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Archive for the ‘Reflections’ Category

1. I would go to Church more often
2. I would pray more and complain less
3. I would go to an engineering school and then to medical school – becoming a biomedical engineer
4. I would study more and play less
5. I would have more children
6. I would love more people and dislike fewer
7. I would work on being more organized
8. I would bake more bread and fewer cakes
9. I would still marry the Ol’ Curmudgeon
10. I would still become Orthodox

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Last year I turned 66, and today I am 67. I’m on Medicare and Social Security. Guess I’m officially “old” by societal standards.

Now I have to try to be a “wise” resource for family and friends rather than a burden.

I’m partially disabled, so I could be considered a burden, but I’m still working (part-time from home), and I still have the same ADD mind I’ve always had. The kids always said they would never know if I developed dementia – because I’ve always been ADD and have always had memory problems for nouns – especially people’s names. I can’t help worrying about it, though. Seems like I’m having a few more problems than before. May have to do with my very sedentary life-style, however. Hard to be very active when you have AR and fibromyalgia, though.

I tend to be chronically cheerful, and optimistic, so I just think like that irritating Energizer Bunny and keep going-and going-and going…

May the Lord have mercy upon this sinner!

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St. Cosmas the Hymnographer, bishop of Maiuma (787)

Commemorated on October 14

He was from Jerusalem. An orphan, he was adopted into the family of St John of Damascus (commemorated December 4). He became Bishop of Maiuma, a city on the coast of Palestine, which was later named Constantia. Like his adoptive brother he became a noted hymnographer.

The Canon of the Cross (Sept. 14) and the Canon for Christ’s Nativity, “Christ is born, give ye glory…” are his compositions.

Canon of the Exaltation of the Cross
St.Cosmas of Maium
Irmosi (theme songs)
I. Moses, having with his rod made a long line, divided the Red Sea for Israel journeying on foot; and having again struck the same with a transverse blow, thus tracing the Cross which is the weapon invincible, he united it against the armies of Pharaoh. Wherefore we sing unto Christ our God, for He hath been glorified.
III The Rod is accepted as the symbol of a mystery; for by its budding-forth it designated the Priest; and in the Church,which of late was barren, there now hath budded forth the tree of the Cross for herpower and strengthening.
IV I have given heed to the mystery of thy dispensation, O Lord, I have understood thy works, and have glorified Thy Divinity.
V O Tree thrice blessed, whereon was crucified Christour King and our Lord! Through thee he is fallen who by a tree did beguile, having himself been beguiled by Him who was nailed upon thee in the flesh, even God, who granteth peace unto our souls.
VI. Jonah, when he stretched forth his arms in the form of a cross within the belly of the sea-monster, did clearly typify the Redeeming Suffering; and when he came forth thence after 3 days, he imaged forth by anticipation the supernatural Resurrection of Christ our God Who was crucified in the flesh, and hath illumined the world by His rising on the third day.
VII. The mad behest of the impious tyrant breathing forth threats and horrible blasphemies troubled the people; yet neither the brutal rage nor the roaring fire terrified the Three Children; but when, as they stood amid the flames, a dew-bearing breath was wafted against it, they sang: Blessed be Thou, O God of our fathers, exceedingly praised, and our God!
VIII. O Children, in number equal to the Trinity! Bless ye God the Father, the Creator; sing ye the word who came down and turned the fire into dew; and magnify ye the Spirit all-holy, who giveth life unto all men, unto all the ages.
In place of: My soul doth magnify the Lord: The refrains:
Magnify, O my soul, the all-precious Cross of the Lord.
Magnify, O my soul, the elevation of the life-giving Cross of the Lord.
IX. Thou art the mystical Paradise, O Birth-giver of God, who though untilled dodst bud forth Christ, by whom the life-bearing Tree of the Cross was planted upon earth. for which cause, now, at its Elevation, adoring it, we magnify Thee.

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Protection of the Theotokos at Blanchernae

Protection of the Theotokos at Blanchernae

The Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos

“Today the Virgin stands in the midst of the Church, and with choirs of Saints she invisibly prays to God for us. Angels and Bishops venerate Her, Apostles and prophets rejoice together, Since for our sake she prays to the Eternal God!”

This miraculous appearance of the Mother of God occurred in the mid-tenth century in Constantinople, in the Blachernae church where her robe, veil, and part of her belt were preserved after being transferred from Palestine in the fifth century.

On Sunday, October 1, during the All Night Vigil, when the church was overflowing with those at prayer, the Fool-for-Christ St Andrew (October 2), at the fourth hour, lifted up his eyes towards the heavens and beheld our most Holy Lady Theotokos coming through the air, resplendent with heavenly light and surrounded by an assembly of the Saints. St John the Baptist and the holy Apostle John the Theologian accompanied the Queen of Heaven. On bended knees the Most Holy Virgin tearfully prayed for Christians for a long time. Then, coming near the Bishop’s Throne, she continued her prayer.

After completing her prayer she took her veil and spread it over the people praying in church, protecting them from enemies both visible and invisible. The Most Holy Lady Theotokos was resplendent with heavenly glory, and the protecting veil in her hands gleamed “more than the rays of the sun.” St Andrew gazed trembling at the miraculous vision and he asked his disciple, the blessed Epiphanius standing beside him, “Do you see, brother, the Holy Theotokos, praying for all the world?” Epiphanius answered, “I do see, holy Father, and I am in awe.”

The Ever-Blessed Mother of God implored the Lord Jesus Christ to accept the prayers of all the people calling on His Most Holy Name, and to respond speedily to her intercession, “O Heavenly King, accept all those who pray to You and call on my name for help. Do not let them go away from my icon unheard.”

Saints Andrew and Epiphanius were worthy to see the Mother of God at prayer, and “for a long time observed the Protecting Veil spread over the people and shining with flashes of glory. As long as the Most Holy Theotokos was there, the Protecting Veil was also visible, but with her departure it also became invisible. After taking it with her, she left behind the grace of her visitation.”

At the Blachernae church, the memory of the miraculous appearance of the Mother of God was remembered. In the fourteenth century, the Russian pilgrim and clerk Alexander, saw in the church an icon of the Most Holy Theotokos praying for the world, depicting St Andrew in contemplation of her.

