The second in our new series of pilgrimage stories comes from Sandra Simunic:
When I used to visit Serbian monasteries and shrines, during the services, I would hear priests always mention local saints when they gave people a blessing. Today, I live in Great Britain. I have been wanting to find out more about Celtic saints from the first Christian millennium because I want them to become part of my spiritual life.
Dark and blessedly cool outside, I stepped out of my friend’s car at 4:30AM onto the empty cobblestone street outside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. I blinked sleep from my eyes and gazed in wonder at the now-quiet holy site. The baking daytime sun of July in Israel had this Northerner exhausted and crowds in the daytime felt overwhelming - there were so many other pilgrims like me taking time to pray at the place of Jesus’ crucifixion and kneel at His tomb. Being here in the early morning to pray the Divine Liturgy felt as if I’d stepped back in time. I was excited and a bit nervous, because while I knew the Coptic chapel was tucked at the base of Jesus’ tomb, I didn’t know how we would pray there. What would it look like?
The first in our new series of pilgrimage stories comes from Bess Crider:
At Bethany in the Holy Land, I felt the knowledge of Jesus Christ move from my head to my heart.
I have been a Christian most of my life, actively pursuing a faith that is real, sincere, earnest, honest, and true. I became Orthodox in 1998 at age 41 and continued my faith journey.
Blessed Elevation of the Cross to everyone who celebrated on September 14 and to everyone who will celebrate on September 27!
Lord, save Your people and bless Your inheritance. Grant victories to us over our adversaries and, by virtue of Your Cross, preserve Your habitation.
“Why should I pray to Blessed Xenia of St. Petersburg for help?” I asked my persistent friend, Ginny, as we chatted on our cell phones. “After all, she was homeless—like me! Why should she care if I get a home?”
It was an oddball phone call. I’d been living with various family members for eight months after becoming widowed and selling my home in Connecticut during the real estate boom of 2021, and I was tired of living out of a suitcase, and even more tired of disrupting the lives of my children and siblings. I had sought housing out West in an effort to be nearer to my sons and grandchildren, but the high cost of living had deterred me, and the intermittent wildfires and smoke had spooked me.
The liturgical year in the Orthodox Church begins on September 1st. And if you are on the new calendar, today is the day!
Happy New Year from Axia!
(detail, Eye of Providence icon, from Mount Athos Gifts / Etsy)
August 27 (NC) is a time when some people’s thoughts turn to baking.