Thursday, January 30

Candles for the Meeting of the Lord...

This Sunday is the feast of the Meeting of the Lord and traditionally candles are blessed after the Liturgy.  The little ones and I took a trip to the store on Tuesday and bought a little packet of birthday candles to use throughout the year and a beautiful pillar candle to light during Great Lent.  I also got courageous and melted down a bunch of little remnants of beeswax candles we have been collecting for the past few years to make some jarred candles.  We'll pop all of these sweet-smelling candles into a basket and bring them to be blessed.


O Lord Jesus Christ, the True Light that enlighteneth every man that comes into the world: Do Thou pour out Thy blessing upon these candles, and sanctify them with the light of Thy grace. And be pleased, O Merciful One, that as these lights, kindled with visible fire, drive away the darkness of night, so may our hearts, kindled with invisible fire, and illumined with the brightness of the Holy Spirit, banish the blindness of every sin, that, by the cleansing of our spiritual eyes, we may be able to see that which is well-pleasing unto Thee and necessary for our salvation; and that having triumphed over the dark forces of this world, we may be counted worthy to attain to the everlasting Light. For Thou art our Savior, and unto Thee do we send up glory, together with Thy Father Who is without beginning, and Thy Most-holy, Good, and Lifegiving Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
-The Great Book of Needs-
Taken from The Order for the Blessing of Candles on the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord


As I was filling up a turkey roasting pan with water and soap for my three year old to play with, he cautions,

"Okay! That's enough! We don't want it to overfloat!"

Onion Skins for Red Eggs...

Though Pascha (Easter) seems so far away (this year it is April 20th), I have already begun to save onion skins.  For the past two years I have gathered them up, but I want to get an early start so that I have have a lot to dye our eggs a gorgeous, deep red naturally.  I am collecting them in a bag underneath my kitchen sink and am really looking forward to Great and Holy Friday to start dyeing!  Does anyone else do this? 

Wednesday, January 29

Yarn Along: Knitting Yarns...

The Choose Your Own Arrow Shawl is going slowly.  I have not even printed out this week's clue, but I'm not worried.  I have all the time in the world!

I spotted Knitting Yarns at Barnes and Noble and leafed through it while we were there, but waited to see if our library system had it to borrow. It didn't, so I ordered it from Amazon last week and it arrived yesterday.  It will be cozy snow day reading for me and then I will pass it on to my yarn loving sister:)

Tuesday, January 28


Here is a film about Orthodox monks who are providing shelter for disabled and orphaned children amid poverty and indifference... the subtitles leave a little to be desired, but it is an excellent video!

Pretty Pictures...

Yesterday was hard, but when I looked at the images that I had captured on the camera, I did notice the beauty that was around me.  I am really struggling with some things that have come up and it has helped so much to have a project to knit.  I am so thankful that I was given the gift of a friend who taught me to knit.  I have found a part of myself that I didn't even know that I was missing.

Today I will do the things that bring me joy:  being with my sweet children, cooking something scrumptious,  stocking the pantry (there may be a little bit of snow coming our way!), knitting, ordering candles for the weekend (don't forget The Meeting of the Lord!), cuddling by the fire, talking to my sisters, and just being happy and thankful.

Sunday, January 26

Pleasures of the Winter Kitchen...

The bubble-bubble of soups and broths, the simmer of the stock-pot

A dish of citrus fruits, jaffa and navel and blood oranges, tangerines and clementines, globular grapefruit, dozens of lemons, skins all aglow.

Root vegetables freshly pulled, earth still clinging to them and crumbling on to the table.  Turnip and parsnip, carrot and celery, leek and swede.

A red cabbage, sliced down the centre, to reveal its whorls and whirls of purple-red-blue m ibter-streaked with white.

A pomegranate, split open to reveal the same symmetry, perfectly satisfying to the eye.

The feel of the heavy Christmas pudding mixture as youstir, pulling on the hand and wrist and arm, resisting.

The rise and fall of the singing kettle as it boils for hot drinks on bitter days.

The dry smell of the shed where the onions and potatoes are stored, on strings or in sacks and the other smell, of the apple loft under the eves.

Susan Hill

What Orthodox Families Must Do to Keep the Kids Orthodox...

Father Geoffery Korz

It is common in Orthodox parishes to find faithful people asking, why aren’t more kids coming to church? It’s an important question, since it raises two deeper issues: firstly, where will the Church in the Western World (outside traditionally Orthodox countries) be in twenty years, and secondly (and perhaps most critically); what on earth have Orthodox families been doing for the last few decades that has resulted in most parishes being almost devoid of young people?