The Primary Chronicle of St Nestor reflects that the protective intercession of the Mother of God was needed because an attack of a large pagan Russian fleet under the leadership of Askole and Dir. The feast celebrates the divine destruction of the fleet which threatened Constantinople itself, sometime in the years 864-867 or according to the Russian historian Vasiliev, on June 18, 860. Ironically, this Feast is considered important by the Slavic Churches but not by the Greeks.

The Primary Chronicle of St Nestor also notes the miraculous deliverance followed an all-night Vigil and the dipping of the garment of the Mother of God into the waters of the sea at the Blachernae church, but does not mention Sts Andrew and Epiphanius and their vision of the Mother of God at prayer. These latter elements, and the beginnings of the celebrating of the Feast of the Protection, seem to postdate St Nestor and the Chronicle. A further historical complication might be noted under (October 2) dating St Andrew’s death to the year 936.

The year of death might not be quite reliable, or the assertion that he survived to a ripe old age after the vision of his youth, or that his vision involved some later pagan Russian raid which met with the same fate. The suggestion that St Andrew was a Slav (or a Scythian according to other sources, such as S. V. Bulgakov) is interesting, but not necessarily accurate. The extent of Slavic expansion and repopulation into Greece is the topic of scholarly disputes.

In the PROLOGUE, a Russian book of the twelfth century, a description of the establishment of the special Feast marking this event states, “For when we heard, we realized how wondrous and merciful was the vision… and it transpired that Your holy Protection should not remain without festal celebration, O Ever-Blessed One!”

Therefore, in the festal celebration of the Protection of the Mother of God, the Russian Church sings, “With the choirs of the Angels, O Sovereign Lady, with the venerable and glorious prophets, with the First-Ranked Apostles and with the Hieromartyrs and Hierarchs, pray for us sinners, glorifying the Feast of your Protection in the Russian Land.” Moreover, it would seem that St Andrew, contemplating the miraculous vision was a Slav, was taken captive, and became the slave of the local inhabitant of Constantinople named Theognostus.

Churches in honor of the Protection of the Mother of God began to appear in Russia in the twelfth century. Widely known for its architectural merit is the temple of the Protection at Nerl, which was built in the year 1165 by holy Prince Andrew Bogoliubsky. The efforts of this holy prince also established in the Russian Church the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God, about the year 1164.

Church of the Protection of the Theotokkos on the Nerl - Russia

Church of the Protection of the Theotokkos on the Nerl - Bogolyubovo, Russia

At Novgorod in the twelfth century there was a monastery of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos (the so-called Zverin Monastery of the Intercession of Our Lady). In Moscow also under Tsar Ivan the Terrible the cathedral of the Protection of the Mother of God was built at the church of the Holy Trinity (known as the church of St Basil the Blessed).

Cathedral of the Protection of the Theotokos AKA St. Basils Cathedral, Moscow Russia

Cathedral of the Protection of the Theotokos AKA St. Basil's Cathedral, Moscow Russia

On the Feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos we implore the defense and assistance of the Queen of Heaven, “Remember us in your prayers, O Lady Virgin Mother of God, that we not perish by the increase of our sins. Protect us from every evil and from grievous woes, for in you do we hope, and the Feast of your Protection, we magnify you.”
Adapted from the website of the Protection of the Theotokos Orthodox Church; Billings MT

Through the prayers of the Theotokos, O Lord our God, Save and Protect us!

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St. Ephraim the Syrian

Whither wilt thou mount, feeble man? Thou dust that art flung upon dust, let thy conversation be in the dust! Even the dust which is beneath thee is above thee, to search into. If that beneath be too high for thee, how wilt thou attain to Him who is above? If the small dust thy kinsman, from which thou art, is yet hidden from thee, how wilt thou search out the Majesty too high for any to search out?

That dust is in appearance one: it is little and yet great upon searching into it. The dust is one and yet not one, since in its severally it is manifold. One mean bosom generates tastes that can not be numbered; one little treasury sendeth forth ornaments that can not be reckoned….How much can vile dust do which giveth to each of them its increase? To the fruits it giveth their tastes, and with their tastes their colors; to the flowers it giveth their odors, and with their odors their ornaments; flavors it giveth to the fruits, and to the roots aromas; it giveth beauty to the blossoms, the flowers it clothes with adornment. It is the seed’s handicraftsman, it bringeth up the wheat in the ears; the stem is strengthened with knots as a building with bond-timbers, that it may sustain and bear up the fruit, and hold out against the winds….If the dust thou tramplest perplexeth thee in thy search into it, how wilt thou search out the Majesty of Him who with contemptible things maketh thee perplexed?
– From Homily, Concerning the Faith.

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Tony Snow

Tony Snow

The death of Tony Snow has left me shaken. I didn’t “know” him – never met him, never talked to him, never corresponded with him. Yet when I heard he had lost his long battle with colon cancer I cried. Many other people have spoken of him much more eloquently than I can – people who knew him personally and professionally.

Tony Snow represented to me the possibility of a “newsie” being calm, kind and {brace yourself} “fair and balanced” in his approach and reporting. He didn’t sink to name calling or to nastiness. He was conservative, but was also a gentleman. He never took politics personally, nor did he take the raucous White House news corps remarks and rambunctiousness personally. He did his job with humor and aplomb.

He loved his wife and children and wasn’t reluctant to say so on national TV. He wasn’t afraid of that  4-letter word – L-O-V-E. He loved the USA. He loved his family. He loved his friends.

This was one of life’s good guys. Only 53.

When things like this happen, we may wonder, “Why would God ‘take’ him?” God doesn’t “take” people. He allows us to make choices and to live or die by the consequences of those choices. The choices of other people affect us. And the genetics we bring to the table affect us, also. “The fathers have eaten sour grapes and their children’s teeth are set on edge” [Ezekial 18:2]. Also, Exod.20:5 “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” Could these verses be construed to refer to things like DNA-altering viruses and diseases like rubella and alcohol abuse in pregnancy? Certainly, there are familial diseases. Breast cancer and colon cancer are two of them. Diabetes is another. They run in families.

