Blogs

Below you will find the entire listing of our blogs.

 

Women in Jerusalem rejoicing

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Those are the first words of St. John’s Gospel.  Then in Psalm 119, the center piece of Orthodox Funerals, we read again and again about God’s Word. For example: ”Your word, O Lord, is eternal.” (verse 89) And again, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (verse 108). "Word" is spoken about over and again in Scripture, so it becomes apparent that the gift of “word,” God gave us humans, is pretty serious.  Not only does Word refer to the Son of God who creates via a Word, but he reveals himself to us through word into our conscious mind.

Mosaic of two angels swinging censors

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts: gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matt. 2:11)

As the days of Advent draw us closer to the feast of the Nativity, we live in anticipation, preparing ourselves and our homes for celebration. Like the three kings following a star, we too are on a journey to welcome and worship the Christ Child, the newborn king. What do we know about the precious gifts brought to Him?

Caroling in the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church

To celebrate the upcoming season, we wanted to offer you a few traditions from around our jurisdictions in the US. The chief thing we have in common? Fasting! But we enjoy the season much more than that would make it seem... 

Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (Lijin Hannah Thomas)

Malankara Woman Receiving a Blessing in Church

At Axia Women we count ourselves fortunate to have seminarians in our midst! Sometimes we ask them to use their knowledge to take us deeper into what we encoubter in church every day. Here's Tanya Penkrat delving into a word we hear regularly and often, illustrated by a photo of another seminary graduate receiving a blessing of her own at a recent service in the Malankara church.

Food Pantry: Sorting Cans

For Thanksgiving, we wanted to remind our readers that there are always ways to actively pray for the homeless and hungry. These ideas will work whether your church community is flourishing with many ministries or struggling to support even one.

Many years ago, when my children were little, I read to them a book which started me on my mission to feed the poor.  It was a lovely story called “Papa Panov’s Special Day,” an adaptation of a Leo Tolstoy short story, based on Matthew 25: 31-40.  Those verses touched me deeply and have been my motivation ever since to help the poor and hungry whenever I can.

Orthodox Christian chapel iconostasis installed in a private home

Our home is a place of family love, drama, joys and tears; a place where we can gather to celebrate, mourn, dream and support each other.  It can be orderly or chaotic, restful or filled with music, dancing, singing, laughter, shouting or tears all the vicissitudes of life.  It is our shelter and refuge.

Hands of St. Panteleimon holding a cross and medicine box

When I was an art student back in the early 1980s, in my naivete I was surprised to suddenly find myself disillusioned with the rising tide of post-modernism. Many of the ideas and aesthetics floating around my college campus seemed fragmented, soulless, empty, and left me feeling bewildered. Surely school was meant be a laboratory of sorts where experimentation is welcomed and new forms and expressions can flourish. But I felt an inner crisis of calling, where my sensibilities and yearning to be an artist were at odds with the prevailing trends.

Homeless woman reading the book in subway under the sunlight

She looked up at me with bewildered, lost blue eyes. All I could do was stare back at her, dumbfounded. It was 7 AM in NYC’s Penn Station and I was watching an older woman drag herself on her knees around a trash can, barefoot, with sores climbing up her feet.

When I moved to NYC, what struck my heart the most was seeing the rich and the poor share the same seats on the subway. I could not--and still struggle to reconcile--walking past people on the street in need every day.

Fresco of the Virgin Mary and Infant Jesus from St. Catherine's Monstery, Sinai Penninsula

I have always seen icons of Mary, the Mother of God, holding the baby Jesus when I enter a church. But becoming a mother myself and bringing my children to various churches has changed the way I experience the icon. It made me wonder how the Theotokos and Jesus be received in those churches. (Sure, baby Jesus and Mary would have gone to a temple, but is your place of worship warm and welcoming to a mother like her with children?) Would she have a place to lay Jesus' head down? Would she have a place to change his diaper? Would there be a place to nurse baby Jesus? Would you glare at the Theotokos if baby Jesus cries or makes noise? Is your church clean enough that  baby Jesus could crawl on the floor?

