by death He conquered death.

resurrection of Christ

resurrection of Christ

Before we head into the kitchen to bake Resurrection Cookies again, I wanted to share this beautiful encounter between Christ and Adam when He descended into Hades.

We know that Christ was crucified on Thursday, and when His soul left His body, it spent three days and three nights in Hades.  We read in Matthew 12:40, For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

We also know that St. John the Forerunner (Baptist) was not only His forerunner on earth, but also in hell.  This is why we see him depicted in some icons with wings.  Because after the second coming, St. John will take the place of Lucifer as head archangel.  Full story here

For those of you in the Psalter Group, you are definitely familiar with Psalm 24.  For those of you not in the prayer group, perhaps you recognize the following passage from the pre-communion prayers or simply from the book of Psalms.  But I think it’s really interesting to learn who was actually saying the words spoken of in the Psalm.  We read in that Psalm that Christ descended into hell “divinely, in warlike… lordly fashion.”

The book The Feasts of the Lord tells us,

That Christ descended into the sunless prison of Hades with thousands, myriads, tens of thousands and thousands and thousands of angels.  Before He reached reached the gates, Gabriel, the leader of the heavenly host arrived to announce the coming of Christ.  He said,

“Lift up the gates, ye princes.”

And Archangel Michael cried:

“and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors”.

The powers of the angels said: “stand aside, door-keepers, outlaws”.

And the authorities: “break chains, break your chains…Tyrant outlaws, be afraid.”

Christ appeared in Hades and caused great fear, tumult and horror.  Whereupon the leaders of Hell cried out loudly,

“Who is this King of Glory?”

Then all the powers of heaven cried:

“The Lord strong and mighty.  The Lord mighty in battle… The Lord of the powers, He is the King of Glory.

St. Epiphanios describes wonderfully Adam’s conversation with Christ.  Adam heard Christ’s footsteps approaching, just as he had heard them in Paradise after his transgression and disobedience.  Then, he had felt trepidation and fear, but now he felt joy and gladness.  The repentant Adam cried out to all the souls:  “My Lord be with you all”.  And Christ replied:  “And with thy spirit.”  And Christ took Adam by the hand, raised him up, telling what he had done for his salvation, as well as for the salvation of the entire human race.

Just thinking about this fills my soul with joy and gratefulness to Christ our God, knowing that not only did He suffer and be crucified, even after death He continued to fight for our souls.  May we become worthy of His gift.

Many prayers to all of you for a joyous and blessed Pascha! I’m still a little early but,

Christ is Risen!  Indeed He is Risen! 

Theotokos Iveron Icon of Hawaii

Theotokos Iveron of Hawaii

many of you have probably heard of the miraculous icon of the Theotokos Iveron from Hawaii. it is a copy of the panagia portaitissa (gatekeeper) and was written by st. luke the evangelist. you can read the whole story of panagia portaitissa here. once, during the iconoclasm period, this icon was being kept in the private chapel of a certain widow. when the soldiers came in, one of them drew his sword and sliced the face of the icon. immediately, blood began to gush forth. the soldier repented and entered a monastery. this is why, if you look closely, there is a cut with blood dripping from her cheek.  the original icon has been copied and even the copies have begun to perform miracles. the icon i am about to tell you about is a copy of a copy and has become one of the most miraculous.

the icon has been streaming myrrh since 2007 (link to the whole story of how it began is posted below).  this icon has visited the monastery in saxonburg, pa (and hour from my hometown in ohio) many times and each time i’ve wanted to go so badly but i never ended up being there at the right time. my koumbara, Eleni, in ohio is always talking about how incredible the myrrh smells and about different miracles that she’s heard have happened to people after venerating this panagia and i’ve had this longing to see it for so long. [Read more...]

Christmas 101: An Orthodox Christian Understanding

nativity-icon

As Orthodox Christians, it’s important to know what and why we do the things we do.  Why do we fast for 40 days?  What really happened on the night of the Nativity?

Here is a snippet of the presentation I gave at St. Spyridon’s Advent retreat in Palos Hills, IL last year…

In the first session, we talked about what Christmas really is to an Orthodox Christian.  I thought some of you might find this useful, I know it always helps me to remind myself of what I’m preparing myself for. [Read more...]

Icons and Christian Worship

panagia icon

I love learning about icons.  The stories  hidden inside of these precious and sacred works of the Holy Spirit, never cease to fill me with wonder. Icons have been around since St. Luke wrote the first ones and brought them to the Mother of God for her blessing.  They have been around longer than the Bible.  Holy icons and holy tradition were how the stories of Christ were passed along for hundreds of years before the Bible was put together at the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D.

Yet even today, these holy images are being attacked by iconoclasts, or people who refuse to accept the place icons have in Christian worship.  Some even go as far as to say icons are idols.  This type of thinking is based on a complete misunderstanding of what icons are and how they are supposed to be used.  Icons are not worshipped.  We do not pray to icons.  We venerate them.  There’s a significant difference.  This is it. [Read more...]

{Why I love the} Christ Pantocrator of Mt. Sinai Icon

christmtsinai

I wanted to introduce the icon I chose for the bookmark I recently had designed for the Orthodox Book Club.

It is called Christ Pantocrator of Mt. Sinai and is the oldest surviving Pantocrator icon in existence.

It’s been one of my favorite icons of Christ since I began really trying to learn more about the Orthodox Church, fourteen years ago. I was instantly drawn to it, though I wasn’t sure why exactly.

[Read more...]

Worthy to be praised…

Icon of The Lifegiving Font

Here are some bookmark-worthy sites that I wanted to share with all of you:

Orthodox Quiet Revolution (travel to different Orthodox churches around the world and much more on this awesome blog)

Orthodox Christian Children (the best resources for movies, books, etc for families-I linked to my favorite ;) )

St. Therapon (they have some great links)

Orthodox Prayer (they also sell some beautiful prayer ropes)

Eikona Studios (iconographer who wrote The Visitation Icon used for pro-life awareness)

Icons of Panagia

Elder Joseph the Hesychast said that Orthodox Christians should all have an icon of the Theotokos that they particularly love and that we should keep that icon with us, venerating it and pleading for her intercessions at all times.

So I wanted to share some of my favorite icons of the Theotokos with you.

The first one is of Theotokos’ grandmother Mary, her mother St. Anna and herself with Christ. It is sometimes refered to as the 3 generations or St. Mary–grandmother of the Theotokos.

This one is of the Panagia Elevtherotria (also spelled Eleftherotria). The sisters gave me this icon along with the Akathist booklet when I was pregnant with Lucky. This Panagia is the patron saint of childbirth and war. I know its an odd combination but I don’t ask questions when it comes to what the Theotokos chooses to intercede for. :) This is the icon, along with the Panagia of Sadnaya that I keep with me at all times.

The next one is The Visitation Icon. I have seen the Virgin Mary and Elizabeth embracing many different icons but this is the only one I’ve seen where you can see the babies in their wombs. Christ is giving His blessing to St. John the Baptist as he prostrates himself before Him.  I purchased it off of eBay.  *Due to the many inquiries on where to purchase this icon, I located the iconographer of this particular version (there are several) and am linking to her website here:)

This is an icon of The Annunciation. It is also one of the only ones I’ve seen where you can see the image of Christ in her womb. I just think its lovely.

Do you have a favorite icon? Which one?