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Archive for the ‘Christ’ Category

Much of this relies upon information from Image and Likeness.

The Resurrection Icons are much alike. They show Christ in His Descent into Hell, binding Satan and rescuing Adam and Eve. This was described in the Gospel of Nicodemus, a Gospel that was rejected by the Great Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church for reasons unrelated to the verity of the content.

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The icon of the Descent into Hell is a

“spiritual representation of the significance, reality and importance of what Christ accomplished.  Many of the elements that we see come from the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus and although the details vary from icon to icon, the essential elements remain the same:

The Icon of Christ’s Descent into Hades  is not a photojournalists recording of what took place in the bowels of the earth, but rather a spiritual representation of the significance, reality and importance of what Christ accomplished.  Many of the elements that we see come from the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus and although the details vary from icon to icon, the essential elements remain the same:the same:

  • We read from The Acts of Pilate, from the text of Nicodemus “The bronze gates were broken in pieces and the bars of iron were snapped; and all the dead who were bound were loosed from their chains, and we with them. And the King of Glory entered like a man, and all the dark places of Hades were illumined…” Christ is shown standing on the gates of Hades which are suspended over a black hole in the form of a cross. Hades is depicted as a person, conquered and bound.
  • Sometimes Satan is depicted with two heads to show his multiplicity and lack of integration or personhood. The hardware that held the gates in place is shattered and scattered, showing that the gates will never be closed again.
  • Christ is dressed in a garment of white, orange or sometimes even dark hews of blue, or brown, but with gold highlights emanating light from His transfigured body, showing that He is the Light of the world. His cape flies to show that He is not ascending, going up, but actually descending into Hades, and having resurrected He is shown in His glory. This is signified by the blue Mandola behind Him, which we also see in the Transfiguration and in the icon of the Koimoiseis or Falling Asleep of the Virgin Mary.
  • He is raising Adam from his tomb with Eve on the other side. Adam offers his hand to Christ rather than clasping Christ’s hand to show that it is Christ who raises us from the dead. With His other hand, Christ raises Eve from her tomb, or He may be depicted holding a scroll in His hand, in order to proclaim the Good News to the captives. Sometimes He is shown holding a cross in His hand, the tool by which He broke apart the gates of Hell. http://www.imageandlikeness.com/meaning-of-icons-v-18.html
Anastasis Fresco in Cathedral of the Holy Virgin, Joy of All who Sorrow

Anastasis Fresco in Cathedral of the Holy Virgin, Joy of All who Sorrow Anastasis Fresco in Cathedral of the Holy Virgin, Joy of All who Sorrow

One of the most touching Icons of the Anastasis I have ever seen is located in the Church of the Virgin, Joy of All Who Sorrow (ROCOR) in San Francisco, California, USA. Christ grasps the left wrist of Adam in His right hand, and with His left hand he grasps Eve’s right wrist. Adam is stretching his right arm and hand toward Eve and looks at her tenderly. He seems to be saying or thinking, “O Lord, please don’t forget my helpmeet, my wife, my beloved.” It is hard to see because of the location, just over part of the Iconostasis and with a chandelier in front of it. I know how hard it is to get a decent photo of it – I tried! This is a professional photo by Alex Mizuno, My Shot, National Geographic.

PaschalIcon

  • Christ’s hands and feet show the marks of the nails, as is the case in the Icon of the Touching of Thomas, but which is not true of the Icon of the Ascension.  Sometimes angels are shown above the Mandola, (also known as the “glory orb”), holding the tools of salvation:  the cross, the lance and the sponge.  These are elements that also appear in The Icon of The Extreme Humility of Christ.
  • There are many figures surrounding Christ.  On the left side in this icon we have 1) the kings David and Solomon who are Christ’s relatives, according to the flesh; 2) St. John the Baptist, the last of the Old Testament Prophets is also present, proclaiming in Hades as he did in this world “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”  Some say that John died before Christ so that he could be the “Forerunner” even in Hades; 3) Moses is also shown, wearing a Phrygian cap, he represents the first covenant and one who witnessed the first Passover; 4) and Abel, the first to suffer injustice as the consequences of sin; 5) In the background are various kings, prophets, and righteous men who immediately recognize the Risen One.
  • On the right side we have the contemporaries of Christ showing us that this is an eternal act that transcends time and space.  http://www.imageandlikeness.com/meaning-of-icons-v-18.html
Resurrection-Anastasis03

Descent into Hell – Resurrection Icon showing Satan and Hades represented as two men under Christ.

This Icon shows Satan and Hades represented as two men beneath the figure of Christ. They are leaning on the gates of brass which Christ has destroyed.

Some Icons of the Anastasis show Christ in profile, raising Adam. His stole is flying, showing his descent. As in all of the Resurrection Icon, Eve’s hands are covered by her robe:

Christ holds a Cross as he raises Adam.

Eve waits behind Christ for her “turn” at the Resurrection. You can see the piercings of Christ’s hands and feet. The young man behind Adam may represent John, the beloved disciple, illustrating the “eternal act that transcends time and space.”

Finally, in the following Icon from Russia, from the 1500’s, Christ is carrying a cross as he raises Adam:

Anastasis-Russia-1500s

Anastasis-Russia-1500s

It is hard to see the elements of this Icon because of all the time that has passed and darkened the Icon. Eve is behind the figure of Adam, surrounded with contemporaries of Christ. Behind Christ are Kings David and Solomon (wearing crowns) and St. John the Baptist. This Icon does not show the keys and hinges of the Gates of Brass, nor does it show Satan bound beneath the broken Gates. There is no Mandola around Christ, and the “halo” around Christ’s head in this Icon does not have the cross behind His head, nor the “OWN”  – “I Am Who I Am” usually on the halo is not present. Compare to the first, third and fifth icons above. I do not know if this is because of the extreme age of the Icon, or if the artist did not put these elements in on purpose.

In the future, as you look at Icons of the Resurrection, look for the various elements, and try to identify the people shown.

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The Dream of the Rood, traced to the 8th century, was the earliest of the English “dream-vision” poems. It describes in allegory the redemption of the world through the Cross. This version is from Project Gutenberg.