Ranks of lit beeswax candles in a church

Editor’s note: Today’s blog entry is from a friend who is baring her heartfelt struggles with prayer. We’re presenting her piece because we know that almost everyone has gone through rocky periods in their relationship with God. Or if you haven’t yet, you might some day.

 

We are instructed to pray daily, preferably morning and evening--and all the time, if possible.  I was born into an Orthodox family and was baptized as an infant. I am a lifelong churchgoer and graduated with a master’s degree from a seminary. And yet I have always had a hard time with this practice. I find taking even 5 to 15 minutes of formal prayer terribly difficult.  Almost insurmountable.

George Kordis, The Samaritan Woman at the Well

With the appearance of Axia Women on the US Orthodox scene, it’s a good moment to consider the distinctive ways our Lord interacted with the women he encountered in his ministry. He treated them in ways that often surprised and confused his contemporaries, He scandalized society by associating with women of loose morals and defending an adulterous woman. He recognized and redirected the strength of their passions towards love for God (think of the woman he praises for having “loved much”). Instead of bowing to cultural expectations, he declined invitations by the men around him to judge those women--and redirected the men’s judgment onto themselves.

Queen Melisende's Myrrhbearers

This is not the only place on this site you will see an icon of the Myrrhbearers. Here’s why.

 

They came because they knew they had to.

They came even though they were afraid.

They came as a group.

They came giving each other courage, and hope, and fortitude.

They came because they knew somebody had to do something.

They came because they loved Christ.

They came even though he had been disgraced in the eyes of the Romans, the Jews, the whole world.

They came even though they had no idea what they’d do when they got there.

They came even though they didn’t know how they would push aside the heavy stone blocking the tomb.

Pat and Anne with cookies 2015

The name Axia evolved through years of conversations that we’ve been having around the kitchen table of Patricia Bouteneff, our president. Patricia and I get together frequently for what I call “baking extravaganza weekends”. While mixing and sifting and letting things rise, we talk about life, work, and church–especially church.

In late 2018, we were tossing around flour AND names for the group, when the idea for an Orthodox women’s network was far advance. I realized that Orthodox Women’s Network wouldn’t work: it has the same acronym as Oprah’s television network (OWN) (and we didn’t want to take on Oprah!). The acronyms for Network of Orthodox Women (NOW) nor Women’s Orthodox Network (WON) were also taken.

Alexis Kyriak headshot

Alexis Kyriak is a prolific fine artist working out of Vermont. Born in New York City into the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, she currently attends and sings in the choir at St. Jacob of Alaska, an Orthodox Church in America parish in Northfield Falls, Vermont (http://stjacobofalaska.org/).  Alexis is a versatile artist who works in a wide variety of media. Her studio is stacked with acrylics and pastels, graphite drawings, embroideries, clay sculptures, and fabric sculptures. You can see many of the works referred to in the rest of this post by going to her website (http://www.alexiskyriak.com/).

Girls with candles reading

Once upon a time, I was the Executive Director of Orthodox Christian Fellowship, the Orthodox program that brings college students together. We did a lot of great things at OCF, which is an organization that provides opportunities for our strong Orthodox high school students (those coming from Orthodox summer camps and the CrossRoad summer institute) who are attending college. At OCF, I created rubrics that defined what it is to be an Orthodox leader on campus and what it means to serve as an Orthodox Christian. The Real Break program came out of that. Wherever students travel, it’s their job to spend the entire week seeing the light in the person they are with. That’s it.

Axia Women Founding Board

Welcome to Axia Women! We are a network by, for, and about Orthodox women in the United States. We are dedicated to raising up one another’s gifts for our own salvation and for the well-being of the Church. A major part of that will involve helping people feel connected.