is love, eros, passion, enthusiasm, longing for the divine. Christ is everything. He is our love. He is the object of our desire. This passionate longing for Christ is a love that cannot be taken away. This is where joy flows from.
“Christ Himself is joy. He is a joy that transforms you into a different person. It is a spiritual madness, but in Christ. This spiritual wine inebriates you like pure unadulterated wine. As David says, ‘Thou hast anointed my head with oil, and Thy cup which filleth me, how excellent it is!’ (Psalm 22:5/23:5) Spiritual wine is unmixed, unadulterated, exceedingly strong, and when you drink it, it makes you drunk. This divine intoxication is a gift of God that is given to the pure in heart.
“Fast as much as you can, make as many prostrations as you can, attend as many vigils as you like, but be joyful. Have Christ’s joy. It is the joy that lasts forever, that brings eternal happiness. It is the joy of our Lord that gives assured serenity, serene delight, and full happiness. All-joyful joy that surpasses every joy. Christ desires and delights in scattering joy, in enriching His faithful with joy. ‘I pray that your joy may be made full.'”
“Let us love Christ, and let our only hope and care be for Him. Let us love Christ for His sake only. Never for our sake. Let Him put us wherever He likes. Let Him give us whatever He wishes. Don’t let’s love Him for His gifts. It’s egotistical to say, ‘Christ will place me in a fine mansion which He has prepared…’ What we should say rather is, ‘My Christ, whatever Your love dictates; it is sufficient for me to live within Your love.’”
-St. Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia