Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Crazy Weather

Our clocks went forward on Sunday as we started Daylight Savings.  Since then, the weather has been really cold and very, very wet.

I'm not really complaining, though - three inches of snow fell across Scotland last night, with temperatures dropping to -5 degrees C / 23 degrees F.  That makes our current 4 C / 39 F positively tropical in comparison..... but we do have heavy rain and sleet forecast for us tomorrow.

I am only wearing two sweaters, so I am about to go upstairs to put on my thick wool cardigan and get a blanket to put across my legs, as the area where the computer is located has both the best view and the coldest temperatures in the living-room :-)
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Monday, March 29, 2010

Suicide Bombings In Moscow

I was distressed and saddened to read of the Metro bombings in Moscow, with the deaths of at least 35 people so far recorded.

Full coverage here, though photos may be distressing.

Kyrie eleison.

What a way to start Holy Week......my prayers for the people of Moscow.
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As always, s-p over at "Pithless Thoughts" has managed to produce a stupendous piece of writing which has cut my soul to the quick and reduced me to tears.......

Go here to read what he said.
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Holy Week

Wishing you all a Blessed and profitable Holy Week !
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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Been Reading......

                    A very mixed selection indeed, but all thoroughly enjoyable in very different ways :-)

I love trains. Any type of trains. To travel on at train is a delight for me and for my children, for whom it is a rare treat. This is a history, both social and engineering, of train travel in the UK, and I know I am an "anorak", but I liked it !

Elder Macarius - what can I say ? I have only two of the volumes of the Optina saints, Sts Macarius and Barsanuphius, and they are both always balm to my soul.

The Morville Hours is a gardening book with a difference. The only illustration is on the front cover, in the style of an illuminated manuscript, yet it is all about a couple restoring a medieval garden. It is an amazing cornucopia of information about plants, herbs, history, religion - especially the  Daily Office, Latin as applying to the Daily Office and to botanical terms, natural history, folklore, the social and economic history of the region and the task of restoring and living in an ancient house with a lot of history. I absolutely adored this book and will be buying a copy for myself, as soon as possible.

Everyone knows the rough story outline of the Great War, World War One. But what was it like to live  through it in Britain ? How did their lives change ? What news did they get ?

Georgina Lee was faced with a heartbreaking choice - to keep her infant son in the uncertain and risky world of London, where her husband's job was, or to send him to her parents and family in the comparative safety of  rural Wales.

In the end, she did both, spending much time commuting, and she kept a vivid diary, complete with newspaper cuttings, so that as her son grew up, he would be able to know why she did what she did, and what her life was like. She was an avid war worker,  helping with fundraising, nursing and the work aiding the Belgian refugees who flooded into London.
It is a truly amazing and fascinating insight into her daily life as a well-off middle-aged woman (she was 43 when her only child was born) who desperately wanted to help the war effort in any way possible whilst also doing her duty to her family. Well worth a read if you cna get hold of a copy.
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Lazarus Saturday - Of Flowers And Bread

Here in South Wales, Palm Sunday is more colloquially known as Flowering Sunday - a reference to the tradition of visiting family graves and adorning them with flowers.  My mother has many vivid memories as a child of travelling to family graves to lay flowers on the weekend of Flowering Sunday.

I was not in the least surprised, therefore, to receive a telephone call from her on Thursday asking if we would be able to take her to the cemetery to lay flowers on the grave of my father and brother this weekend.

The weather forecast was very mixed, so on Saturday morning, during a brief period of sunshine, I raced to our lovely local florist, chose some springlike flowers, and off we went to pick up my mother and her neighbour John to go to visit the grave. The sun had gone by this stage, but at least the rain held off !

Because there were six of us, and Mum needs both her wheeled walker to get from the front step and into the house as well as her wheelchair because she struggles to walk for more than a few steps, we needed to take both our car and John's car, but we made it.  Mum was determined to walk to the grave, and after several trial runs, was able to stand briefly at the graveside and give flowers to DD3 & 4 to lay on the grave for her ...

My brother and father's grave looked lovely.

There were so many people at the cemetery, tending graves and laying flowers, as we expected. Almost every grave and memorial had fresh flowers there..............

It seemed so appropriate for Lazarus Saturday :-)

When we got home, the small fry and I made Lazarus bread, the first time we have ever done so. The dough was done in the breadmaker to save time, but we had such fun shaping it. 
 DD4 was adamant that her Lazarus had to have legs or he couldn't have walked out of the tomb, and there was no arguing with that !
My feeble efforts were on the left side.....I have all the creativity of a stunned stoat. Next year I will buy a gingerbread man cookie cutter and make them that way, LOL.

