Sunday, April 28

Newly Illumined...

Yesterday, during the Divine Liturgy for Lazarus Saturday, a family of eight (almost nine!) was received into the Orthodox Church.  I had the honor of being asked to be the godmother for all of the children.  To say I am thrilled is an understatement!  Aren't they a beautiful family?!

Palm Sunday...

Saturday, April 27

10 Tips for Holy Week and Pascha...

1. Make participation at the Services a priority.

2. In our homes we should strive to “keep out the world” and enter into the peace, solemnity, and theology of the events of the last days of our Lord.

3. Be sure to read the last chapters of the Holy Gospels that speak of the Passion, Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ.

4. If you are visiting another parish and wish to receive Communion, make sure that the priest knows who you are and that you are prepared. This should be done in advance by phone, email, or any other way.

5. Last year’s palms and pussy willows should be placed outside in an area to decay where they will not be disturbed. They are holy and should not be simply thrown out with the garbage.

6. Before venerating Holy Objects, such as the Cross, the Chalice, Icons, or the Winding-Sheet, make sure to wipe off your lipstick or chapstick. Reminder: we do not kiss the face of our Lord, His Mother, or the Saints; in-stead kiss the hands or feet.

7. If you haven’t yet made your Confession during Great Lent, try to make it during the beginning of Holy Week. Speak with your priest to arrange a time.

8. Try to make amends with those we may be upset with or those who are upset with us, so that on Pascha we can joyfully sing, “Let us call brothers, even those that hate us, and forgive all by the Resurrection!”

9. Try to stay after the “Midnight Service” on Pascha morning for the blessing of baskets and festive meal. Let us share in the joy of the Lord’s Resurrection with fellowship and love.

10. During Bright Week, sing or read the Paschal Hours instead of your “normal” morning and evening prayers. Let the joy of praising the Lord’s Resurrection accompany you throughout Bright Week, the Paschal season, and your whole life.

From Fr John's Sunday Bulletin

A Few Holy Week and Pascha Links...

Thursday, April 25

Little Pascha Baskets...

This year we will have a little trio of matching baskets for our children to use for Pascha .  Sugar Plum's is the basket in the center with the navy blue details and the boys each have a natural one (these are the small size Bolga baskets).  We found Sugar Plum's several years ago for sale at our favorite apple orchard.  Every year since, I have looked for baskets for the boys but they never had them.  This past March, we ordered one for each of the boys from A Toy Garden.  I opted to get them both natural colored ones to cut down on squabbling, but a bonus is how much I love how the baskets look all together!

Though we will use these baskets for Pascha, they are also handy for play, storing things (Sugar Plum likes to keep knitting projects in hers), and outside adventures (they are washable and we have had no staining issues with any of them!).   We plan to bring our dinners with us in our baskets to the outside shows that we like to attend during the summer and the children plan to use them for berry and peach picking, too!

Do you have a special basket that you are pulling out for Pascha? 

Wednesday, April 24

Yarn Along: Fourth Time's the Charm...

I have been working diligently on my next project, a seashore cowl, all week long.  Unfortunately, I have nothing to show for it.  I took the first photograph just before I had to frog it all.  For the third time, I found that I had somehow twisted my stitches just before joining in the round.  After rewinding my beautiful Opaline yarn, I cast on for my fourth try.  If I make a mistake this time, I plan to go to our local yarn shop for a little hand-holding.  I feel a bit ridiculous since I have made several things in the round and have been able to prevent twisting all of those times, but my sister  says that it is not unusual to have this problem with such a thin yarn.  She's probably just trying to make me feel better!

I'm still reading The Hobbit.  I hope to finish it before Pascha (May 5th!).

Tuesday, April 23

The Feast of Saint George...

Thou wast bound for good deeds, O martyr of Christ: George; 
by faith thou conquered the torturer’s godlessness. 
Thou wast offered as a sacrifice well pleasing to God; 
 thus thou receivest the crown of victory. 
Through thy intercessions, forgiveness of sins is granted to all.


The learning basket for Saint George can be found HERE.

Monday, April 22

Prayers Requested for Two Kidnapped Bishops...


In a portion of a letter dated April 22, 2013 and signed by His Grace, Bishop Basil, Secretary of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America to all member hierarchs, prayers were requested for two Syrian hierarchs who had been abducted earlier that day.

The text of the letter reads as follows:

“Metropolitan Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo (brother of His Beatitude Patriarch John X of the Great City-of-God Antioch and all the East), and Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo, were both abducted this morning, Monday, April 22nd, while they were traveling together on the road between Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) and the north Syrian city of Aleppo.  The driver of the vehicle in which they were traveling was killed in the attack.  Your prayers are requested.”

Play Nooks Chez Nous...

I had the honor of being featured on the blog, Play Nooks Chez Nous, over the weekend!  Helen's blog is a great one for inspirational photographs and articles of children's play spaces!  I think that you will enjoy it!

Sunday, April 21

Bringing Good Out of Evil...