Obviously, somewhere, the transmitting of the precious Orthodox faith from one generation to the next has not been accomplished. Of course, building faith in young people is a one-to-one exercise, requiring the time and concerted effort of parents, who bear the primary responsibility for this task. If young adults (or not-so-young adults) do not love Christ’s Church, the question must be asked, what exactly has been the highest priority of their home life? Academics? Getting a good job? Sports? Social life? Entertainment?

Saint Paul tells us that whatever we sow, that is the thing that we shall reap (Galatians 6:7): whatever we put into our children – a love of music, international travel experiences, unbridled ambition, a concern for the poor – it is very likely that this will profoundly shape their character. Similarly, as St. John Chrysostom tells us, the things that we allow to surround our children will either reinforce or undermine our primary influence on the life of our children (his Admonition to Parents is a tremendously helpful read for all mothers and fathers). Where can we start with this immense task? Consider the following:

We are all tempted to desire to be like the world, to be liked by those around us, and to “fit in”. Sometimes the cost of such acceptance is too high. The way in which we use our money and our time says a lot about whether we are planning more for this life, or more for eternity. If we are planning primarily for this life, why would our children even consider worrying about their spiritual life? When our check books, online shopping, and recreational trips to the mall outweigh the time spent at church or at prayer, why would our children turn out any other way?

This is a concrete way to set aside time for God. The Lord tells us that the sabbath (Sunday, for Christians) was made for our sake (Mark 2:27) – for our rest and spiritual rebuilding from the spiritual maelstrom that tears us apart during the other six days of the week. If we lack the strength to live a spiritual life, we should ask why!

 Orthodox kids in the western world are usually provided with two mutually exclusive and spiritually poisonous options: retain a foreign culture (language, name, history, etc.) as your primary identity, in order to somehow “keep” the Orthodox faith as part of that culture, or become westernized and leave your faith and culture behind. The whole idea that Orthodoxy is “part” of any culture is of course absurd, since two millennia ago, nearly every culture was thoroughly pagan. Even recently, many “Orthodox” cultures fell under the hypnotic effect of Communism, and today many are intoxicated with capitalist materialism.

Having a rich sense of inherited culture – whatever the culture is – is a formative seed in the soul of a child, since a rich appreciation and love for inherited tradition prepares a child’s heart for Orthodox living (since our faith is timeless, and requires inoculation against the passing winds of fashion). But a child’s first loyalty, the loyalty that must be cultivated and exemplified by each parent, is loyalty to the unchanging treasure of the Orthodox faith. If a young person thinks they have lots in common with other Orthodox people because they are Orthodox, there is a good chance they will remain faithful. On the other hand, if a child believes he has more in common with other peers who share their culture, whether those peers are faithful or not, it’s probably too late – the young person does not have an Orthodox Christian self-image, and tremendous work needs to be done.


For parishes that use the English language, this means teaching Orthodoxy to adults (catechumens and long-time faithful) so they can pass it on at home, while teaching kids. The temptation to “make Orthodoxy Canadian (or American)” must never turn into a watered-down practice ; this is one of the big reasons ethnic Orthodox people do not trust missions using the local vernacular language with the task of religious education: watered-down, “modernized” Orthodoxy is a scandal to people who are already deeply fearful of losing their imported culture. Sadly, many examples of “North America” Orthodox missions are full of attempts to redefine Holy Tradition, to revamp inherited liturgical traditions, and generally to try to “know better than all the faithful saints who have lived the Faith since the beginning. We must learn from history that Orthodoxy is a universal faith, for all times, places and peoples, and teach this critical lesson to our children.

 Imagine for a moment that the electricity supply was cut off to your home town. What would you do? Do you have alternatives close at hand? Many people – particularly younger people – would find life without electronic entertainment an almost unbearable reality. Similarly, many Orthodox parishes assume that the reality of foreign immigration will continue to keep their parishes vibrant, and full of Orthodox people. But what happens when immigration stops? What happens when the vitality of Orthodox life depends only on reaching those non-Orthodox who are already here? Sadly, we do not learn the lesson from previous generations of Orthodox immigrants: eventually immigration dries up, and we must start sharing our life of faith with other Orthodox people around us.

