Tag Archives: myrrhbearers

Wordless flowers, and myrrhbearers.

When I had brought flowers into the house this afternoon, I thought to share them, by way of one of those “Wordless Wednesday Saturday” type of posts, because what could one say that’s better than what the flowers themselves are are already communicating? Unless they are communicating to you what a failure at flower-arranging I am…. My excuse is that I have such atypical flowers for arranging, excepting the callas. This is the first time I’ve used acanthus. The purple blooms are chives, and the white that aren’t callas are ixia.

I wouldn’t have written any of those words, if I hadn’t remembered that it’s Myrrhbearers’ Sunday: I always want to express appreciation for my patron saint Joanna who is numbered among the women who came to anoint the Lord’s body. Flower essences were likely used in the ointments that the women brought to the tomb, and flowers are often given to one’s mother around this time, so let my flowers be in her honor, who is one of my mothers in the faith.

The following I found on our parish announcement page:

Joanna the Myrrhbearer was the wife of Chouza (he was the steward-administrator of King Herod Antipas). She is listed as one of the women, along with Susanna, Mary Magdalene, and others, who “had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities” who accompanied Jesus and the Apostles, and “provided for Him from their substance.” (Luke 8:2-3)

In Luke 23:55–24:11, we have the story of how these same women went to the tomb of Christ as Myrrhbearers to finish the job of embalming Jesus’ body, which was hastily begun by Joseph and Nikodemos. They were perplexed when they found the tomb empty except for the grave clothes. An Angel appeared to them and proclaimed the Resurrection of the Lord. They believed and became the first evangelists of the risen Christ, and became “Apostles to the Apostles.”

Although not mentioned by name, Joanna is most likely counted as one of the women who joined the disciples and Mary, the mother of the Lord, in the upper room in prayer. She was among the group of 120 who chose Matthias to fill the vacancy that was left by Judas, as well as being present on the Day of Pentecost.

According to tradition, Joanna recovered the head of St. John the Forerunner after Herodias had disposed of it (Feb. 24). When Herodias had John beheaded, she cast the head out into an unclean place. Joanna took the head and buried it with honor on the Mount of Olives, on Herod’s land. Later, in the reign of Constantine the Great, the head was found.

An ossuary has been discovered in Israel bearing the inscription, “Johanna, granddaughter of Theophilus, the High Priest.” Whether this is the same Joanna as the Myrrhbearer is unknown.

Just as Joanna stood beside the tomb,
So also she stands beside the throne in the age to come.

—Liturgical verse

A bell named George.

Today and tomorrow there is so much going on! Of course, every day is like that, even in the liturgical calendar, but I noticed three of the events or commemorations secular and ecclesial overlap just now.

The second Sunday after Pascha is the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers, when we remember Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus who ministered to our Lord’s body, and the women who brought spices to the tomb to anoint Jesus, where they met an angel instead. The angel told them that Christ had risen! Joanna was one of those women, so today was my name day. 🙂

Earth Day is celebrated on April 23rd, about which I once wrote an article that I don’t know how to improve upon. And starting this evening, it’s the feast of St. George the Greatmartyr, who received the crown of martyrdom on April 23, 303.

It wasn’t until I was walking to the parking lot this afternoon at church and stopped to take a picture of the bells, that I remembered that our big bell is named after St. George. All of the bells have names, but the great one bears the name of the Greatmartyr. He has wisteria adorning, and a chain protecting him from thieves who would peddle his metal. One of our slightly smaller bells was stolen once and had to be replaced.

In the morning the bell George will be rung for the saint George. One hymn of the day includes these lines:

God raised you as his own gardener, O George,
for you have gathered for yourself the sheaves of virtue.
Having sown in tears, you now reap with joy…

May we all have good reason to rejoice on this day and every one.

They come, they wake us.

pineapple guava buds

This afternoon was a healing balm, flowing from the mild-weather waking to breezes coming in at open windows, and Divine Liturgy on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women. I was celebrating and extra-blessed along with all of the Marys and Susannas and Salomes, plus Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. Our Sisterhood at church also counts this as our Name Day.

So after all the spiritual food and agape meal, when we finally arrived home, all three of us (my two housemates and I) spent some time out in the corner of the back garden enjoying the sun while working or reading.

The photo below was taken two weeks ago after a rain, but it gives the rare wide view. The table where we like to sit is off the picture to the right.

Kit talked to us as she added some emitters to the irrigation lines that serve the pineapple guava. Last summer many of its leaves got sunburned, probably because it wasn’t getting enough to drink.

At dusk I went around taking pictures as I seem to do most days. The abutilon is a somewhat gangly adolescent right now, and it was near impossible to take its picture with a nice scene in the background, but each bloom is exquisite, hanging down bell-like so that one has to point a face or camera skyward to see inside. This view is also toward the street, and the lightpole near the corner of my property.

If I stand near that light pole and point my camera back toward the house,
this is what I see:

Do you see the abutilon at the far left? I have yet to finish filling in the asparagus beds on either side of the walk, though I spent a few hours on the job last week. When that job is finally completed I plan to dedicate a blog post to the topic, but by then I might be too done with it all.

Here is one of the showy milkweeds I planted a week ago – I still have narrow-leaf milkweed to put in the ground, plus tomatoes, basil, succulents, pipevine…  Tomorrow is May 1st. When I took a look at the weather forecast for the next ten days, to see how hot it might get, I was quite surprised to read that we are expected to get more rain showers. This spring I have several times been mistakenly comforted in “knowing” that we have seen the end of rain. I guess it’s too soon to start leaving my tools and toys out of doors at night.

And now, a poem, which I posted at least once before — but it does seem like one that bears repeating, with its simple and obvious truth about days such as the splendid one that for me is coming to a close. For many of you, it is already the merry month of May.

Days

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?
Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

– Philip Larkin

What the women forgot.

The second Sunday after Pascha we remember the Myrrhbearers who came to the tomb to anoint the body of Christ. And my saint, Joanna, was among them. 🙂

And they said among themselves: “Who shall roll away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?” This was the subject of the Myrrh-bearing Women’s conversation as they climbed up to Golgotha, looking for nothing unexpected. The women’s weak hands were not strong enough to roll the stone away from the tomb’s entrance, for it was very great.

Those poor women! They did not remember that the labour to perform which they were hastening so zealously to the tomb had already been performed during the Lord’s earthly life. At Bethany, at supper in the house of Simon the Leper, a woman had poured precious spikenard over Christ’s head. The omniscient Lord said at the time about this woman: “In that she hath poured this ointment on My body, she did it for My burial” (Matthew 26:12). He had a clear foreknowledge that His body would, in death, receive no other anointing.

You may ask: then why did Providence allow these devout women to be so bitterly disappointed? To buy precious myrrh, to come fearfully through the dark and sleepless night to the tomb and not to perform that loving act for which they had sacrificed so much? But did Providence not reward their efforts in an incomparably richer way, in giving – in place of the dead body – the living Lord?

–St. Nikolai Velimirovich , Homilies

Myrrhbearing women at the tomb