God didn’t “take” Tony Snow. Tony Snow’s family history of colon cancer “took” him. Tony fought against that cancer as hard as he could. He lost the battle. But he will be remembered – and missed – by the “biggies” but also by the little people like me. And missed terribly.

Memory Eternal!

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We have to renounce iconoclasm. In so doing, we inherently set ourselves against certain forces within modernity. The truth is eschatological, that is, it lies in the future, but we also believe that this eschatological reality was incarnate in Christ, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega. We do not oppose the future in embracing the Tradition we have received. We embrace the future that is coming in Truth, rather than the false utopias of modern man’s imagination.

Fr. Stephen Freeman

Iconoclasm isn’t “just” the destruction of icons that took place in the 9th century and was ended with the Triumph of Orthodoxy, proclaimed by Empress Theodora in 843. Iconoclasm also involves rejecting and destroying accepted social norms, mores, and those examples we hold up for younger generations to follow.

It seems that each new generation is more iconoclastic than the one before – less  respectful, less willing even to try to understand why certain polite actions are appropriate. A quote attributed to Socrates shows how ancient such problems are:

The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.
~SOCRATES (469–399 B.C.)

This quote may or may not be accurate, and may or may not actually be from Socrates. But it reflects the ongoing problem of dealing with the younger generation. They need limits, but, especially as they grow older, they need explanations. This means that parenting is really, really, REALLY hard work! We have a lot of responsibility – to our children, to the people around us, and to the future generations.

When we speak of the Church, we should be especially careful. There is a “slippery slope” that can lead to iconoclasm and the entire spectrum of heresy that follows. And, using the Church as an example, it begins with small breakings of the old “icons” of tradition.

The first to go usually is FASTING. It is too hard. It isn’t “healthy” for growing children. I can’t eat soy products. I’m traveling. I was invited somewhere and served non-fasting foods. The excuses go on and on and on. But when you come right down to it, avoiding fasting, not doing it, is purely and simply destruction of an Icon – an image that teaches us how to become closer to God.

It may be that the first to go is regular PRAYER and then Fasting follows. But a regular prayer life is necessary to lead us to God. Avoiding Prayer, forgetting Prayer, procrastinating about Prayer – all lead us down the slippery slope to iconoclasm. It is the destruction of another icon – an image that teaches us how to grow closer to God.

Without the support of Fasting and Prayer, it becomes too hard to ATTEND SERVICES. For Orthodox, attendance is not enough. One must partake of the Sacraments regularly. The Sacraments provide us the Food of Life and the Medicine of Immortality. Without them, we begin to die inside. When we destroy the Icon of the Services, we have then lost one of the last things that sustain our Faith.

Similarly, when we lose the small amenities of politeness, we begin to lose the structure that supports our society. Iconoclasm. Breaking Icons. It starts a slide down a slippery slope. Ask the Roman Empire about it. Ask the Episcopal Church about it.

Now you know why the Orthodox Church is so strict about not changing traditions.

Now you know why the older generation is – or should be – strict about adhering to etiquette and politeness, to industry, moderation, patience, self-reliance, and independence; patriotism and modern republicanism; the civic virtues of vigilance and spirited participation; the Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation transcribed by George Washington – all those virtues so beloved of and upheld by the founders of our country. In our own generation, William Bennett, in his Book of Virtues, listed Self-Discipline, Compassion, Responsibility, Friendship, Work, Courage, Perseverance, Honesty, Loyalty, and Faith as those things we need to preserve in our everyday life. The Orthodox would say that Faith requires the support of Fasting, Prayer, Almsgiving and the Divine Services in order to maintain it as a living part of ourselves.

So just maybe we need to look back as well as forward and teach or children civil behavior in social situations and to respect the Icons – both of Church and of society.

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Would that I could make musicians out of stone, and dan­cers out of the sand of the lake, and minstrels out of the leaves of all the trees in the mountains, so that they might help me glorify the Lord-and so that the voice of the earth might be heard amidst the choirs of angels!

The sons of men gorge themselves at the table of the absent Master, and do not sing for anyone except themselves and their mouthfuls, which must eventually return to the earth.

Exceedingly sad is the blindness of the sons of men, who do not see the power and glory of the Lord. A bird lives in the forest, and does not see the forest. A fish swims in the water, and does not see the water. A mole lives in the earth, and does not see the earth. In truth, the similarity of man to birds, fish, and moles is exceedingly sad.

People, like animals, do not pay attention to what exists in excessive abundance, but only open their eyes before what is rare or exceptional.

There is too much of You, O Lord, my breath, therefore people do not see You. You are too obvious, O Lord, my sighing, therefore the attention of people is diverted from You and directed toward polar bears, toward rarities in the distance.

You serve Your servants too much, my sweet faithfulness, therefore You are subjected to scorn. You rise to kindle the sun over the lake too early, therefore sleepyheads cannot bear You. You are too zealous in lighting the vigil lamps in the firmament at night, my unsurpassed zeal, and the lazy heart of people talks more about an indolent servant than about zeal.

O my love, would that I could motivate all the inhabitants of the earth, water, and air to hum a hymn to You! Would that I could remove leprosy from the face of the earth and turn this wanton world back into the sort of virgin that You created!

Truly, my God, You are just as great with or without the world.

You are equally great whether the world glorifies You or whether the world blasphemes You. But when the world blas­phemes You, You seem even greater in the eyes of Your saints.

From: ” St. Nicholai (Velimirovic), Prayers by the Lake

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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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St. Ephraim of Syria’s 55 Beatitudes # 48 – 55:

Blessed the one who has kept the mastery of his eyelids and has not deceived himself with either mind or senses with regard to the skin of the flesh that after a little while oozes putrefaction.

Blessed the one who has before his eyes the day of departure and has hated pride, before the weakness our nature has been proved as it rots in the tomb.

Blessed the one who considers those who sleep in their coffins in graves and has rejected every foul smelling desire, for he will rise in glory when the heavenly trumpet sounds, rousing all the children of humankind from sleep.

Blessed the one who observes with spiritual understanding the choirs of stars shining with glory and the beauty of the heavens and longs to contemplate the Maker of all things.