 By Father Daniel Kovalak

“The inspired Prophet Habakkuk now stands with us in Holy Vigil.  He is like a shining angel, crying out with a piercing voice: ‘Today salvation has come to the world, for Christ is risen as All-Powerful!’” [Fourth Ode of the Paschal Canon]

Just when our lenten efforts are beginning to bear some fruit, something always seems to happen that derails our spiritual journey.  Sometimes it’s a minor irritation, illness or unexpected interruption. Sometimes it’s a more formidable and shocking event, with consequences that rock our world—like bombs in Boston!

Once again, as the media assaults us with breaking news, eyewitness interviews, endless analysis and graphic images of the consequences of evil acts, in a rare moment of reflection comes the question, “Where’s God in this?”  About 600 years before Christ, there lived a prophet named Habakkuk.  There’s a short, three-chapter book in the Old Testament that bears his name.  The Church commemorates him annually on December 2 and, whether we realize it or not, his prophecy is an integral part of our liturgical life.

As most of the prophets, Habakkuk was, shall we say, disinclined in his calling from God.  To communicate God’s divine will to stubborn people who’d rather be doing their own thing than be reminded of their sin and need to repent was (and still is!) hazardous duty.  Prophets were stoned because they scratched places that didn’t itch.  Nevertheless, Habakkuk was given a vision to deliver to the Chosen People—a revelation of God’s justice.  Judah consistently disobeyed God, and it seemed God had tolerated enough of their contempt and was ready to teach them a hard lesson.  Habakkuk saw the wrath of God descending on Judah at the hands of Babylonians.  This blew his mind because the Chaldeans were the most merciless, godless, ruthless people on the face of the earth!  Habakkuk’s perplexity was that God would not only allow evil against Judah, but that He’d use notorious Babylon as His rod of correction!

In spite of his trepidation at this vision, Habakkuk was utterly convinced that good would somehow come.  He just couldn’t imagine how.  Perhaps not unlike a tragic April day in Boston, Habakkuk was confronted by the haunting question, “how can God bring good out of evil?”  Because Habakkuk was faithful— because he embraced the will of God as his name implies—his prophecy was actually one of encouragement to Judah, that in spite of the overwhelming odds against them, in some wonderful yet mysterious way, God would bring good out of it.  Habakkuk then took up a vantage point in a tall tower to witness the vision unfold before his eyes.  He became the watchman who literally “kept vigil,” confidently waiting in faith to see God work.  The rest is history.

The Passion Gospels upon which our Holy Week services are built confront us with a horrible picture of the incredible evil heaped upon Our Lord.  He was betrayed by a kiss, dragged to an unjust trial, scourged, mocked, slapped, spit upon, crowned with thorns, and nailed to the cross, where the agony and humiliation continued.  Deceived by Judas, denied by Peter, condemned by religious leaders, sentenced by Pilate, crucified by soldiers, abandoned by seemingly everyone—what greater evil can we imagine!  All this and more, the Gospel says.  And we firmly believe He endures willingly.  Why?  “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Among the things we should do all the time, but especially during Holy Week, is assume a proper spiritual vantage point, akin to Habakkuk’s tower, to contemplate the mystery of the Cross, to keep vigil, to observe and respond to the actions of God with total faith, to prayerfully contemplate how God’s will for man unfolds to bring the greatest good out of the greatest evil. (Hint: it has something to do with “trampling down death by death!”)

In view of all the irritations, distractions and breaking news of the day, we would also do well to occasionally revisit Habakkuk’s conclusion and make it our own (3:17-18): “Though the fig tree does not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.”  May this faith be ours as we journey to the Promised Land of Pascha, and confidently face the issues of today.

Saturday, April 20

Lucy is One!

Our sweet little niece, Lucy, is one today!  May God Grant You Many Years, Lucy!

Friday, April 19


Two Skeins of Madelinetosh Merino Light in the colorway Opaline...  all wound and ready to be knit into a medium Seashore Cowl (I'm going to stick with one color for this one)! This is super fine yarn (the finest I have ever knit with!) and I can tell that it is going to be a bit of a challenge for me.  I am used to knitting with sturdier yarns, but I think that this will be so nice and light around my neck on cool summer evenings on the boardwalk. 

Thursday, April 18

My Honey Cowl...

I bound off my Honey Cowl in Worn Denim last night and quickly blocked just before I headed to bed.  I had hoped that it would be dry by this morning, but it needed a little time in the sun this afternoon before I could take the pins out.

The result is a gorgeous cowl that is just the right length (I have knit the other two shorter versions and this is my favorite length since it can be easily doubled)!  It was worth it to use two skeins of precious Madeline Tosh on this project.  I did fudge it a bit when it came to length because there really wasn't enough yarn to get the job done.  I stopped the honey stitches at about 10" and then did the 3 rows of knit stitches and bind off with just a little yarn to spare, so I think that it was a good idea to stop when I did.  Also, I used a size 7 needle instead of an 8 which the pattern called for.  This was a fast knit for me (I began on April 11 and finished up on the 17th).  If you are thinking of knitting this cowl, you should!  It is easy and the result is so satisfying!

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