 There is a reason that chirpy music and jumping services win over people quickly: they appeal to the senses, and are easily embraced by the noisy hearts of those in the western world. If we are trying to pass on Orthodoxy to our children, the idea of emulating modernized religious life is truly absurd, since it fails to pass on to them the unique tools that only Orthodoxy has to give. Orthodox eyes that see timeless, unchanging truth, an Orthodox mind that understands the teachings of the Apostles’ faith, Orthodox ears that are drawn to eternal beauty, and an Orthodox heart that is trained in the inner stillness of prayer: these are gifts that the Orthodox faith gives. Our children need them. If we have access to them, and we fail to take the necessary steps to give them to our children, we have failed them.

As the Lord asks us, “If a son asks for bread from any father amoung you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a scorpion instead of a fish?” (Luke 11:11). The Orthodox Faith is available to us to give to our children the spiritual food they crave. What would we tell them if they ask us why we gave them something else instead?

- Father Geoffrey Korz in a priest in Canada. This article was originally published in the March-April 2005 of the newsletter of the All saints of North America Orthodox Church, online at

Saturday, January 25

Nikolay the Miracle-Worker...

The beautiful story of a priest who built an Orthodox village and adopted 70 children.

Friday, January 24

Benediction for the Rose Dinner Offered by Metropolitan Tikhon...

Benediction for the Rose Dinner Offered by Metropolitan Tikhon

January 22, 2014

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

My dear brothers and sisters,

It is customary, in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, to commemorate one or more particular saint on every day of the year. January 22nd, the day in 1973 on which the Roe versus Wade decision was handed down, the day in 2014 on which we gather for the 41st Annual March for Life, is the day on which, for many centuries now, the Orthodox Church has commemorated the Holy Apostle Timothy, the young disciple of St Paul who bore witness to Christ and His life even unto his own martyric death.

And so, in his honor, I would like to draw on the words of the Holy Apostle Paul to his disciple Timothy as we give thanks to Almighty God for this meal, for this day, and for our fellowship with one another.

O Lord, our God, help us to heed the words of Saint Paul, who exhorts us first of all to make supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence [1 Timothy 2:1-2]. We pray that our civil authorities will remember that God our Savior… desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth [1 Timothy 2:4].

O Lord, our God, we honor the humble example of the bishops, priests and pastors, who have chosen a good work and have offered themselves as examples of blamelessness, temperance, sobermindedness, hospitality and teaching to their flocks [1 Timothy 3:2], calling them to hold fast to the sanctity of life and to be mindful that the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith [1 Timothy 1:5].

O Lord, our God, we rejoice in the large numbers of young men and women who are here with us today, and we encourage them to not despise their youth, but to be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.  [May they] give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.  [May they] not neglect the gift that is in [them]... may they meditate on these things; giving [themselves] entirely to them, that [their] progress may be evident to all; [knowing that] in doing this [they] will save both [themselves] and those who hear [them] [1 Timothy 4:12-16].

O Lord, our God, may each of us gathered here not be afraid to proclaim the faithful saying, [that is] worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief [1 Timothy 1:15]. May the men among us remember to pray everywhere, without wrath and without doubting [1 Timothy 2:8].  May the women, both those among us today and those who have struggled with, or will struggle with, the decision to keep or terminate the life within them, remember to adorn themselves with good works and to continue in faith, love, holiness and self-control, so that they might be saved through childbearing [1 Timothy 2:15].

O Lord, our God, let us not forget the millions of lives that have been lost through the tragedy of abortion. We remember them in our hearts and in our prayers. Help us to not be overwhelmed by this tragedy, but to be encouraged by the promise of the resurrection and eternal life. Let us be inspired by the following prayer of another saint, one who lived not in the first century, like Saint Timothy, but in our own time, the saintly Bishop Nikolai (Velimirovich) from Serbia, who suffered in Auschwitz, survived to preach the Gospel of life in America and now comforts us with these fiery words:

My Lord is the One who resurrects. He resurrects the dead from morning until dusk, and from dusk until dawn.
What the morning buries, the Lord brings to life in the evening; and what the evening buries, the Lord brings to life in the morning.
What work is more fitting for the living God than to resurrect the dead into life?
Let others believe in the God who brings men to trial and judges them.
I shall cling to the God who resurrects the dead.
Let others believe in the God who does not even draw near to the living when they call upon him.

I shall worship the God Who holds His cupped ear even at the cemeteries and listens, to hear whether anyone is crying out for resurrection or for the One Who resurrects….
The Lord has neither tears nor smiles for the dead. His whole heart belongs to the living.
The world mourns for their kindred in the cemeteries, the Lord seeks His own with a song and awakens them.

Resurrect my soul, O Lord, so that my body might also be resurrected. Dwell in my soul, and my body will become Your temple….
Lord, You are the One who resurrects, and you are the resurrection, for you are life.
[Prayer XCII (92), Prayers by the Lake (pp. 181-182), Free Serbian Orthodox Diocese of the United States and Canada, ND.]

