Spoons and Simplicity

Orthodoxy, Chronic Illness and a quest for authentic life

Archive for the tag “12 great feasts”

The Elevation of the Holy Cross (14th September)

Yesterday was the feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross, which is often just shortened to “Holy Cross” in common use. The feast celebrates the Life Giving Cross of our Lord, and is one of the paradoxical feasts – a Great Feast (one of twelve in the year, not including the Feast of Feasts, Pascha/Easter) which is celebrated with solemnity and fasting out of reverence for the Passion of our Lord. Normally feasts call for a relaxing of any fasting restrictions which may exist – we can eat fish, even during fasts or on a Wednesday of Friday (when we normally eat a vegan diet), if a Great Feast falls then, but in this case the Feast does the opposite, and calls us to a strict fast, without even oil if we are able to do so. At the same time, it is a happy feast, celebrating Christ’s victory over sin and death.

Crosses are everywhere in Orthodoxy in our homes, around our necks, in our books, on all liturgical things, in feasts, and in the way we bless ourselves and priests bless us by making the sign of the Cross. We will often make the sign of the cross over our beds, over garden beds, over food, anything we want to dedicate to God or ask His blessing for. I know people who will cut a cross with a knife into each new jar they open. Making crosses this way and having them around is a constant reminder to turn our thoughts back to God and to remember Him in everything we do, and that all gifts come from above, “coming down from the Father of Lights” (James 1:17, echoed in the blessing prayer at the end of the Divine Liturgy).

The feast day itself commemorates a number of things. At its heart it commemorates Christ’s victory, as I’ve mentioned, and it also commemorates the finding of the three Crosses (and Christ’s in particular) 300 years after His Crucifixion, by the Empress Helen (mother of Constantine the Great) when she went on a quest to find it, and also its recapture after it was stolen a few hundred years later.

Usually we attend Church if possible, but I was unable to due to my health, so I decorated my house and our family icon corner instead. Here’s a few pictures for you 🙂

Our family icon corner

The table of my icon corner with flowers, the vigil candle and a votive candle lit by my dad. The icon in the back is my patron Saint, St Kyriaki

I hope you had a blessed feast.

“Save, O Lord, Your people, and bless Your inheritance, granting victory to the faithful over the enemy, and by Your Cross preserving Your commonwealth.”


Easter/Pascha, Ascension and Pentecost

I’d love to have updated earlier, I started this blog before Easter and it’s now two months later and I’m finally updating. To be honest, I simply haven’t been well enough to post – and I kept biting off more than I could chew. So I’ll keep it simple this time and try to learn to blog in bite sized pieces that don’t take more spoons than I have 🙂

Pascha was wonderful, although my health was steadily declining. More than a month later we found out that much of this was because I had a very low iron count, so no wonder I felt so terrible. Simple living stuff has been difficult as it always is while I’m unwell, but I’ve done what I can. And I’ve lived my Orthodox life as I can, too, not at Church much but in my own home with prayers and candles and light.

So today is mostly photos. Here is my icon corner in the living room, which has a table and I decorate for feasts when I can, just after Easter/Pascha:

The icon here is the Anastasis icon – Christ’s descent into Hades and raising Himself and the dead from death. The white candle is my ‘kandili’, or vigil lamp – I light it when I can, but I can’t keep it lit for safety reasons. Traditionally, oil lamps stand or hang in these places, but my Dad is worried about the fire risk (actually less than that of candles, but I don’t argue) so I have a candle and it stays there all year. The long golden one is a beeswax one from the Easter vigil, it smells wonderfully like honey and stamped into the side is “Χριστος Ανεστη” in golden letters, meaning “Christ is risen”. This is my candle for holding the Light from this year. The  palm cross is from Palm Sunday – I couldn’t attend, but was given one, and the cotton has holy oil from the Holy Unction service.

And here it is tonight, the day before Pentecost which is one of the ‘Soul Saturdays’ of our year where we commemorate and pray for those departed this life. The candles are all for people I love and miss, especially for those I’ve lost in the last year. May their memory be eternal, and God grant them rest.

The lamp is lit, as you can see, the Resurrection icon is still there, but there’s a new icon now – Pentecost, and the glass full of coloured sand is my incense stick holder or taper holder, since sand puts out flame and it holds the candles nicely.

I won’t be at Church tomorrow since my illnesses have kept me resting today and likely most of tomorrow, but God knows my heart at least. Have a blessed day, everyone.

Blessed are You, O Christ our God, who made fishermen all-wise, sending upon them the Holy Spirit and, through them, netting the world. O Loving One, glory to You.

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