Archive for June, 2016

Live the Cross

The Lamentations of the Mother of God (glass icon, Romania)

From “Sermons and Articles” on the webpage of St. Aidan Orthodox Church, South Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada :

“The Ministry of Suffering”

… Indeed, I would be so bold as to say that chronic suffering is the most important of all ministries.  …

Jesus became incarnate to enter into our suffering. And those who suffer “live the Cross.” This ministry of patient endurance in a very basic way reveals Christ more powerfully than religious activities (such as writing Orthodox Christian blog posts). 

To read The Ministry of Suffering: 

Icon from A Reader’s Guide to Orthodox Icons: The Epitaphios | Burial of Christ Icon

The call to live with a kind and helpful disposition towards others

St. Martin of Tours

A Sermon by Fr. Hector Firoglanis of Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Lancaster, PA: 

Kindness as a Reflection of God’s Love

Some Excerpts:

“[Kindness (Greek – χρηστότης)]  is one of the virtues St. Paul mentions in his letter to the Galatians when he speaks of the fruit of the Holy Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. 

Χρηστότης is translated as “kindness” in most English translations of the Bible, which is not a wrong translation, but a more precise translation for χρηστότης is a person who is useful or helpful.….

Of course, there are countless numbers of people in the world today who continue to suffer with disabilities, loneliness, hunger, and a host of other problems.”

An example: St. Martin of Tours, on one cold winter’s day when he was a young soldier, met a naked, half-frozen beggar; he had no money, but cut his cloak in two and gave the beggar one of the halves. Read more about this Saint story by right clicking on the cross behind his name listed at end of this post. 

St. Isaac the Syrian is quoted in the sermon:

“The ‘merciful heart’ in a human person is therefore the image and likeness of God’s mercy, which embraces the whole of creation – people, animals, reptiles, and demons. In God, there is no hatred towards anyone, but all-embracing love which does not distinguish between righteous and sinner, between a friend of truth and an enemy of truth, between angel and demon. Every created being is precious in God’s eyes.”

The sermon is based on the Gospel Reading for Thursday, November 12, 2015, the Gospel of Matthew 5:14-19:

The Lord said to his disciples, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

November 12 is also the Feast Day for John the Merciful, Patriarch of Alexandria Nilus the Ascetic of Sinai Saint Martin, Bishop of Tours  To access their stories, right click on the cross behind their names. Read about their kind acts. 

Icon from One True Faith: St. Martin of Tours 

Holy Martyr Agrippina of Rome †256 or 262

St. Agrippina

The Holy Martyr Agrippina of Rome is counted as an intercessor for persons with leprosy. A holy virgin, rejecting marriage to a pagan, she confessed the Faith before Emperor Valerian, and was tortured in various ways, and she died from the tortures. Her remains- relics- were taken to Sicily, and were later transferred to Constantinople. Many miracles have taken place at her grave. 

She is commemorated in the Orthodox Church on June 23.

For more information:

Source of icon: 

Understanding Invisible Disabilities

Matushka Wendy Cwiklinski wrote “Church and the Child with Invisible Disabilities” in 2006 for the Orthodox Church of America’s Resource Handbook. Though this has been posted before, it is worth posting again, for we continually need to remind ourselves to address these matters. Here’s the webpage for the article:

In addition to the websites Matushka Wendy lists at the end of her article, see the following websites which address invisible disabilities:

My Invisible Disabilities Community

Federation of Invisible Disabilities 

Federation of Invisible Disabilites Resource Kit 

Federation of Invisible Disabilities: Stories 

Invisible Disabilities 

You Tube: Understanding Invisible Disabilities

You Tube: RSD/CRPS , Pain and Living with Invisible Disabilities 

The Plight of Invisible Disabilities with Ginger Goins (to the right of the page are more videos on the subject) 

You Tube: Invisible Disabilities and Postsecondary Education

A Music Video on You Tube , sung by Johnny Cash, expressing how one person with invisible disabilities feels

Picture from Undiagnosed

Orphanages as centers of Orthodox education and social mission in India

Two Indian children with Sister Nectaria Paradisi

The following article from the website Christian Social Mission in South Asia provides astute, in-depth insights into the mission enterprise in that country. Here is an excerpt which focuses on people with disabilities:

We traveled in India in September, 2013 and talked with people, who took part in Orphanage with boys and girls with disabilities. India is the country with big educational problems. 2.2% of population of India are disabled which makes 22 million but NGOs think that the figure should be closer to 6% or 70 million11. And most of adults and children with disabilities have not access to education. Even if they got higher education nobody helps these children to enter the mainstream community after the graduation.

