Fruits of the Holy Spirit

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

JOYOUS FEAST for The Presentation of Christ in the Temple!
The Presentation of Christ in the Temple, from the Twelve Feasts on an iconostasis beam and dating from the 12th century.

We have a LOT of beautiful snow here in the Northeast... Last week, when we were blessed with a feast on the day of a snowstorm.. my sweet husband shoveled for over 2 hours... to get us into Paradise, that morning... ;) He shoveled our car out of INCHES of snow... the sidewalks... the driveway... the steps... and as we drove down the street... slowly... to the Divine Liturgy... the few cars we passed, who'd ventured out on the road... were 3/4 covered with snow! "WOW!", those of us in the car thought to ourselves... "it's almost as though the cars we are passing were in a different snow storm than our car was..." and suddenly we realized just how much snow "Daddy" had shoveled off of our car! "Because of your Daddy's hard work..." i reminded them... "we get to spend the morning in the Kindgom of Heaven!" ;) We were suddenly all, even warmer... in the midst of the ice cold weather and the snow storm we were driving through... thanks be to God... our chapel is very near.

When we walked in the door... i could hardly believe my eyes... the entire church was PACKED!! It was one of the feasts for St. John Chrysostom, and SO many had come to remember this holy man... who stayed up day after day... night after night after night... for us. Writing... praying... composing the very Liturgy we were celebrating...

The chanting... was like we were in a HUGE Cathedral in the middle of Thessaloniki, Greece or Constantinople... the incense, the echoes of the seminarians', and the all the students' voices off the icons and the marble floor... the loads of candles lit on the right and left in the narthex... the candilis... slightly swaying inside the church before the altar... so many priests, deacons and seminarians in the altar- i could hardly get a count... Rassem, an AMAZING chanter- from Lebanon, who moved here with his family and is studying at Holy Cross... chanted - from the bottom of his being/his heart... they were all chanting from their souls... it seemed one could hear each voice in the whole chapel, chanting~ with one voice... I actually thought the TOP of the dome of our chapel might come off!!!!

Father Evangelos, back from Africa... blessing us once again... with his humility, his sacrifice... he studies and works so hard... and blesses us daily- far from his family, his loved ones, his children... Father Demetri, back after another visit to Mt. Athos... blessing us again... can't wait to hear about his latest miracles, experiences, grace... and we receive it all from one another... celebrating this GLORIOUS DIVINE LITURGY... that my husband... shoveled our way INTO... PARADISE!

I thought to myself... this has to be the world's best kept secret... or at least- today... "Boston's best kept secret..." Who would ever know, that on this holy hill... this campus at Hellenic College/Holy Cross... full of beautiful, faithful people... who have left their lives, big jobs, other scholarships to colleges... to study THE FAITH... that these many students/seminarians/families... were no longer sleeping in or shoveling... they were celebrating an INCREDIBLE DIVINE LITURGY!!!

The day before the snowstorm... we had gone to Orthros - the morning service... not a Liturgy, no communion... and when Alexi realized at the end of it that we weren't going to have communion... he cried and cried... you see, over the break, we didn't go to Orthos as much... mainly Liturgies... so Alexi was not as used to just Orthros, and was SO sad... not to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ... so when i told him - we could go, even in the snow storm... and it was a Divine LITURGY... he JUMPED out of bed... and could hardly wait to get out the door... ohhhhh... the blessings of a child... "Out of the mouths of babes and children comes perfect praise." "Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him. "Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read, "'From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise'?" Matthew 21:16
In fact, to get Alexi to stop crying... I told him we could go find Fr. Peter, and see if there was any blessed bread in the back... he decided that would possibly do... and we headed back for a blessing and our question... to which Fr. Peter replied... "no, but I do have some holy water!" So, again, because of Alexi's yearning for the Lord... he was blessed with holy water... we try to start our day with a little holy water and tiny piece of blessed bread, each day! (like the do in the monasteries) It truly blesses everything that comes in, and God-willing, we pray for it to bless everything that will come out...
May we continue to learn from our little ones' faithful hearts - daily. with so much love in Christ, georgia

In this icon....Christ is shown as a child, but He is not in swaddling clothes. He is clothed in a small dress and his legs are bare. (which you can see even better in the icon below). Jesus appears to be giving a blessing. Below... Simeon holds Jesus with both hands which are covered. This shows the reverence Simeon had for the Messiah. Simeon is bare headed and there is nothing to show that he is a priest. Some biblical scholars say that Simeon was probably a priest of the Temple or a Doctor of the Law.

