Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Starving In The Rubble

Just in case you ever wondered how they studied the effects of starvation on humans who were trapped in rubble etc, wonder no more.

As always, Orthodoxy has the answer :-)
They studied monks fasting at Athos, of course !

Go here for the full story.
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Everyone else seems to be producing amazing deep ponderings about the Faith during this Great Lent, and I just feel - flat.

I am struggling to keep praying but I am finding this Lent tough going. I love the Prayer of St Ephrem, which speaks to me so eloquently at present and sums up all that is wrong with my state of soul.

Last week I attended the funeral of someone I have known for 40 years, and who was indeed only one day older than me. I simply could not blog about it then as it was just too raw.

The huge church was packed, and she had a very high-church Anglican "send-off" , complete with holy water sprinkling the coffin, incense, the bell tolling as the coffin was carried out of the Church.

She battled her whole life against major health problems, and was in the end killed by the very drugs she needed to take to stay alive. I watched her elderly parents grieve, and wondered how on earth you cope with a loss of that magnitude.....

It brought me up short and made me realise once again that life is so transitory - too short and unpredictable to waste on being angry, or bearing grudges, or being resentful, or any of the thousand other sins which I commit on a daily basis. I have no excuse for any of it.

Lord have mercy upon Elizabeth and her family. May her Memory be Eternal.

I look forward to Holy Week and Pascha.
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Prayer Books

One thing I never got round to blogging about in the mayhem that was last week, was that when I was packing my emergency bag in case DD4 was admitted to hospital, the first thing that was needful was my prayer book.

When she was admitted two years ago, I found my prayer book a huge comfort in the dark watches of the night, when I couldn`t sleep due to anxiety and the general noises of a busy hospital ward. One one memorable night I prayed all the Akathists, Canons and both Paracleses to the Theotokos.

The problem now ?
Since then, I have acquired a lot more prayer books ! Which one to choose ? Believe it or not, I spent about ten minutes cogitating over this. Packing clothes and toiletries for DD4 and I took all of a minute, but the prayer book question was a whole other ball game.

In the end I settled for the Holy Transfiguration Prayer book ( because it has Small Compline), plus the booklet of the Akathist to the Mother of God "Nurturer of Children" and a Sarum -rite (and almost wholly Orthodox compatible) Liturgy of the Hours type book called "Prime and Hours" as well as my Chotki. With that combination I figured that I had covered all my bases :-)

What one would you take under such circumstances ?
I am convinced I am turning into a Prayer book Junkie as I currently have 15 different ones and have just ordered a copy of the Old Believer Prayer book form the Erie parish......
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Day Tripper

DD4 has gone on a school trip to the National Botanic Gardens in darkest Carmarthenshire, about an hour and a quarter`s drive from home.
She has never been so far away from home without me, and it will be a big adventure for her.

She looked so grown-up, with her coat and bag (containing packed lunch) and WELLIES ! Parts of the grounds are quite damp, whatever the weather, so it was deemd appropriate by the school for all the children to wear Wellies.
Even if she did look funny walking to school in them, as the weather has been glorious here since Friday last week, with nary a drop of moisture descending , LOL!
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Monday, March 26, 2007

Orthodox Roundup

What with one thing and another, it has been a while since I managed to produce a Roundup.

A cracking list of Orthodox saints who are particularly associated with helping in certain problems can be found here

Orthodoxy Today hosts an extremely good article on why we venerate the Holy Cross.
Fr John also provides a sermon on the same theme. See also why we need to climb this tree.....

A Western-Rite Orthodox vesperal service is provided by Michael at Sarisburium , which is particluarly moving.

An Orthodox -tweaked Authorised version of the Psalter is hosted at Orthodox England and will be most useful whilst we wait (some of us with much more patience than others, I`m sure !) for the long-anticipated complete Orthodox Bible.

A brief search at the Google books website unearthed this little treasure, being a Russian primer and Catechism

Deb provided much food for thought with her article about St Cyril of Jerusalem, about whom I previously knew nothing. May we all benefit from his holy prayers.

