Before the days of GPS and Google maps, before we located ourselves as a blue dot on an interactive street map held on our tiny personal computers, before our greatest navigational challenge was discerning which direction our little blue dot was moving (up the street or down?)—before all this, there were other less convenient ways of not being lost. That is, printed paper maps. Atlases, Rand McNally road guides, laminated city guides, folded state maps spilling out of glove compartments or jammed into purses. And while I’ll take Google over a frayed paper map anytime I need to get anywhere, I admit the old printed version held one thing GPS does not: mystery.
"In the beginning, there are a great many battles and a good deal of suffering for those who are advancing toward God and, afterward, ineffable joy. It is like those who wish to light a fire: at first they are choked by the smoke and cry, and by this means obtain what they seek. (As it is said, 'Our God is a consuming fire.') So we also must kindle the divine fire in ourselves through tears and hard work."
--Amma Syncletica, a Egyptian desert mother (4th century)
Welcome to the first post in what we hope will be a journey in its own right, a series of women writing about women saints, many of whom may be new to you or who you may see in a fresh light.
"On the next day, crossing the sea, I arrived at Constantinople, giving thanks to Christ our God who deigned to give me such grace, unworthy and undeserving as I am, for He had deigned to give me not only the will to go, but also the power of walking through the places that I desired..." --St. Egeria
It seems fitting to end our visit with the individual Myrrhbearers with a verse from the church recognizing what happened when they came together as a group for the Body of Christ. The verse is sung on Saturday night in many of our churches before the Resurrection, before they know He has trampled down death by death:
How do we know a Saint? St. Mary of Egypt is given a prominent position in the Lenten season, before Palm Sunday in the church calendar and enfolded in the majestic Canon of St Andrew of Crete.
This reflection is a review and meditation on the book “The Great Canon of St Andrew of Crete and the Life of St Mary of Egypt” by two Orthodox nuns from England, Abbess Thekla and Mother Katherine. They offer context and commentary on this service that is observed this week in Lent. They pay particular attention to St. Mary of Egypt: both the record of her life as told by the monk Sophronius,and the person herself.
To mark April Fool's Day, we thought we'd take a moment to post a prayer service to St. Xenia of Petersburg, Fool For Christ. You can learn about her life in many places, as she is a much beloved saint for those looking for help in finding a job, a spouse, or a home, save a marriage, or healing mental illness. We suggest this site if you want to learn more about her.
We found this akathist at St. Gregory Outreach. You can read it by yourself, or with friends or family, if so inclined.