Below is a link to a podcast by Fr. Seraphim Aldea of the Orthodox Monastery of All Celtic Saints.

In this particular episode, entitled “Imitating Monastics”, Fr. Seraphim shares some of the ways in which laypeople can imitate the life and prayer of monastics.

You can hear the episode here.

By the grace of God, and through the prayers of many holy souls, our simple life in St. John’s, Newfoundland is progressing. Just after Fr. John and I returned from a pilgrimage to a monastery in September significant changes began to occur. First, we moved out of our one bedroom apartment and into a house (with a yard and a deck and a front porch!) and second, I got a permanent, full-time job. So, it looks as though God wills for us to continue our feeble attempts to firmly establish Orthodoxy on this island.

The best part about our new home is that the downstairs is a walk-out basement with an external exit/ entrance and so we are finally able to have a chapel in our home (I had already painted the icons for our future home-chapel while living in Greece). Thus, instead of bothering Queen’s College (where our Mission Station is) and trying to get them to change their schedule to suit us, we do all weekday services in the domestic chapel with weekend services taking place, as always, on campus at the College. The very first service we had in our domestic chapel was for the feast of the Protection of the Mother of God – very appropriate. She has been protecting and guiding our community and we hope and pray she continues to do so. While many icons adorn the walls – as you can see from the photos – an iconostasis has yet to be built/ installed.

iconsBecause the domestic is named in honour of St. Nektarios we held Great Vespers for his feast day and had a get-together upstairs in our home afterwards. The photos that are included in this post are mostly of that evening.

In addition to serving Matins and Vespers daily, Fr. John offers ‘Adult Sunday School’ the first Sunday of every month. This year’s theme is the Divine Liturgy. I love hearing Fr. John’s lesson as well as the great questions/ discussions that are generated as a result.

On the second and fourth Sunday of the month I teach Sunday School to the children. This year we are focusing on The Life and Person of Jesus Christ. The children (ages 4-10) are so brilliant and so attentive that if you were to ask them whether we believe in One God or three Gods they would tell you we believe in One God and Three Persons. They know that Jesus Christ is perfect God and perfect Man, and that when we cross ourselves the three fingers we hold together represent the Holy Trinity and the two fingers we keep together represent the two natures of Christ.

In order to instill in the children the firm understanding that knowledge of God is not attained through study and reading but rather through lived experience of Him, drawing closer to Him in prayer, we begin and end each class with the Jesus Prayer. I made small, 12-knot (finger) prayer ropes for the children and each child takes a turn saying the Jesus Prayer on their little prayer ropes. It’s so beautiful and so moving to hear them pray aloud. They have no inhibitions, no embarrassment, from the moment they begin to say, “Lord Jesus Christ…” they pray with such attention and their voices sound so sincere that you are moved and you say to yourself: “This is why Christ said ‘Unless you become as this little child'” because they pray with a kind of innocent purity that is so far removed from the hardened hearts of most of us adults…

And as the parish’s Sunday School teacher I was very pleased to hear that when Fr. John went downstairs to check on the children who were playing in the sitting area around the corner from our domestic chapel he heard the 9 and 10 year old boys debating whether everything that happens in the world is the will of God, haha!

Although with everything there is temptation we try and take courage, fight despondency, and cling to the hope that someday there will be a beautiful Orthodox church, built in a traditional style, full of faithful… and by full I am not referring to quantity but quality: replete with struggling Orthodox Christians. Amen. So be it!

“The Lord God make steadfast the holy and blameless Faith of the pious and Orthodox Christians, with His holy Church and this island, unto ages of ages. Amen.”

Please continue to pray for us, the Holy Lady of Vladimir Orthodox Mission!

(And if you’re interested in Orthodox adventures in Newfoundland you won’t want to miss out on Martin’s adventures in the awesome novel Voyage to the Rock!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAncient Faith Radio has uploaded recordings from the Orthodox Young Professionals Retreat held in Santa Fe, NM in October.

While only three of the four talks were recorded, they have also shared the recording of the panel discussion that featured all four speakers.

To the left is a photo of Archimandrite Gerasim; he was the Keynote speaker and I was delighted to meet him and hear him speak. You can hear his talk, entitled “Now You Are the Body of Christ and Members in Particular” here.

You can find Ashley-Veronika’s talk entitled “How Our Ancient Tradition Speaks to Modern Ecology” here.

I’m sorry to say that Joshua’s talk was not recorded. It was fabulous, but you’ll just have to take my word it.

Below is a photo of all the speakers during the panel discussion. You can hear this discussion here.


If you wish you can hear my talk “Work as Prayer: Uniting our Divided Selves” here. Hearing the recordings I am reminded of why people tell me to slow down when I speak. However, in defense of ‘speaking quickly’ I will share the following: :)

“I have heard criticism against Fr. Daniel [Sysoev] that he hurries, talks too fast, and people can’t keep up. But he was in a hurry to pour the source of living waters out upon people, to make all of us partakers of Divine truth, to lead us from the darkness of ignorance to the light of knowledge. For me, Fr. Daniel’s trait of “speaking quickly” was a great plus, because I myself was in a hurry to know everything.” (Source)


adelfi efpraxia

Modern Saints is a new series wherein I post biographical details and a few inspiring words from contemporary holy men and women who have not yet been included in the Synaxarion of the Orthodox Church (ie. have not formerly been canonized by the Church).

The following is an excerpt from the book Elder Arsenios the Cave-Dweller, pp. 38-39

Elder Arsenios’ like-minded sister, Parthena, was also tonsured a rassofore nun at the young age of 16, at the Holy Monastery of the Protection of God at Pontos, and renamed Efpraxia. Aflame with divine zeal, she also reached the sacred holy sites of Palestine and met up with her brother, Anastasios [Elder Arsenios’ pre-tonsure name], who arranged for her stay at the female cenobitic monasteries.

Parthena, the little sister of Anastasios, was not lacking in zeal or virtue. From many amazing incidents, I will mention only one from her first steps in monasticism. As her parents were from Pontos, they mainly spoke Turkish and knew a little Pontian. When they migrated to Russia, long before she followed the example of her brother. So she went to the Holy Monastery of the Protection of God at Pontos.

There, however, she couldn’t speak Greek nor even understand anything from the church services. This made her very upset. One night, she saw someone in her dream who asked: “Why, my child, are you so upset?”

“You see, Elder, I don’t know how to speak, nor to read, nor to write, nor to chant.”

“Don’t worry, my child. I will give you medicine for it.”

He opened her mouth and put inside something like a lolly. She ate it and woke up. Well, from that moment, her mind was and to understand, indeed very clearly, the meanings in the liturgical books.

(Source) THE BRETHREN is a documentary about the monks of the world’s northernmost monastery — the Trifonov Pechengsky Monastery located in Kolsky Peninsula, Russia. It was Russia’s Northern outpost a few centuries ago. Later it was destroyed and abolished, and now it is being restored. The brethren of this monastery is small: 4 hieromonks and 2 monks. They are young, and every one of them has had his personal way to monastic ordination. All their life stories are nontrivial and even paradoxical. They are attempting not only to restore the buildings of the monastery but to build a temple in their hearts. The film features unique footage of inner life of the monastery.

Written and directed by Olesia Buryachenko
Camera: Sergei Amirdjanov
Music by Pavel Karmanov
© RISK Film Studio, Moscow, Russia 2011
English subtitles
Running time: 44 min.


Walking from Karyes to Xeropotamou - Xeropotamou

Fr. John and Fr. Matthew (then a layman) walking from Karyes (on Athos) to the Holy Monastery of Xeropotamou.


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