How those of us who live "in the world" can emulate the saints is pointed out by the examples of married saints Adrian and Natalie.

The search for clues to the past of an aging Orthodox monk are chronicled here. He might be known to one of you......

Christopher also posts about valuable audio resources

Where are you going with Jesus? - a touching post by James from Paradosis about his life.

I was mightily relieved to read Matt`s posts about his Lenten struggles. It`s not just me , then !

The deeper meaning and practicalities of almsgiving are described by Grace in an amazing and thought-provoking article.

Fr Stephen is, as always, an inspiration. Read about the Door of the Heart , and about reading the Bible

That`s about it folks !
Next Roundup will most likely be in Bright Week.
May the rest of Great Lent and Holy Week be blessed for us all.
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Good News

DD4 did well at the dentist`s on Friday, and still has her tooth. She is now completely back to normal and went off to school this morning for the last week of this term.

I am enjoying the house being quite and being able to have a little time to myself to blog :-)

Though I must go now and take Basil for a walk whilst we still have sunshine and not rain.......
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Thursday, March 22, 2007


DD4 developed yet another serious dental abscess late on Sunday night and had an almost impossibly swollen little face and quite horrifying amount of pain by Monday lunchtime.

Our GP prescribed large quantities of antibiotics and even prepared and printed an emergency hospital admission letter for us if her condition deteriorated overnight.

She was booked in to see the dentist on Tuesday morning.
The Consultant at the Dental Hospital was on standby if things took a turn for the worse, but luckily, our brilliant dentist was able to drill right through the tooth and probe up until he was able to open a drainage route for the pus to track back down and out rather than into the soft tissues of her face.

She has continued to make good progress, Glory to God, and the swelling has almost completely resolved now, as has most of the pain.

She goes back to the dentist tomorrow for further drainage and work on the affected tooth. Removal will only be the absolute last resort as this is one of her critically important remaining milk teeth.

The joys of abnormal tooth development :-(
Poor little mite. She has been incredibly brave throughout all this, and we are profoundly thankful that our dentist was able to avert a 5 day stay in hospital on IV antibiotics, which is what happened two years ago.
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Monday, March 19, 2007

New Blog

I have started a new blog, containing the texts of the Akathists which I possess.
I hope it will be of use.
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Crazy Weather

Despite having some lovely warm weather last week, when it really was possible to be comfortably warm in a short-sleeved top, we have gone back to the depths of darkest winter.So much so that this morning, we even had snow showers.

It was too wet (from last night`s rain) for the snow to stick, but snow it most certainly did, and my thermal vest has been unearthed from the back of the cupboard.....

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Happy Memories

When I was a teenager, I went to a tiny little Austrian village called Fuschl am See with my grandmother for a holiday.

I have such happy memories of that trip, so imagine my delight when I found a webcam of the village and its lake :-)

Now I visit it every day to see what the weather is doing; today it is bright and sunny there and the lake is shining.

One day I will go back in person.....
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Saturday, March 17, 2007

An Amazing Family

A Romanian Byzantine Catholic priest family have a set of twins who are conjoined at the head, and who nevertheless are living amazing lives.

The family has come to the USA for surgery to separate the girls, and you can follow their progress here.

They will be in my prayers......
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Aspirations Of Grandeur

A derelict 16th century "castle" not too far from us is up for sale for the miserly sum of £55,000.

We could afford it if we sold our house, but we would then be living in a caravan next to the ruins :-)
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Down The Sink

That is , quite literally, where the once-proud country of Great Britain is heading.

I am not being overdramatic; if we decide to sell our house and move, as of June this year, we will have to submit to allowing an energy inspector to go all over our house , making notes of the floorplans etc and how energy-efficient we are in terms of loft insulation, low-energy light bulbs etc.

We`ve always been keen to do this type of thing on environmental and cost grounds, but it is the darn principle of having to allow a government inspector into your home and for the data then to be stored on a government central computer to which numberless and facless bureaucrats can have access to such information to which I fiercely object.