Joseph is behind the Theotokos. He is carrying the two turtle doves for the sacrifice. Anna the Prophetess is also standing behind the Theotokos and is pointing to the Christ child.
The words Simeon spoke when he saw the Christ Child are known as "St. Simeon's Prayer." This prayer is sung daily at the evening Vespers services of the Orthodox Church.

In the Orthodox Church, both baby boys and baby girls are taken to the Church on the fortieth day after their birth. This is done in remembrance of the Theotokos and Joseph taking the infant Jesus to the Temple.

You can read more about the feast here: JOYOUS FEAST!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

"Out of the mouths of babes and children comes PERFECT praise!" Matthew 21:16

This past Pentecost, Philip and I had decided that imeditately following the Divine Liturgy, for the Vespers Service of Kneeling... I would head home, with our little Alexios... and either of our other boys who would want to leave.  Thanks be to God, our little Markos and Georgie wanted to stay at church... and KNEEL!!  and wait for.... what was to happen at this blessed service.  We had been talking about Pentecost all week, and especially since the Ascension.  So, a few days after Pentecost... another sweet mother in our community came and told me this story... she told me that Markos went up to her precious little 2 year old, who was kneeling so sweetly  

Child in Prayer and said to him,"Thomas!! Do you know what is happening right now??" Thomas looked up with precious faith and wonder in his eyes... and Markos said, "THE HOLY SPIRIT IS COMIN' DOWN AGAIN!!!!"  Even though I missed that service this year... after the RESURRECTION... after 40 days of Christ among us and PROCLAIMING DAILY, "Christ is RISEN!!!  TRULY He is Risen!!!...after 50 days of not kneeling... and not saying the prayer 'O Heavenly King Comforter... Spirit of Truth, who are present everywhere and fillest all things, treasury of blessings and Giver of LIFE, come and dwell in us and cleanse us from every stain and SAVE our souls... o... Good One.' ~ in the beginning of our morning prayers or Compline...  and anticipating the blessed event, once again, of the HOLY SPIRIT coming back down....  our precious son so beautifully brought that reminder to my heart and soul, and suddenly, I truly felt I had been at that service... and I knew... THE HOLY SPIRIT had COME DOWN AGAIN!!  Amen!+  May we remember each moment... that the Holy Spirit is truly Comforter... is present everywhere and fillest all things, and DAILY, HOURLY,  may we open our hearts and allow the Holy Spirit to come and dwell in us and cleanse us from every stain and SAVE our souls... 

