Monday, March 29, 2010

Holy Week - 2010

The second evening of Bridegroom Matins.
So many of us are posting these words:
***

Behold, the Bridegroom comes at midnight,

and blessed is that servant whom He shall find watching,

and again, unworthy is the servant whom He shall find heedless.

Beware, therefore, O my soul, do not be weighed down with sleep,

lest you be given up to death, and lest you be shut out of the Kingdom.

But rouse yourself crying:

Holy, Holy, Holy, art Thou, O our God,

Through the Theotokos have mercy on us.

***

Bridegroom Matins is one of my all time favourite services.

***

We have to stay, as the Bridegroom Matins service says,

ever watchful,

ever vigilant

and continue to cry out for God's mercy.

The Devil wants to destroy;

we must hold the Cross of Christ high and say the Name of Jesus

and be saved.

***

This Holy Week will be complicated for me by the fact that I

will have classes until Holy Friday

(thank God Pascha is the same as the Western Christian calendar this year,

as it often is not on the same liturgical calendar)

so that I do not have to skip class to for our Holy Friday...

It is hard to study however,

but by God's mercy I did pass my midterm.

***

Blessed Holy Week to everyone!

May we repent, may our lamps be always with oil,

may we be ever watching for the Bridegroom

who comes at Midnight.

Friday, March 26, 2010

We Made It!!!

Can you feel the excitement coming?
Lent is over!
***
Tonight many of us brought our tired, battered, worn selves
to the Lord in the last presanctified liturgy,
or for some,
the last Lenten Akathist to the Mother of God
and God carried us through to the end of Lent.
***
Already it is the liturgical morning of Lazarus Saturday,
Already we are waiting to hear Lazarus called forth from the tomb!
We can sing, Rejoice O Bethany!
We will lament the loss of our beloved
and with God
see the restoration of those lost.
Oh, that the day will come!
Come Lord Jesus, come,
restore us, dead in sin, to yourself!
Awaken us to Your Holy Resurrection!
Allow us the scent of water so that we
battered torn wilting flowers
can revive
bloom
and make beautiful your tomb
and made radiant by your Pascha!
Come Lord, hear our prayer
and come O Most Compassionate Lord,
with strength that we can open our hearts to You
and be restored,
to be the beautiful flowers to adorn Your Altar
all the days of our earthly sojourn,
to send the fragrance of Christ to our
dying world...
O Sweet Jesus,
Come
and make all new in the light of your Resurrection!
May we hear you call,
as did Lazarus!
***picture from St. George's in Halifax, when I was there in 2008, for a wedding***

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Another Day Closer to Pascha

Our days sure can be a mix of sunshine and cloud!
I know many of us are really battered
and just wishing for Lent to end.
***
Lent can really have a lot of unexpected trials;
if not outward, there are often (or also) many
inward trails to be navigated.
We find ourselves at the end feeling that we did not even begin;
indeed, St. Silouan, at the end of his life, said he had not even begun
to gain the needed humility...
***
Indeed,
I know I have done so little,
have barely been able to hold to any of what I hoped to do.
Yet,
or, even so,
I feel that I am being taught that
God is with me
God is with us
God will not leave us
we are not alone
we are not abandoned
God in the Holy Trinity
The Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ
and all the Saints
and all of God's Angels
are with us
are praying for us
and God is doing everything He can to save us;
a friend once told me,
God is more interested in saving us than we are wanting to be saved.
***
Pascha is near!
Holy Week is calling us!
Let us pray that God will be merciful
and clothe us in white
and that we can live more in His eternal Pascha
of which we soon will be in.
***
May the Good Lord protect us as we go through
the rest of this last week of Lent
and into Palm Sunday
and
Holy Week.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

5th Week of Lent 2010

This is a time I pray,

this 5th week of Lent,

of healing,

for all of us.

For me, liturgically speaking, this week

last year was when I was laid off at my last job.

As those who followed me back then know,

it was a very painful end to a very complex

job situation,

where I was a solo librarian at private business place.

***

I have seen this Lent be a time of healing,

and with possible blooms of further healing.

I am seeing a little more

how much God loves and that the call to repentance

is a call to be healed;

to acknowledge our brokenness, our open sores and wounds

and repent before the Lord and ask to be healed.

And it may be that our repentance

is very small.

But we are small. We are weak. We must pray and ask in God's mercy

that we will give all of our seeking and prayers

and repentance to Him,

as little as they are,

and trust that they can be come all,

like the Widow who gave a small penny to the Lord

in the temple but by doing so

put in all she had

and so her little

became

everything.


