Archive for October, 2014

Inviting and befriending the right people (from a Divine point of view)


 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.” St. Luke 14:12-14


If you ever wish to associate with someone, make sure that you do not give your attention to those who enjoy health and wealth and fame as the world sees it, but take care of those in affliction, . . . in critical circumstances, . . . who are utterly deserted and enjoy no consolation. Put a high value on associating with these, for from them you shall receive much profit, . . . and you will do all to the glory of God. God Himself has said, ‘I am the Father of orphans and the protector of widows. (Psalms 67:6)’” (Paul Harkin, ed. Ancient Christian Writers: St. John Chrysostom’s Baptismal Instructions, 6.12, pp. 97-98)

Source of picture: We are ashamed to be seen in the company of the poor


Venerable Anthimos the Blind, New Ascetic (1782)

from God is Wonderful in His Saints: Saints commemorated in September

 (commemorated on September 4)

St. Anthimou the Blind

He was born on the island of Kephalonia in 1727, with the name Athanasios Kourouklis. At the age of seven he became blind as a result of smallpox. His devout mother prayed for his healing, and asked her priest to serve forty Ligurgies for her son’s healing. At the fortieth Liturgy, as the priest said ‘In the fear of God and with faith and love draw near,’ Athanasius cried out that he could see the priest’s vestments and chalice. He had recovered sight in his right eye. For a time he followed his father’s occupation as a seaman, but then took up the life of a monk, receiving the name Anthimos. At some point he went blind again, and soon thereafter had a vision: he was praying for the restoration of his sight before an icon of the Theotokos when two young men in radiant garments appeared and led him to the Mother of God herself, who told him ‘Depart, for your continual prayer that I restore your sight is not profitable to you.’ But the two young men pleaded for him, and the Theotokos said ‘Anthimos, because of your great piety and many prayers, I will restore your sight in part, but do not forget that, having gained temporal vision, you can lose that which is eternal.’ Thereafter, though Anthimos was almost completely blind, he could dimly discern the outlines of objects; but in compensation he was granted the gift of spiritual insight,and was able to predict the future and call by name those he had never met.
  Saint Anthimos was about twenty when he entered monastic life, and lived on Mt Athos for awhile. Despite his blindness, he then took up a life of missionary work that took him throughout the Greek mainland and islands. Traveling from place to place he preached the Gospel, healed the sick, founded several monasteries. Once he restored a blind woman’s sight by his prayers, though he himself remained blind throughout his life. Throughout his amazing labors he maintained a life of the most severe asceticism, eating little, sleeping on a plank or on the floor.
  In 1782, in the course of one of his many sea journeys, he told the sailors to change course for Kephalonia, saying ‘God’s will is not that I concern myself with [the mission he had undertaken], but that I go back and die in my monastery.’ On returning he fell ill and called his spiritual children to him. ‘My children, the hour has come for me to go where the Lord ordains. Death is the common lot of us all and is nothing to be afraid of. It is important rather to do your best to keep your promises and your monastic vows. The one thing necessary in this life is to please God and save your souls.’ Having said this, he fell asleep in peace, at the age of fifty-four. He was glorified as a Saint in 1976.
Note: It is sometimes said that celebrating Divine Liturgies for special intentions is ‘not Orthodox.’ The example of St Anthimos’ mother shows that the practice is a both traditional and efficacious.

Icon from Holy Metropolis of Symis

speaking of disabilities

Dr. Vicki Pappas, who in addition to her professional position listed below, is also the Chairman of the National Forum of Greek Orthodox Church Musicians, writes this:


People first” is the most important principle in communicating with and about people with disabilities, said Vicki Pappas, director of the Center for Planning and Policy Studies at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community. This standard applies in a literal sense when describing people — “person with autism” is appropriate; “autistic person” is not — and in a figurative sense when interacting with someone who has a disability. “People with disabilities would prefer to be seen as people, not as objects of pity or as heroes who have overcome adversity,” she said. “When you meet someone who has a disability, say hello, make eye contact, and give yourself time to get to know that person like you would with any new acquaintance

For the full article and more of Dr. Vicki Pappas’ tips for effective communication:

(Indiana University’s Disability Tipsheet, Feb. 27, 2007)

No hope for Jacob Barnett? Rather, a brilliant young physicist!