Blessed the one who keeps in mind the fire that came down on Mount Sinai and the sounds of the trumpets and Moses standing there with fear and trembling and who does not neglect his own salvation.

Blessed the one who does not set his hope on man, but on the Lord, who is coming again in great glory to judge the universe with justice, for he will be like a tree planted by waters and will not fail to bear fruit.

Blessed the one whose thought has been with grace, like a cloud filled with rain, and which waters souls for the increase of fruits of life; his praise will be for everlasting glory.

Blessed are those who watch according to God continually, for they will be overshadowed by God in the day of judgement, becoming sons of the bridal chamber, in joy and gladness they will see the Bridegroom. But I and my like, idle and pleasure-loving, will weep and lament as we watch our brothers in everlasting glory, while we are in torments.

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ooooooook – according to Emma, “choose five things that you would like to work on or do during the week that will increase the loveliness in your life!” This is the Commitment to Loveliness. Given my life, I’m not sure I’m up for this, but I’ll give it a try.

  1. Do the taxes. This will make the Ol’ Curmudgeon happy, and therefore I will be happy
  2. Get my business license – I’m late doing it, and I’ll have less of a “panicked” feeling
  3. Complete the 2 cases that are sitting on my desk right now
  4. Get the box of completed cases mailed back
  5. Find a new pool for physical therapy – the old one is too cold. There are 2 or 3 others that are specifically for physical therapy in the county system, I just need to find the ones closest to us, and find our their schedules, then chand my schedule to accomodate 2-3 times a week

There! If I get all those things accomplished, I’ll feel much better, and the whole family will feel better.

Don’t know if I or others will feel “lovely,” but we will feel more comfortable, for sure: “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”

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A HYMN AT NIGHT, AFTER FAILURE TO KEEP VOW.

eyeusamhn se thn alhqeian, loge,
(Iambic trimeter.)

O Thou, the Word of truth divine!
All light I have not been,
Nor kept the day as wholly Thine;
For Thou dark spots hast seen.

The day is down: night hath prevailed:
My Lord I have belied;
I vowed, and thought to do, but failed;
My steps did somewhere slide.

There came a darkness from below
Obscuring safety’s way.
Thy light, O Christ, again bestow;
Turn darkness into day.

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Gregory Nazianzen.

ADMONITORY ADDRESS TO A VIRGIN.

Parqene, numfe Cristou,
(The Greek is of varied metre, arranged in lines of generally seven
syllables each.)

O bride of Christ on high,
Thy Bridegroom glorify!
Always thyself keep pure,
In word and wisdom sure,
That bright with Him all-bright
Thou e’er mayst dwell in light.
Far better spouse is He
Than earthly spouse could be:
Thy union happier far
Than mortal unions are.
In bodily estate
Thou yet didst imitate
The intellectual powers,
Giving to Him thy hours:
And didst acquire on earth
The angels’ right of birth.
‘Tis “bind and loose” below,
Bodies from bodies grow:
Above each stands alone,
Nor loosing there is known.
Of pure existence, they
First bear the ethereal ray,
Spirit and fire: none rests,
Doing great God’s behests.
But now wild matter found–
All nature flowing round
With unresisted force–
A mingled intercourse;
But God the flood restrained,
And marriage laws ordained.
But thou hast hence escaped,
And upward thy course shaped;
From matter’s base alloy
To spirit’s holy joy.
Mind harmonized with mind,
Doth truest pleasure find:
Such harmony is thine,
A harmony divine.
With flesh thou war dost wage,
And helpest God’s image:
For thou art God’s own breath,
With body yoked till death:
That out of wrestling sore,
At length the battle o’er,
And earth well beaten down,
Thou mayst receive the crown.
To marriage also raise,
But only second praise.
That is for passion given,
This is bright light of heaven:
That founds a pure offspring,
This is self-offering.
This honoured was, we hold,
At seasons marked of old.
To this in Paradise
Lo! Adam testifies:
For this on Sinai’s peak
Doth Moses also speak;
And Zachary the priest,
Of God’s true saints not least,
And whom we hail the rather
As the Forerunner’s father.
But marriage hath its need:
Hence springs a holy seed:
And hence the virgin [26] bride,
Honoured at God’s own side.
Yet of the flesh it is, and earth,
All earthly from its birth.
When law and shadows ruled,
And we were sometime schooled,
Marriage held sceptre mild,
Yet like a little child.
But when the letter died,
The Spirit was supplied:
For Christ had come and borne
In flesh our woes and scorn:
Had brought Redemption nigh,
And then ascended high:
Christ, sprung from Virgin’s womb,
Christ, Conqueror o’er the tomb.
Then continence did rise,
And this base world despise,
Which should its course have mended,
And high with Christ ascended.

Thou journey’st well! but haste!
Behind is fiery waste:
Take to thy steps good heed,
And to the mountain speed.
Cast not one backward glance
On Sodom, lest perchance
Thou, fixed upon the ground,
A pile of salt be found.
In battling with the flesh
Take ever courage fresh,
Neither by terror bent,
Nor over-confident.
Faint not, for He is nigh
Who will all strength supply.

A spark may kindle hell:
Water the flame cloth quell.
Full means to thee are lent
For good self-government.
Let thou the fear of God
Freeze the rebellious blood:
Fasting the flesh control:
Keep watches o’er thy soul,
And pour it forth in prayer:
Such thy true weapons are.
Add tears: and lowly bed,
With reeds or rushes spread:
One constant flame of love
Rising to God above,
And lulling all desire
Which doth not up aspire.
The fallen rise by thee!
The shipwrecked pitied be!
Thyself live out the gale,
Expanding Hope’s bright sail.

They fall not who ne’er rise,
But they who try the skies.
Few mount on pinion wings:
Straight course to humbler things.
Fell Lucifer through pride
Angels in heaven reside.
One, traitor, sunk in night:
The eleven are stars of light.

Be pure, be wholly pure,
Of this make ever sure,
Lest thou, by heeding not,
Christ’s spotless robe shouldst spot.
Let modest be thine eye:
Thy tongue speak maidenly:
Thy mind not pandering,
Thy foot not wandering:
Nor loud laugh marking thee,
As one we blush to see.

Thy poor and tarnished wear,
Thy unadorned hair,
I bonour more than pearls,
Or silken dress, or curls.

