St. Ita was once asked by St. Brendan what were the three things which God most detested. She replied: “A scowling face, obstinacy in wrong-doing, and too great a confidence in the power of money.” St. Brendan then asked her what three things God especially loved. She replied, "True faith in God with a pure heart, a simple life with a religious spirit, and open-handedness inspired by charity."
These are the only recorded words we have from a saint who is often called “The Foster-Mother of the Irish Saints,” and who did indeed foster and raise many children, including St. Brendan, in her convent in Killeedy.
In my New Calendarist tradition, last Wednesday was the Feast of Mid-Pentecost, the 25th day after Pascha and before Pentecost. The Pentecost season lasts six weeks. The first three Sundays celebrate Pascha itself–the Resurrection, the Sunday Of St Thomas who confirmed that Jesus himself was the One who died on the cross and came back to them by asking to touch the wounds; and finally, the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers, those courageous women who left home before dawn to tend to Jesus’s body and found an angel who told them the Good News of the Resurrection, and so they were the first to know.
A few months ago, we had a lovely suggestion from a member of our community, Elizabeth Rotoff, who wants to help Orthodox who were either new to fasting or long-time practitioners find healthy ways to work their way through our seasons of restricted eating. Here's a sample of her approach and, if you are interested in learning more, she will be offering a workshop starting this coming Monday. This is an experiment for us--we've never posted a non-Axia offering before as a blog.
As we come to the close of the Paschal season and approach Pentecost, this signals the approach of another fasting period: the Apostles’ Fast.
Periodically, I pick up my copy of the biography of St. Elizabeth the New Martyr, written by Lubov Millar, and re-read certain parts. Photographs, anecdotes from people who knew her, and letters written by Elizabeth all provide a level of detail that is unusual within the genre of Orthodox hagiography. While I love having such an extravagant window into the life of an Orthodox saint, I also have found it interesting that the spiritual process of cultivating communion with a saint, whether modern or ancient, seems to happen apart from the noise of biographical detail.
We want to tell you about an exciting change to our Advisory Board. Please help us welcome Dr. Christina Maranci! She is a former Woman of the Week, who impressed us with her groundbreaking work in the study of the history of Armenian art and architecture, and inspired us even more with her compassion and the way she views failure as key to her success. Here she is in her own words:
You proved we were right: good things DO happen when Orthodox women come together! We far exceeded our fundraising goal! Excluding our matching donation, you gave $3200 to help Axia expand. We cannot thank you enough.
Concluding Bright Week on a bright note. Spring--even if she is a little late for some of us--is finally showing her colors!
Let's start with some flowers found in a coffeeshop in Portland, Oregon. If you know what these spectacular blooms are, please tell us!