IOCC: Restoring Hope in Romania

International Orthodox Christian Charities is providing training to 114 Romanian leaders from the Church and the community at large to enable them to help those in crisis, including people with disabilities, such as Teofil, an artist. Read his story and view his portrait of Christ:

IOCC: The Art of Restoring Hope

picture from Moldova Visit

St. Ignatius Brianchaninov on prayerfully discovering and mourning our sin and spiritual poverty

St. Ignatius Brianchaninov

St. Ignatius Brianchaninov’s concluding words from the book

On the Prayer of Jesus:

“By our attentive prayer let us seek to turn the gaze of our mind to ourselves so that we discover within ourselves our sinfulness. When we discover it, let us stand mentally before our Lord Jesus Christ in the company of the lepers, the blind, the deaf, the lame, the paralyzed, the possessed; and let us begin our mournful cry of prayer before Him from the poverty of our spirit and from a heart crushed with sorrow for our sinfulness.

Let this cry be infinitely abundant.  . . . .

. . . . let it be clothed in the brief but meaningful prayer:

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

Amen. “

from On the Prayer of Jesus, from the Ascetic Essays of Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov, translated by Father Lazarus, forward by Bishop       Kallistos Ware. New Seeds: Boston & London, 2006. pp. `139-40.

The Book: 

Chapter One in audio:

On Bishop Ignatius: 

For more on the Jesus Prayer: 

icon from 

St. Viviana †361

the martyrdom of St. Viviana

St. Viviana is commemorated on December 2.

 She is also considered to be as an intercessor for persons with mental illness. She, too, lived before the tragic schism of 1054.  She was martyred under Emperor Julian the Apostate.

“With her eyes raised to heaven, she stood motionless during her martyrdom, until her whole body was one mass of bloody wounds, and she gave her unspotted soul to the keeping of her heavenly Bridegroom. According to the tyrant’s command, her holy body was left on the public road, to serve as a prey to the dogs but it remained untouched, until a pious priest carried it secretly away, and buried it beside the grave of her mother and sister.”

Her life is profiled on the website of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America: 

See also 

Quotation and Image from Di Meliora: St. Viviana, Virgin and Martyr

from the Hymns of Paradise, by Saint Ephrem the Syrian

from the weblog Communio: St. Ephrem the Syrian

from St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press:

Hymns on Paradise

by St. Ephrem the Syrian


A review of the hymns with excerpts, by Alice C. Linsley:

Just Genesis:  St. Ephrem’s Paradise 


Hymn 7, Stanza 13, P. 123 in the book:

In Paradise the cripples,

who had never walked, leap around;

the deformed, who had never even crawled,

fly about through the air;

the eyes of the blind and deaf,

who had yearned from the womb,

hungering for light

which they had failed to see,

now rejoice to behold

the beauty of Paradise,

and the mighty sound of its harps

gives comfort to their ears.

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

from the Crafty Contemplative

Orthodox Christians take the imperative “pray constantly” very seriously, and rejoicing and giving thanks are aspects of it.

John Sanidopoulos two years ago in his weblog addressed the United States of America’s Thanksgiving holiday in terms of it’s appropriation by Orthodox Christians. He briefly gives a history of Thanksgiving in America and a summary of our way of participation in it, as well as a number of resources which also address Thanksgiving. One of them is the Akathist of Thanksgiving which has been shared here every Thanksgiving since this weblog has existed. To access the post: 

And recently, Fr Stephen Freeman put Thanksgiving in Orthodox Christian perspective with his post “A Life of Thanksgiving” on  his weblog Glory to God for All Things 

The Akathist of Thanksgiving:

image from 

Welcoming persons with disabilities into the Body of Christ

To access the Google books page of this valuable, concise 15 page booklet:

The Body of Christ: A Place of Welcome for People with Disabilities, by John Chryssavgis  (Light and Life, 2002)

Abba Agathon and the Angel

How we as the members of the Body of Christ may proceed to welcome persons with disabilities is summed up in those 15 pages. He speaks of the Church as Communion, the realities of disability, the gifts of people with disabilities, the centrality of the Cross and our inter-dependence, the physical and emotional burdens on families that calls for our support.

There is an inspiring story which is also included in the booklet from the Saying of the Desert Fathers about Abba Agathon and his encounter with a person with disabilities:

 St. Nektarios Monastery: Examples of True Love

Fr. John writes,

“Whenever I reflect on persons with disabilities, I think primarily of persons, not of disabilities.”

This booklet is a wonderful place to begin to orient oneself to the opportunities persons with disabilities present to every Church community.

Sites with more information:

About the Author

To order from Light & Life

Icon from  Orthodox Road: Heresy and Heretics, Part 2

Mary Evelyn’s “What do you do, dear? Telling the honest truth about our beautiful new normal

bee-on-lavenderHere’s an informative and inspiring web blog written by a mother of a child with a disability:

Mary Evelyn’s What do you do, dear? telling the honest truth about our beautiful new normal (This page is her ABOUT page)

Here is her up-to-date home page: What do you do, dear?

When she refers to her “beautiful new normal, ” she is writing about the birth of her son, Simeon, who has the disability of Spina Bifida. The “beautiful new normal” starts here: January 20th, 2012: Crisis of Faith

She is a librarian, a very creative one. Funny, too. Welcome to the Hotel Spina Bifida

St. Paisios

Some posts in which Mary Evelyn writes in regard to her Orthodox Christian Faith:

Into Orthodoxy: And Back Again (I guest blogged!)

It’s Time to Meet Your Maker

I pour out my complaint before Him

Pascha Bread and being last

Her blog is very honest in regard to her struggles. But it is by no means dreary. I’m positive that the St. Paisios of Mt. Athos would describe Mary Evelyn as a bee. Here’s what I mean:

Orthodox Way of Life: Flies and Bees – Advice from Elder Paisios

pictures from The Daily Waffle & Padre Paisios



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