Lo! choicest of dreams I will relate,
What dream I dreamt in middle of night
When mortal men reposed in rest.
Methought I saw a wondrous wood
Tower aloft with light bewound, 5
Brightest of trees; that beacon was all
Begirt with gold; jewels were standing
Four[1] at surface of earth, likewise were there five
Above on the shoulder-brace. All angels of God beheld it,
Fair through future ages; ’twas no criminal’s cross indeed, 10
But holy spirits beheld it there,
Men upon earth, all this glorious creation.
Strange was that victor-tree, and stained with sins was I,
With foulness defiled. I saw the glorious tree
With vesture[2] adorned winsomely shine, 15
Begirt with gold; bright gems had there
Worthily decked the tree of the Lord.[3]
Yet through that gold I might perceive
Old strife of the wretched, that first it gave
Blood on the stronger [right] side. With sorrows was I oppressed, 20
Afraid for that fair sight; I saw the ready beacon
Change in vesture and hue; at times with moisture covered,
Soiled with course of blood; at times with treasure adorned.
Yet lying there a longer while,
Beheld I sad the Saviour’s tree 25
Until I heard that words it uttered;
The best of woods gan speak these words:
“‘Twas long ago (I remember it still)
That I was hewn at end of a grove,
Stripped from off my stem; strong foes laid hold of me there, 30
Wrought for themselves a show, bade felons raise me up;
Men bore me on their shoulders, till on a mount they set me;
Fiends many fixed me there. Then saw I mankind’s Lord
Hasten with mickle might, for He would sty[4] upon me.
There durst I not ‘gainst word of the Lord 35
Bow down or break, when saw I tremble
The surface of earth; I might then all
My foes have felled, yet fast I stood.
The Hero young begirt[5] Himself, Almighty God was He,
Strong and stern of mind; He stied on the gallows high, 40
Bold in sight of many, for man He would redeem.
I shook when the Hero clasped me, yet durst not bow to earth,
Fall to surface of earth, but firm I must there stand.
A rood was I upreared; I raised the mighty King,
The Lord of Heaven; I durst not bend me. 45
They drove their dark nails through me; the wounds are seen upon me,
The open gashes of guile; I durst harm none[6] of them.
They mocked us both together; all moistened with blood was I,
Shed from side of the man, when forth He sent His spirit.
Many have I on that mount endured 50
Of cruel fates; I saw the Lord of Hosts
Strongly outstretched; darkness had then
Covered with clouds the corse of the Lord,
The brilliant brightness; the shadow continued,[7]
Wan ‘neath the welkin. There wept all creation, 55
Bewailed the King’s death; Christ was on the cross.
Yet hastening thither they came from afar
To the Son of the King[8]: that all I beheld.
Sorely with sorrows was I oppressed; yet I bowed ‘neath the hands of men,
Lowly with mickle might. Took they there Almighty God, 60
Him raised from the heavy torture; the battle-warriors left me
To stand bedrenched with blood; all wounded with darts was I.
There laid they the weary of limb, at head of His corse they stood,
Beheld the Lord of Heaven, and He rested Him there awhile,
Worn from the mickle war. Began they an earth-house to work, 65
Men in the murderers'[9] sight, carved it of brightest stone,
Placed therein victories’ Lord. Began sad songs to sing
The wretched at eventide; then would they back return
Mourning from the mighty prince; all lonely[10] rested He there.
Yet weeping[11] we then a longer while 70
Stood at our station: the [voice[12]] arose
Of battle-warriors; the corse grew cold,
Fair house of life. Then one gan fell
Us[13] all to earth; ’twas a fearful fate!
One buried us in deep pit, yet of me the thanes of the Lord, 75
His friends, heard tell; [from earth they raised me],[14]
And me begirt with gold and silver.
Now thou mayst hear, my dearest man,
That bale of woes[15] have I endured,
Of sorrows sore. Now the time is come, 80
That me shall honor both far and wide
Men upon earth, and all this mighty creation
Will pray to this beacon. On me God’s Son
Suffered awhile; so glorious now
I tower to Heaven, and I may heal 85
Each one of those who reverence me;
Of old I became the hardest of pains,
Most loathsome to ledes[16] [nations], the way of life,
Right way, I prepared for mortal men.[17]
Lo! the Lord of Glory honored me then 90
Above the grove,[18] the guardian of Heaven,
As He His mother, even Mary herself,
Almighty God before all men
Worthily honored above all women.
Now thee I bid, my dearest man, 95
That thou this sight shalt say to men,
Reveal in words, ’tis the tree of glory,
On which once suffered Almighty God
For the many sins of all mankind,
And also for Adam’s misdeeds of old. 100
Death tasted He there; yet the Lord arose
With His mickle might for help to men.
Then stied He to Heaven; again shall come
Upon this mid-earth to seek mankind
At the day of doom the Lord Himself, 105
Almighty God, and His angels with Him;
Then He will judge, who hath right of doom,
Each one of men as here before
In this vain life he hath deserved.
No one may there be free from fear 110
In view of the word that the Judge will speak.
He will ask ‘fore the crowd, where is the man
Who for name of the Lord would bitter death
Be willing to taste, as He did on the tree.
But then they will fear, and few will bethink them 115
What they to Christ may venture to say.
Then need there no one be filled with fear[19]
Who bears in his breast the best of beacons;
But through the rood a kingdom shall seek
From earthly way each single soul 120
That with the Lord thinketh to dwell.”
Then I prayed to the tree with joyous heart,
With mickle might, when I was alone
With small attendance[20]; the thought of my mind
For the journey was ready; I’ve lived through many 125
Hours of longing. Now ’tis hope of my life
That the victory-tree I am able to seek,
Oftener than all men I alone may
Honor it well; my will to that
Is mickle in mind, and my plea for protection 130
To the rood is directed. I’ve not many mighty
Of friends on earth; but hence went they forth
From joys of the world, sought glory’s King;
Now live they in Heaven with the Father on high,
In glory dwell, and I hope for myself 135
On every day when the rood of the Lord,
Which here on earth before I viewed,
In this vain life may fetch me away
And bring me then, where bliss is mickle,
Joy in the Heavens, where the folk of the Lord 140
Is set at the feast, where bliss is eternal;
And may He then set me where I may hereafter
In glory dwell, and well with the saints
Of joy partake. May the Lord be my friend,
Who here on earth suffered before 145
On the gallows-tree for the sins of man!
He us redeemed, and gave to us life,
A heavenly home. Hope was renewed,
With blessing and bliss, for the sufferers of burning.
The Son was victorious on that fateful journey, 150
Mighty and happy,[21] when He came with a many,[22]
With a band of spirits to the kingdom of God,
The Ruler Almighty, for joy to the angels
And to all the saints, who in Heaven before
In glory dwelt, when their Ruler came, 155
Almighty God, where was His home.