Fair flower is modest face,
And paleness is true grace:
And virtues plentiful
Are braid most beautiful.
With paints let others dress
The living God’s likeness;
Live tablet they of sin,
And all that’s base within.
Whate’er thou hast of beauty,
Die let it all to duty:
But beauty of the soul–
‘Tis God’s–it keep thou whole.

Of men, though good they be,
The sight ’twere best thou flee.
Some cheat might thee entrance,
Or be entranced perchance:
Eye now with eye bespangling,
And word with word entangling,
Then cheek with cheek o’erglowing,
And mutual passion flowing.
‘Tis well: but not for thee:
Not thine the accursed tree:
The tree of Life thy care;
The serpent’s guile beware!

O maiden, hear my word,
Have thou no other lord;
Thy Bridegroom reigns above
And bids thee faithful prove.
Thou from the flesh hast fled,
And it to thee is dead,
Why turn to it again,
And make thy work all vain?
That singleness of thine
Is a rare gift divine:
Few they whom it adorns,
As rose among the thorns.

Such grace’tis thine to know:
High o’er the snares below,
By which the wicked fall,
Thou safely passest all.

Lo! one no sooner builds,
And bridal chamber gilds,
Than she with mournful gloom
Forth bears him to the tomb.
Felt one a father’s pride?
At once the loved child died.
And oh! the mother’s pain
Of travailing in vain!
And jealousy, ah me!
How frightful ’tis to see,
When each the other taunts,
Where stolen friendship haunts!

What wormwood and what gall,
Worst recompence of all,
To rear up family,
And then dishonoured be!

One care is thine, one call,
To look to God in all!
But little thou dost need:
That little God will speed.

Shelter and barley cake
Sufficient wealth will make:
Nor shall dire need impart
Keen edge to tempter’s dart,
As when Christ, hard bestead,
He bade turn stones to bread.

By thee, however tried,
Be all base gain denied:
Fowls of the air God feeds,
Sure then His saints He heeds.

Of oil, if faith prevail,
Thy cruse shall never fail.
By Cherith’s desert brook
At the great Prophet look!
To feed him ravens sped:
So too shalt thou be fed!

How Thecla from the flame,
And lions, unscathed came,
Thou know’st: and how great Paul,
Preacher of truth to all,
Bore hunger, thirst, and cold,
Through death’s worst forms still bold;
That thou might’st look, O maid,
To God alone for aid,
Who in the wilderness
With food can myriads bless.

Lo! beauty fadeth fast,
Nor will earth’s glories last:
Wealth is a failing stream,
And power an empty dream.

But thou, faith’s sail unfurled,
Hast fled this erring world,
Steering thy course on high
To realms beyond the sky.
There in the holy shrine
Thou shalt for ever shine:
And there with angels raise
The song of endless praise!

A better portion far
Than sons and daughters are!
But maidens, be ye wise,
And watch with longing eyes,
That when Christ shall return
Your lamps may brightly burn:
That with the Bridegroom ye
May enter in, and see
The beauty and the grace
Of His own dwelling place,
And share in truth and love
The mysteries above.

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Last night I awoke in the middle of the night with a poem dancing in my brain. I couldn’t get back to sleep until I had recorded it, so I did. I put it on my space at Pathetic.org, (unless you knew me as a child, you won’t recognize the name – LOL!) and I include it here, also.

Remember

When I am gone
Remember that once I laughed
Great gulping gasps
of delighted rollicking roars
of merriment

That once I delightedly ran over the
new spring grass
with tender bare feet
feeling each blade bend
beneath them –
and the sharp scent of green emitted
by each broken blade of grass.

That once I had skilled hands
that competently guided new life
to slide into the world with
great splashes of thick, slick water
streaked with the blood and mucus
of reality
and coaxed the first gurgling cry
of outraged life from that
small bit of humanity in my arms

That once I could seek and find
the secret positions and
hiding places of infants
as they floated within
their mothers
in their private seas

Remember that I wept huge bitter tears
over a marriage that faded into dust
within my surprised bosom –
and that my sobs were torn from
my most inner being
I had birthed babes and now knew
I was birthing dust

Remember that I mourned –
but remember that I went on
that I wore the black
but replaced it bit by bit
once more
with the colors of life and joy

When I am gone . . ..
remember
that I lived. (c)

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The Blackout – –

This morning we awakened to a major power outage. Don’t know how extensive, but emergency utilities said it was “widespread” and would not be back on for 2-4 hours.

So I sit here with candles on the buffet, the icons on the walls catch the light and seem to glow in a way they don’t with electric light.

I can hear so much more – the clock ticking, traffic in the distance, one one hand, I want to know what has caused this outage – get the news – but on the other hand I am content to enjoy the peaceful quiet and the glow of candles, the faces of Christ and the four evangelists looking down from the wall

LORD JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD, HAVE MERCY ON ME, A SINNER!

Deesis - Supplication

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TO HIS OWN SOUL.

ti soi qeleiV genesqai;
(Iambic dimeter catalectic.)

1.
O soul of mine, repining,
What wouldst have done for thee?
Speak, great or small defining:
Granted thy wish shall be.

2.
Of all bright things, prized highest,
Beneath the rolling sun,
Tell that for which thou sighest;
For thee it shall be done.

3.
Wouldst thou assume the measure
Of Gyges, Lydia’s king,
To hide or show at pleasure
By power of magic ring?

4.
Wouldst thou rich Midas follow?
“All gold I touch,” he cried:
‘Tis given! e’en gold to swallow:
So all of gold he died.

5.
Wouldst shine in brilliant trammels,
With pearls and jewels grand?
Have flocks, and herds, and camels,
And acres of fat land?

6.
Such things we will not barter:
To thee they were a snare:
They are not in our charter,
Nor would I have them there.

7.
For since to God advancing
I came at His own call,
Such cares the soul entrancing,
I have abandoned all.

8.
Wouldst have the nations bending
Beneath thy yoke to day,
To-morrow thyself lending
To grace another’s sway?

9.
The sway of one, once marching,
It might be, at thy side;
Or menial base, now arching
His neck in lofty pride?

10.
Wouldst thou in Love’s sweet anguish,
In indolence and ease,
Let truth and honour languish,
And change with changing breeze?