I know the story is in the Daily Mail, but nevertheless, go read.

Oh to live in a country where democracy does actually mean something anymore.....
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Friday, March 16, 2007

Don`t Mention The Word "Pig"

I have to say, this article instantly made me think of the scene in the immortal Fawlty Towers tv show where Basil hisses at his staff, "Don`t mention the War" when a party of Germans arrive at his hotel.

So children can no longer perform the original Roal Dahl`s story of Little Red Riding Hood which included the three little pigs of fairy tale fame, and the pigs have been changed into puppies in case they offend some members of the community.
Even the local Imam said he feels it is not necessary.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Big Hole

No, not the one I regularly put my foot in by making thoughtless comments, but this - the biggest man-made hole in the world, and which apparently is clearly visible from space.

And it is Russian :-)
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Orthodox Novelist !

Our very own cyber-Babushka, Meg , has kindly posted up the Prologue and Chapter 1 (so far) of her first book "An Unorthodox Spy" on a new blog here

I heartily recommend it, and urge you to leave comments to encourage her to post some more chapters for us :-)
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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

St Spiridon

If you have ever read the glorious Gerald Durrell book "My family and other animals" detailing his childhood in Corfu in the early 1930s, you will be familiar with the episode when they inadvertently venerate the relics of St Spiridon.

Imagine then, my surprise, when browsing EBay today to find this replica of the saint`s shrine, made for the recent BBC TV series at Shepperton studios .........

Scroll down on this site to see a photo of the real reliquary in procession :-)

Holy St Spiridon, pray for us !
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Monday, March 12, 2007

People To Be Thankful For !

Monica posted a lovely tribute to the women who have influenced her life.

It set me thinking; there are so many women who have inflenced me ! I can only mention a few.

Thanks to my mother, who always has had - and continues to have - a major influence in my life.

My dear god mother and Presvytera, who is such an inspirational Christian woman.

The Most Holy Theotokos, St Xenia of St Petersburg , St Scholastika and St Elizabeth the New Martyr, whose prayers sustain me and whose examples I try to follow.

My three best friends from school , also my bridesmaids, with whom I am still in touch- yes, you know who you are !!!

Dorothy and Pat, who gave me such wonderful care when I was pregnant with my children.

My midwife colleagues, too numerous to mention. All of them taught me so much, even the ones I didn`t particularly get on with. Most likely, they taught me the most about myself and learning to interact with other people.

Faye and Janet - two of the kindest, most unselfish and non-judgemental ladies I have ever met.

Nicola, Anna and Tanya, who daily show such courage in the face of adversity.

My blog friends, whose prayers and concern sustain me . Too numerous to mention !
God bless you all !

I tag Mimi !
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Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Italian Chapel

In the remote Scottish Orkney Islands, during World war Two, 550 Italian prisoners of war were captured and taken to Orkney.
They were barracked at Camp 60, and were given a hut to turn into a Chapel for their religious needs.

Just go and look at what they managed to create.

I doubt that 550 youngsters picked up off the streets in any town in the UK could have managed to achieve anything so beautiful.........
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Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Biggest Log Cabin Ever Built

I loved this.
I want one ;-)
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Turkey Versus YouTube and Greece

Talking of censorship, Turkey has temporarily banned YouTube access from within Turkey because YouTube hosted material apparently considered defamatory (by the Turkish government) to a long-dead Turkish leader`s sexuality. Which of course is against Turkish law.

Needless to say, the offending clips were posted by Greeks........

The mind boggles.
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I am disappointed.
I have obviously lost my cutting edge as far as being even remotely controversial is concerned.

How do I know this for an indisputable fact ?

My blog has not yet been banned by the Chinese government.

To find out if you are regarded as undesirable by the government behind the Great Wall of China, go here and type in your blog/website name.
Some of the most surprising sites have found themselves banned, included RC liturgical interest sites :-)
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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Orthodox Roundup

Things have been quite busy chez moi, so I apologise for the erratic postings of The Roundup.