Thursday, June 10, 2010


HELLO ALL!  Greetings on this beautiful June 10th, the INCREDIBLE, miraculous day that our SECOND daughter/angel/gift from God was BORN!!  We love you so much- precious Alexandra!!!  God grant you many years, filled with Joy, Love, Great Faith, Peace, Repentance, Forgivenss, Humility... and ALL the fruits of the Holy Spirit!!!!  We are celebrating Alexandra's Birthday week with a lot of wonderful cooking!!  On this day, we are making FAVA beans!   georgie helped to take the big peels off!!  alexandra and markos helped to take the skins off... AFTER I accidentally started simmering them for 5 minutes... and then remembered that i was supposed to take the skin off RIGHT after i boiled them...  hee-hee... silly me... and so we had to let them cool a bit... and then pick them out of the onions to peel and then put back in to simmer and get those wonderful flavors absorbed!!!   and now my sweety is home... just 2 full days back from Korea... and heading of to New York to speak at a conference at St. Vladimir's Seminary!!  AMAZING!!  He is truly a world renowned speaker, now.. Philip has just spoken at his 2nd conference out of the country this year!!  He is speaking on marriage and parenting and death and family and so many more blessings of our Holy Orthodox Christian Faith.  What blessings abound in all he is reading about, studying, learning, and sharing... all through the grace of the Holy Spirit... and we are so very blessed to have him LIVE IN OUR VERY OWN HOME!!!   Before he heads out on this next little trip to St. Vladimir's,  can now fill his palate with a little delicious bowl of fava beans- simmered with onions and dill and lemon and OLIVE OIL!!  YUMMMMMM!!!  ;)   you can see some of my gorgeous lettuce in the background FROM OUR OWN GARDEN... that is IN the process of being planted!!!  ;)  my lunch salad today will be from my own lettuce- SO exciting!   You can also see a planter filled with our own flowers , toward the back of the butcher block, near the olive oil!!! You can see fava beans in the front and peels in the back!!  ;)
      Thank you my sweet sister Demetra, for being my INSPIRATION!!!
 OH MY!!!  I just ran over to taste it before i post this!!  IT IS INCREDIBLE!!  This may go into the category of foods that taste so good... it is almost incomprehensible that God could create such a food... like- SWEET POTATOES/ EGGPLANTS... etc.  This almost should not be fasting- in this Blessed Period of the Holy Apostles Fast!  ;)       Blessings TO  you all as we being this Fast for our Most Holy Apostles/also the name of Fr. Tom and Pres. Pat's church!!  I have seen some wonderful writings on this fast, on line!  I will forward you some links shortly, that you may be interested in reading, as this fast is usually much shorter, and many of us know very little about it.  Since Pascha was so much earlier this year, that is why it is a longer fast this year... as it always starts on the Monday one week AFTER Pentecost!!  Did any of you see my latest posts on our blog... the icons which were decorated in our church are SO beautiful, and i NEVER thought a picture could do justice to the one of the Ascension, but it TRULY DID!!!  here is the link to that AMAZING PHOTO, which i hope to write more about!!!  :      take a look if you haven't seen the posts in the Leave Taking of Pascha and the Ascension!   

-Philip just tried it as well, and he had already had lunch, so he asked for just a taste... after he tasted it he gave his bowl back to me and said- "could you fill the bowl up, please?"  ;)

- i will try to take pictures of flowers and garden soon!!  ;)  Shelly, I think of YOU with every flower i plant... lobelia, verbena, phlox!!!  impatients... etc. etc!! THEY ARE GORGEOUS!  I miss you all so much... but i am SO thankful for the time we had together in Missoula where i learned so much about planting - from YOU!!!!  ;)

kassiani and nikolia are gone today...  ;(    two of my main cooks in the kitchen... house seems EMPTY without them... but everyone else really helped out to make this yummy meal happen!   The girls went to Canobie Lake Park - a water amusement park!!  Nikolia went with her Brownie Troop, and Kassiani asked if she could help on the field trip in any way...  the leader giggled and said, "no, we are covered!!" ( a few other parents were going as well... and bringing siblings.)  then... the leader thought a second time... and called back and said, "on second thought, if kassiani can come, she can help to take care of my 7 year old, and if he wants to go to other places the the Brownies, then kassiani could help with him! that would be wonderful, and then i will pay for her ticket to the water park, and her lunch!"  Needless to say, Kassiani was ECSTATIC!!  ;)  When that leader wanted one of my girls to baby sit last week... Noah told her he wanted Kassiani to babysit... "the one with the GOLDEN hair!!"  ;)   and now she is galavanting around the park with him today!!  ;)

Friday, May 21, 2010

St. Constantine and Helen

St. Helen- Today is my dear mother's middle name (Helen) Feast Day! 

Here is something that i would like to share with you that i thought was interesting.

St. Helen is the mother of St. Constantine, and the daughter of an inn-keeper. She married a 
Roman Solider. Constantine, her son- who soon became Constantine the Great, was born in 
Nish, Serbia soon after, in 272. In 293, when Constantius was made Caesar, or junior emperor, he was persuaded to divorce Helen to marry Theodora the stepdaughter of Emperor Maximian. He lived for fourteen years after the divorce of St. Helen, and when he died at York in 306 his troops at York proclaimed their son Constantine caesar.

Happy Feast Day MOM! :)  love, Kassiani

Thursday, May 20, 2010

After He has MIRACULOUSLY Ascended...

christ has no body now on earth graphic

"Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
    no Hands But  Yours ... 

      no feet but yours. 