11.
Wouldst wed a fair Heth’s daughter,
Fair progeny to see?
Ah me! of woes and slaughter
Progenitor to be!

12.
Wouldst have the commons sounding
The greatness of thy fame,
And theatres rebounding
With echoes of thy name?

13.
Wouldst thou in courts o’erflowing
With legal mockery,
Justice and truth o’erthrowing,
Pillage, and pillaged be?

14.
Wouldst take a martial bearing,
And sport with blood and gore?
Or, Pythian garlands wearing,
Defy the lion’s roar?

15.
Wouldst have the town applauding,
And statues reared to thee?
The world thy merits lauding,
Wouldst thou its idol be?

16.
Vain wish! a shadowy dreaming,
A moan of wind hence bound,
Whiz of an arrow gleaming,
A hand-clap’s dying sound.

17.
Such things will fade to-morrow,
However bright to-day:
And he must sleep in sorrow
Who makes them his heart’s stay.

18.
Toys common! bad men’s heaven!
And ah! when hence they go,
To none is it then given
To carry aught below.

19.
What then, O soul repining,
Since these things nothing be,
Substantial good defining,
Wouldst thou have done for thee?

20.
Wouldst be a god, presiding
At God’s own side most high,
Angelic chorus guiding,
All radiant o’er the sky?

21.
Go thou, on pinions gliding
Of vehement desire,
On rapid whirlwind riding
Whither thou dost aspire.

22.
To plume thy wing I’m trying,
Nor spare the friendly goad:
Mount upward, bird-like flying
On thine ethereal road.

23.
But earth’s own child on crutches,
Since, I am yoked to thee,
As queen in butchers’ clutches,
Just tell how this must be;

24.
Whom wilt thou have abettor,
To be upheld in breath?
For I’m no more thy debtor,
Nor heed vain threats of death.

25.
Or wouldst thou perfumed table,
With dainties covered o’er,
So art cuisine be able
To stimulate thee more?

26.
And lyre, and whirl so maddening
Of rapid foot and hand,
And things to tell too saddening,
Known to the revelling band?

27.
Art thou for such things wrangling?
Have thy desire!–but wait:
Such things, not life, but strangling,
To friends insatiate!

28.
For thee, a house abideth,
A rock with self-formed dome;
Nature herself provideth:
We give thee such a home!

29.
Or if thy fancy leadeth
To build thyself a cell,
But little toil it needeth,
Where thou mayst safely dwell,

30.
The body claims small payment,
Ere it returns to dust:
Skins, camel’s hair, for raiment
Sufficed of old the just.

31.
And grass, or straw, as chances,
Make thou thy humble bed:
And purple heath, or branches,
Thy coverlet be spread.

32.
Such for my guests is meetest:
No fear to great or small:
Plain table: odours sweetest,
Kind earth’s free gifts to all.

33.
Thus housed, we will thee nourish,
As best we can afford:
Wouldst eat? take bread and flourish:
Take meal, if on the board.

34.
Here’s salt: and thyme we scant not:
Such source no toil requires:
More luxuries we want not,
Whate’er the world desires.

35.
Or drink wouldst thou? there springeth
An everflowing bowl:
No bane the fountain bringeth,
Bright cheerer of the soul.

36.
But wouldst unbend in season,
And not, o’erstrained, repine?
We grant in this is reason,
Nor grudge the rough-made wine.

37.
But thou dost spurn all measure,
And wouldst the vessel bore,
And take huge draughts of pleasure
Till thou couldst hold no more.

38.
Then seek another helot,
All lengths with thee to go,
No idler I, nor zealot,
To nurse domestic foe.

39.
A frozen reptile taken,
And with fond warmth caressed:
See! it to life doth waken,
And wound me in the breast.

40.
Wouldst boundless gold-roofed mansions,
Gemmed paragons of art,
And master-piece expansions,
To life which almost start?

41.
Colours with colours blending
In opposite array;
Rare tablets, softness lending,
Or shining bright as day?

42.
Dost long for robes wide-flowing,
Pride of the untouched great;
And wealth on fingers glowing,
Incredible to state?

43.
Art thou at beauty aiming?
The wise would scorn to win:
More I than all, proclaiming
That beauty is within.

44.
Thus I to men benighted,
of earth the creatures fond,
For time alone quick-sighted,
With not a thought beyond.

45.
But ye who soar up higher,
A noble life to live;
Who would to heaven be nigher,
Behold what God doth give!

46.
In poorest clay there dwelleth
That which can never die:
With this my bosom swelleth:
For this I food supply!

47.
God-minded, thyself harden!
Meet calm the flashing sword!
Plant trees for God’s own garden!
Be worker, with the Lord!

48.
Up! living words be building,
In God’s blest truth secure.
Not robbed by foe’s false gilding
Through pleasure’s baneful lure!

49.
Again of life eternal,
Approach the blessed tree
The way, O Thou Supernal,
I’ve found in knowing Thee.

50.
Past, present, never-ending,
The One great Light in Three;
To whom all things are tending:
To Thee, all glory be!

EPILOGUE.
51.
To self the wise thus speaketh,
Turning his eyes within;
And eager there he seeketh
To find out lurking sin.

52.
But who to speak refuseth,
Will pass his days in vain:
Nay, more! the ease he chooseth,
May end in greatest pain.

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I have about 5 blogs, if I count the blogs on a couple of fora to which I belong. I posted this elsewhere a few years ago, and then recently reposted it on the same blog. I re-read it yet again, and decided to post it here, too. Why? Because I want to! LOL! Besides, there are people who read this one who don’t read the other one.

Hope you enjoy it!

5 / 18 August 2004 (revised slightly since then)
Marbles in My Pocket

I was asked by an acquaintance what Adult ADD was like. This was my response.

I’ve been ADD all my life. But I didn’t “know” it until I was in my 50’s! I thought it was some kind of character defect, and I struggled against it for decades.