They did taste delicious, even if mine did look rather misshapen !

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Friday, March 26, 2010

"Do I Kneel Or Do I Bow?"

I was delighted to receive a copy of this book by the Rev Akasha Lonsdale for review, as this is a topic which is becoming increasingly important in our modern multi-cultural society.

If you are invited to a service - christening/dedication, wedding, funeral etc- by a relative, colleague or friend who is from a different denomonation or from a non-Christian faith, it can raise a lot of questions.

What should you expect to happen?
What is the place of worship called and what does it look like?
How long will the service last?
What would be appropriate clothing to wear?
Are you expected to make a monetary donation, and if so, how much would be acceptable?

I can certainly imagine all of these questions being asked by a non-OrthodoxChristian invited to attend a wedding service at an Orthodox church, so how much more anxiety might someone feel at the thought of attending an event of a different religious tradition?

 For many people, attending any sort of religious event is way outside their "comfort zone". No-one would deliberately wish to cause offence in such situations, and this is where this book absolutely shines. It covers the Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist faiths, as well as Roman Catholicism, Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy in a handy, pocket-sized 336 page book which is profusely illustrated throughout.

The tone is always respectful to the varying traditions and shows an honest determination to provide as much information as possible, without ever being terse or trivialising any of the subject matter. I was particularly impressed with the fact that many aspects of a religion's intertwined faith and life are discussed, including fasting, feasting, dietary restrictions etc.  Do adherents of all faiths appreciate flowers, gifts or congratulations cards on the birth of a baby or would such actions cause offence? These collateral tangents are also covered, which I appreciated and enjoyed.

It is obviously impossible to do full justice to even one of the religions covered in a book of this size, but the author has provided good basic summaries of belief within the constraints of the size of the book and the needs of the reader. The Orthodox beliefs and customs alone could have would have needed several volumes of this size without even beginning to cover many important areas of doctrine, but this is not what this book is intended to do, and the author has succceeded  in presenting a very basic summary of Orthodox belief and a nice amount of information about Orthopraxis.

My eleven year old daughter was working on a school project involving describing a visit to a Sikh temple, and she was able to use this book as an excellent reference tool in completing her assignment. I am sure that we will have cause to refer to it on many more occasions as she covers the beliefs and customs of different religions during her next few years of studying Religious Education in school.

It is possible to have a look inside this book by going here. It is published by Kuperard, at £12.99.

If you are interested in comparative religion, curious about the customs and beliefs of neighbours or friends, or just want to know what to expect when you have been invited to attend a ceremony or function,  this book is a good starting place and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Latin Resources

I was pleased to find something at my level of learning Latin, with lost of pictures :-)

Have a look at this 17th century gem, for teaching children just about every subject through the medium of Latin and pictures.

I am definitely " Ursus murmurat"  - "the bear grumbleth" - on page 17/18 !
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This Lent, I am working my way through the book of Isaiah 

I was *delighted*  to find that today's Liturgical OT reading is Isaiah 58:1-11:

Thus says the LORD: "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet; declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God. 'Why have we fasted, and thou seest it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and thou takest no knowledge of it?'

Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a man to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a rush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD?

"Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; 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."

"If you take away from the midst of you the yoke, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your desire with good things, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters fail not."

That puts fasting into context - and all of it is a reproach unto me.

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa........
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Weary doesn't even begin to describe how I feel today.

DH, along with all his colleagues, faces great anxiety over work.

DD1 & 2 are both having problems at work, with other people making things very difficult for them when all they want to do is be left alone to do their jobs in peace and to get paid promptly.

DD3 is home ill with a nasty chest infection.

Mum is developing further, rather worrying health issues.

We have had news today that the son of one of my very dear cousins is in hospital, his terminal illness having progressed rapidly and his life is quickly and painfully drawing to its close. Please pray for him and his family.

It all just feels like a lot to bear at the moment, and I am sleeping very badly.

I shall be glad when Lent is over.
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring Flowers

          I spent quite some time at the cemetery, visiting the graves of family, friends and neighbours who have passed away, and saying a brief prayer for each one of them.

This is not the grave of anyone I know, but I simply had to take a photograph of these lovely daffodils, dancing in the breeze......
I like the idea of planting bulbs on the grave, but to keep it looking pretty and well-tended throughout the year would require a lot of maintenance and planning.
Nice though !
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Photos 2

Votive candle, flickering bravely.....

Another view of the flowers, showing the white roses....

I love these lilies !

The grave mound, flower bedecked, in the midst of so many old graves......

And the view from the grave, overlooking gentle rolling hills and farmland.
 A nice resting place.

