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plow-e1579364990485Blizzard update: Yesterday the Province called in the Canadian military to help with snow clearing. The state of emergency is still in effect (that means only emergency vehicles are permitted to use city streets and no businesses are permitted to open). Today they temporarily lifted the ban for pharmacies, gas stations and private snow contractors. Thank God we have plenty of food and have kept power the entire time.

The above picture was shown on the news, it is of snow plows on the highway. It’s the route we take to get from our house (in the town of Paradise) to our Mission church in east end St. John’s.

We managed to clear our driveway today. It was hard-going for almost two hours, but thank God our neighbour helped at the end where a snow plow had driven snow firmly into the hood of Fr. John’s car.

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The total snow accumulation in St. John’s was 77cm. But, it was 93cm (that’s three feet!) in the town Mt. Pearl, closest to us. I haven’t heard the official amount that fell here in Paradise. But we already had 40+cm on the ground before the storm started.

The bad news? 10-25 cm is expected overnight. God have mercy!

 

Day One (January 17)

 

Day Two (January 18)

Our backyard as seen from upstairs:

 

There was so much snow piled up against the front door that we initially dug out with a bucket and dumped the snow in the bathtub:

 

 

The cul de sac across the street was so bad the neighbours in this next photo are actually standing where the road is (check out the street sign to the left for snowbank-height reference)!

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Day Three (January 19)

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After shoveling for over an hour we had managed to get this far:20200119_103737

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We’re tuckered out but thank God it wasn’t worse!

However, God help us tomorrow morning as we try and dig out again. Man, I sure hope my work is canceled!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I’m a horrible photographer so forgive me for the quality of photos but I wanted to share with you my icon of St. Perpetua.

St. Perpetua is, hands-down, the female saint I feel the closest to, for many reasons. I have written an akathist to her and her companions as well as a historical novella based on the story she herself recorded, what has come to be known as The Passion of Perpetua and Felictias.

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Vibia Perpetua was a wealthy, educated Roman living in the ancient city of Carthage in northern Africa. She was 22 years old at the time of her death, which means she was born around the year 181 A.D. She is one of the earliest writers in history whose autobiographical work has been preserved. In fact, her work is one of the oldest Christian texts. It describes the days of her and her companions’ imprisonment, the spiritual visions she received, and contained in the same text is an eyewitness account (believed to be Tertullian) of their martyrdom. They died in 203 A.D. in the arena of Carthage on the birthday of Geta, the son of the Roman Emperor (who was also from North Africa) Septimus Severus.

As far as I know only a handful of images of St. Perpetua exist, apart from a few very modern iconographic depictions. There are a couple mosaics of her (as shown above). I based my icon on the above three mosaics. One is located in Ravenna, Italy, another in Croatia.

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First, I drew a few versions of her. When I finalized the prototype I applied the image to the canvas and began to paint. I started her in the spring, took the summer off, and returned to painting her in the fall. I finished her just before our trip to Arizona in November.

Perpteua gold part

I painted the gold piece she is wearing around her shoulders many, many times (above you can see one of many versions). When I was finally satisfied with the garments I began her face and hands. I only applied what’s called the ”proto fos” (the first light) – usually the first of three-five layers of paint. But I did not feel her expression fit; she looked too melancholic. So, as always, I emailed my brother, Fr. Matthew, and he advised me: her eyes and her chin especially needed correction (he’s not a painter but he’s a great instructor).

With some more work she came to look like this:

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Then all that was left to do was touch-up the gold, paint the halo, write the name, and add a border.

During the whole process I frequently listened to a dramatic narration of the passion of Perpetua. While they use words like “overseer” instead of “bishop” and “teacher” instead of “priest” I really loved hearing her story again and again. (Although the narrators are a bit on the over-dramatic side it is still a great narration).

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Setting out I knew it would be difficult to paint an icon of her because I had to create the prototype based on mosaics, but it was important for me, very important, to have an icon of her for myself. I have painted a good deal of icons, but never one just for me personally. I knew immediately where I would put her: in my office at work. Although I have plenty of icons in my office I placed her in a discrete spot where she is mostly blocked by the computer just so as not to draw unnecessary attention to her since she’s quite a bit larger than the other icons I have.

20191227_102112I love my work and my colleagues but it is important for me to feel connected to my roots as an Orthodox Christian. To be reminded of a brave individual, a fearless woman who had boldness before God, a person who had spiritual “tunnel vision”. She entrusted herself fully to the care of God.

Questioning her choice to be imprisoned as a Christian rather than free as a Pagan, her father begged her to renounce her faith. She pointed to a pitcher in her prison cell and asked him, “Can this pitcher be called by any other name?” He said, “No.” And she responded, “Neither can I be called by any other name than Christian.”

I painted her holding a scroll with this very quotation not simply because I love the saying but because only certain saints hold scrolls, usually hymnographers or writers, of which she is one. It also serves as a reminder for me, in a secular work environment, that I am, first and foremost, a Christian.

Work icon edited

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Christmas Eve at Holy Lady of Vladimir Mission

While I sit in my living room seeing nothing but white outside, snow piling up against my windows, I thought I might as well share some recent photos of life in Newfoundland. We’re in the middle of a blizzard. In fact a state of emergency has been declared to keep people off the roads. They say we may get up to 75cm of snow in this single snowfall – that’s more than ever before. By God’s grace we still have power. Right now shoveling snow is tomorrow’s problem.

Here are pictures of our Christmas. My mum visited from New Brunswick which made it extra special.

(In case you’re wondering what book Fr. John is holding with a smile on his face, it is Cicero’s “How to Win an Argument” – he picked it out himself. The inscription, however, was all me. It says, “Good luck! -Your wife”.)

Here are some other photos taken during Mum’s visit:

The following set of photos are from the storm we had on the feast of the Theophany, January 6. As you can see by the photos, we couldn’t get out to church that morning due to the snowfall and so we held the divine services at home. We no longer have a full chapel set up downstairs (all the liturgical furniture was taken to the Mission) so we made do with what we had. There are also a few pics of our recent walks after that snowfall included below.

Here’s hoping everyone on the Avalon Peninsula stays safe and can dig out of the snow when this blizzard finally moves along.

St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery┬áin Florence, AZ is live streaming Great Vespers, blessing of the loaves, and Matins for the feast of St. Anthony the Great.

You should be able to view it at this link: