This icon is on my computer desktop.  Oddly it's one of my absolute favorites and yet we don't have one for our walls.  So every year I add it to the desk top and it stays there for quite a long time.  A visual reminder of what this week and what our faith is about.

So it's Holy Week already.  Wow-  and I thought Lent was hard.  Today has been full of difficult challenges- emotionally and physically,  but I keep looking forward-  knowing the resurrection is coming- knowing there is light at the end of these dark tunnels and God can pull us through anything.  But there are moments, difficult moments, in which it is very hard to keep the eye on the One Thing Needful.

 

This week will be a light week as far as homeschooling goes.  Really there are no lessons planned.  Just a pile of materials.

 

Though these will be our focus.

 

And all the days go like today even these may not be consumed in the entirety as I hoped.

But there is church services.  And there is Pascha.  What else is truly necessary?

Our Little Icon Wall in our dining room

 

 

Lent is fast approaching and I'm not 100% set on my spiritual goals, but of course I have more in mind than just following the Whole30 and working on health goals.

Lent  begins during Vespers on Forgiveness Sunday, also known as Cheese-Fare Sunday.  This year it falls on February 26.  LIke I said, it's FAST approaching!

Forgiveness Vespers is one of my favorite services of the season.   It begins with a solemn Vespers service and when the announcement of the evening Prokeimenon is made (usually symbolizing the end of one day and the beginning of another), it symbolizes  the beginning of Lent. At the end of the service, all of the faithful go up to the priest, one by one, and the parishioner and the priest  ask one another for mutual forgiveness, and, then, the person gets in line and will continue around the church asking each person present for mutual forgiveness.  It's a lovely service and is a splendid approach to bringing repentance to mind for the Lenten season.

Each Lent I make goals for the Lenten Season with the idea of focusing on my relationship with God even more than I do during the rest of the year.  Really the idea is to build better habits that will last throughout the year and the remainder of our lives.  Some years are more successful than others.  Last  year, I didn't fare so well.  Hopefully this year will be better.  My personal goals always involve reading -  I  started my  reading this past week to allow myself enough time to complete the book I chose: Thirty Steps to Heaven by Vassilios Papavassiliou, an interpretation of the Ladder of Divine Ascent for the ordinary layman.  My goal is five pages a day, and I reach that by not allowing myself to read anything else (besides my morning devotion and bible readings) through the day until I do.  I can probably achieve this on most mornings during my regular devotion time, a habit I just recently began in the last two months or so.

I have another goal that will be difficult.  I am going to try to steer away from the social media pull.  I admit I spend too much time with it as I easily get pulled into discussions and what not and catching up on the post of my friends and family.  While I still believe that this is a good thing in and of itself, it is also tempting to spend too much time with it.  So while I can't avoid it completely as that is my main source of communicating for this blog and my Lemongrass Spa business, I do intend to curb my time spent on reading post after post after post of others and commenting back and forth.  This is the goal I am most concerned with...as just jumping on there to post my latest Lemongrass Spa update or a quote on the blog Facebook page, I see headlines of posts and am just pulled in so easily at times. So I'm not aiming for perfection, but am certainly  placing more limits on myself.  I just haven't figured out how to do it yet...wish me luck!

Most of my other goals involve my youngest son.  He is 6 (almost 7- oh how the time flies!) and I would like to make this a year that really helps him learn what Lent and Pascha (the word Orthodox Christians use for the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord rather than Easter, a term that began to use much later in history) are all about!  I plan on using at least one of my books from my post on children's books for Lent with my 6 year old ( From I-ville to You-ville), and will have a stack of Orhtodox Picture books in the living room for my husband to read to him when opportunity knocks.  And of course, we will be extra vigilent to be sure that the bible and our lesson from The Law of God is read before any additional school work is done and hopefully will be done even on days we elect to skip the formal 'school' lessons, of which I'm beginning to do more of and feel less guilt as I travel between more of an unschooling method while still maintaining lovely concepts from my days of studying Charlotte Mason.

We will also be revisiting Psalm 50.  This will be the first for my six year old, but the rest of us memorized this psalm about 5 or 6 years ago during Lent.  I'm afraid most of it has escaped my memory, though "Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me" is a favorite prayer of mine and never far from my mind.

And most of all, we are striving to get back in the habit of saying our morning and evening prayers, something we do but is not at all a daily habit at this time.  Hopefully this season will reinstill that important habit of an Orthodox family life.

I will leave you now with the words of psalm 50 - perhaps you'd like to revisit it yourself for Lent.

What are YOUR goals for Lent this year?

Psalm 50 (51)

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy steadfast love;  according to Thy abundant mercy.      Blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.  Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned, and done that which is evil in Thy sight, so that Thou art justified in Thy sentence and blameless in Thy judgment.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.  Behold, Thou desirest truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.  Fill me with joy and gladness; let the bones which Thou hast broken rejoice.

Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take  not Thy Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners will return to Thee.

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, Thou God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of Thy deliverance.

O Lord, open Thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Thy praise.  For Thou hast no delight in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, Thou wouldst not be pleased.

The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart Thou wilt not despise.  Do good to Zion in Thy good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, then wilt Thou delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on Thy altar.

 

 

On February 27, the first full day of Lent,  my family will be starting our next Whole30.  What is the Whole30 you ask?  And why during Lent?

What is the Whole 30?

The Whole30 is a food program that allows you to take charge of your health and change your relationship with food.  It is 30 days (or longer and, in this case, with Lent upon us, our Whole30 is 40 days plus another 7 days of fasting during Holy Week- so 47 days) of eating nothing but truly nourishing    foods.  It means foods that are not damaging to our bodies in any way which, incidentally,  goes against that traditional food pyramid we grew up with and certainly goes against the Standard American Diet and will not include McDonald's or Taco Bell. Doing a Whole30 gives you an opportunity to connect the dots between what you put into your body and the energy you feel, the aches and pains that can't be explained , the weight you can't lose, the mood swings that take charge of your days and the chance to change your life.  Because let's face it.  What you eat does affect your health.  And your health affects EVERYTHING!

Recent findings have led me to believe though some may already consider my eating  healthy,   I really do need to take charge of my health and change my relationship with food. While we eat a primarily Paleo like diet, I am known to cheat a bit.  Okay, a lot.  (yeah, my husband is shaking his head as he reads this and I see the little bubble over his head that says 'she eats WAY to much sugar and dairy'....I know dear, I know).  Yes, I'm known to eat my share of raw dairy, cashew ice-cream fudge from Trader Joe's, Gluten Free Brownies (pretty much my answer to everything), chocolate (milk chocolate if it's my choice), and pretty much any sugary thing that is minus the artificial ingredients. , So no, I'm not a saint when it comes to food (or anything else for that matter) .

Anyway, I've struggled on and off for years of unexplained fatigue, sleep issues, digestive issues, etc. that just haven't gone away entirely though they improve and, yes, of course the more I stick to the healthy Paleo diet, the better the improvement.  I've started seeing a health coach and, little by little, have been piecing things together.  I've learned a lot more about what devastating effects NOT having a gall bladder can have on a body and I haven't had one for about 24 years now.  And I've learned a lot about Adrenal Fatigue (yes, it's real and yes, I have it.... probably have had it for quite a long time.  QUITE a long time.) and I've learned about genetic testing that may pinpoint a few other things about my body and how it absorbs nutrients..  But while the testing is still out, I do know about the adrenals, the low iron, and the missing gall bladder.   And that all needs addressed. And what better way to do it then knock out all the foods I have a bad relationship with.  Yep.  It's time for another Whole30.  Extended Whole30.

Is This Just Another Fad Diet?

In a word? No.  In more words?  It's not about giving up calories (I never count calories), or eating less like fad diets are. The Whole30 is about discovering good food standards and eliminating an unhealthy relationship with your food and an overactive immune system and a disrupted digestive system.  It's about eating  (a lot of) foods that feed and nurture your body - giving you better digestion, more energy , eliminating food cravings, resetting your metabolism,  and yes, maybe even shed some pounds if you have them to shed. Fad diets do not do this.  The Whole30 will.

Our First Whole30

Our first Whole30 was back in 2014 and I blogged about it here.  I posted weekly updates that included what we ate and how we felt.  That experience was quite an awakening to how much certain foods were dominating our lives, how emotionally connected we were to food, and how much better we felt (after a week or two) of being away from those so-called foods. We definitely learned about what foods/food groups cause inflammation, congestion, joint pain and other pains, digestive issues, and more.  (I already knew foods and ingredients affected my mood)

Why Lent?

2014 was our first year of being Paleo.  And we were struggling with adapting to the lifestyle and seeing the dramatic effects it was having on our health.  My husband was losing an incredible amount of weight and Lent was coming fast.  We had no idea what to do.  A typical Orthodox Christian fast involves complete abstinence from all animal products.  And while that wasn't a problem as far as the dairy was concerned, it was a problem for meat and oils (tradition has it that oils were once stored in pouches made from animals skins/intestines and therefore was also given up along with the animal products). We had been toying with the idea of doing a whole30 but kept putting it off because, well frankly, it left me quaking how to truly stick to this paleo thing 100% with no cheating whatsoever.

What to do?  We approached our priest for discussion and advice and well, a blessing.  We had ( and continue to have) amazing support.   So instead of the typical Orthodox fast, we follow a Whole30 for the duration of Lent.

What does this mean we give up instead of meat, dairy, eggs and oils?  It means no grains (none- not a one including wheat, rice, corn, quinoa, oats, etc), no alcohol, no legumes (legumes include beans, peanuts and soybeans and anything containing soy) with the only exceptions as green beans snow peas and sugar snap peas), no dairy (not even my raw cheese), no artificial ingredients including carrageenan, msg, or added sulfites, no baked goods, 'treats', or junk foods made with approved ingredients (in other words, no treats even if they are paleo), and absolutely no sugar of ANY KIND. Yep, that last one is a killer for me- making this truly harder than any Orthodox Fast I have followed.

And why , again during Lent?  Because we know we'll stick to it.  We are a family of faith and we have always taken the Lenten season very very seriously.  If we say we are doing this for God, we WILL DO IT.

In Conclusion

In the upcoming weeks I hope to keep you updated on our progress like I did week by week back in 2014.  It may not happen weekly this year, but I will post at least a few times and perhaps share some new favorite recipes. In the meantime, if you have any questions on the Whole30, check out the books I have pictured on the right of the post or any of the websites below!  And of course, feel free to ask questions!

Food Freedom Forever - (click on the image above) I haven't read this yet- just stumbled on it while looking for links to sources.  I just may put it on my wishlist soon!

Whole30 Program Rules

Whole30.com

For The Facebook Fans

Help With Home Alone Meltdowns on the Whole30

 

With Great Lent coming up, I always try to pick a particular book that is connected to my Orthodox Christian faith.  This year I've selected Thirty Steps to Heaven by Vassilios Papavassiliou.  It directly pertains to understanding the Ladder of Divine Ascent and applying the lessons of the monastic text to our everyday lives.

I don't know whether it's because I homeschool or because I'm an Orthodox Christian mother or both--  but I always think 'what can I do for my child during this season?'  as well.  It's probably more just the mother in me than anything.  My older children are old enough now to decide for themselves.  They have an understanding of what Lent is about and know what things we have done in the past during the season to prepare ourselves for Holy Pascha and place extra focus on our relationship with God during this season- even more so than usual.  They know Lent gives us a chance to enter fully into that relationship and focus on the upcoming Passion and Resurrection of our Lord. They know it's a chance to get back on track and remind ourselves of what we should be doing all year. They know it is a season filled with extra church services, prayer and fasting.

But my youngest is six.  So he needs more guidance. And while he will of course be going to those services, I've  pondered over thoughts of what we could do this year to make the Lenten season more meaningful to him and focus on his own relationship to God, I came to wonder what books we could use - if you know me in person or by my blog- you know I have a tight relationship with books!  I view them as friends and they are a wonderful way to deepen our children's knowledge and begin a wonderful conversation about what is important in our lives!    I wondered what others use.

Below is a list of books I have found on my internet searches, on my own shelves and what others have shared with me as good sources/books to use during Lent.  Of course, many of these, if not all, can be used any time of the year and should be.  But if you are wondering what some good books are to add to your collection or to use during this season in preparation for Holy Pascha, perhaps this list can help you.  I'd love to add to it-   so if you know of others, please share with me so I can add to the list !  I have tried to order them in terms of age, interest levels, etc.  Of course, you know your child or children better than me or anyone else.  So review the links (I'll provide them if I have them) and make your decisions accordingly.  I will mark with an * those that I have indeed read for myself.  Hopefully , at some point, I can add some book reviews on these for your use.

Happy reading and God Bless!

The Story of Easter by Patricia Pingry  -  a lovely picture book for small ones, ages 2-5.

*Getting to Know God by John Kosmas Skinas  - another lovely picture book for small ones, ages 2-6,   that accentuate the sense we use in our Orthodox Faith.

*Rechenka's Eggs by Patricia Polacco  - a lovely folktale picture book telling of Ukrainian eggs for 4-8 year olds.

In The Candle's Glow  by Elizabeth Crispina Johnson  -  A beautifully illustrated picture book tells of Felicia taking the fruit of the bee and the beekeeper's efforts , lighting her and how she prays.  This story is for ages 2-8.

*The Hidden Garden by Jane G Meyer - A picture book parable encouraging children to open the gate to Christ and tend to the garden their heart.  It is suitable for ages 4-9.

The Blackbird's Nest: Saint Kevin of Ireland by Jenny Schroedel  THis lovely book tells of Kevin who learned an unforgettable lesson from an unforgettable teacher.  This book is suited for ages 6-10.

*Catherine's Pascha by Charlotte Riggle  With delightful intricate illustrations and a lovely tale, children will learn much about the celebration of Pasch with this book geared for ages 4-10.

*The Miracle of the Red Egg by Elizabeth Crispina Johnson  For ages 4-10, this picture book shares the story of St. Mary Magdalene and the miracle that occurred in the presence of an unbelieving Roman emperor.

*Pictures of God:  A Child's Guide to Understanding Icons by John Kosmas Skinas  A lovely picture book for ages 5-12, explaining in simple  terms what each icon means and the importance of these people and stories in our lives.

Holy Week and Pascha by J Euphemia Briere  The book takes will take the child, ages 5-12,  through the period in the life of Christ starting at the raising of Lazarus to the Resurrection, as reflected in the Divine Services of the Church.

Lent! Wonderful Lent! by Debra Sancer  This book offers a summary of the weeks of lent for children, ages 4-10.

Glorious Pascha by Debra Sancer   This book offers a nice summary of the days of Holy Week. for ages 5-12.

*From God to You:  The Icon's Journey to Your Heart by John Kosmos Skinas     This book, a nice addition to the library of 6-12,  is a nice follow-up to  Pictures of God,  introducing children to ancient icon archetypes and encourages children to "mindfully consider icons and their stories as windows of inspiration and doorways to prayer."

St. Seraphim's Beatitudes: Blessings for Our Path to Heaven by Priest Daniel Mar  This book contains short sayings patterned after the Lord's Beatitudes  in clear, memorable phrases.

*From I-ville to You-ville by Mersine Vigopoulou   Wonderfully written and appropriate for ages 6-12, this best selling Orthodox Christian children's book of Greece, is a Christian allegory reminiscent of Pilgrim's Progress.  A young man makes his way from I-ville to the unknown, long-for kingdom of You-ville, a kingdom where humility and kindness have their home and people put the good of others first.

*Journey To Pascha: An Explanation of the Holy Week Services by Ayman Kfouf   This book was recommended to me as a lovely guide to older children as it offers a simplified explanation of the theological and liturgical themes of the services of the Great and Holy Week.

The Zacchaeus Tree: A family guide through the season of the Great Fast by Lynne Wardach   While seemingly written for Byzantine Catholics from what I can tell,  it seems to offer a nice prepatory discussion of the season and daily meditations for children and adults for throughout Lent.

 

 

 

 

 

This weekend marks a two-day celebration of two important events: the raising of Lazarus and the entry of Christ into Jerusalem.  I am looking forward to Lazarus Saturday this year as I want to see my son's reaction when he sees the icon of Lazarus displayed at the front of the church.  You see, the story of Lazarus was the first Bible Story that I've seen him get REALLY excited about.  We read it just a couple of weeks ago and he still talks about it. I told him that one day soon Fr.Dan would tell this same story in church and we would see the icon depicting the story there.

Bible Readings:

Lazarus Saturday:  Hebrews 12:28-13:8   John 11:1-45

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The story of the Raising of Lazarus is only found in the Book of John. The story tells of Jesus returning to Bethany a couple of days after he learns of Lazarus being ill. He tells the disciples ahead of time that Lazarus has fallen asleep and He must go to waken him. The disciples are confused as they believe Lazarus is only sleeping and should be left to rest. After arriving in Bethany, it is discovered that Lazarus has been dead in the tomb for four days.  Jesus says to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” Asking that the stone be  rolled away from the tomb,  Jesus then commanded, "Lazarus, Come Out!"  Lazarus walked out of the tomb!

This event is commemorated the Saturday before Palm Sunday the because of its actual occurrence just before the Lord's entry into Jerusalem  and because the resurrection of Lazarus is a 'type" of the resurrection of Christ.