I must own to a slightly macabre interest in the mechanics of why some grave stones start to slip sideways, backwards, forwards, for no apparent reason, as can be seen in the last two photographs. Many of these graves have not beeen re-opened for many, many years, the caskets will have had time to disintegrate many years previously and the site is a pretty stable one, so why the memorials shift suddenly is an interesting question. 

As in so many council-operated public cemeteries, the memorials are regularly tested for stability to prevent accidents, and some headstones have been laid flat if they were found to be unstable and it was not possible to trace a relative who might have legal ownership of the grave.......
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For almost six months, my brother's ashes have been ensconced on the sideboard in my dining room, close to the icon corner, and in my line of sight each time I go to the kitchen, reminding me and enabling me to pray for him many times a day. It has been a comfort and a blessing. This photo was taken on Thursday of last week, just before I took his remains to the Funeral Home prior to the interment. It feels really strange not having him here.

These are the beautiful flowers from our family for the funeral. The spray is about 3ft wide. I had to stand on a chair to get a decent-ish photo, and all the while was thinking " I really don't want to fall off this now and break my leg, an hour before the interment....!"

On Monday I walked up to the cemetery - about forty minutes brisk walk each way - to take photos of the flowers in situ for my mother, who is not well enough to leave the house at the moment, and she wanted to see how much the stargazer lilies had opened up.

And the answer was this much ! There were still lots of buds just starting to unfurl, so the flowers should look lovely for at least a few more days......

The lovely yellow flowers were from my brother's three closest friends and their families, who all knew and loved him. I lit a seven day votive grave candle and read the prayers for the departed over my father and brother. The grave is in the "old" part of the cemetery, where we can, in due course, erect any type of headstone/memorial we wish over the grave. In the newer section of the cemetery, there are very strict rules as to the size and type of memorial, for technical maintenance reasons, and we preferred to have a bit more choice :-)
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Monday, March 22, 2010

Paraclesis in French

Updated to add:

I can read French pretty well, but am hopeless at translating *into* French !
This was found at a French Western-Rite Orthodox parish's website.


The Text of the Paraclesis to the Theotokos, in French :

Ode 1 – en ton 1

« Ta droite victorieuse, magnifique en sa force, s’est couverte de gloire ; car, ô Seigneur immortel, grâce à ta puissance, elle a broyé les ennemis en ouvrant pour Israël une voie nouvelle au profond de la mer ! »

Refrain : Très sainte Mère de Dieu, sauve-nous !

Incompréhensible est le mystère de ta personne déifiée, ô Mère de Dieu : les ténèbres qui voilent notre intelligence et notre cœur, purifie-les par la lumière du saint Esprit afin que nous te chantions : Réjouis-toi, Vierge Mère de Dieu, réjouis-toi !

Digne de la plus haute admiration est la gloire de ta triple virginité, ô Vierge : les puissances angéliques la chantent et la célèbrent dans les cieux ! Donne-nous, à nous pécheurs, la grâce de ton Fils et ton Dieu qui magnifie sa Mère très pure !

Gloire au Père et au Fils et au saint Esprit !

Ta conception fut miraculeuse, ô Marie ! Joachim et Anne ont exulté et ont glorifié la miséricorde du Seigneur à leur égard. Accorde-nous le souffle de la gratitude et de la louange pour les enfants que le Seigneur accorde à notre indigne prière, car en toi se réjouit toute créature !

Et maintenant et toujours et dans les siècles des siècles : Amen !

Abraham offrit son fils unique par obéissance au Seigneur : voyant son abnégation, le Père céleste accepta l’offrande de son cœur brisé, et lui permit d’immoler son agneau au lieu d’Isaac. Nous aussi, ô Mère de miséricorde, par l’Esprit qui habite en toi, purifie-nous de toute possession à l’égard de nos enfants.

Ode 3

« Toi qui seul connais la faiblesse de la nature humaine, lui étant devenu semblable, dans ta compassion, revêts-moi de la force d’en-haut, pour que je chante devant toi : Saint est le temple spirituel de ta gloire immaculée, Seigneur amis des humains ! »

Ô bien nommée Buisson ardent, ton amour pour ton Fils et ton Dieu est plus brûlant que celui des séraphins ; et ta compassion pour les humains les réchauffe et les fortifie. Viens en aide aux parents éprouvés par les souffrances de leurs enfants et sauve-les du désespoir !

Tu fis des chérubins ton trône, ô Vierge reine ! De leurs innombrables yeux ils contemplent la lumière incréée de la Divinité et toi, ô Marie, tu es Celle qui voit Dieu. Nous aussi, malgré nos péchés, grâce à ta prière et selon notre foi, il nous sera donné de voir l’amour du Seigneur pour nos petits enfants !

Gloire au Père et au Fils et au saint Esprit !