But I’m now kind of resigned to it – or, more likely, accustomed to it. I admit I function best in a *slightly* cluttered environment. If something isn’t “in my face” I forget it’s around or needs to be done. That’s why I have to keep a calendar on the computer and have it pop-up the minute I turn on my computer every morning. That way I know exactly what I need to do. If I put away my current projects, I may not get back to them until they are past due because I won’t think of them. So my desk will always be messy. Problem is, the “slightly cluttered” environment “gets away from me” and the entire house quickly becomes a total wreck.

I’m the original “pack rat” – I see “something shiny” in the living room, pick it up and trek toward the kitchen to put it away. On the way, I notice “something shiny” in the dining area, put down the first object and pick up the second object and trek toward the bedroom to put it away. I stop by my office to check e-mail, and put the object down. After checking e-mail and playing a couple of computer games, I get up and go out to the kitchen to make lunch. There I see “something shiny,” pick it up and take it with me toward the workshop. On the way, I walk through the family room, and notice one of the GKs left a game out. I put down the current object, start putting away the game, notice the rug needs to be vacuumed, get out the vacuum, notice the floor in the hall needs sweeping, put down the vacuum and go to get the broom. On the way to the broom I notice the game in the family room and get it picked up – but it doesn’t fit on the shelf, so I “jam” it in one way or another, and head to the laundry room – I don’t know why, I just go there. I turn around a few times wondering why I went there, and start back through the family room. Notice the vacuum is out, and hook it up, turn it on and start vacuuming. Notice that there are a few marbles and a chess piece on the floor, and turn off the vacuum to pick them up. Can’t find the box and board for the chess set, so I drop the chess piece in “a” drawer (I’ll probably never find it again when it’s needed – only when I happen to open the drawer and notice it). Put the marbles in my pocket. It is now noon, we usually eat lunch at 11:15 or 11:30, and the poor Ol’ Curmudgeon plaintively asks me about it. I fix lunch and we eat about 12:30 – not bad, only an hour late – and look around. The living room is not straightened, the family room is a mess, the kitchen is a mess, my office has something in it that belongs in the bedroom, and I’ve accomplished nada beyond vacuuming a 20 square inch area of the family room and preparing lunch. I have marbles in my pocket and I don’t know why! This is my ADD. Someone else may have a different experience.

My dear Ol’ Curmudgeon is very good about reminding me to do things. He long ago gave up ever expecting a “neat-nik” kind of house. The kids think I’m a “space biscuit” (light and flakey). Long ago they told me, “Mom, we’ll never know if you develop Alzheimer’s – you’ve been spacey all your life!” This is true! I have very little short-term memory and have *never,* not even as a child, been able to remember names (nouns) or descriptors (adjectives, adverbs). Found out, after several botched “memory courses” that this is probably genetic and has to do with whether you have access to a particular area of your brain – apparently mine has been in hiding all my life!

Keys used to be my nemesis! I would “put” them “someplace safe” so I would be “sure to find them!” Yeah! Right! – NOT! Used to run all over the house screaming about them.

Then it was my sunglasses. I must wear sunglasses when I drive – even if it is cloudy – because my eyes are extremely sensitive to light. I used to push them up on the top of my head when going into a building. Or the house. One morning I was running late to work because I couldn’t find my keys for 15 minutes. Then I realized I didn’t have my sunglasses. I started running around the house all over again looking for them. The kids were up and ready for school, and were watching me, smirking and laughing as only teens and pre-teens can. Finally I totally lost it, and screamed, “Why are you just standing around laughing at me!!?? HELP me find the sunglasses!” I added an expletive, of course. The oldest son, who had recently exceeded my height and could now “look down” on Mom, took me by the shoulders and said, “Stand still.” Then he took my sunglasses from the top of my head and placed them over my eyes. For a moment I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or scream. Laughter won out. Another ADD crisis dealt with . . .

I am an “organizational hobbiest.” As my dear Ol’ Curmudgeon will say, “It’s another vain attempt at organization by the Space Biscuit!” The DKs just giggle and nod. They all know. And it *is* amusing. Thank goodness both the Ol’ Curmudgeon, the DKs and the DGKs all have a sense of humor about it! They don’t get mad (usually). Just a little exasperated and impatient from time to time, but they quickly get over it, and whatever set them off becomes the latest in a string of “my flake, the Mom” (or “my flake, the Wife”) stories to use to regale friends and relatives.

So we ADD’rs have to make decisions and try to stick to them! We stumble and get side-tracked, but over time, we try to get to where we can handle things better and better. I don’t ever expect to be perfect! It doesn’t happen to anyone! But I can be a success at nearly anything I put my mind and determination to. I’ve managed to (in order):

get a BSN (nursing)
marry
have 2 kids
get a masters
have a third kid in the middle of the masters
move three times
go through a divorce (and survive)
go through bankruptcy (and survive)
marry again
*Convert to Eastern Orthodoxy* – best decision I **ever** made!
move several more times
teach in a university
marry off 2 kids
get a PhD
assistant direct choir
marry off the third kid
manage a complex computer-based Operating Room support system
start and run my own business
enjoy the 10 grandchildren (now 11)
enjoy my husband

I still struggle, at well past 60, to deal with my ADD, but I can look back and see that I compensated for it, and I know I will be able to continue compensating for it. It will always be with me, like someone with diabetes will always have that with them, but just as diabetes can be managed, so ADD can be managed. I just have to work a little harder at it than some other people do. But I’m really blessed by God. I have a husband who adores me – and I adore him right back – I have 3 wonderful children and 11 marvelous grandkids (my reward for not strangling the 3 kids when they were teens!). I’m respected in my career.

Well, That’s what Adult ADD is for me. I have marbles in my pocket and I don’t know why!

PS – Andreas commented that the marbles were his (LOL) so I told him he needed to come get them! Of course, that assumes I can figure out where I might have put them when I took them out of my pocket . . .

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I’ve always had problems remembers nouns and adjectives. It seems to be something congenital, according some research reports I read a while back – but I can’t remember the author or the journal. All nouns.

I have problems remembering people’s names. This has plagued me my entire life. If I don’t see, talk to, or write to someone at least once a month or so, his name begins to escape me. I took memory courses. Didn’t work. I’ve tried all those tricks to remember names. Ended up calling someone named Rose, “Thorny.” Another time I called her “Gardenia.” Most of the time, however, I end up admitting my terrible secret – I can’t remember names!!

