Archive for October 1st, 2011

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Not only is today the feast of the Protection of the Mother of God in the Byzantine calendar, it is the feast of St Therese in the Roman calendar. Indeed, October is a great month in the Roman calendar. Not only St Therese, but St Francis, St Bruno, St Teresa of Avila, and the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, my anniversary date for returning to the Church…

Luke 10:38-42 – Now as they went on their way, [Jesus] entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.” (RSV)

(Icon by a monk of the Monastery of the Caves, Kiev)

“If God wants you to be as weak and powerless as a child, do you think your merit will be any less for that?  Resign yourself then, to stumbling at every step, to falling even, and to being weak in carrying your cross.  Love your powerlessness, and your soul will benefit more from it than if, aided by grace, you were to behave with enthusiastic heroism and fill your soul with self-satisfaction and pride.” –  St Therese

(Icon by Daniel Nichols)

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On Thursday, after much hesitation, I worked up the courage to pick up a paintbrush for the first time since my cataract surgery.

While my eyes are wildly out of whack right now- my left eye sees perfectly except close up and my right eye sees a huge blur- I still need glasses for reading or painting, and my eyes are not so off with glasses, though the left eye sees everything more distinctly. I feared that this would be enough dissonance to make painting still a strain.

The panel I was working on was one I began in August, and had abandoned under the strain of trying to get my eyes to work together. The first thing I noticed when I sat down to it was how imprecise my work had been. In iconography one begins by painting broad areas of dark color. Then one proceeds to work in highlights, always working from dark to light, a parallel to the spiritual path (and a technique that runs counter to Western ways of painting, to the chagrin of anyone who is trained in Western art). Even in this relatively simple phase it looked pretty sloppy.

To my great relief, the strain was gone. There is still a slight difficulty, but nothing like what I was experiencing prior to surgery. I corrected the imprecision in my painting, sharpening the outlines, and completed the initial stage of the process.

And I arose refreshed and still, instead of feeling exhausted and strained. The veil of the cataract had been lifted.

Thanks be to God for that. I am scheduled to have the small cataract on the right eye removed on October 24, and I look forward to restored vision and to the making of many more icons.

I feel like a man who is finally home from a long and trying journey.

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This is huge; Metropolitan Hilarion visits Pope Benedict, and extends an invitation:

(mospat.ru) – On September 29, 2011, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, DECR chairman, met with Pope Benedict XVI at the pontifical summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

They discussed a wide range of issues concerning the bilateral relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Moscow Patriarchate.
After their tete-a-tete talk, Metropolitan Hilarion presented to Pope Benedict his retinue including Archpriest Dimitry Sizonenko, DECR secretary for inter-Christian relations, Fr. Antony (Sevryuk), rector of the Parish of St. Catherine in Rome, Archpriest Igor Vyzhanov, a cleric of St. Catherine’s, Fr. Ioann (Kopeikin), assistant to the DECR chairman, Mr. V. Yakunin and Mr. S. Plastilin, Orthodox sponsors, and Mr. L. Sevastyanov, executive secretary of the St. Gregory the Theologian Charity.

Metropolitan Hilarion presented the Pope of Rome with an icon of St. Benedict of Nursia and an album on frescoes by St. Andrew Rublev.

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