[1] _Feowere_, B.’s emendation for MS. _faegere_, ‘fair.’

[2] Silken cords, or tassels, W.; sailyards, ropes, in Hall and Sweet.

[3] _Wealdendes_, S.’s emendation for MS. _wealdes_, ‘wood’; so Kl.

[4] Sty, ‘mount,’ common in Middle English.

[5] Here and below W. gives the corresponding verses from the Ruthwell Cross. They will also be found in Stopford Brooke’s “Early English Literature,” p. 337, q.v.

[6] Gr. changes MS. _naenigum_ to _aenigum_ and others follow; W. as MS.

[7] _Foreth-eode_, not _for-etheode_, ‘overcame,’ as Sw. W.’s note is an oversight.

[8] MS. _to þam aeethelinge_. Sw. follows Ruthwell Cross, _aeethele to anum_.

[9] _Banan_ must be taken as gen. pl.; B. reads _banana_; Sw. thinks it “a mistake for some other [word], possibly _beorg_,” and takes _banan_ as gen. sing. referring to the cross, though he adds, “this is very improbable.” Truly so, as the cross is speaking.

[10] _Maete werode_, lit., ‘with a small band,’ but it means ‘by himself.’

[11] _Greotende_ is Gr.’s emendation for MS. _reotende_; B. _hreotende_; K. _geotende_; Sw. as Gr.

[12] _Stefn_ is Kl.’s emendation to fill _lacuna_. W. prefers it, but does not think it convincing.

[13] _Us_ here must refer to the _three_ crosses, that of Christ and those of the two thieves.

[14] This half-line is Gr.’s emendation to fill _lacuna_ in MS. Sw. and W. leave it blank.

[15] Or, ‘of the wicked,’ ‘of criminals.’

[16] I have used this Middle English word for sake of the alliteration.

[17] Sw.’s text ends here. It was translated a few years ago in _Poet-Lore_ as if it were the whole poem.

[18] MS. _holmwudu_; K. _holtwudu_, and so Gr. with (?).

[19] MS. _unforht_, but Gr.’s _anforht_ suits the sense better.

[20] i.e., ‘by myself.’ See on 69.

[21] Lit., ‘speedy,’ ‘successful.’

[22] A company, a crowd; common in Middle English.

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HYMN TO CHRIST ON EASTER DAY
(AFTER LONG SILENCE),

Cristi anax, se prvton, epei logon heri dvka,
dhnaion katecwn, fqegxom apo stomatwn,
(Dactylic hexameter, and pentameter.)