Palm Sunday:  Philippians 4: 4-9    John 12: 1-18

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Palms (and Pussy Willows in Russian tradition) are handed out after being blessed for the Palm Sunday service as symbolism for this important event.  It was the custom of the Jewish people at the time of the original entry into Jerusalem to greet people of high rank with palm branches.  The Jews who greeted Jesus believed Him he was the Messiah.  Since Palm branches are unavailable in Russia, it became the custom use Pussy Willow on the Palm Sunday celebration as it is the first plant that blooms in spring.

While all the Gospels tell this story, we read from the Book of  John which tells us about how the people, aware of Him approaching Jerusalem, went out to meet Jesus and welcomed Him with shouts of praise, “Hosanna! Blessed is he that comes in the Name of the Lord, the King of Israel!”  On this Sunday, we worship Christ, holding our palms (or pussy willows) in a similar fashion.

The Lord is God and has appeared to us; let us keep the feast together. Come, and with great rejoicing let us magnify Christ with palms and branches, and let us cry aloud. Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord our Savior.  ~  Orthros of Palm Sunday

"Having completed the forty days that bring profit to our soul,  we beseech Thee in Thy love for man: Grant us also to behold the Holy Week of Thy Passion, that in it we may glorify Thy mighty acts and Thine ineffable dispensation for our sakes, singing with one mind:  'O Lord, glory to Thee."  

How Do You Celebrate Lazarus Saturday & Palm Sunday?

Readings of the Day: 

Hebrews 9:11-14  &  Mark 10:32-45

Today's Gospel reading tells of the journey to Jerusalem.  Jesus is with the twelve and, while walking, tells them of the upcoming events.  "See, we are going up to Jerusalem and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him and flog him and kill him.  And after three days he will rise." (Mark 10:33-34)  Today we read this and know full well what Jesus speaks of here.  But if I were one of the twelve I wonder at the fear and confusion it must have caused.  Surely when James and John make their request to sit at his side, they did not understand the torment he was going to face?  If I had been one of the twelve would I have made this request or would I have been one of the other ten who became indignant at such a request?  But more importantly to us this day, we must remember the words of Jesus upon answering their words among each other.  "Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:43-45)  The greatest man who has walked this earth is Jesus, our Lord, and He walked here to serve us and give us life.  Who are you serving this day?

St. Mary of Egypt

The story of St. Mary of Egypt has always fascinated me.  Mary's story is well-known FullSizeRenderamong the Orthodox of course; we commemorate her life each year on this Fifth Sunday of Lent. It's a powerful story and one that sticks in your mind of how true repentance can truly change your life.  Mary was a prostitute for 17 years!  One day she came upon a group of pilgrims headed to Jerusalem and, out of curiosity, decided to join them ,still engaging in her sinful lifestyle along the way.  Upon ...continue reading "The Fifth Sunday of Lent: St. Mary of Egypt"

Readings of the Day:   Hebrews 6:13-20  &    Mark 9: 17-31

Today's gospel reading  describes the healing of  a boy who had a mute spirit and was suffering seizures at the hand of this spirit.  The reading  includes that infamous line "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"  So often have I thought these same lines, cried out this verse in tears.  We all do, don't we?  As much as we believe, we have those moments of weakness - but while we remain uncertain, we maintain our basis of faith.  We believe....we are just unsure of the details-unsure of His will. But we must continue our struggle; we must continue to climb the ladder, so to speak,  in our faith!

St. John of the Ladder

St. John Climacus (570-649 AD), known as St. John of the Ladder, was a monk of Sinai

Ladder of Divine Ascent
Ladder of Divine Ascent

and became the Abbot of Sinai Monastery.  He wrote a book titled The Ladder of Divine Ascent.  Read by many even today, it may be, according to Fr. Thomas Hopko, the most widely read book among Orthodox Christians after the bible itself.  The Ladder of Divine Ascent describes monastic virtues, monastic life, and the nature of being free from passions. The book contains 30 chapters.  Every chapter represents a step leading up to a faithful and pious life as the ultimate goal of a Christian life. The spiritual struggle of the Christian is a real one, daily, and St. John's writings encourages us to continue with that struggle. The feast day of Saint John Climacus is actually on March 30, however, as the Orthodox do not practice Divine Liturgies during the weekdays of Great Lent (other than The Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos -the day we commemorate the appearance of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary announcing the conception of Christ who's birth we celebrate 9 months from this date ) the Church commemorates this particular Saint on this, the fourth Sunday of Lent.

*This book does tend to be difficult for the laity to read as it was written with monastics mostly in mind.  There is a newer book, Thirty Steps To Heaven, that is written to aid the laity in reading the wisdom offered by St. John.  I have often been tempted to read this book myself  (as I haven't even thought of attempting the original) and would love to hear from anyone that has!  There is an Amazon link below for both books.

