AKATHIST HAWAIIAN IVERON ICON OF VIRGIN MARY IN CONNECTICUT, USA – HAWAII’S MIRACLE ICON (ST JOSE MUNOZ-CORTEZ’S ICON OF VIRGIN MARY)

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HAWAII OF MY HEART

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Photo: Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Akathist Hawaiian Iveron Icon of Virgin Mary in Connecticut, USA

Hawaii’s miracle icon

Sung in St. Panteleimon Church, Hartford, CT October 19, 2012. Protopriest Dionisiy Nalitov with Father Constantine Semyanko, Father Brendan Crowley and Father Kevin Kalish serving. Choir under the direction of Nicholas Semyanko.

2013: A NEW MIRACLE OF SAINT PAISIOS (+1994) IN FLORIDA, USA & A VIDEO ABOUT HIS LIFE

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USA OF MY HEART

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Photos: Florida, USA

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2013: A new miracle of Saint Paisios of Greece in Florida, USA

 http://australiasaintpaisiosofmyheart.wordpress.com

AUSTRALIA & ST PAISIOS OF MY HEART

I held off talking about this miracle by Elder Paisios publicly until the miracle was complete, which it nearly is. I was asked to write an account of the miracle to be included in the papers sent to the Ecumenical Patriarchate where a decision will be made soon on the canonization of Elder Paisios as a Saint. I offer it here for the glory of God and the edification of the reader.

Elder Paisios

December 18, 2013

Naples, Florida USA

Early morning on April 2, 2013 I looked down at my phone and saw a text from Jeremiah’s mother Patti, “Jeremiah was in a bad car accident. We are on the way to the hospital.” Jeremiah was 23 years old at the time. She had just received the news from the police who came to her door to tell her.

I rushed to the hospital. Soon the rest of Jeremiah’s family arrived and we got the news. It did not look good. Jeremiah’s car hit the curb, rolled three times, and the paramedics found him sitting outside the car barely conscious. He had multiple skull fractures, slipped into unconsciousness and was laying on the gurney in the emergency room.

I told the family that this was a desperate time but in desperate times we pray and we are going to ask God to save Jeremiah. Then we prayed and I anointed Jeremiah with oil. It was foggy that morning so the helicopter could not fly Jeremiah to the trauma center in nearby Fort Myers. They drove him instead.

The next three days were touch and go. We did not know if Jeremiah was going to live. Meanwhile, Dimitri, a friend of Jeremiah’s in Greece heard about the accident and told Jeremiah’s sister Emily about Elder Paisios, particularly how the Elder helped many young people in car accidents in Greece who suffered brain injuries. Emily told me.

Dimitri told Emily what to do. Get a picture of Elder Paisios (Dimitri sent one by email) and put it in his hospital room and ask for his direct intercession. I pinned the picture on the bed near the side of Jeremiah’s head that was injured. We started to ask for the Elder’s intercession on Jeremiah’s behalf to God. A week later the oil arrived that Dimitri sent from the monastery where the Elder spent his last days in Greece and we annointed Jeremiah with it. Through Dimitri, Elder Paisios came to us.

Thousands of prayers were said for Jeremiah and we added ours to them. I could tell the day that Elder Paisios joined in, or at least when I became aware he was with us. It was as if the weight of the prayers lifted somehow, something I call “calling in the cavalry” – an American term that means that we are joined by fighters on horseback who sit higher and see the battlefield more clearly and make the prospect of victory tangible. This happened on the third day. We could sense the Elder’s presence and strength with us. Some nurses remarked they could feel a power in Jeremiah’s room.

We prayed and anointed Jeremiah daily. This was a particularly difficult time for his family but hope did not wane even though there were times of doubt and exhaustion. Jeremiah was in an induced coma for five weeks to give his brain time to heal and we waited with great anticipation for his return to consciousness so that we could get a sense of the extent of his injuries and healing.

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Photo: Elder Paisios of Mount Athos, Greece, +1994

Jeremiah’s first liturgy

after the accident

Finally the time came to wean him off his medication. It would take three days for the sedation to clear his body. On the third day Jeremiah’s awareness returned. A test of a person’s brain function after a serious injury is whether he can respond to commands. As I entered the room I asked Jeremiah to give me a “thumbs up.” He lifted his thumb. Then I asked him to make his cross. He made it. We knew then that we might be witnessing a miracle.

Recovery was steady and after a few months Jeremiah was released from the hospital and went to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia (a hospital specializing in brain injuries). There the doctors openly said that his survival and the extent of his healing was a miracle. On August 15, 2013 the portion of his skull that was removed a few days after his accident (to allow the brain to swell) was reattached. The surgeon told Jeremiah that 95% of his patients who had the kind of injury that he experienced do not survive. The other 5% another doctor told me are usually institutionalized for the rest of their lives.

