Archive for December, 2013

“Thoughts, Feelings, and Chronic Pain,” from Fr. Alexis Trader’s Ancient Christian Wisdom

So much depth and substance here. Fr. Alexis earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, a master’s degree in literature, and then discovered the Orthodox Christian faith. He entered the monastic life, attaining the Great Schema and becoming a priest. He is working on a doctorate at the University of Thessaloniki in Greece, “investigating the writings of the Church Fathers in Greek and Latin on the thoughts in contrast with Aaron Beck’s Cognitive Therapy. “

I will let Fr. Alexis describe his goals in regard to this venture:

… using both my scientific background and my faith for a common aim: to lead a healthy life for the mind, for the heart, and for the soul. For the purpose of the blog, I try to take what is the best that science can presently offer using the consensual criteria of science on the one hand, and then the sanctifying truth of Christian revelation as understood by those who have lived the faith wholeheartedly on the other. …

As mental disturbances and pain are two aspects of the realm of disability,  here are two blog posts relating to these:

from Fr. Alexis Trader’s Ancient Christian Wisdom:

Thoughts, Feelings, and Chronic Pain

Chronic Pain and Setting the Right Kind of Goals

And there are many more, in five categories: The Spiritual life, Prayer, Christian Hope, Cognitive Therapy, and Psychology.

If you struggle with thoughts, or know someone who does that you would like to help, I heartily recommend these writings.

The book: goodreads: Ancient Christian Wisdom and Aaron Beck’s Cognitive Therapy: A Meeting of Minds


“… the Mighty One entered, and put on insecurity …”

Syriac Nativity Icon



An excerpt from St. Ephrem the Syrian’s Nativity Hymn 11, translated by Sebastian Brock, the distinguished Oxford Syriac scholar (The Harp of the Spirit, Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius, 1983).


(icon from Iconography of the western Syriac Churches)

Your mother is a cause of wonder:
the Lord entered into her
and became a servant; he who is the Word entered–
and became silent within her;
Thunder entered her and made no sounds;
there entered The Shepherd of all,
and in her He became the Lamb, bleating as He comes forth.
Praise to You to whom all things are easy, for You are almighty.
Your mother’s womb has reversed the roles:
the Establisher of all entered into His richness,
but came forth poor; the Exalted one entered her,
but came forth meek; the Splendrous one entered her,
but came forth having put on a lowly hue.
Praise to You to whom all things are easy, for You are almighty.
The Mighty one entered, and put on insecurity
from her womb; the Provisioner of all entered–
and experienced hunger; He who gives drink to all entered–
and experienced thirst; naked and stripped
there came forth from her He who clothes all!
Praise to You to whom all things are easy, for You are almighty.

Saint Ephrem the Syrian

icon from The Feast of Mor Ephrem

Invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind …

The December 16th Gospel reading

from The Bible and the Holy Fathers for Orthodox: Daily Scripture Readings and Commentary for Orthodox Christians

Compiled and Edited by Johanna Manley; Monastery Books, Menlo Park, CA, 1990.

St. Luke 14:12-15

New King James Version (NKJV)

12 Then He also said to him who invited Him, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” 15 Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread[a] in the kingdom of God!” Bible Gateway

Commentary by St. Cyril of Alexandria:

… The lesson therefore which He teaches us is love unto the poor, which is a thing precious in the sight of God. Do you feel pleasure in being praised when you have any friends of relatives feasting with you? I tell you of something far better: angels shall praise your bounty, and the rational powers above, and holy men as well: and He too shall accept it Who transcends all, and Who loves mercy and is kind. Lend unto Him fearing nothing, and you shall receive with usury whatever you gave: “for he, it says, who has pity on the poor lends unto God.” He acknowledged the loan, and promises repayment. “For when the Son of man, He says, shall come in the glory of His Father, with the holy angels, and shall sit upon the throne of His glory, He shall set the sheep upon His right hand, and the goats upon His left.