 

 O John our father, saint of God, you who were revealed as a citizen of the desert, an angel in a body and a worker of miracles.  Through fasting, prayer, and vigils you have received heavenly gifts of grace and have healed the sick and the souls of those who turn to you with faith.  Glory be to Him who gave you strength; glory to Him who crowned you; glory be to Him who through you grants to all men healing. 

    ~ Orthros - Hymn to St. John of the Ladder

 

References and Sources of Information:

A Journey Through Great Lent - Edited by The Very Rev. Stephen Belonick

Daily Lenten Meditations for Orthodox Christians by Presbytera Emily Harakas

Fr. Thomas Hopko - Ancient Faith Radio

The Fourth Sunday of Lent: The Sunday of St. John Climacus

 

Today marks the second Sunday of Lent and commemorates St. Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica, the Wonderworker.  St. Gregory bore living witness that men can become divine through the grace of God and that even in our earthly lives, people can become participants of the uncreated light of God's glory through fasting and prayer, particularly the Jesus Prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

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On this Sunday, we read the story of the paralytic in Mark 2: 1-12. Four men are determined to bring their friend to Jesus for healing.  As there are so many people gathered around the house and in the house Jesus is in, they open a space in the roof and let the man down through this space to the place Jesus was.  'When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic "Son your sins are forgiven you." The scribes believed Jesus spoke blasphemies as only God can forgive sins. Jesus said to them, "Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?  Which is easier, to say to a paralytic, 'Arise, take up your bed and walk? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins" (and then he spoke to the paralytic) "I say to you, arise, take up your bed and go to your house."

What great faith for this paralytic and his friends to fight such a crowd and devise such a plan to make such effort to assure that the man would receive healing from Jesus!  They went to great lengths to assure that they would come in contact with our Lord that day.  What great lengths have YOU went through to keep Christ close to you?  What would you do to find him?

 

O Light of Orthodoxy, teacher of the church, its confirmation. O ideal  of monks and invincible champion of theologians, O wonder-working Gregory, glory of Thessalonica and preacher of grace.  Always intercede before the Lord that our souls may be saved.

 

 

Further Resources For You :

The Church Year:  Sundays of Lent

The Second Sunday of Lent:  Our Holy Father Gregory Palamas

The Second Sunday of Lent: The Sunday of Saint Gregory Palamas

 

Purchase These Titles Today on AMAZON:



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Photo by Pixabay
Photo by Pixabay

Wrapping It Up 

February

Well, I'm not sure that I ever bought into the groundhog theory, but suffice it to say he seems right so far as the snow seems to just keep piling up out there with no end in sight.  Oh how I long for Spring!  People tell me it's right around the corner but have they seen the snow piles around the corner?? It was a wonderful St. Valentine's Day celebration none the less! It was the 26th celebration of St. Valentine's Day I celebrated with my sweetheart -we've never missed one yet- not even during our darkest year that included a brief separation.  Yes, we've been there- not proud of it- but just want to be honest as I think there are too many divorces in this world....and not enough couples willing to fight the good fight so to speak and do what it takes to make a marriage work.  I'm so glad that we have and still are committed to our relationship!  Marriage is hard work but it is sooooo worth it!!

 

My Writing World

There are days I wonder if this world still exists. At the beginning of this month I even posted about this. I actually implied that I may be done with writing at least at this point in my life. Don't go looking for the post however, because after discussing this with my husband he requested that I delete the post. Some of you that follow by email probably ...continue reading "February WrapUp"

Lent actually begins during Vespers on Forgiveness Sunday, also known as Cheese-Fare Sunday.  This is one of my favorite services of the season.   It begins with a solemn Vespers service, but when the announcement of the evening Prokeimenon is made (usually symbolizing the end of one day and the beginning of another), it is also the beginning of Lent. At the end of this service, all of the faithful go up to the priest, one by one, and the priest and each person ask one another for mutual forgiveness, and continue around the church asking each person present for mutual forgiveness.

Please forgive me as I have not had time to prepare a post on this day as I would have liked.  But I could not let this important day go by without SOMETHING.  So I give you several sources to encourage you on your own search and I encourage you to please make forgiveness in your heart a goal to achieve during this Lenten season.

Great Lent

The Fourth Sunday of the Triodion Period: Sunday of Forgiveness (Cheesefare Sunday)

Forgiveness Sunday