Archive for November, 2013

Akathist of Thanksgiving

Norman Rockwell’s Thanksgiving; not everyone’s experience

“Give thanks  in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” St. Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians 5:18

Akathist of Thanksgiving

This remarkable akathist was written in Russia by Metropolitan Tryphon, (Prince Boris Petrovich Turkestanov) not long before his death in 1934. That he was able to write such a moving and poetic hymn of praise inthe conditions of those years, is a revelation not only of the depth of his spiritual vision, but of the Russian experience of faith that emerged in the 20th century. The akathist came to be known through Archpriest Gregory Petroff, who died in a Soviet prison camp in the 1940s. He, in fact, was originally thought to have been the author of the akathist. Well known today in the Orthodox world, this akathist was brought to St. Nicholas Cathedral in 1986 by Marina Cheremetieff, a long time parishioner. It had been given to her by a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church serving in Morocco. Impressed by its poetic beauty, she asked me to join her in preparing the English text. Some sections were then set to Kiev and Valaam chant by St. Nicholas Choir Director, Pat Shaw, with congregational singing in mind. The akathist was presented at St. Nicholas Cathedral on Thanksgiving several times, read by Bishop Basil (Rodzianko) and sung by the church choir.

Marilyn P. Swezey

from Akathist of Thanksgiving (lyrics)

Glory be to God for Everything
Kontakion 1
Incorruptible King of all ages, holding in your hand every path of human life through the power of your saving Providence. We thank you for all the good things You do, those we know and those we don’t know, for earthly life and the heavenly joy of Your Kingdom to come. Hold us in Your mercy now and ever, we who sing: Glory to You, O God, unto ages of ages.
Ikos 1
Into the world I was born as a weak, helpless child, but Your Angel spread wings of light over me, guarding my crib. Ever since then, Your love lights all my paths, wonderfully guiding me towards the light of eternity. Gloriously, the generous gifts of Your Providence have been manifest from  the very first day. I am thankful to You and with all who have come to know You, call out:
Glory to You, Who called me to life,
Glory to You, Who have shown me the beauty of the universe,
Glory to You, Who have opened before me the sky and
the earth as an eternal book of wisdom,
Glory to the eternity of You in the midst of the world of time,
Glory to You for Your hidden and evident goodness,
Glory to You for every sigh of my sadness,
Glory to You for every step of my life, for every moment of joy,
Glory to You, O God, unto ages of ages. ….

Also: A New Edition of the Lyrics from

A You Tube Presentation by St Lawrence Orthodox Parish Choir (Felton, California):

St. Ignatius Orthodox Church CD

from The Gulag Collection

samples and download (for a price)  from iTunes

pictures from Driving Miss Terry: Would You Like to Come to Dinner& Haunting ‘Gulag Collection’ Records Soviets’ Inhumanity 

The Gulag Collection was created by Nikolai Getman


Through the Theotokos’ powerful intercessions, a Blind and Deaf Girl is healed

The Miracle working icon of the Panagia Pantanassa

An illness deprived Lena Melnitschenko of her sight and hearing at age twelve.
 For two years she continued to pray before the icon of the Panagia Pantanassa (which means “Most Holy Queen of all”) at the Kiev Caves Lavra, and then one day … (read the story here:)

Mystagogy: A Blind and Deaf Girl Healed by the Theotokos at Kiev Caves Lavra

see also

Mystagogy: A Miracle of Panagia Pantanassa at Porto Lagos in 2005

Icon from Ἀναβάσεις Ἐνημέρωση Τοποθετήσεις Ὁμολογία

Mystagogy is the weblog of John Sanidopoulos


– the website of an American Ability festival which originated in New York City and is spreading to many other American cities.

The hope of Anita Altman, Festival Founder:

that [these] film festival[s] will help raise the consciousness of the [communities in which they are held] about our common humanity and the value of each person, without regard to his or her ability or disability.

This is not a specifically Orthodox Christian resource; in fact, its origin is in the Jewish community of New York, NY. But I believe some of the films listed will serve the worthy purpose stated above.

I say some, because the website invites the reader to choose one of a number of cities, and as I chose Philadelphia, PA, as the city nearest to me, the first film listed did not appear to be at all morally uplifting.  And so one must be discriminating.

Reflecting on

our common humanity and the value of each person, without regard to his or her ability or disability.

I would have to say that I perceive is a certain tension in Anita Altman’s hope and the name of the Festival.  I’m noticing that the word “disability” has been taking on a certain negative connotation recently, with the “ability” receiving the emphasis, as it conveys a more positive connotation.  This is true also of the ministry Al Kafaat (Arabic for “abilities”) in the country of Lebanon, founded by an Orthodox Christian, and the ministry I work for, Friendship Community, in Lancaster County, PA, which seeks to be “impacting the world with capabilities.” 

The tension lies with the Altman’s stated hope that we come to value

each person, without regard to his or her ability or disability.

We live in a very utilitarian world; so  much emphasis is placed on productivity. Those of us who relate to persons who lack certain common abilities, know that there is a range of abilities among them, from many to none, from impressive to invisible. Those who fall in the latter category, (none or invisible) are the ones that have, in reality,  been placed in the “profoundly retarded or disabled” category, even though there is an understandable reluctance to utter those words.

Those with none, or with abilities that are mostly invisible to almost everyone who knows them, call us to not only recognize their having value and participating in our common humanity, they silently call us to love them as ourselves. Or rather, it is Jesus, coming to us through them, calling us to this.

Image from the film “Me, Too (Yo, Tambien)”

Some, of course, cruelly call such people vegetables; many others think it, but leave it unsaid, such as the doctor who recommends the abortion of an unborn child known to have disabilities.  Anita Altman’s hope, and Jesus Christ’s call, is to rise above and beyond such attitudes and to help others do the same.  Picture from the weblog Zeh Lezeh (For One Another)

In any case, enjoy the films. If it is impossible for you to get to one of these festivals, surely some of the films will be available to order online or through the companies which produce them.



Byzantine. TX

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