Archive for the 'foundational' Category

Other great Orthodox Christian blogs that address disability issues

I’ve been surveying Orthodox Christian disability resources for 10 years, and now I will be taking a break.   Many others, mostly mothers, have taken up blogging, sharing their experiences and discoveries. As I have worked in a group home for many years, this is personal for me as well, but not in the same way as a mother of a child with disabilities. Mothers are mothers 24 hours a day, for their entire lives. There is great depth to what they write, not necessarily in terms of new information,  but the kind of depth which comes from the heart, which is the important kind of depth. This is true, of course, of the blog and websites written by persons with disabilities themselves.

You will find much, ongoing information, personal and otherwise, on the blogs listed on the webpage below. Give them a look:

Online Orthodox Christian persons with disabilites & their family members







Depression and Orthodox Christian Psychotherapy: A doctoral dissertation

Author: Archimandrite Andrew (Vujisić) of Tralles

This is probably the most in-depth Orthodox Christian writing contained in this resource weblog on the traditional Orthodox Christian Way in regard to the healing of  the mind, heart, and body of those with the disabilities of depression and anxiety – which includes just about all of us at one time or another, though for some these maladies are chronic, entailing a continual struggle.

Dig in!


To access: 


St. John the Baptist, the Forerunner †30

St. John the Baptist and Forerunner

St. John the Baptist, the Forerunner of our Lord Jesus Christ (“He must increase, but I must decrease.”) was born of Zachariah and Elizabeth six months before our Lord Jesus Christ. When the Most Holy Theotokos, having conceived the Lord by the Holy Spirit, visited Elizabeth toward the end of her pregnancy with St. John, St. John leaped in the womb with joy at her and His approach.

He lived in the desert, eating locusts and honey, and baptized repentant Jews in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. And then the Lord Jesus came to be baptized by him, and he, of course, felt unworthy, but was encouraged by the Lord to proceed. He saw the Holy Spirit descend upon Christ and testified to it, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God Who comes to take away the sin of the world!

After denouncing Herod for his illicit marriage, he was put in prison, and later, as a result of intrigue, beheaded. He was the last and greatest of the prophets.The Gospels tell this story far better. Be sure to read them.

He is counted as an intercessor for persons with epilepsy.


The Meaning of the Feasts of the Nativity and the Beheading of St. John the Baptist & 

icon from 

St. Thomas the Apostle †72

St. Thomas the Apostle

  St. Thomas the Apostle is an intercessor for persons with visual impairments (up to and including blindness). He was one of the Twelve disciples who were commissioned as Apostles and witnesses of the glorious Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is known for his scepticism in regard to the word of the other apostles who had seen the Lord risen and alive. He wanted the most tangible proof- touching Christ’s wounds in His hands and side- before he would believe. And the Lord appeared before him, allowing him to do this. He carried the Gospel to India, where he was martyred for his beloved Lord in 72 A.D.

He is commemorated in the Orthodox Church on October 6.

Sources: & & & 

source of icon: 

Presbytera Clare’s Masters Thesis on Spiritual Therapy and Disability

This thesis is a great resource in regard to mental health; Presybtera Clare has personal experience relating to people with mental health issues. Even if you think you are mentally sound, this thesis is worth reading, for by applying what Presybtera Clare has written you will lead to even better mental health!

137 pages. If that sound like too much, the table of contents is on pages 5 & 6, and you may choose a section of interest to you.


by Presbytera Clare Cagnoni

To access:

image from 

Incense is therapeutic for most of us

  . . .  but not for those who are allergic to it.  My godson’s wife is allergic to incense, and cannot participate in our worship services because of it.

Such situations calls for some creative adjustments. Our parish priest comes to their home and hears her confession and administers the awesome mystery of the divine Eucharist, Christ’s body and blood, to her, personally. She greatly misses worshiping  in Church, though.

Now I’m not suggesting that we stop using incense in our services, but if the bishops of the Greek Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America can give their blessings for special monthly liturgies for people with developmental disabilities, perhaps there could also  be special liturgies crafted for persons who cannot tolerate incense as well? Here’s a profile of the Challenge Liturgy Ministry: Ministry Profile: Challenge Liturgy 

I did talk by phone to the priest at this Church and incense has not been an issue for them.

Perhaps incense-free services- even occasional ones- would cross a line. I don’t know. One could not have Orthodox worship without icons- this has been spelled out in the seventh ecumenical council- but I’m not aware of similar Church canons concerning the use of incense.

Icons visually demonstrate that Christ was truly incarnate in the flesh. Since our Church proclaims the fullness of the Faith, our worship is correspondingly full, involving all five senses- hearing, sight, taste, touch, and smell. “O taste and see that the Lord is good!”  This is normative.

But as St. Paul says, “to the weak I became weak . . .”

Christ’s saying, “The Sabbath is for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” also comes to mind, but the analogy falls short, for Divine Liturgy may be for man from God’s standpoint, but from our standpoint, the Divine Liturgy- the Eucharist (which means “thanksgiving”) – is directed toward God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And the heavenly worship described in the book of Revelation does involve incense.

Here is a discussion on and  in regard to incense and allergies:,32105.msg507423.html#msg507423

Here is another discussion on the Ancient Way-  Eastern Orthodox section of Christian forums entitled the Allergic to Incense. One of the respondents writes,

. . . . I knew an Orthodox Priest who recently passed away who would not use incense (with permission from his Hierarch) due to his allergy and heart problems.  . . . He was of the [Russian] Patriarchial Orthodox Church (MP).

If an allowance can be made for a priest who is allergic to incense, wouldn’t it follow that an allowance could be made for occasional incense-free liturgy-  four times a year on a Saturday, perhaps- for lay people who are also allergic?  But that is a decision for our God-loving bishops to make.  Source: 

Personally, I would miss the incense if it were not there. But this is not about me.

 There are icons for the blind and sign language being used in Orthodox Churches in various places, but this is addition, not subtraction. See & 

I asked a Parish Priest I know if this post would be acceptable, given what is being suggested. He thought it would be acceptable, and added a word of his own:

 Incense, it seems to me, is part and parcel of our liturgical tradition and cannot simply be dispensed with.  Nevertheless, exceptions can be periodically made for pastoral needs, as in the case of this woman.

I should also add this:  Remember that many churches are now live-streaming the Liturgy.  (I know St. Mary’s Church in Cambridge, MA, does so.  The Liturgy celebrated there is exceptional, with equally exceptional preaching by Fr. Anthony Hughes.)    This woman could regularly avail herself of this mode of liturgical participation (no incense problem there!) and receive the Eucharist regularly from her priest, as she is apparently already doing.  The occasional incense-less Saturday Liturgy would be a complement to this set-up.

Here is the website for St. Mary’s live-streamed services:

Now, to the benefits of incense: (Source of Picture) 

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


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