Can’t remember where I put small objects, either. It is a household legend that “Mom can’t remember where she put her keys or her sunglasses.” There was that incident back in ’81 or ’82, when I was running all over the house one morning trying to find my sunglasses. I can’t drive without them except on the cloudiest of days and at night. Bright light really hurts my eyes. I was running from room to room to room. Oldest son was about 15, and had begun to tower over me. Daughter was about 13, Youngest son was about 10. They were laughing at me!! How dare they! Finally I lost it. “Why don’t you HELP me, instead of standing around laughing like fools!” I shrieked! Son#1 stepped over, looked down at me, plucked my sunglasses off the top of my head and placed them over my eyes. Then we all burst out laughing! “Mom, we’ll never know if you ever get Alzheimer’s,” he said, ” ’cause you’ve always been a space biscuit – light and flakey. And you’ve never been able to remember stuff like this – or people’s names.”

It’s true. I’ve ALWAYS been like that. Now that I’m older, however, I worry that my memory seems to be getting worse. Family insists I’ve “always been that way,” but I find nouns are more slippery than before.

Maybe it’s because I’ve stopped trying to remember a lot of things. Phone numbers, for instance. Why remember them? They are listed – 1) in my cell-phone, 2) in my PDA, and 3) on my computer. I seldom leave without my cell-phone and PDA. Birthdays and anniversaries – I’ve never been one to remember birthdays, much less anniversaries, but I do MUCH better now. Birthdays and anniversaries are all in 1) my PDA, 2) on my computer, and 3) on various “reminding” websites – like Amazon, Hallmark, my Yahoo calendar, and my MSN calendar. I get reminded at least 5 times of each special day. Several times, several days ahead of time. Of course, despite the reminders, I all too frequently manage to not send a card or get a gift. I “postpone it” and then forget it, and then – well the day is past and I still haven’t sent the card or gotten the gift. SIGH!!

At least most of my friends and relatives with whom I am in contact are in one of my e-mail address books. Problem is, sometimes I can’t remember WHICH e-mail address book they are in (I have multiple different e-mail accounts). Then there are the times I go through an e-dress book and wonder who on earth some of those people are!

So how do I figure out whether I have memory problems or not? I work crossword puzzles, and do jigsaw puzzles and some puzzle-type games on the computer. These help me keep “pattern-recognition” alive. I’ve never been great in terms of speed when doing jigsaw puzzles, but I always get them done. Crosswords are a bit trickier. I have problems with nouns and adjectives, remember? But I can usually manage to get through them eventually.

Memory is a tricky thing. How do I know that the things I remember really happened? most of the time I can get confirmation from those around me. But there are some memories I don’t have any way of getting confirmed. I’m out of touch with the people involved, and I can’t remember their names to try to track them down!

The best option I can think of is to simply accept that my memories are accurate, despite my problems with nouns and adjectives. Verbs aren’t a problem. Maybe I should start trying to associate nouns with verbs.

Well, at least I’m in good company!

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HYMN TO CHRIST.

basileu agiwn, loge pandamatwr
(Anapaestic dimeter.)

O Thou, the King of saints, all-conquering Word,
Son of the Highest, wisdom’s Fount and Lord,
The prop that doth uphold through toil and pain;
The joy of ages through immortal reign;
Yet born of mortal flesh for life’s brief span,
O Saviour Jesus, Shepherd, Husbandman;
Helm Thou to guide, and bridle to restrain,
Wing of the holy flock that heaven would gain;
Catcher of men from evil’s whelming sea,
The holy fishes, saved that are to be,
Drawn from the billowy deep with sweetest lure
Of life that shall for evermore endure:
O holiest Shepherd of enlightened sheep,
Lead Thou Thy flock the upward heavenly steep:
O King of holy children, lead the way,
And pure may they both follow and obey!
Thou art, O Christ, the living heavenly Way,
The ever-flowing Word, unchanging Day,
Eternal Light, and mercy’s healthful Spring;
The Perfecter of every virtuous thing;
Pure Life of all the happy ransomed throng
Who hymn their God through all the ages long:
The heavenly milk, from holy breasts that flows,
By which the infant Church in wisdom grows,
And graces rare, as it befits the Bride,
Adorned, O Jesu Christ, for Thine own side.
Thy feeble children gather with sweet smile,
To sing with holy mouth, and free from guile,
Thyself, in songs and praises without end,
The children’s leader, and the children’s friend.

O little children, thus so gently led,
So tenderly with truth and reason fed,
And filled with the Holy Spirit’s dew,
Our hymns and praises feeble, yet all true,

In grateful homage unto Christ the King,
Who taught us life, let us together sing:
A peaceful choir, Christ-born, and undefiled,
A people wise, sing we the strong-born child;
Sing we with heart and voice, and never cease
To praise with one accord the God of Peace!

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“Christ told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, “Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, “Though I neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her justice, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.'” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night?” (Luke 18:1ff)

And He said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, “Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because he is not ashamed to keep on asking, he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, keep asking, and it will be given you; keep seeking, and you will find; keep knocking, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (Luke 11:5-10)

Of course God is not reluctant to save His people; the lesson is that if persistance will persuade even an unwilling person, then how much more “the continual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” when “God is not willing that any should perish but that all come to repentance.” Saint Paul writes, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4ff)

And there’s this, from the experience of the prophet Daniel:

In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks. On the twenty-fourth day of the first month… Then [an angel] said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for *from the first day* that you set your mind to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, so I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia and came to make you understand what is to befall your people in the latter days.” (Daniel 10)

Evidently sometimes there is resistance by the spiritual “princes” that hold this world hostage; there is battle in unseen heavenly places. Our part in this spiritual warfare is to be steadfast and faithful inprayer, both believing that God will act to save many souls and askingcontinually for His will to be done. When we struggle against our ownpassions and become consistent on prayer, we’re fulfilling our role inthe war we can’t see.

Somebody much wiser than I might be able to explain *why* God expects usto pray, when He’s already got a plan and doesn’t really need our back-seat driving. But we do know that He does want us to pray withouteasing. “I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life inll godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come tothe knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim 2)”

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