Toi qui montres la Voie, ne te lasse pas de désigner à notre espérance et à notre louange ton Fils et ton Dieu. C’est Lui, notre Sauveur, qui appela près de lui les petits enfants pour les bénir avec amour et nous les donner en exemple de pureté.

Et maintenant et toujours et dans les siècles des siècles : Amen !

Reine des anges, Gabriel s’adressa à toi de la part du Seigneur : qu’à nous aussi pécheurs revienne le charisme de te célébrer pour l’union de la divinité et de l’humanité qui s’opère en toi, nous qui confessons la vraie foi.

Sauve de tout danger tes serviteurs, car c’est en toi qu’après Dieu, ô Mère, nous trouvons un abri, unique Rempart, inébranlable Protection !

Dans ta bienveillance, penche-toi sur les souffrances de mon corps, Mère de Dieu toute digne de nos chants ; viens de mon âme guérir la douleur !

Cathisme, ton 2

Fervente avocate, inexpugnable Rempart, Source de miséricorde et Refuge de l’univers, vers toi nous crions sans répit : Mère de Dieu et Souveraine, empresse-toi, délivre-nous de toute adversité, car seule tu te hâtes d’accorder ton secours !

Ode 4

« Montagne ombragée par la grâce de Dieu, le prophète Habacuc t’a reconnue de son regard de voyant. De toi, a-t-il prédit, sortira le Saint d’Israël pour notre salut et notre restauration. »

Orante est ton nom ! En tout temps et en tout lieu, tu es celle qui élève vers le Seigneur tes mains très pures pour le supplier et le louer au nom des croyants et de tous les humains, les pécheurs et les justes. En cette heure bénie, intercède, en ton sacerdoce maternel, pour tous les enfants qui souffrent en ce monde !

Mère de toute protection, ta maternité est un voile qui couvre l’humanité d’une chaleureuse et divine compassion : protège, garde, convertis et sauve tes serviteurs, les parents qui mettent leur confiance en toi et en ton Seigneur !

Gloire au Père et au Fils et au saint Esprit !

Vierge de tendresse, ouvre-nous la porte de la tendresse divine, ô Marie et donne-nous d’aimer les petits enfants de l’amour dont les aime le Christ, car notre cœur est égoïste et sec.

Et maintenant et toujours et dans les siècles des siècles : Amen !

Les jeux de nos enfants sont l’image de la sagesse incréée ! Ton Fils et ton Dieu joua comme enfant avec sa Mère très pure en sa sainte et véritable humanité. Donne à nous, les pères et les mères selon Dieu, la sagesse qui éduque et qui éveille à la miséricorde divine !
Ode 5

« Par l’éclat de ton avènement, Tu as illuminé les confins de l’univers en les éclairant, ô Christ, par la splendeur de ta croix : fais briller aussi la lumière de la divine connaissance dans les cœurs qui te chantent selon la vraie foi ! »

Tu allaites ton créateur devenu en toi être humain véritable. De ton sein très pur et virginal, fais couler aussi le lait de la divine consolation sur les pères et les mères brisés par la souffrance de leurs enfants.

Tes caresses, ô Mère du Christ Dieu, ont réjoui ton enfant par l’humanité de ton amour. Rends-nous dignes d’avoir part à une telle tendresse afin de consoler et de réjouir tout enfant éprouvé en son âme ou en son corps.

Gloire au Père et au Fils et au saint Esprit !

A l’annonce et devant les signes futurs de la Passion de ton enfant chéri, tu tremblas de frayeur, ô Mère très sainte ! Tu connais l’angoisse et la détresse des parents devant l’épreuve de leur enfant : aide-les par ta compréhension maternelle et sauve-les du découragement !

Et maintenant et toujours et dans les siècles des siècles : Amen !

Tes entrailles se sont serrées quand tu sus quelle souffrance souffrait ton divin enfant : sois proche, nous t’en prions, de nos souffrances, quand notre cœur se fend de douleur !

Ode 6

« Le fond de l’abîme nous entourait, et nous n’avions personne pour nous délivrer ; nous étions comptés comme brebis d’abattoir. Sauve ton peuple, ô notre Dieu, car Tu es la force des faibles et leur relèvement ! »

Dans une grotte, à Bethléem, tu mis au monde et tu abritas le Dieu que tu avais conçu. Dans la grotte de notre cœur, ô Marie, fais habiter aussi ton Seigneur très doux et très humble !

Il est digne en vérité de te célébrer, ô Mère de Dieu ! De façon incompréhensible pour les anges et pour les humains, tu conçus humainement le Dieu de l’univers. Inconnaissable est la virginité que tu gardas dans la conception et dans l’enfantement : en te magnifiant, nous glorifions Celui qui en toi engendra son Fils unique et Verbe !

