Category Archives: church

Feasting all over.

We are celebrating one of our parish feast days, and I was blessed to be at Vigil tonight. The hymns and readings for the feast are the same every year, but the arrangements and singers and various aspects change, so that every service is both comforting in its familiar traditions and beautifully unique.

At a festal vigil the Five Loaves are blessed and broken for us to eat, to sustain us during what can be a long service; and we receive anointing with holy oil as another way to participate bodily. The Vigil service includes parts of the Vespers and Matins services and is the first part of the feast, which concludes in the morning.

The caterpillars on my milkweed plants are partaking of a different sort of food.  They have been traveling among all the different species of Asclepias, including the new plants just set out. Though there are fewer of them now, it’s good to see their survival instincts operating.

The day that I set off for Pippin’s place last week, I received a quantity of quinces by way of a friend of a friend, which anonymous friend drove several miles from another town to drop them off at church, so that I could pick them up on my way north. They sat in the back of my car for those several days, and this week I processed them. They turned out to be very wormy, but they were so big and numerous that after quite a lot of trimming and slicing, I ended up with a few quarts. I poached them with lemon, sugar and a cinnamon stick. I froze most of them but have been enjoying one quart right away.

In the past I have mostly baked them, and that was much easier. I love quince and am sad that so few people have trees anymore. I have put out queries some years to search out whether anyone knows of unwanted quinces I could take; this batch came to me completely out of the blue, unasked for.

Divine Liturgy for the feast will be in the morning, the celebration of the Eucharist. That will make it feel like Sunday, but it’s Saturday…. and besides feasting, I’ll be gardening — and resting, because I’ve been running around a lot!

I leave you with one of the readings from this evening’s service, which refers to a hearty feast of wisdom:


Wisdom has built her house,
she has hewn out her seven pillars,
she has slaughtered her meat, she has mixed her wine,
she has also furnished her table.
She has sent out her maidens,
she cries out from the highest places of the city,
“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
As for him who lacks understanding, she says to him,
“Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.
Forsake foolishness and live,
and go in the way of understanding.
He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself,
and he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself.
Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
give instruction to a wise man,
and he will be still wiser;
teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
For by me your days will be multiplied,
and years of life will be added to you.”

Prayers of St. Basil — Sixth Hour


O God, the Lord of Hosts and Author of all creation, who in thine ineffable and tender mercy hast sent down thine Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, for the salvation of our kind, and through his precious Cross hast torn up the record of our sins, and thereby triumphed over the princes and dominions of darkness: do thou, O Master who lovest mankind, accept these prayers of thanksgiving and supplication even from us sinners, and deliver us from every dark and deadly transgression and from all visible and invisible enemies that seek to do us harm.

Nail down our flesh with the fear of thee, and let not our hearts incline to evil words or thoughts; rather, wound our souls with thy love, that ever gazing upon thee, guided by thy light, and beholding thee, the eternal Light that no man can approach, we may offer up unceasing praises and thanksgiving unto thee: the Father without beginning, together with thine Only-begotten Son, and thine all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

That is not me in the picture, but I just realized that about the time that this post is published, I will be standing at a similar lectern and reading aloud this prayer in church. The Prayers of the Third and Sixth Hours are typically read before Divine Liturgy, and today we celebrate The Elevation of the Holy Cross. St. Basil’s prayer above comes at the very end of the Sixth Hour prayers.

Prayers of St. Basil – First Hour

In the Orthodox Christian Prayers book published by St. Tikhon’s Press in 2019, I noticed that several in the “Prayers Throughout the Day ” section are by St. Basil the Great, one of the Cappadocian Fathers and one of the Three Holy Hierarchs in Orthodox tradition.

The prayers in the prayer book have come into use because they teach us how to pray,  giving us the appropriate words and phrases that put us into the most helpful attitude, often straight out of Holy Scripture and ancient hymns. All of these from St. Basil warmed my heart, so I decided to post a series of three of them, starting with a morning or First Hour Prayer:

O Eternal God, everlasting Light without beginning, Fashioner of all creation, Fountain of mercy, Ocean of goodness, and searches Abyss of love for mankind: cause the light of thy countenance to shine upon us, O Lord. Dawn in our hearts, O noetic Sun of Righteousness, and fill our souls with thy delight, and teach us always to meditate on and proclaim thy judgments, and to render to thee our unceasing praise, O our Master and Benefactor.

Direct the work of our hands according to thy will, and help us to do those things which are all-pleasing and dear unto thee, that through us unworthy ones thy most holy Name may be glorified: of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one Godhead and Kingdom, to whom is due all glory, honor and worship, unto the ages. Amen. 

First Day anemones.

Typical scene, but not from today.


It is the first day of the liturgical year for many Orthodox Christians. In church we sang the Akathist Hymn of Thanksgiving, “Glory to God for All Things.” Following, because our rector had decided for several reasons to do a water blessing today, we continued to sing the hymns and psalms and prayers of that service. The giant urn such as we also use on Theophany was in the middle of the church; afterward we drank some of the water out of punch cups. All this thanksgiving and praise and infilling made for a very rich morning.

While we were singing inside the little old church,
right outside the anemones were in full bloom,
glorifying God in their own lovely way.