O Christ the King! since breath pent up so long
I have outpoured, Thou first shalt be my song;
May this my word, the current of my mind,
If lawful thus to speak, acceptance find,
And unto Thee as holy incense rise
Of holiest priest, a grateful sacrifice!
The Father’s Brightness, Word of the Great Mind,
Who cannot be by power of speech defined,
High Light of highest Light, the Only Son,
Image and Seal of the Immortal One,
Without beginning; from same Fount of Light
With the Great Spirit; infinite in might:
All-glorious Thou, and Author of all good:
From age to age Thy truth hath firmly stood.
Enthroned Thou reignest high in heaven above,
Almighty Breath of Mind and Lord of Love.
Throughout this framed universe Divine
Whatever is, or shall be, all is Thine:
Thou madest all, to all Thou givest life,
And all Thou guidest: nowhere fault or strife,
Nor error in Thy workmanship is found:
The whole in willing chain to Thee is bound.
Thou laid’st the world’s foundation: and Thy nod
All things obey, and own their Sovereign God.
For Thee the lofty sun, the king of day,
Quenching the stars, holds on his fiery way.
For Thee, for so Thou bidst, the eye of night,
The moon, waxes and wanes, full orb of light.
For Thee the belt of heaven, all-dancing ring,
And seasons kindly mingling, laugh and sing.
For Thee the fixed stars and planets shine
In course, and speak Thy wisdom all divine.
Thy light they are, the heavenly minds that be,
All sing on high the glorious Trinity.
Man is Thy glory too, angel below,
Here placed to sing, O Light, Thy beauteous glow.
Immortal, fleshless, glory’s highest ray,
Who mortal flesh yet took’st, man’s woes to stay,
For Thee I live, for Thee my songs arise,
For Thee I am a breathing sacrifice;
For this, of all things once possessed by me,
Alone remains, and this I give to Thee.

I tie my tongue, and loose it at Thy will;
In either, what Thou wouldst may I fulfil,
Speak what is right, nor think aught else beside:
From mire select the pearl, with Thee my Guide;
Gold from the sand, the rose from thorny brake,
From straw-encumbered ears the pure grain take.
To Thee, O Christ, this wreath of uttered praise,
As firstfruits of my loving toil, I raise.

For from the dead, with whom He mingled lay,
Great Christ arose, upon this gladsome day;
Gates of grim Hades He did open fling;
And broke death’s power, and robbed him of his sting;
Rushed from the tomb, appeared to speaking men,
For whom, once born, He died and rose again;
That we new-born might rise, from death set free,
And ever live, ascending Lord, with Thee.
This day glad Heaven with acclamation rings,
And choir angelic crowning anthem sings.
This day my closed lips I loose in song
To Thee, to whom my lute and breath belong.

Of mind to Mind, of word to the true Word,
I here have offered what I could afford:
Hereafter, if He will, I hope to bring
To the Great Spirit worthier offering.

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Joseph begged Thy Holy Body from Pilate; /
He anointed it with sweet-smelling spices; /
He wrapped in in clean linen and laid it in his own new tomb; //
And early in the morning, the myrrhbearing women cried out /
|| “As Thou hast foretold O Christ, show us Thy Resurrection! ||
The choirs of angels are filled with awe, /
Seeing Him Who rests in the Father’s bosom laid in the tomb as dead /
Though He is immortal. The ranks of angels surround Him; //
Together with the dead in hell, they glorify Him as Creator and Lord!

Noble Joseph having taken Thy most pure body from the tree, /
Wrapped it in pure linen and anointing it with spices, //
He laid it in a new tomb.

|| Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, ||

Thou didst descend unto death O Life Immortal /
Then Thou didst conquer hell with the Light of Thy Divinity /
When Thou didst raise the dead from the nethermost region. /
All powers from the Heavens loudly cried //
O Lifegiver, Christ Our God glory to Thee.

|| Both now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Amen. ||

The angel stood before the myrrhbearing women and cried //
Spices are for the dead, //
But Christ has revealed Himself a stranger to corruption.

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. . . From Sermon LIX, given in Wednesday of Holy Week.

St Leo the Great (pope of Rome from 440-461, reposed in the Lord AD 461) was bishop in one of the more controversy-ridden periods of Church history. He was engaged in the Christological controversy that consumed the fifth century, and his great Tome was to be of substantial influence in the events leading to the Ecumenical Council of Ephesis in 451.

In this sermon, St Leo explores the Passion of Our Lord and its meaning in the Christian Life.

[…]

IV. Christ Bearing His Own Cross is an Eternal Lesson to the Church.

And so the Lord was handed over to their savage wishes, and in mockery of His kingly state, ordered to be the bearer of His own instrument of death, that what Isaiah the prophet foresaw might be fulfilled, saying, “Behold a Child is born, and a Son is given to us whose government is upon His shoulders.” When, therefore, the Lord carried the wood of the cross which should turn for Him into the sceptre of power, it was indeed in the eyes of the wicked a mighty mockery, but to the faithful a mighty mystery was set forth, seeing that He, the glorious vanquisher of the Devil, and the strong defeater of the powers that were against Him, was carrying in noble sort the trophy of His triumph, and on the shoulders of His unconquered patience bore into all realms the adorable sign of salvation: as if even then to confirm all His followers by this mere symbol of His work, and say, “He that taketh not his cross and followeth Me, is not worthy of Me.”