O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, for the sake of the prayers of Thy most pure Mother, the Holy Apostles Paul and Timothy, of Saint Nikolai and all the saints, have mercy on us, bless our meal and our fellowship, and save our souls, O Good One, both now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Perfect Day...

Today's lunch was salmon, sweet potatoes, and salad with a blood orange cut up on top.  It was a simple meal to make, but everyone enjoyed it so much.  Please notice the miniscule amount of salmon on my plate.  I need to remember to buy more than a pound of fish for our family.  No one got as much as they wanted!  

I am still s-l-o-w-l-y working my way through the Follow Your Arrow Knit Along, but it is hard and so I've cast on to a Grasshopper Wrap for a little relief.  Hopefully I'm not going to make myself crazy with two things on the needles.

I had a little giftcard to iTunes and have been freshening up my music by adding things from my wishlist.  One song that I love is called Perfect Day by Miriam Stockley and was in the closing credits of the BBC version of The Beatrix Potter Collection.  It's been playing on repeat all day.

Have a good night!

Thursday, January 23


It snowed yesterday!  We took a long meandering walk through our woods and  marveled at baby trees popping through the snow, our neighbor's horses, and all the quiet.  There were little animal prints everywhere, but none in sight.  

This morning, Button and I helped a little bird escape the church hall...  he had flown in through the chimney for a bit of warmth and couldn't find his way out.  We propped open the door and in just a few minutes he was free.        

I hope that you are enjoying these days of winter as much as we are!

Wednesday, January 22

Yarn Along: Gone Girl...

Reading:  Gone Girl 

Feeling:  Annoyed with my knitting (I had to rip it out completely and start again.  Despite that frustration, my stitches do look better and I think that I know what I'm doing from here on out.  The book was crazy.  I don't really read suspenseful books, so this was out of my comfort zone a bit.  That said, I couldn't put it down.  Beware that there is a lot of foul language in the book!


Sunday, January 19

Sanctity of Life Sunday...

To the Venerable Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America:

Dearly beloved,

I greet each of you with the love offered us by our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ on this Sunday dedicated to the sanctity of life. Having just celebrated the glorious feasts of the Nativity and the Theophany of Christ, we have been given a unique perspective from which to reflect on the meaning of our life as baptized Orthodox Christians, and on what it means to be a human being striving to live a Christ-like life.  As Saint Athanasius tells us, “by the Word made Man, death has been destroyed and life raised up anew.”  And it is in this spirit that we celebrate today the sanctity of our renewed life.

Saint Irenaeus of Lyons reminds us that “the glory of God is a living human being.” Today, as we celebrate the sanctity of life given by and lived in Christ, we are called to remember that all life is an expression and reflection of the glory of God. Life is a sacred gift from God—a gift that is given at the very moment of conception.

Proclaiming and upholding the sanctity and miracle of life is a sacred calling, one that lies at the heart of who we are as Orthodox Christians. Indeed, it is our ability to feed, clothe, visit, and minister to all of human life which will provide our defense at the dreadful and awesome second coming of our Lord.  It is a calling that involves obligations and responsibilities for the common good of all mankind, beginning with the lowest, least and weakest amongst us.  And, at the very heart of this calling is the challenge to share, in “truth and love,” the reality that human beings—in the womb, beyond the tomb, and at every point in between—reflect the glory of God.  Hence, we strive not only to work to change laws that are contrary to the teaching of our Lord, or that treat life as just another “expendable commodity,” but to purify hearts and minds to embrace the God Who is Love, Life and Existence Itself and Who invites us to become partakers of His divine nature.

Dear brothers and sisters! It is our prophetic task to call a divided and polarized world to live in Christ, to live lives worthy of the glory of God, and to discern His presence and image in all with whom He shares His life and for whom He gave His life.  Please join me in remembering, not only today but every day, that the God-given gift of life is the very reflection of His presence in our midst, and that all human life is called to embrace the sanctification and glory of our Creator!

With love in the Lord,

Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada

Friday, January 17

Flowers for the Table...

I've been pretty busy in the kitchen this week.  When I bought the food for this week, I did my customary glance at the flowers for sale in the corner of the produce section and decided to skip it...  there wasn't much that caught my eye and I was in a bit of a rush. I came home, put away the groceries and moved on to the next thing. 

