Tag Archives: Rembrandt

His ministers a flame of fire.

This morning I prayed at home and participated as much as possible in the streamed service of Divine Liturgy; I could see the wind blowing the vestments and the hair of the servers, and I knew that those worshipers who stood outdoors and out of the picture were bundled up against the elements. At least the sun was shining weakly.

It is November 8, when we commemorate the Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers. Father James in his homily shared this verse that he still prays daily.

Angel of God, my guardian dear,
To whom God’s love commits me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and guard, to rule and guide.

I had never heard it before, because I never knew about guardian angels when I was a child. I wonder if that prayer rhyme is ever sung to a tune? I would like to sing it every day myself.

The Gospel and the Epistle for the day also gave me a lot to think about here as I write, but I will just mention the angels after all. I looked through my blog posts to see what I’ve shared before, so that I don’t just repeat myself. What I came away with is great comfort and encouragement from the fact of the countless bodiless powers that God sends around, to accomplish His holy will. Our women‘s quartet brought bright images to our minds as they sang:

He makes His angels spirits,
and His ministers a flame of fire.

(Psalm 104)

If you could use a little bolstering as we go into the dark time of the year and you are still not able to be with the people you love as much as you would like, or at all; or if for any number of reasons you are not at the peak of positivity, you might browse all the things I have shared about angels. If you click on the tag “angels” in the header, it will take you to previous posts that include links to articles from people who know more; for example, this page tells about how the date was chosen in the early fourth century, and about the nine ranks of angels and their services.

“When you are praying alone, and your spirit is dejected, and you are wearied and oppressed by your loneliness, remember then, as always, that God the Trinity looks upon you with eyes brighter than the sun; also all the angels, your own Guardian Angel, and all the Saints of God. Truly they do; for they are all one in God, and where God is, there are they also. Where the sun is, thither also are directed all its rays. Try to understand what this means.”

-St. John of Kronstadt

This morning, as the distribution of the Holy Mysteries of Communion began, the view for us watching remotely was turned upward, so that we could see the dome of the cathedral. There was our Savior, surrounded by the seraphim and the cherubim who cry,

“Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty!”

The moment when Before turned into After.

When I began blogging I read Maria’s blog which featured a poem a day taken from a book in her local public library. She always included a painting to go with the poem. After only two years the project ended abruptly, and even the queries from faithful readers in the comments stopped five years ago. I had saved many, many poems from her offerings, and here I am sharing/copying one as an echo of her post for December 25, 2010, painting still attached. Thank you, Maria, wherever you are! I know you are with God.

BC: AD

This was the moment when Before
Turned into After, and the future’s
Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.

This was the moment when nothing
Happened. Only dull peace
Sprawled boringly over the earth.

This was the moment when even energetic Romans
Could find nothing better to do
Than counting heads in remote provinces.

And this was the moment
When a few farm workers and three
Members of an obscure Persian sect

Walked haphazard by starlight straight
Into the kingdom of heaven.

~ U. A. Fanthorpe (1929-2009), English poet

The Holy Family with Angels by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1606-1669

Birthday Reflection

St. Nikolai

Yes, it’s my birthday today! Another day to thank God for all His wonderful gifts.

This spring I’ve been enjoying The Prologue of Ohrid by St.Nikolai Velimirovic. I splurged on this two-volume set of readings for every day of the year when our church bookstore offered it at a discount. I was the one who had to write down information about the book for a list of sale items, and that was the first time I’d actually looked inside. Something about the name along with its size had made me disregard it, but in the Preface I learned that the name Ohrid is “solely to distinguish it from the ancient Slavonic Prologue which — regrettably, because of its language — has become inaccessible to the Slavic people of our time.”

I’d heard and read many of St. Nikolai’s Prayers by the Lake, which are heartfelt and inspiring poems, so it is not surprising that his devotionals of three or four pages are also beneficial. They include stories of two or more saints commemorated that day, a Reflection, a Contemplation, a Homily of a few paragraphs, and often a Hymn of Praise. I’m happy to know that the whole thing is also available online, so I won’t need to carry my book across the continent later this month.

Today’s Reflection is a good one for Lent:

Even in His pain on the Cross, the Lord Jesus did not condemn sinners but offered up pardon for their sins to His Father, saying, They know not what they do (Luke 23:34)! Let us not judge anyone so that we will not be judged. For no one is certain that, before his death, he will not commit the same sin by which he condemns his brother. St. Anastasius of Sinai teaches: “Even if you see someone sinning, do not judge him, for you do not know what the end of his life will be like. The thief who was crucified with Christ was a murderer, while Judas was an apostle of Jesus, but the thief entered into the Kingdom, and the apostle went to perdition. Even if you see someone sinning, bear in mind that you do not know his good works. For many have sinned openly and repented in secret; we see their sins, but we do not know their repentance. Therefore, brethren, let us not judge anyone so that we will not be judged.”

St. Anastasius by Rembrandt