Today (December 18, 2013) Jeremiah is fishing off the Gulf of Mexico with his friends. His healing is almost complete. We expect a full and complete recovery.

We are filled with gratitude to God and His servant Elder Paisios for Jeremiah’s healing. We are grateful for the self-revelation of God to the family and friends of Jeremiah –- an event that exceeds our comprehension to grasp entirely but which we see in countless ways. Our Lord has touched hundreds of lives and some have been changed.

May God be glorified in all things.

Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse

Saint Paisios of Mount Athos, Greece – The Signalman of God

Feast day: 12 July, +1994

VIDEO: SAINT PAISIOS OF MOUNT ATHOS, GREECE – BY FR. PETER HEERS, GEORGIA, USA

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AUSTRALIA & ST PAISIOS OF MY HEART

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Saint Paisios of Mount Athos, Greece (+1994)

Fr. Peter Heers, USA

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USA OF MY HEART

Fr. Peter Heers; a talk given at St. John the Wonderworker Orthodox Church (OCA), Atlanta, Georgia, May 10,2012, about the book he edited, “Elder Paisios of Mount Athos”, now available in English.

LINK: FAITH ENCOURAGED – FR. BARNABAS POWELL, GEORGIA, USA – ANCIENT FAITH BLOGS

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AMERICA OF MY HEART

USA OF MY HEART

Reflection of mountain range in a lake at Grand Teton National Park

http://blogs.ancientfaith.com/faithencouraged/

Faith Encouraged

Fr. Barnabas Powell, Georgia, USA

Ancient Faith Blogs

USA

faith

LINK: CLOSE TO HOME – MOLLY SABOURIN, INDIANA, USA – ANCIENT FAITH BLOGS

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http://americaofmyheart.wordpress.com

AMERICA OF MY HEART

USA OF MY HEART

profile

http://blogs.ancientfaith.com/closetohome/

Close to Home

Molly Sabourin, Indiana, USA

Ancient Faith Blogs

podcast

Molly Sabourin is an Orthodox Christian blogger, podcaster, and photographer. She is author of Close to Home: One Orthodox Mother’s Quest for Patience, Peace and Perseverance from Ancient Faith Publishing. She and her husband Troy live in northwest Indiana with their four children.

ONE THING MISSING FROM OUR NATIONAL CONVERSATION ABOUT MARRIAGE – JOEL J. MILLER – ANCIENT FAITH BLOGS – USA

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AMERICA OF MY HEART

ORTHODOX SAINT VALENTINE

USA OF MY HEART

Fleeting Away - Photography by Bryan Swan www.worldwaterfalldatabase.com Mount Rainier National Park, Washington. #mountains #lake #reflection

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One thing missing from our national conversation about marriage

by

Joel J. Miller

Ancient Faith Blogs

USA

Source:

http://blogs.ancientfaith.com/joeljmiller/

http://blogs.ancientfaith.com/joeljmiller/sacrament-of-marriage/

JOEL J. MILLER – ANCIENT FAITH BLOGS

Cristians have traditionally understood marriage as more than contract, partnership, or mutual agreement. Though it’s been buried under a million words about rights and equality, the church understands marriage to be a sacrament, a gift of God’s grace for the transformation of the recipients.

Look for a moment at two examples: baptism and eucharist. The first moves us into relationship with Christ and his church, while the second gives us the life of Christ so we can become more like him. Marriage is the same way. The endgame is union with God as we grow in Christ.

The apostle Paul actually speaks of marriage as a “mystery,” using the Greek term for sacraments. Our marriages have the power to transform us into the likeness of Christ. But “sacrament” is not a category many of us think about anymore, and the deleterious effect on our understanding of marriage is profound.

The rise of therapeutic marriage

Over the last several decades we’ve come to a different take on marriage, as part of a much larger cultural shift I discussed before. Marriage is now primarily a relationship for the betterment and self-fulfillment of two individuals. Two are stronger than one, after all. Together two individuals can better gratify each other’s desires and fulfill each others needs—right up until the moment they no longer seem able or willing, of course.

None of that is false, so far as it goes. But when you take this understanding of marriage and place it within the context of a self-indulgent culture like ours, you create marriages between two people looking to get the most out of the relationship for themselves. University of Virginia sociologist Sarah Corse and Harvard sociologist Jennifer Silva, for instance, describe the rise of “therapeutic” marriage, which centers on the “happiness, equality, mutuality, and self-actualization of individuals.”