V. The Transference of the Cross from the Lord To Simon of Cyrene Signifies the Participation of the Gentiles in His Sufferings.

But as the multitudes went with Jesus to the place of punishment, a certain Simon of Cyrene was found on whom to lay the wood of the cross instead of the Lord; that even by this act might be pre-signified the Gentiles’ faith, to whom the cross of Christ was to be not shame but glory. It was not accidental, therefore, but symbolical and mystical, that while the Jews were raging against Christ, a foreigner was found to share His sufferings, as the Apostle says, “if we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him”; so that no Hebrew nor Israelite, but a stranger, was substituted for the Saviour in His most holy degradation. For by this transference the propitiation of the spotless Lamb and the fulfilment of all mysteries passed from the circumcision to the uncircumcision, from the sons according to the flesh to the sons according to the spirit: since as the Apostle says, “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us,” Who offering Himself to the Father a new and true sacrifice of reconciliation, was crucified not in the temple, whose worship was now at an end, and not within the confines of the city which for its sin was doomed to be destroyed, but outside, “without the camp,” that, on the cessation of the old symbolic victims, a new Victim might be placed on a new altar, and the cross of Christ might be the altar not of the temple but of the world.

VI. We are to See Not Only the Cross But the Meaning of It.

Accordingly, dearly-beloved, Christ being lifted up upon the cross, let the eyes of your mind not dwell only on that sight which those wicked sinners saw, to whom it was said by the mouth of Moses, “And thy life shall be hanging before thine eyes, and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt not be assured of thy life.” For in the crucified Lord they could think of nothing but their wicked deed, having not the fear, by which true faith is justified, but that by which an evil conscience is racked. But let our understandings, illumined by the Spirit of Truth, foster with pure and free heart the glory of the cross which irradiates heaven and earth, and see with the inner sight what the Lord meant when He spoke of His coming Passion: “The hour is come that the Son of man may be glorified”; and below He says, “Now is My spirit troubled. And what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour, but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify Thy Son.” And when the Father’s voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again,” Jesus in reply said to those that stood by, “This voice came not for Me but for you. Now is the world’s judgment, now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things unto Me.”

VII. The Power of the Cross is Universally Attractive.

O wondrous power of the Cross! O in effable glory of the Passion, in which is contained the Lord’s tribunal, the world’s judgment, and the power of the Crucified! For thou didst draw all things unto Thee, Lord and when Thou hadst stretched out Thy hands all the day, long to an unbelieving people that gainsaid Thee, the whole world at last was brought to confess Thy majesty. Thou didst draw all things unto Thee, Lord, when all the elements combined to pronounce judgment in execration of the Jews’ crime, when the lights of heaven were darkened, and the day turned into night, and the earth also was shaken with unwonted shocks, and all creation refused to serve those wicked men. Thou didst draw all things unto Thee, Lord. for the veil of the temple was rent, and the Holy of Holies existed no more for those unworthy high-priests: so that type was turned into Truth, prophecy into Revelation law into Gospel. Thou didst draw all things unto Thee, Lord, so that what before was done in the one temple of the Jews in dark signs, was now to be celebrated everywhere by the piety of all the nations in full and open rite. For now there is a nobler rank of Levites, there are elders of greater dignity and priests of holier anointing: because Thy cross is the fount of all blessings, the source of all graces, and through it the believers receive strength for weakness, glory for shame, life for death. Now, too, the variety of fleshly sacrifices has ceased, and the one offering of Thy Body and Blood fulfils all those different victims: for Thou art the true “Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,” and in Thyself so accomplishest all mysteries, that as there is but one sacrifice instead of many victims, so there is but one kingdom instead of many nations.