Have you ever wondered about learning Church Slavonic ? If so, I have found a great resource for doing just that !
Go here and find out almost everything you ever wanted to know....

I was intrigued to find out about St Phanourios and his quite amazing ability to help people to find things which they have lost. Fr Demetrios Serfes has an informative life about the Saint, and also the recipe for the traditional "thank-offering" to bring to Church when something you cherish has been found with the intercession of the Holy Saint.

In March we celebrated the repose of Papa Nicholas Planas, whose simple and remarkable life deserves to be much more widely known. I really wish I had been Orthodox when I visited Athens, for I would certainly have made a pilgrimage to his little Church.

March also sees the celebration of the life of the pre-Schism German St Walburga, whose life and shrine and myrrh-streaming relics are described in detail by another RC blogger, Fr Nicholas. It is even possible to ask the monastery for a small vial of the holy myrrh, diluted in water.

For those of us in Wales, March 1st is the day of celebrating our patron, David. This RC article provides some interesting details about his life and also some rather tasty traditional Welsh recipes !

A fantastic article about fasting can be found at Orrologion - it describes the full gamut of fasting and non-fasting, and just about every viewpoint inbetween. Well worth a read !
Alana gives some great Lebanese fasting recipes here .
Orthodox fasting is described well and at length in a newspaper. H/T to James at Paradosis.

Some great complete textbooks of immense Orthodox interest to chew over can be found here H/T to Orrologion.

Some extremely interesting Orthodox articles can be found here. I particularly commend this one about the prayer life of parent and child, and how they inter-relate.

St Catherine`s Church in Colorado has a great selection of Orthodox podcasts covering a vast range of topics of very contemporary interest !
I`m looking forward to listening to number 125, which covers John 3:13-17, Ambulances, Snakes, 9/11, and the Cross............

Seraphim writes movingly about the importance of community as we work towards salvation and theosis .

The controversy over the spurious claims about the alleged tomb of Jesus are covered well by Fr John Whiteford, and by James as well as the RC blogger Jimmy Akin .

Fr John blogs about the Sunday of Orthodoxy, and how our respect for icons should - and must- be carried over into our lives in the way we treat those around us.... a theme also emphasised by Fr Stephen

Grace provides much food for thought when she blogs about how we ought to read and meditate on scripture .

Physical and spiritual deep-cleaning , so appropriate for Great Lent, is described by Monica in Romania.

Fr Stephen writes compellingly about the Medicine of Immortality here .

Molly has moved me to tears on several occasions in her fantastic blog. Of particular note are her post on Mercy, her post on Persecution and the post on Peacemakers she describes from Ancient Faith Radio .

I hope you have enjoyed this Roundup, and have a blessed second half of Great Lent !
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Monday, March 05, 2007

A Closer Look

This is a closer view of the leaning tower of Caerphilly Castle.
The moat system is huge and well-populated with wildfowl ( and fishermen, on the day we visited !).
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Caerphilly Castle

This is the second largest castle in Britain, eclipsed only by Windsor Castle .
We took the young ones here on Saturday, and despite the threatening clouds, the weather remained dry.
Yes, the tower on the extreme right is leaning; it is 10 degrees off vertical......
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Welsh Costume 2007

This was how the girls went dressed to school on March 1st.......
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Thursday, March 01, 2007

St David`s Day Again

It`s that time of year again - St David`s Day, when it seems as if the whole of Wales is decked with the Welsh flag and everyone is wearing daffodils or leeks.

At our school, the children are actively encouraged to wear Welsh costume, and it was a very festive sight to see them all in the school playground :-)

At least this year we didn` t get any snow on The Day, though we did last year....

A very Happy Name Day to Dave Holford, who is an honorary Welshman by virtue of living on the Border with Wales :-) , and to all those for whom St David is their heavenly Patron.

And as an aside, Charlotte Church is having Gavin Henson`s baby.... for those of you who follow Welsh news, LOL.
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