When the individuals involved think they can get more for themselves outside the marriage, they cheat or just “consciously uncouple,” to use Gwyneth Paltrow’s morally beatific euphemism for divorce. “[W]e don’t divorce—or have affairs—because we are unhappy but because we could be happier,” explains therapist Esther Perel.

The union exists, in other words, for the individual to maximize his or her bliss—and to hell with the rest. That’s not true in every marriage, but it sure seemed true in my first marriage, and let me underscore the word first. How could it last with all my self-seeking?

This is the exactly the cultural context in which the Supreme Court wrestled with the question of same-sex marriage. Hence Justice Kennedy’s ruling:

The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality. This is true for all persons, whatever their sexual orientation. There is dignity in the bond between two men or two women who seek to marry and in their autonomy to make such profound choices.

That opinion makes sense in the context of therapeutic marriage. Who doesn’t like room for expression, intimacy, and spirituality? But the judgment doesn’t apply to sacramental marriage because those things—wonderful as they are—are not the governing purpose of marriage as traditionally understood by the church. We’re working toward something bigger.

The significance and safeguard of sacrament

Christians are affected by the “therapeutic” culture as much as anyone. Not only do many of us no longer regard marriage as a sacramental union, in which individual gratification and self-fulfillment are not the ultimate goal. But in the vacuum we have perpetuated the values of the wider culture (as in most everything else we do).

Compounding the problem, Christians approach marriage with expectations that seem appropriate on the surface but which are really just self-indulgence baptized and proof-texted. True love should wait, yes, but the point of marriage isn’t to have—as we often sell it to young people—the most amazing sex ever.

Others have written about the problems with this approach, but the obvious one is that it distorts the purpose of marriage before the pair even steps up to the altar. Everybody loves a good orgasm, but marriage is more about enabling another to grow in union with God. Not only does marriage help display the relationship between God and his church, it helps us actualize that relationship by the Holy Spirit.

Beyond these considerations, the category of sacrament could prove an important safeguard. When a couple comes to marry, the pastor must guard the sacrament as he would with baptism and the eucharist. Sacraments are exclusive by nature. The earliest Christians didn’t even let outsiders see the eucharist.

A minister would refuse baptism to someone not eligible, just as he would refuse the cup. The same is true for marriage. If it’s only a contract, that’s one thing. But if it is a sacrament, then what place do courts and legislatures have dictating practice? Will the government also determine who should get dunked, fed, absolved, and so on? It’s a small but perhaps significant distinction as we look to define the bounds of religious liberty.

Bottom line: If marriage is to survive as any meaningful sort of institution, I am convinced it will only survive to the extent that we recapture the vision for what a sacramental marriage can be. And that of course means those of us who are married must live up to that calling.

Lord, have mercy.

INTERVIEW WITH AFRICAN AMERICAN FR. MOSES BERRY, USA: “THE CHURCH BELONGS TO EVERYONE”

https://usaofmyheart.wordpress.com

http://americaofmyheart.wordpress.com

http://africaofmyheart.wordpress.com

USA OF MY HEART

AMERICA OF MY HEART

AFRICA OF MY HEART

Yosemite Valley View Sunset Reflection - Photography by Jeff Sullivan www.facebook.com-JeffSullivanPhotographyWorkshops #yosemite #light #mountains

Fr. Moses Berry, USA

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Interview with Fr. Moses Berry:

“The Church belongs to everyone”

Source:

http://oca.org

http://oca.org/news/oca-news/interview-with-fr.-moses-berry-the-church-belongs-to-everyone

OCA – ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA

Fr. Moses Berry, an OCA priest ministering at Theotokos “Unexpected Joy” Orthodox Church in Ash Grove, Missouri, has an unusual story. In 1998, he moved with his family from St. Louis to his family’s farm in Ash Grove, near Springfield. Century Farm has been in the Berry family since 1872; on the property a cemetery dedicated to “Slaves, Paupers, and Native Americans” needed maintenance and oversight, and so Fr. Moses left a mission in the city to return to his rural boyhood home.

A small group of faithful collected around the new mission, Theotokos “Unexpected Joy.” The tiny cemetery chapel hosted the first services; in 2000 the mission was received into the Orthodox Church in America, and in 2003 parishioners erected a temple.

Fr. Moses travels widely to give talks on mission and also on local Afro-American history; folks who have met him elsewhere often stop by to worship when they pass through the area. In addition to leading the parish, Fr. Moses also heads up The Brotherhood of St Moses the Black, a pan-Orthodox nonprofit organization which presents an annual conference targeting those who have little exposure to Orthodoxy or its African roots.