Gloire au Père et au Fils et au saint Esprit !

Ô Vierge au triple sceau, tu connais la virginité et l’innocence des tout-petits. Intercède pour eux dans leur souffrance et réjouis-toi pour leur joie, car ils n’ont rien pu faire de mal !

Et maintenant et toujours et dans les siècles des siècles : Amen !

En nourrisson, tu fus portée sur les bras de sainte Anne ta mère, et Joachim, ton père béni, rendait au Seigneur l’action de grâce due à ta conception miraculeuse. Ils virent en Esprit les souffrances que tu porterais et ne cessèrent pour autant leur louange !

Sauve de tout danger tes serviteurs, car c’est en toi qu’après Dieu, ô Mère, nous trouvons un abri, unique Rempart, inébranlable Protection !

Dans ta bienveillance, penche-toi sur les souffrances de mon corps, Mère de Dieu toute digne de nos chants ; viens de mon âme guérir la douleur !

Kondakion en ton 6

Protectrice assurée des chrétiens, + Médiatrice sans défaillance devant le Créateur, / ne dédaigne pas la voix suppliante des pécheurs !// Mais dans ta bonté+ hâte-toi de nous secourir, / nous qui te crions avec foi:// « Sois prompte dans ton intercession, + et empressée dans ta prière, ô Mère de Dieu, / Secours constant de ceux qui t’honorent ». //

Ode 7

« Nous les fidèles, nous reconnaissons en toi, ô Mère de Dieu, la fournaise spirituelle. Et de même qu’Il a sauvé les trois Jeunes Gens, le Très-Haut a renouvelé en ton sein le monde entier, le Seigneur Dieu de nos Pères, digne de louange et de gloire ! »

Source de vie, tu mis au monde celui qui est la Vérité, la Voie et la Vie. Tu conçus et enfantas le vrai médecin de nos âmes et de nos corps : prie-le, ô Mère, pour tous ceux qui servent et soignent par sa grâce les enfants souffrants !

Comme en un jardin clos, le Seigneur trouva en toi sa demeure et son repos. Veuille, ô Paradis spirituel, accorder à tous les parents qui te supplient, la grâce de s’abandonner dans la foi à ton Fils et ton Dieu !

Gloire au Père et au Fils et au saint Esprit !

Tu es la Joie des affligés ! Ecoute, ô Mère, les cris et les plaintes des enfants tourmentés ! Tu connais leur innocence et leur jeunesse : épargne-leur la maladie de l’âme et du corps et sauve-les de toute douleur ; sois la joie de leurs parents et de toute notre fraternité affligés !

Et maintenant et toujours et dans les siècles des siècles : Amen !

En toi se réjouit toute créature, car tu es celle qui nous fais connaître Jésus, ton Seigneur et ton Dieu, notre Seigneur et notre Dieu. Montre-le-nous présent dans l’affliction des tout-petits !

Ode 8

Dans la fournaise, comme en un creuset, brillèrent les enfants d’Israël par l’éclat de leur piété plus pure que l’or fin ; et ils se mirent à chanter : Bénissez le Seigneur, toutes ses œuvres ! Louez-le ! Exaltez-le dans tous les siècles ! »

Inacceptable est le tourment des enfants. Toi-même, ô Vierge, le supplice de ton Fils te déchirait les entrailles : Comment souffres-Tu, disais-tu, Toi qui est la vie et l’allégresse de l’univers ? Sur l’agonie des parents et des enfants, verse, ô Compatissante, le baume de ta tendresse !
Sans raison est la douleur des tout-petits, car ils n’ont rien pu faire de mal ! Nos péchés sont innombrables et nous accablent : prie, ô Vierge, pour notre conversion et notre pardon !

Bénissons le Seigneur, Père et le Fils et le saint Esprit !

Entendant l’appeler la voix de son Dieu, Samuel enfant répondait : Parle, Seigneur, ton serviteur écoute ! A nos enfants aussi, ô Mère de la Sagesse, donne l’écoute de la Divinité et le souffle prophétique !

Et maintenant et toujours et dans les siècles des siècles : Amen !

Toute-Sainte est ton nom, ô Vierge, car l’Esprit, Saint, Seigneur et Vivificateur, sanctifia et déifia ton sein très pur par la conception du Verbe et Fils unique de Dieu. Sanctifie-nous par ta protection, nous qui, par amour pour nos enfants, nous réfugions près de toi !

Ode 9

« Pour image de ton enfantement, nous avons le buisson ardent qui brûlait sans être consumé ; en nos âmes, nous te prions d’éteindre la fournaise des tentations, pour qu’alors, ô Mère de Dieu, sans cesse nous te magnifiions !