(Thanks to his mother, Christine Barnett)




A short article from The Mother List with a 22 minute video:

 This Mother Tore Off Labels And Nurtured Her Son’s Hidden Genius

Christine Barnett’s book: Goodreads:

The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius

See also Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics Welcomes Exceptional Young Talent & Jacob’s Place

Picture from The Proactionary Transhumanist 

Also from The Proactive Transhumanist

During a TedXTeen 2012 event, Jacob had given an inspirational speech, arguing in favor for everyone to abandon the archaic ideal to learn as much as possible and to instead replace it with thinking. In doing so, he “theorizes” . . .  that you’ll begin opening yourself to a vast array of possibilities and creativity. The video is provided below:

“… But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it …”

A Scripture, a question, a story …

1 Corinthians 12:20-26

Teddy Kremer

But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.  And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”  No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

Question: Hi. I am a teacher at a school for students with Special Needs. Within this school we have students with Down’s Syndrome. In your opinion, why did God create such a disability and how and in what state do such people with this disability achieve ‘everlasting life’? I find this a stumbling block in my spiritual path. Regards, Steve.

Answer: Steve, this is certainly a deep and serious question, of the sort that eventually led me to the Orthodox Church. I would like to share a story from an Orthodox list:

The Story: Where is God’s Perfection


Melissa Riggio: “I Have Down Syndrome: Know Me Before You Judge Me”


Melissa Riggio- Photograph by Annie Griffiths Belt

This is a page-long National Geographic article in which Melissa shares her dreams and also her life with the genetic condition Down Syndrome.

To access:

I Have Down Syndrome–Know Me Before You Judge Me

Here’s a poem by Melissa:

Love is a potion

Love is everything

Love is all around

Love is not hopeless

Love is a passion

Love will not stop

Love is an ocean


Here’s her weblog, on which we are given the very sad news that Melissa has died.

To access: Melissa Ann Riggio: 1988-2008

Allow her words, from the article and from the poems, to inspire you. Here’s another of her poems:

The Ring

I’m in the Ring outside
I’m following my belief
I’m looking at the sky
I saw God following my heart
I’m an ordinary woman

The Ring is falling down my way
The wind is blowing me away
The Ring is falling down,
Down my way
The wind is blowing me away

And so I came back to
The center of the Ring
Am I just a broken angel?
God has sent me here to heal
To be an ordinary woman.


FREDERICA.COM: Loving a Child with Autism

From Beliefnet via FREDERICA.COMLoving a Child with Autism

The Holy Cross

(For those readers who aren’t Orthodox Christians, a Khorea is a priest’s wife and and also his co-laborer in the local parish; in this case Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church in Lithincum, Maryland. Her husband is Father Gregory Matthewes-Green. )

Khorea Frederica Matthewes-Green, an Orthodox Christian author, has published online a concise story of the first five years her family’s life with her grandson Adam, who has been diagnosed with autism. It is a reprint from Beliefnet, April 13, 2007, in their Christian Life, Family and Marriage section. Here it is (again):

FREDERICA.COM, April 12, 2007: Loving a child with autism

Image from 2012/03/17

Arms Open Wide

Loving a Child with Autism   

(For those readers who aren’t Orthodox Christians, a Khorea is a priest’s wife and and also his co-laborer in the local parish)

Khorea Frederica Matthewes-Green, an Orthodox Christian author, has published online a concise story of at least the beginning of  her and her family’s life with her grandson Adam, who has been diagnosed with autism. It is reprinted from Beliefnet, April 13, 2007, in their Christian Life, Family and Marriage section. Here it is (again):

 Loving a Child with Autism:

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