Blog Posts

Space Rituals and Your Mind webinar for IOCS

“A ritual is the highest form of habit” is one of Dr. Ioana Popa’s signature phrases. 

That is also how Dr. Ioana, a board-certified psychiatrist, trained spiritual director, and life coach, began her webinar, Space, Rituals and Your Mind: How to Support Sacred Habits Using Your Surroundings. The event, which Axia co-hosted for the first time with the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge, began with an excellent introduction by Dr. Elizabeth Theokritoff, who set the context of Orthodox women’s challenges and opportunities - particularly in the UK, where they are based. 

How to Prepare for a Walking Pilgrimage recap

Why do you walk? 

This opening question was asked by Jennifer Nahas during our most recent Axia webinar, How to Prepare for a Walking Pilgrimage. Participants answered with statements such as:

Walking helps to calm me and ground me and also to connect me to the beauty of creation and to God.

Walking puts something substantive on my habit of prayer and silence and being.

To reset and get perspective.

To connect with a saint or sacred place.

I walk to focus my attention (and feel free).

How Sweet the Sound 1

Eighteen years ago, on behalf of the Fellowship of St. Moses the Black (of which she is currently President), Abbess Katherine Weston, whom Axia spotlighted last July before the work premiered, began experimenting with using African-American Spirituals as a source or inspiration for Orthodox liturgical composition. She finished the entire Jubilee Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in 2023 and premiered it at the Fellowship’s conference in Houston last October.


Jennifer Anna Rich pilgrimage 1

My pilgrimage to Patmos Island in Greece last fall really began on an earlier pilgrimage five years ago to England, sitting with Metropolitan Kallistos, who told our small group that “to 'pray without ceasing' is not something we should try to do as often as possible, but is something that we potentially 'are' ... to become a person who has been turned into prayer!”

The Answer to Rude Questions

Way back when I was writing Orthogals, we were asked for advice on how to handle inappropriate questions. We had a dozen real-life examples at the ready. A decade and a pandemic later, I have far more, and I was asked to update this article.

The short answer is that the best answer to rude questions is a refusal. We do not owe anyone intimate information.

Examples, all from real life:

Tervo pilgrimage 1

I was 33 years old before I made a pilgrimage to a monastery in my own country. Before then, I had visited numerous monasteries in the country of Georgia: Gareji, Saparo, Martqopi, and also Pechora in Russia, and I loved them very much. At that time, they were just coming back to life after the Soviet period. I could not understand why someone would stay isolated and pray all day, but I did find the idea attractive. 

St. Photini by Aidan Hart

On Monday, we honor St. Photini, one of the first of all people to proclaim the Gospel of Christ. St. Photini lived in first century Palestine and was the Samaritan woman who Christ visited at the well asking her for water. It was she who accepted the “living water” offered her by Christ Himself (John. 4:5-42). All her life, she would continue to draw from this well of life as she remembered His words to her, and shared this living water with others.