To access the article:

Christian social mission in India: stages of development and modern problems 

An article in the March 14, 2015 edition of The Times of India chronicles one inspiring effort led by Sister Nectaria Paradisi in Kolkata who labors for the Lord under the auspices the Philanthropic Society of Orthodox Church (PSOC):

 Greek nun lights up lives, gives hope to Kolkata kids, by 

Picture from the Pinterest page of Victoria Nicholson; originally from The goddess of the hunt: lucky girls (with a story and more pictures of the mission)


The Blessed Lawrence the Illuminator †576

5th Century Church near Spoleto

The Blessed Lawrence is a pre-schism Saint from Syria (a native Antiochian!) who fled to Italy when the upholders of  Chalcedonian Definition were being persecuted under Bishop Severus in 514 A.D.  Ordained in Italy, he was Bishop of Spoleto, and founded a monastery there; he is counted as an intercessor for persons who are blind, as he was known as one who was gifted by God as a healer of blindness, both physical and spiritual.

He has been canonized in the Roman Catholic Church.



Source of Picture: 

“The Paradox of Disability,” Hans S. Reinders, ed.

the lillies of the field

The Paradox of Disability: Responses to Jean Vanier and L’Arche Communities from Theology and the Sciences

Hans S. Reinders, editor. William B. Erdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI / Cambridge, U.K., 2010. 183 pp.


 This book is a series of articles by participants in the Humble Approach Initiative sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation, who gathered at a conference in Trosly-Breiul, France in March 2007, hosted by the L’Arche community there, exploring the subject of what one can learn from persons with disabilities.

 Hans S. Reinders contributed the article “Watch the Lillies of the Field: Theological Reflections on Profound Disability and Time.”

Reinders notes that persons with profound disability live in the eternal here and now: no past or future, no plans or projects. Western culture defines meaning and purpose according to human agency, admiring the self-made man. But those with profound disability do not fill empty time with projects; they live in God’s time, receiving life and living in the divine economy according to the providence of God, like the lillies of the field. According to the human economy, as it is conventionally understood, success is defined by the increase of wealth, and there is a tendency to compare our success in this regard with those around us, and worry when we suffer in comparison. But in vain do we worry, for in vain we we seek to secure our own existence, to be our own providence. When we do this we create a space, a distance between our self-imagined personal “providence” and the true providence of God. We move away, apart from dwelling in His loving care when we prefer to secure ourselves.

As Jesus said, “Seek first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things are yours as well.” (St. Matthew 6:33) Our days are God’s gift; living in God’s time  is necessarily characterized by a lack, or releasing, of control, for as the Lord Jesus also said, He is coming at an unexpected hour. (St. Luke 12:35-40)

Like the lillies of the field, persons with profound disability silently, eloquently teach the rest of us about trust, and living in God’s time. In this, they function as a sign.

As St. Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter twelve. those who are weaker are indeed necessary members of the body of Christ. We need this sign.

Of course Orthodox Christians believe in synergy, in which human beings of their own free will cooperate with God’s grace. St. Paul speaks of “faith working through love” in his letter to the Galatians. Those of us who can apply our faith in works of love must do so.

But as Reinders observes, those who do not have the wherewithall to do this are a sign to the rest of us Who He Is Who creates, sustains, and provides for our existence, our life, our activities. Isn’t it all too easy to start taking the credit for our accomplishments?

And persons with profound disability are more than signs for us; they are made in God’s image and loved by Him for who they are. “As you did it to the least of these, you did it to me.”

But as the chief of sinners, I get the feeling that the real “least of these” is the one has been given very, very much and for the most part squanders it.  People with lesser abilities are the “least of these” only according to a conventional human point of view. For according to the Lord Jesus Christ, the poor widow who gave her last penny was the greatest philanthropist of all.

Information concerning the book:

Publisher: Eerdman’s


Image from 


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