The precious little three year old girl
has shown significant improvement,
but is not fully healed yet.
Please keep her in your prayers
and let us thank God that she has improved already!
***
I wish and pray to God that all of us will have a blessed
5th week of Lent and that God will be with us
as we see how little we can do
and how much God can do with our little.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cleo and a quiz

I find this picture of Cleo to be really funny!
Mainly because she does not look like this as much,
perhaps it is what she would like like as an older cat...
A foreshadowing?
***
Well.
Quiz tomorrow!
I am mostly ready...
I enjoyed sitting on the corner of the couch studying by
yellow lamp light,
looking out onto the city scape outside my window
(Cleo was on the sill looking out as well).
Such a relief to be calmly studying tonight;
sometimes it is so hard to be just in the present
and enjoy what is in front of one's self.
Tonight I realized I felt happy and fortunate studying French tonight.
What a blessing!
I hope you also feel encouraged tonight!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Prayer Request

There is a young 3 year old girl
that friends of mine know well
and this girl is very ill and
in the hospital.
Please pray for her!
***
May the intercessions of the Holy Mother of God,
St. George, St. Nectarios
and all the Saints
intercede for all of God's children who are ill!
***
(As I am not a personal friend of the family,
I am not using the little one's name.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Signs of an Early Spring in Ottawa

It is a beautiful day here in Ottawa.
So I finally took that walk with my camera.
Thought I would introduce my readers
to some typical sights of city living in Canada.

First sight, the mail box.

Notice the French on it?
Push - Poussez
There are various mail boxes like these around
the downtown
where I live...
But it still takes me a few days with a letter in my purse
to remember to mail it!
Sometimes I miss having a house with the mailbox along side!

I love this tree!

Such great expressive shapes and a surprisingly short

trunk and long branches...



Flowers sprouting! Green! Spring!?!
Some people say we will get more snow,
but I am with the one who say we will just get rain.
It has been a very unusual winter for Ottawa.
We only got one good snow fall all winter...

***

As usual I appreciate all the comments you all leave for me!
That you care really encourages me - thank you.

***

It was kind of strange to take a walk down the paths
that I walked down for the first time last summer.

Last summer was such a another unusual one for me -
trying to figure out what to do next,
recovering from the most difficult and complex
job situation I have yet to be in;
taking the class in 17th Century Lit
(still miss this in many ways).

***

It is still not easy to be in a state
where I am learning French
(Je suis appredre Fran├žais pour futur travail)
but have no idea what my next job will be.

***
I suppose that this is merely further lessons from
our Very Good Lord
on learning to live in the present.

***

(1st maxim)
be always with Christ

(maxim 34):

Be awake, and be attentive.

Be fully present where you are—wakefulness, watchfulness, attentiveness.

***

May the Lord help us to watch.

Wake, O My Soul,

Why are you sleeping?

The Bridegroom comes at midnight...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Gentle Monday

I keep meaning to take my camera
and snap new pictures
so that pictures other than Cleo are posted.
However,
it has not happened yet.
I do not take my purse that has my camera in it to school
(one too many good sized bags otherwise)
so no pictures.
However I do think the above picture is pretty cute and
a bit amusing.
***
Wow.
The losing an hour time change
sure does effect people!
I took it easy today,
(which means coming home after 3 hours of French)
since my weekend full of church and one
suprise birthday party
for a dear friend...
So today was the phone calls I've been meaning to make,
dishes washed,
etc.
Now to study French again.
That French, it keeps coming up!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday - the day of resurrection

I love how in the Orthodox Church
during Lent
the priest wear the normal gold on Sunday
showing us that today is the Day of Resurrection
even in the midst of Great Lent.

My little alarm clock.

Cleo decided a 1 hour nap today (time change etc)

was quite enough.

I decided to go with it, love her and chose to play with her.

Realizing how hard it is to really love.

To let go of what one wants or prefers for another person;

it is not easy to be or become a Christian.

Hard to believe that we will be in Holy Week soon

and then Pascha.

Lent is a battle,

and I really appreciate Sarah reminding me of this.

We may be looking for the door to summer,
but really,
we are waiting for Pascha
and for the Kingdom of God,
where we will know Pascha all the time.
Lord save us and remember us in Your Kingdom!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lent can feel long sometimes

My fair city.

From last week's laundry.

Has the laundry machine company sent me my refund

for the machine not rinsing properly?

Not yet.

I did call however and they said they would.

Yeah. That was last week.

I am struggling a bit with French this week

and am feeling, well,

behind and unsettled.

Vespers tonight, so this is good.

Cleo thinks it is her job to wake me from naps,
gently walking on my bed
and lots of "meowing."
***
I feel liking I am slogging under very wet and heavy blankets.
Cleaning, eating right and prayer.
And doing my homework.
These I am seeing are my main things
I am trying to keep up with
right now.
Lord help us.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Life is a balancing act


I know I am not alone in seeking to have

enough time to do everything:

pray

eat well

study or work or tend one's family

(some do all three at once)

and

sleep enough for one's needs.

***

I have been mulling over a section in Frederica Matthewes-Green's

book on the Canon of St. Andrew...

about the prayer of the heart...

I asked my spiritual father about this

and he explained that both the heart

and the nous (the Greek word for where one's spiritual intellect / perception is)

are both damaged and need to be purified.

And that we seek everything to find rest and do not realize that

it is only when the heart and the nous

are back where they were always meant to be

that we will recieve this rest,

this fullfillment.

I now understand a little more why

we are like U2's song,

Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

or

With or Without you.

