Tag Archives: joy

Let them fall down.

O Lord, guide me in the way of Thy righteousness;
because of mine enemies,
make straight my way before Thee,
for in their mouth there is no truth;
their heart is vain.

Their throat is an open sepulchre,
with their tongues have they spoken deceitfully;
judge them, O God.

Let them fall down on account of their own devisings;
according to the multitude of their ungodliness,
cast them out, for they have embittered Thee, O Lord.

And let all them be glad that hope in Thee;
they shall ever rejoice, and Thou shalt dwell among them.
And all shall glory in Thee that love Thy name,
for Thou shalt bless the righteous.

O Lord, as with a shield of Thy good pleasure
has Thou crowned us.

-from Psalm 5

 

 

 

Busy being alive.

It was a drippy and drizzly morning when I drove to the post office to ship Christmas presents to a few of my family. I thought there would be a long line, so I gave myself plenty of time, because I wanted to go directly from there to the cemetery in time to pray with a friend at her husband’s interment.

But few people were at the post office, and three workers, so I finished that business and was out the door with time to spare. Before I got my car door open a man with a long and full beard said, “Hi, Gretchen!” but I didn’t recognize him behind his face mask. Actually, I wouldn’t have known him without the face mask, because I hadn’t seen him in six years, and never with such facial hair. I had to ask, “Who are you?” and as soon as he told me his name I gave him a big hug and a kiss. Mike doesn’t live in my town, but the last time we’d met was in the same shopping center, the year in which we both lost our spouses. Back then we weren’t in the talking mood, but this time we stood in front of the post office and caught up for half an hour. He told me that recently he has fallen in love — with the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom! What a joyous meeting we had.

I had another visit with friends yesterday, for which I made a big pot of chili beans; this afternoon a little tea time with a sister from church when I got back from the cemetery; and last week, a walk with two friends. It’s still fall here, but the colors are all turning to browns and grays, so I was surprised to see this mushroom, the brightest I’ve ever encountered. It was one of several of its kind popping up under bushes.

Some of my family are expected to arrive next week for a nice long Christmas visit. I need to hire a Christmas elf assistant, to help me accomplish all my projects — but that doesn’t sound likely, so I cheerily push one thing after another on to the list of what we can do together, after they arrive.

And for this month, our church women’s reading group has picked a great pair of books: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, and On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius. I am just amazed at us! Last month when Pippin’s family was down for Thanksgiving, the Professor and I were sitting around chatting about church history and doctrine, and he shared with me a paragraph from the first chapter of On the Incarnation. My response was that it was crystalline. That’s probably the first time I ever used that word, which just popped into my mind — that’s what Athanasius will do! And I told the Professor that since I was soon to start reading the book again, I would be sure to post that passage on my blog.

Beginning to read St. Athanasius again has been soothing and encouraging. I got the idea of posting a series of excerpts this month of Advent, when we anticipate The Incarnation. But as I looked over my past blog posts to make sure I didn’t repeat myself too much, I discovered that I have already posted that very paragraph the Professor read to me, plus many more long and short quotes. Maybe I will find something different, but not likely a series.

Tomorrow is the Feast of the Conception of the Theotokos. I’m looking forward to attending Liturgy for the feast. I feel very happy at the moment, thinking about it. The world is full of trouble and strife and unknowns, questions about what governments will do, and what I should do. But for at least many hours of every day, I know what to do, and I do it — one thing after another. My mind gets distracted constantly, but often when I bring it back to here and now, a great gush of joy falls on me, knowing that I am alive.

From the rising of the sun…

PSALM 112

Praise the Lord, O ye servants,
praise ye the Name of the Lord.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord
from henceforth and for evermore.

From the rising of the sun
unto the going down of the same,
the Name of the Lord is to be praised.

High above all the nations is the Lord,
above the heavens is His glory.

Who is like unto the Lord our God?
Who dwelleth on high
and looketh down on things that are lowly,
in heaven and on the earth.

Who raiseth up the poor man from the earth,
and from the dunghill lifteth up the pauper,

Who maketh the barren woman to dwell in a house
and be a mother rejoicing over children.

The joy of St. Porphyrios.

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