Yours are the eyes through which Christ's

compassion looks out on the world. 

Yours are the feet with which Christ is to 
          go about doing good.          

Yours are the hands with which Christ is to

Bless all people now.    St. Teresa of Avila

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Joyous Feast of the Ascension!!!

++ Blessed, Joyous Ascension!!  Here we are at the 40th day after Pascha... how befitting and how perfectly our faith prepares us for each moment... each feast, each little thing that the Lord wants to show us, to teach us... to truly live our lives each day... each moment, as though we were walking with Christ by our side, in the time that He lived!  We DO WALK each moment with Christ, with our precious Lord and Savior by our side... and each and every day and feast is a reminder to us, to our children, to our hearts, to our souls.  We have all just been JOYFULLY proclaiming EVERY DAY FOR 40 days and 40 nights... CHRIST is RISEN!  XRISTOS ANESTI!  Not only do we say it as a greeting when we awaken, throughout the day, when we answer the phone, and when we say good bye and good night, but we sing it in our morning and evening prayers!!!  Not just one time, THREE TIMES!!  We open AND close our services and our prayers by singing this MOST JOYFUL hymn, proclaiming: "Christ is Risen from the dead, by death, He has trampled... down... death, and to those in the tombs bestowing life!!!" This hymn is so very joyful and the children love singing it so much... the joy is so full in our prayers... one can see if on the faces of the youngest to the oldest!  Christ lived for 40 days among his disciples and loved ones, and on the 40th day, just as we celebrate today, He miraculously ASCENDED to Heaven, and was seated at the right hand of the Father.   How truly unworthy we are, and how BEAUTIFUL, that each of us celebrates this glorious Divine Liturgy today, and take part in the day of His Ascension.  Bishop Savvas spoke so beautifully today and at the Vespers last night about the Ascension of Christ.  He brought to our minds... the memory of what these 10 DAYS MUST HAVE BEEN LIKE, AS THE DISCIPLES AWAITED THE HOLY SPIRIT... THE COMFORTER... THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, to come and be with them.  We know the end of the story, just as on Holy Friday... we are never able to fully  comprehend what the disciples and his loved ones must have felt felt after this most Holy day of Christ's Ascension... until Pentecost, 10 days later!!  

And now may we all truly prepare a place worthy for the Holy Spirit to stay in our souls- and touch others with love each moment, as the Lord would call us to, as we prepare for Pentecost/ the Holy Spirit on this coming Sunday, the 50th day after Pascha/Easter!!   love always in +Christ, georgia


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Joyous Leave-Taking of Pascha!

Below is the sharing I wrote from my heart 4 years ago, when i truly discovered this glorious service of the Leave-taking of Pascha.  +   :)


We were at Antiochian Village 4 yeas ago over Mem. Day Wkend for a wonderful Orthodox family retreat, and after the weekend, we were able to go to the Monastery right by there, for this amazing service....  Thanks be to God, their little house was available so we ended up being able to stay there....  for the leave-taking of Pascha. This is the glorious service we have on the 39th day of Pascha!!! They had Vespers and Orthros the eve before with the Litugy the next morning. After that we were heading to Detroit so we would have completely missed that evening service if we had had the long drive to Detroit that day. This service is soooooooo AMAZING. For any of you who aren't that familiar with it, it is a 2nd PASCHA. IT is the EXACT same service that begins after we receive the Light on Pasha evening!!! It is such a blessed service to be in with your children, especially in a monastery or somewhere where it is done in its entirety! We sang Christos Anesti /Christ is Risen sooooo many times, even though we tried to remain somewhat calm, we were so filled with joy, we could hardly stop smiling!!!!!!