We are so insatiable.

I know I am guilty of it;

so easy to be excited about the new toy

(for me the cell phone I got to save money

and be able to have a mp3 player to listen to

French CDs).

My spiritual father's explanation of how

the heart is searching everywhere

to be filled

has been with me ever since we had that conversation.

Is this what I have been waiting for!?!

All this time...

To learn to live in the presence of God

with a purified and realigned heart and mind...

O to continue on the road towards this!

(note I am not pretending to have it already...)

The weekend I was sick and missed church

I read the rest of the book

The Saint of our Century: The Life of St. Nektarios

that Sylvia also mentioned loving

a while back.

I was impressed with the humble family that

St. Nektarios lived with

and how they always kept their lampada lit.

I think of this now,

when looking at my lampada.

I read (do not remember where)

how a lit lampada (icon lamp) helps rise our soul to prayer.

Sometimes we just have to stop

and look up at our icons

the lit candles or lampada

and realize we need to pray,

that we need to remember God.

In other news,
Cleo invites others to come play with her.
Apparently I am not sufficing for her playful habits.
***
Personally, I was delighted to read my sister Rebecca's latest blog post
as God is blessing her and her husband's work in Romania.
I really miss my sister!
She and my brother-in-law are dear friends of my heart.
The other day my Mom and I were on speaker-phone together
while facebook-chatting with Rebecca,
teasing each other and just talking.
We have not really had that kind of family banter and conversation
for over a year,
(since I was not able to go home before they left for Romania)
so it was really refreshing.
***
Meanwhile,
how to remember God while studying French....
***
I have been thinking about Fr. Thomas Hopko's
very special podcast
Does God Play Favourites
and how we struggling Orthodox Christians
can have God's mercy and receive a "Saint's reward"...
so much of Pascha and the understanding of
God letting people come at the 11th hour
permeated this podcast.
I highly recommend it.
***
We have hope that the Lord will help us
and have mercy.

***this is re-posted as my pictures disappeared. I hope they stay this time; if they do not I am afraid I do not have time to redo this a third time...

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

For today

Busy day.
Left before 8 as the power was to be out during working hours.
Saw hydro trucks pull up as I was leaving.
(Hydro is what is called electric in the States FYI).
Re-made many flash cards.
Studied the flash cards.
Listened to kid books on CD in French.
Played with Cleo a little bit
(she is thrown off by my schedule change from last week to this week;
then: no school and sick with cold
now: school and cold gone).
It is so hard to be patient some days!
Today was a better day overall,
esp. compared to how I was feeling yesterday.
***
I am slowly trying to put various things into place
to prepare me for job searching
that will have to happen in earnest come around
mid to late Summer.
***

I struggle so much to pronounce and understand
French when it is spoken.
***
Soon am getting a new (free btw with contract at a lower price)
cell phone with mp3 player.
Hope to put French CDs onto this.
Any advice on what mp3 converter to download?
***
May God strengthen us by the power of His Cross
as we go through this week in Lent.
The Cross is out all week at my Church
and I look forward to seeing it again
in the middle of Church
on Friday night's presanctified liturgy.
***
God is with us.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Back in the saddle again...

I am back in French language school again.
My cold is almost completely gone...
In class, I felt overwhelmed by all I feel I did not fully learn
in the past 6 weeks
and now we begin again with more learning;
thankfully we are doing a bit of review at the beginning
but still
there is so much to learn.
I need God's mercy and help.
***
It seems that when I begin a new class,
even though things are no longer new
it still consumes a lot of my time;
my blogging or comments maybe
sparse for a while
but I am still reading...
***
I find the French learning
a challenge but also not having a job;
I still feel like my life was derailed this past year
with all that went on;
it is hard to have the patience to see things
through...
It sure is lent!
***
May God help us and protect us.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The view from here

It has been sunny.
I still have a cold.
Still.
1 week now.
Jim and Nancy Forest's blog is one I found a few months ago;
I am glad I did!
***
It is still lent,
in case you did not notice.
Things like eternal head colds,
small apartment woes (smoke again),
and other things
must not get us down.
We must seek to be gentle with each other;
we are all going through a great battle.
***
We must, as Elizabeth Goudge reminded me in
one of her books I re-read this week,
possess our souls in patience.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Couldn't resist...

Another photo shoot with Cleo!
I am hoping to take more pictures outside this week,
as the forecast is for Sunshine!!
Meanwhile I am home;
my cold is dissipating slowly
my heart is a lot lighter since being done with my exam.
So I had fun doing new Cleo pictures.
For those Cleo fans, I hope you enjoy!!
:)
And Thanks again everyone for your support;
I felt so sick with the cold,
that doing my first French final felt overwhelming to me.
Thanks for praying and caring!
I am so blessed.

Favourite spot, looking out of window.

Her elegant-ness

(similar to saying highness except for cats!)

Dreaming blue eyed beauty.

Thank God

I passed my exam!
Thank you all for the prayers.
I still have a cold but at least now I can rest.
Next class begins in a week...