And He shall say to them on His right hand, Come you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundations of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me meat: I was thirsty and you gave Me drink: I was naked and you covered Me: sick and you visited Me: in prison, and you came unto Me. And to this He added, Verily I say unto you, that whatsoever you have done to one of these little ones, you have done unto Me.” The outlay therefore is not unfruitful: rather shall compassion upon the poor make your wealth breathe forth a sweet savour. …

The entire homily: St. Cyril of Alexandria’s Homily 103 on St. Luke 14:12-14

See also, from St. Cyprian of Carthage on the Lord’s Prayer and Isaiah 58:

Isaiah 58:6-9

New King James Version (NKJV)

Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him,
And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.

Bible Gateway

Picture from A Place for all Christians: Dining with God

Trisomy 18 Foundation

The McClanahan’s

Trisomy 18 Foundation: Support * Advocacy * Research


What is Trisomy 18?

“… Edward’s Syndrome … a chromosomal defect … [In distinction from] Down syndrome [trisomy 21], which also is caused by a chromosomal defect, the developmental issues caused by Trisomy 18 are associated with medical complications that are more potentially life-threatening in the early months and years of life. …. 

…. although less than 10 percent survive to their first birthdays, some children with Trisomy 18 can enjoy many years of life with their families, reaching milestones and being involved with their community.

Letter from Victoria Miller, [mother of Isaac] founder and executive director: Welcome to the Trisomy 18 Foundation 

Here at the Foundation, we are embarking upon an era of new hope, an era in which Trisomy 18 can become a pre- ventable and treatable condition for future generations.

….  Isaac remained with us a short but loving 11 days before we had to return him to God. …

Every child’s life, no matter how fragile their life or brief their days, forever changes our world.

A Very Special Birthday (21) for a Young Man with Trisomy 18

To his mother, Trisomy 18 child in St. Petersburg is forever her perfect boy

(Video) Teeen With Trisomy 18 Continues To Make Strides

Trisomy 18 is not a death sentence. The story of Lilliana Dennis – updated.

“Hope in trisomy 18” The McClanahan journey

Hope for Trisomy 13 and 18

No Small Change (reflecting on our attitudes to persons with special needs)

No Small Change

by Albert Rossi, Gay Rossi and Stewart Armour,  members of the Dept. of Lay Ministries’ Task Force on Ministry to the Sick, and to the Handicapped.1986.

Profile: Dr. Albert S. Rossi
A Poem involving Gay Rossi, of blessed memory, wife of Albert Rossi
Could Stewart Armour now be Fr. Father Raphael Armour?

A very compelling article. Some quotations:

The disabled and needy are mirrors for us, if only we can see. … They are wounded, and we are wounded. ….

The deaf, blind, maimed and all others with special needs are sacraments for us, icons of God. They force us to ask different questions about the meaning of life. … The deaf, blind, maimed and all others with special needs are sacraments for us, icons of God. They force us to ask different questions about the meaning of life.  ….

Often, however, fear is the great enemy. … [keeping] us self-conscious, constricted, and worrying a great deal about our own needs. This, of course, is the opposite of love. ….

… we might ask ourselves how much and how often we bring our fear to God in prayer. … We cannot become less self-absorbed by our own efforts. Fundamentally this is the work of God. ….

In the realm of dealing with disabled persons, this means first reflecting upon and identifying our fears. ….

The first step [in countering our fears] is to acknowledge and talk about the fear with someone who understands. The second and crucial step is to behave in some small way that counters the fear … The person afraid of initiating the conversation with the blind parishioner at coffee hour might begin by finding the courage to at least join an ongoing conversation with that person.  ….

Paraphrased Conclusion: Trusting in God’s grace, with determination to cooperate with His call upon us, we begin with prayer, acknowledging our fears and seeking out what God’s will is for us in regard to our interactions and relationships with the persons with disability in our midst.

The cost is no small change and the gain, particularly for ourselves, is probably vast and incalculable. 


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