A l’âge de trois ans tu fréquentais le temple de ton Seigneur. Adolescente, si jeune encore, tu reçus dans ta virginité la semence divine du Fils de Dieu et Fils de l’Homme. Tu connus par le vieillard Siméon qu’un glaive traverserait ton cœur de vierge mère et, avec audace et avec foi, tu disais au Seigneur : Qu’il m’advienne selon ta parole !

Le Seigneur Jésus Christ ton divin et humain fils montra aux enfants son amour paternel. Ta maternité nous révèle l’amour du Père céleste. Inspire-nous, ô Mère, la paternité et la maternité, non seulement selon la chair, mais selon l’Esprit saint, pour porter, consoler et guider nos enfants sur le chemin de sainteté !

Gloire au Père et au Fils et au saint Esprit !

Coryphée de tous les saints, Chef de file et Tête de tous ceux qui intercèdent devant le Trône du Très-Haut, Prototype de toute sainteté humaine, Modèle des martyrs et des justes de tous les temps, avec saint Nicolas, l’ami des enfants, intercède pour les tout-petits que menacent la maladie et la mort !
Et maintenant et toujours et dans les siècles des siècles : Amen !

Mère de Dieu Digne de toutes les louanges, Montagne non taillée de main d’homme, Portée dans les bras de sainte Anne, Mère de la Supplication et du Refuge, Grande Humilité, Consolatrice de nos peines, dont le voile et la ceinture protègent la sainte Eglise de Dieu, Joie inattendue, Calice du salut, Guide et Pédagogue de nos âmes, toi qui bénis de trois mains, Fleur immarcescible, écoute les prières de supplication et de louange des pères et des mères éprouvés en leurs enfants !
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Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Akathist Available

I have just uploaded the Akathist to Blessed Seraphim to my Akathist site, though the formatting isn't finished yet:-)
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Counting Akathists

Edited to add:

Elizabeth, I have the St Spyridon Akathist in book format but I will type it out in segments, one or two each day for you :-)

Out of curiosity, I counted the texts of Akathists which I own. (other than the original Akathist)

I have 21 !

The Theotokos Nurturer of Children
The Theotokos Healer of Cancer
The Theotokos Joy of All who Sorrow

The Life-Bearing Tomb & Resurrection
The Precious Cross
To Almighty God in Time of Trouble
The Repose of those who have fallen asleep

St John the Wonderworker
St Herman of Alaska
Blessed Seraphim Rose

St Xenia
St Nicholas
St Spyridon of Tremythus
St Nectarios of Pentapolis

St Michael the Archangel
All Saints of western Europe
St Etheldreda (Audrey)
St Ignatius Brianchaninov

Sts Peter & Paul
St Juliana of Lazarevo
St Elizabeth the New Martyr

All I need to do now is pray them more regularly........
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More On My Day

Snippets that I forgot to mention about yesterday......

Picking up the funeral flowers from the florist's, and walking back home with them, rejoicing in the sight and smell of the irises and stargazer lilies, and being oblivious to the curious glances of passers-by, pedestrian and motorist.

Standing on a chair to get a better shot of the flowers before we drove to the funeral.

Being asked by the funeral director to help carry the caskets from the car to the graveside, and being handed my father's casket to carry, a blessing I did not think might happen.

The tenderness of the funeral director, who was also a childhood friend of my brother, asking my mother would she like to hold the caskets before they were interred, and seeing her cradle the mortal remains of her first husband and her eldest son in her lap one last time, sobbing...

The loving kindness of Fr Philip as he consoled my mother, before, during and after the short service.

A few hours after we got home, seeing a slow, gentle rain fall on the ground, and thinking of the earth settling down, surrounding my brother and father like a comforting warm blanket...

Glory to God for all things.
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Friday, March 19, 2010

My Day

Today, six months to the day that my beloved brother died, his ashes were laid to rest.

The reason for the delay ? A significant part was the fact that we had to apply for and receive the official Government exhumation licence to move my father's cremated remains, in order that he and my brother may now lie together in a family grave, as my brother requested the week before he died.

I arranged everything, and was anxious that things be done respectfully, and as my brother would have wanted. It went well, and they are both now in their final resting place till the Last Trump.

Although it rained last night and this morning, the sun was shining fitfully, the wind had dropped considerably;  the weather was good - and reasonably mild -  for the twenty minutes or so we were at the cemetery. For the first time in three months, my mother was able to leave her house, albeit in a wheelchair to the car and in a wheelchair to the graveside, and warmly wrapped in a rug, as she feels the cold dreadfully these days.