Recently, oca.org interviewed Fr. Moses about his unique ministry.

-Father, for those who might not be familiar with your background, can you give us a snapshot of how you came to be an OCA priest?

It was in a seemingly roundabout fashion. All my life, I’ve had what we in the African American tradition (and some others as well) refer to as a “calling.” I come from a long line of African Methodist Episcopal (AME) preachers of some renown in this area. After being somewhat of a prodigal son, at one point, I found myself being released from incarceration by what seemed to be miraculous means. I made a promise to serve the Lord, and began a long journey to the Faith, which led me through various Christian and non-Christian groups. When I was ordained by Archbishop JOB in 2000, he told me that I had traveled far to get to the Church, but that I hadn’t “arrived” – the journey would continue. That made me both thankful for my life to that point, and hopeful for the future.

-During Black History Month, it seems especially fitting to discuss your 2011 AAC resolution, which passed by an overwhelming majority. What were you requesting, and why?

I wanted the OCA to invite African American people (referring to those whose ancestors were slaves or could have been slaves, in this country) to the Lord’s feast – not by a “general” invitation because we’ve always been open to everyone, but a specific one. I wanted our Church to call them by name. We know that in Christ there is no East or West, slave or free, no Gentile or Jew, but that very passage indicates that there are distinctions among people, and that God loves us all equally. It’s time we actively sought after and made a real effort to plant the True Church in the African American community.

The text of the resolution read:
“WHEREAS there are deep resonances between the faith of the early Church and the heartfelt Christianity born out of the American slaves’ experience, especially characterized by the “sad joyfulness” common to the Desert Fathers and Mothers and to the suffering, underground church of the African American slaves, and
WHEREAS African Americans have been and are still significantly under-represented in the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Orthodox Church in America,
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the Orthodox Church in America, at every level of church life, promote and encourage education about the shared heritage of Black and White Americans and the necessity for increased efforts to evangelize the African American community.”

-You have said, “to be a Church for all Americans, we will have to overcompensate.” Can you explain what you mean by this?

Basic human nature tells us that people are most comfortable with others like themselves. Many of us take this for granted, and may not understand the profound affect it has on an individual to see an icon that resembles them – or conversely, to never see a face that looks like theirs. So many people I know were profoundly moved when they first encountered the image of St. Moses the Black, because of this. And that’s part of what I mean by overcompensation – we have to recognize everyone’s human frailty and address it, without being condescending. We need to deeply and soberly, in an Orthodox manner, celebrate the diversity of God’s expression in the human family.

-This is a busy month for you. Who do you speak to during this month in schools and churches, and what is the thrust of your message?

I most recently talked to a high school group near the Ft. Leonard Wood army base, and I’m speaking at a FOCUS gathering this week about African American history. Especially to young people, I point out that we were more than slaves, but helped build the nation. Young people, who feel, rightly or wrongly, disenfranchised, need to know that their ancestors struggled and made great sacrifices, and were not merely victims.

I also would quote St. Ambrose, when he said “Even in the lowliest status, men should learn that their character can be superior and that no state of life is devoid of virtue if the soul of the individual knows itself. The flesh is subject to slavery, not the spirit, and many humble servants are more free than their masters…Every sin is slavish, while blamelessness is free. On this account the Lord also says ‘Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.’ Indeed, how is each greedy man not a slave, seeing that he auctions himself off for a very tiny sum.” (Seven Exegetical Works. B#12 Vol. 65, p. 201)

I use my appearances during Black History month as way to introduce people who might not otherwise hear of it to the history of the Church.

-Can you tell us a bit about the 19th Annual Ancient Christianity and Afro-American Conference scheduled for May?

There’s a lot of information about it on the Brotherhood web site. The conference this year will be held at Antiochian Village on May 25-27, and will include people from all Orthodox jurisdictions. Bishop Thomas Joseph of the Antiochian Archdiocese will be the speaker.

-What are the greatest challenges and opportunities facing the clergy and faithful of the OCA today, in regards to reaching out to the African American community?

The first, and most important thing, is to know that we are the true Church, holy, catholic and apostolic, and everyone must be part of it. I have a tiny parish in a tiny town, and I feel that there should be tiny churches in every tiny town, and in every neighborhood. The Church belongs to everyone – and we are duty-bound to open our hearts, and our doors, however difficult that may be. In all the years I’ve been a pastor, I’ve been asked repeatedly, “Fr. Moses, how can I minister to Black people?” I’ve never been asked, “How can I minister to White people?” So you see, the question is ridiculous. We all do the best we can with what we’ve got, and God gives the increase.