[–MORE–]

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What is it about a blank page that makes my mind go blank? I think of so many things to publish here when I’m NOT sitting here trying to get my blog entry done on time!!

Yes, I keep a folder full of “ideas,” and I have some sites bookmarked for memes and things, but none of them look “right” for tonight.

It is a little over 1/2 way through Great Lent, and everything is a struggle. I’m hungry all the time. I’m thirsty all the time. I’m antsy, can’s settle down to pray. It’s just awful. About all I can do is pull out my beautiful new chotki (prayer rope) and say some knots of Jesus Prayers. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

I wear my chotki on my left wrist. Each time the cross-tassel flaps against my hand, I try to remember to say a Jesus Prayer. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

This is a 50-knot chotki. There is a sterling silver bead half-way through. The change in the bead/knot textures keep me grounded in the here-and-now. Otherwise I would become so buried in the Jesus Prayer that I would not stop. Eventually someone would interrupt me, but this kind of mindless saying of the Jesus Prayer is not what it’s all about. It’s about thinking the prayer, praying the prayer thoughtfully, knowing what you are doing. This is the same reason one should not gaze at an Icon too long – you can “fall into” the Icon and mindlessly be intrigued with it’s beauty or the paint marks. It is in these mindless moments that evil can enter our minds and our hearts. So it is critical to keep our thoughtful faculties sharp, especially when we say the Jesus Prayer or pray before an Icon.

Interesting how contemplating a blank page has led me back to where I should be – at the foot of the Cross. Lent is a hard struggle. Sometimes for those of us who cannot fast “normally” it is even harder than for those who can. But a blank page brought me to where I need to be. Saying my prayers.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

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One of the many endearing stories of St. Seraphim of Sarov was a small act of devotion he engaged in during his years as a hermit. The area around his hermitage was designated by him with Biblical place-names. Thus one place was Jerusalem, another Bethlehem, etc. Thus did the great saint transform the trees and rocks and every path by taking it up into the Biblical story. His every action outside his hut was thus also an act of pilgrimage, a reminder of the mighty acts of God for our salvation.
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As I am pretty much confined to home most of the time, it occurred to me as I read this that I can designate certain areas of the house as different Biblical places. Now why didn’t I think of this before?! I already have groups of Icons set up in nearly every room of the house, so those places will be easy. I certainly have enough icons that are not hung up to make more areas. So that makes the rest easy, too. I could designate areas without Icons, I suppose, but Icons make the areas more “holy” to my mind. Even one would do.

The next thing is, what “places” should I have? Only Biblical? I’d like to remember Cappadocia, the home of so many Saints and Martyrs. I’d like to remember Kiev – the site of the Baptism of Rus’. And what about Sarov? And Kodiak Island?

Home – my chair – Nazareth – St. Joseph, Theotokos, Christ, Mt. Athos
The Altar – the buffet – Jerusalem – Christ, Evangelists
The entryway – Bethlehem – Theotokos, St. Joseph
Prayer Corner – Sarov – St. Seraphim of Sarov
Bedroom – Cappadocia – St. Macrina the elder, St. Basil, St. Basil the elder, St. Emmelia, St. Macrina the Younger (the Nun), St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Peter of Sebaste, St. Gregory Thaumaturgus; also a place to remember our particular Saints: St. Theodore Tiron and St. Elizabeth, mother of the Forerunner.
Dining Room – Cana – The Wedding at Cana;
Kitchen – Bethesda – Sts Mary and Martha; also St. Euphrosynos the Cook
Laundry / Pantry – Monastery of the Caves-
Family Room / Den – Kiev – St. Vladimir
Office – Nicea – St. Nicholas, St. Alexander of Alexandria;
Library – Alexandria – St. Mary of Egypt; St. Cyril of Alexandria; St. Clement of Alexandria; St. Alexander of Alexandria;
Storage Room – Ethiopia – St. Moses the Black
Workshop – Kodiak Island – St. Herman of Alaska

I will have to ask my priest about this, but it seems to be both feasible and Orthodox. And I know the Ol’ Curmudgeon won’t have any kind of problem with it.

More about this concept later, as I work on it and see if and how it works.

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