 We could hear some distant sounds of traffic, but the cemetery lies right on the outskirts of the town, surrounded by farmland and fields, so the major source of noise was entirely natural -  scores of birds singing their hearts out, and only the occasional guttural "Caw" from some passing crows interrupting as the minister read prayers, including the Kontakion for the Dead  - “and weeping o’er the grave, we make our song. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.”  as I held my mother's hand.

My brother's three dearest childhood friends, who supported him and Mum and I all the way through his return home to Wales and through his final, tragic illness, were able to take time off from their places of work to be with our immediate family for this final loving act, for which I was profoundly grateful.

It was really rather surreal; to stand at the edge of the grave, watching my brother and father being laid to rest, and knowing that in due course, I too would be laid to rest in that same grave plot, was a remarkable experience.

How many people have seen their grave being opened, I wonder ?

Memory Eternal.............
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

In The Breadmaker

Updated to add that they turned out beautifully. I am ashamed to admit that I ate three, one after the other, when they were still warm. I will definitely be making these again :-)


In the breadmaker at the moment is a batch of dough for cinammon buns. I have never made this recipe before and am anxious to know how it will turn out.

In my enthusiasm, I forgot to factor in how long these rolls will need to "prove" before I can cook them - it may be a later bedtime than I envisaged, but I can always have a cinammon roll and a cup of hot chocolate for supper, I suppose :-)
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Monday, March 15, 2010

Stately Musings

Home to Roost is a delight; the acerbic wit of Deborah, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire (and youngest of the Mitford sisters) is profound and priceless. One particular gem :

"Chatsworth {her family's stately home} has a Farm Shop, which, although successful, does produce some rather odd complaints. I have had two letters from women who bought a whole lamb for their freezer. Their messages were the same: 'When I drive through the park at Chatsworth, I see the lambs and they have four legs. When I unpacked the lamb I bought from you, it had only two legs. What happened to the other two?' 

 Farmers looking for diversification please note - breed a sheep with four legs, forget the shoulders and you'll be made!"

That did make me giggle - Enough said of the women who failed to realise that sheep, like humans, have two arms and two legs, and their forequarters are butchered as shoulders of lamb, their hindquarters as legs of lamb  .........    :-)

Another delight was an edited volume of the letters between Deborah and the famous travel writer, Patrick Leigh Fermor, whose families became dear friends. I was lucky enough to pick up the large hardback volume, signed by the editor, for only 80p at a thrift shop, when the retail price was £25.00 !!!
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Sinister Side of Spot The Dog

DD4's Spot the Dog puppet was attempting to force-feed people with Maltesers when we went up to visit my mother today :-)

"My name is Spot; you will do as I say. Resistance is Futile...."
I didn't mean to lapse into Trekkie mode, LOL.

Many thanks to Rob for taking the photo whilst my hands were occupied with Spot.....
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Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Wall, lit by volunteers all along the 84 mile length.......

I do wish I could have been there....Hadrian's Wall is one of my "must do" list, along with visiting York.
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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Countdown To Pascha

Shamelessly pinched from Michael's blog,"All Of Creation Rejoices".

For more widgets please visit www.yourminis.com

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Are Dragons Kosher ?

I have to admire the deductive prcesses and enthusiasm of the authors of  the "Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals"

I love this sort of thing  :-)
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Let All Mortal Flesh..

I have always loved this haunting hymn, from my very long-ago days as an Anglican. Its Orthodox origins delight me, despite later Western verbal accretions :-)

This version, on Cor Anglais (I believe) and organ is delightful......

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Pride And Prejudice in Emoticons

I would not have believed it possible to summarise the whole of Pride and Prejudice in emoticons, but it has been done :-)

I cannot reproduce it here due to Blogger's  not supporting the emoticons, but for your delectation I provide the link - enjoy !
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Mantillas and Pascha

Alana, over at the Free To Cover blog, is hosting a give-away of two lovely white lace mantillas for Pascha.  I am one of those who often, but not always, feels the need to cover my head in prayer at home, and would certainly put a mantilla to good use.

Mantillas are something that you just never see here for sale, not even in the RC shops which stock first communion outfits etc.
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David Crystal

the only book by David Crystal which I have read is one I bought many years ago (1986!!), called "Listen To Your Child - A Parent's Guide to Children's Language".
It is utterly brilliant, and explains very clearly how babies, toddlers and older children acquire, develop and refine their use of language. It is very well worth a read, and I referred to it often, being fascinated with the different ways my children use language.