Oh how I missed my little weekly bunch of flowers!  Each time I peered over the ledge in our kitchen to our dining room, I missed them.  As I set the table for lunch, I missed them.  When I cleared the dishes and crumpled napkins, I missed them.  So today I bought a bunch of roses and made up a little bouquet with pink wax flowers (I think!) and eucalyptus that I already had.  Normally I keep things simple by just choosing one flower to fill a vase, but the starkness of our January seemed to call for a little bit of opulence.

What is your favorite pick-me-up?    

Church Walls...

This past week was the start of the wall beautification, which should be one of the last projects that we are planning in our little church.  So far the walls have been patched, primed, and painted.  We also tested out several methods that we are considering for the walls.  Next week Father John and Co. will be drawing out the design onto the wall and then they may even begin to paint.  After a pretty exhausting week, Father John casually mentioned that this project could take a year.  I will not lie, that made me feel a little faint.  Hopefully that is a generous estimate!  Either way, it will be gorgeous when it is finished!



We have had a very busy week!  Monday was Sugar Plum's first ballet class.  She has wanted to take one for a long time and we were able to sign her up for a class at our local community center.  I am very pleased with the class and like that it is such a low commitment.  The next seven weeks will give her a chance to see if she likes ballet without a huge expense.  I am really considering joining the adult class for the next session.  I have always wanted to take ballet! 

Thursday, January 16

Blueberry Muffins...

A beautiful day is a sure thing when you put a plate of these muffins on your breakfast table!


2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups blueberries


Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine ingredients, but be sure not to over mix. Divide batter into prepared muffin cups (I like to use an ice cream scoop for scooping the batter). Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Yields about 12 muffins.

Wednesday, January 15

Yarn Along: Mystery...

I've begun the Follow Your Arrow Knit Along!  I started it last night and am really excited to see the rest of clue one.  It is exciting to see things begin to take shape!

After finishing Maggie Now, I picked up Snow in April.  It was a light read that was just right after such a depressing novel.

Tuesday, January 14

Painting on Canvas...

Recently, while on an errand to Michael's Craft Store, I came across a package of canvases that weren't too expensive (in fact, I think that I used a 40% off coupon!).  They have been such a fun craft for the little ones.  For this project, I lightly drew rectangles and squares with a pencil and the kids painted them.  We were loosely inspired by an art class that we took on Piet Mondrian.  I'd really like to use a wall in our playroom/schoolroom for displaying the art that the children are producing lately.  Any suggestions for accomplishing that?

Sunday, January 12

The Original Polar Bear Club...

Just as the weather begins to get wintery in our area, I start to see signs advertising the chills and thrills of a Polar Bear Club Dive into the frosty waters of the Atlantic Ocean.   It always surprises me that even without the framework of Orthodoxy to follow, somehow the Liturgical Calendar is engrained into the mainstream human soul.

Orthodox Christians have been part of the original Polar Bear Club for thousands of years, plunging into the depths of rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and oceans after the waters are blessed every Theophany.  Our Facebook accounts and Instagram feeds are full of amazing photographs of bishops clothed in glorious vestments, icicles dripping from their eyebrows and beards, standing on the edge of a cross cut into the ice as the faithful slip beneath the frigid waters, a stinging remembrance of their baptism and life after death.

My husband has been the priest for our parish (a mission church of the Orthodox Church in America) for nearly nine years.  We minister to the locals of our area year-round and are revitalized each summer as the vacationers swarm into our seaside town and swell the numbers in attendance for Divine Services.  In the burning heat of the summer, as I watch our three little children playing in the sand and splashing in the salty water of the Atlantic Ocean, I am reminded of the achingly cold day in January when our parish joined the faithful of our Greek Orthodox Archdiocese sister parish, Saint George. Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey blessed the choppy sea waters that we rely on for so much, flinging Holy Water in a sparkling shower over the beach in the shape of a cross, releasing doves into the brilliantly blue sky, pouring the sanctified water into the ocean, and finally tossing a cross into the waters to be retrieved by brave teenagers shivery with cold.

Begun by Saint George's numerous years ago, the annual Blessing of the Atlantic has already become a tradition that the faithful of this area look forward to every January.  My husband and I wonder whether someday our little ones might grow up into teens who are eager to join their friends in the plunge to bring the cross back to the shore.  For now, though, I am content to keep swimming to the dog-days of summer, reminding our trio of children to make the sign of the Cross over themselves before they dash off to jump and play in the blessed waters of the Atlantic Ocean.   

My husband normally serves with the clergy during the Blessing of the Atlantic, but this time he recorded it with his drone and GoPro cameras.  You may see the video below.  Enjoy!

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