   Father Demetri was so joyful and these were some of the most joyful services I have EVER experienced. Many many times throughout the services, Father Demetri was walking down the aisle, to the back, into the Nathex, and back down the middle censing all of us, the icons, the angels and saints all around, and LOUDLY JOYFULLY TRIUMPHUNTLY calling out  "CHIRSTOS ANESTI" / "CHRIST IS RISEN!" and we would all respond back-"ALITHOS ANESTI! / Truly He is Risen! "  it was triumphant - it was a 2nd Pascha, it was a level of Paradise I have not been to before. Glory to God for all things! How could it be that I didn't totally experience and realize the blessings of this iincredible leave-taking service until I was 40 years old... unworthy though I am... Again and agian, with the beautiful chanting of the nuns and the children's voices---we all sang Christos Anesti so many times... Pascha...Pascha (that incredible hymn)... the angel cried... fotizo fotizo... shine shine.... awwwwww- it just got better and better and better- throughout those services that evening and the next morning,
  I remember feeling this joy some of the other Pascha nights in my life and especially when we have been blessed to be in vigils at Holy Cross, at St. Nektarios, at other monasteries and in when we have been blessed to be in  Arizona with Yeronda Ephraim for Holy Week/Pascha. Yeronda Ephraim has this same kind of contagious joy which Father Demetri had, it is something which is very difficult to describe in words-- it is Salvific, it is peaceful - it is joyful-- it is Holy Spirit filled- it is full of Light and Love and Hope -- it is Transforming -- it is contagious -- it is a taste of Paradise and when you are experiencing it, you are IN PARADISE... in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Father Alexios and Father Kyrilos, who had this vigil at St. Nektarios last year have this incredible joy!!!  

     At the monastery a few years ago, when we went to that service, we went downstairs after the service with Father Demetri,  and we asked him if he could tell us a miracle, as we often love to do with the children at monasteries or when we are around priests or just hanging out with people in our home or anywhere in these very special blessed moments of life. Father Demetri replied to us with his prayerful, faithful eyes and voice, "I'll tell you a miracle... it's the service that just happened upstairs and the fact that the Lord brought us all together in exactly the way He did... he went on to say and put into words exactly what we were feeling in our hearts-- he said something about the place in Paradise where he had been. We needed no exchange of words... we were all feeling the same. the Holy Spirit had touched each of us in such a special way. Father Demetri also said that he didn't want the service to end. That was EXACTLY what I was feeling. There was something so beautiful also about the children's responses as he would proclaim Christ's resurrection as he walked down the aisle and the children would look up to Father Demetri's heartfelt, loving faithful, repentent, joyful eyes and respond right back with their big hearts and souls and eyes.... there is someithing about "the little children" especially after the 40 day Paschal period which we had experienced this year.

         ( I will explain: Being at Holy Cross this year during the 40 days after Pascha was really really incredible. Because we go to so many services and activities there each day, we are constantly running in to many people within the community and proclaiming again and again " Christ is Risen!!!" Truly He is Risen!! Being so interconnected with your community is such a blessing and we all had Christos Anesti written all over the tablets of our hearts and souls and bodies!!! Father Gerasimos had also given a sermon on how this is truly the way we should all be greeting one another morning and night each time we see someone, when we awaken, when we answer the phone, b4 we sleep, etc. Then, even more people started saying it around our community, it was so BEAUTIFUL... We were proclaiming the truth ALL over the place. Glory to God in the Highest- it was so beautiful. .. The children and Philip and I were proclaiming it in MANY different languages morning and night as we closed our prayers..... it covered us with so much JOY!!!!! Have you ever tried to say Christ is Risen/Christos Anesti!!!! with a frown? It is impossible! ) So my heart was almost beginning to mourn the end of the Paschal period, though I know the ascension is also such a blessing and I yearn to ascend up to Heaven with Christ in my heart... and then await for the Holy Spirit to come down once again... Anyway my final point in my heart is that the Lord truly heard and knew our whole experience- of the 40 days- for the children and for us... and he gave us EXACTLY what we needed to end the forty days and be filled with a peace in letting that time period go, and begin another... he gave us the MOST BEAUTIFUL, FULL Leave-taking of Pascha that we could've ever imaginged, which also truly prepared us walk toward the Ascension and Pentecost. ++ 

++ May we all prepare a place worthy for the Holy Spirit to stay in our souls- and touch others with love each momnet as the Lord would call us to, as we prepare for His Ascension on the 40th day, and for Pentecost/ the Holy Spirit on the 50th!!   love always in Christ, + georgia&co.