On a sidenote:
 DD2 - an accomplished exponent of the art of text messaging, though her texts to *me* are always grammatically correct and punctuated, LOL - was complaining bitterly that her sister, DD3, was abbreviating  text messages so much that DD2 was finding it difficult to comprehend :-) 

How language develops and changes is a mysterious and wonderful thing. I am still - and suspect that I always will be - a stickler for clear and appropriate punctuation and grammar, but I can still appreciate the humour and ingenuity of our amazing adaptive language skills as humans.

I will certainly check out our Library's books by David Crystal, Ian, and thank you for inspiring me to do so. I love having book recommendations  :-)
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Thursday, March 11, 2010


I was phoned a few days ago, asking if I might be interested in a job. I have never been head-hunted before, so I was very flattered !

Unfortunately, the *very* well-paid job is just too far way to be compatible with picking my children up from school at hometime, so I have had to decline the kind offer.

 It was jolly nice to be asked, though !
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Recently Read

I highly recommend both of these books to anyone who loves the quirkiness and absurdity of the English language :-)

"Watching the English" had me roaring with laughter. It is a brilliantly readable and light-hearted sociological analysis of the English as a nation. Much of it also applies to us Welsh too ...... 
 "The Victorian Church" is a scholarly tome, full of fascinating information about the rise of the High-Church movement within Britain.

If you have not read "Bootleg" , I would certainly do so. DD3 and I absolutely adored the idea of revolutionaries -children and adults alike- uniting to fight the horrors of the "Good For You" party when they start banning all chocolate and sugar.
All of the "Miss Read" series are delightful; reminescences of times gone past.

The Tony Hawks book is completely mad. Hilariously funny, but mad. Who in their right minds accepts a bet to hitchhike all round the coast of Ireland with a small fridge? They even take the fridge surfing.........
The Titanic book is a conspiracy theorists's delight, but I found the discrepanices in the official UK and USA inquiries into the disaster to be utterly fascinating reading.

Brother Cadfael - ' nuff said.
One of the sweetest, most tender books she ever wrote, and one to tug at the heart-strings........

And for all you Thursday Next fans, I managed to get a hardback copy of the infamous
 "Shadow the Sheep-Dog" from a thrift shop, and I devoured every single page :-)
 It wasn't a brilliantly written book, I admit, but considerably better than I had expected, considering Thursday's comments about it..........
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Sunshiney Day !

Shadows of DD4 and I walking to school....

Shadows of trees and posts. No reason; I just like it :-)

The pond, looking very pretty.

Almost looks like Summer !

The sky was so blue, rather than the grey to which we have become accustomed......

Catkins ! Must be nearly Spring !
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Thank You, Magda !

you are a star !
Thank you so much for your kind help; the "Praying For Hamada" button is now safely in my sidebar, and I know how to do it again if needs be :-)
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My Precious !

I thought you might like to see a recent photo of our lovely Lab, in his favourite position, lying on my husband's legs.....................
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Listening To

.........Lucie Skeaping and The Burning Bush singing/playing Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jewish songs, from the album "Raisins and Almonds" :-)

Tasters of the tracks can be heard at Amazon.
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.......... to Lesley Garrett singing Mozart's Laudate Dominum.

Utterly sublime !
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Creating Buttons

Does anyone have the patience and technical knowledge to talk me through making a clickable button for Susie's beloved husband, Hamada, so I can put it here on my blog ?  I can't fathom it out :-(

To read about his ongoing battle against illness, and Susie's own wonderful musings and poems about life and love, go visit :

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010


The sunshine has continued unabated this week.

It was a delight to take DD4 to school, revelling in the real warmth of the sun on my back and seeing the vivid blue of the sky.

Washing has been drying outside again today, and it was even warm enough to sit out on the patio and say morning prayers.

 I am just waiting for the sheep at the nearby farm to give birth to their lambs; one of the greatest delights of Spring is to see the lambs gambolling in the fields......
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Monday, March 08, 2010

A Strange Day

I am a lady of leisure again, now that my temporary job has ended.

 I was awake at the crack of dawn, ready to go to work, only to realise that there is no work. I have found myself pacing round the house like a caged animal, unable to settle to any task for any period of time......... I feel rather bereft, to be honest. I enjoyed being at work, being productive and feeling that I was making a difference; at the moment, I simply cannot muster the same enthusiasm for housework !

The house is, nevertheless, rapidly becoming both clean and tidy again, and the laundry is blowing on the washing line as I type this, on a gloriously fine but bitterly cold Spring day.

I just wonder what the coming weeks will bring............ I intend to continue my sporadic Latin studies with greater vigour, now that I no longer have the excuse of "no time to spare"!.
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Friday, March 05, 2010

Could You Give Up Books ?

I don't think I could, but one person writes about her experiences of giving up reading books for a whole week.

Makes me twitch just thinking about it............
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