Axia Women is delighted to welcome Amber Schley Iragui as a member of our operating board. If you've noticed an beautiful new look to our website and social media, she's the one responsible!
Amber holds a BA in Theology and English Literature from the University of Portland. She has a career as an art director with ga transformative impact at publishing houses, most notably St. Vladimir's Seminary Press and Ancient Faith Children's Books. She was also a co-founder of The Wooden Button, a Waldorf-inspired preschool located in Manhattan, and is a parishioner St Nicholas Orthodox Church, Portland, Oregon.
As far back as I can remember, I was taught that war was evil and something in which a Christian should not participate. Jesus’ Gospel command to “love your enemies'' was clearly something He expected His followers to do. Since joining the Orthodox Church in the 1980’s, it’s been painful for me to witness our hierarchs bless our Orthodox men and women to participate in the many wars our nation has engaged in over the years. However, with the recent war in Ukraine, there seems to be a growing awareness of the evil of war and its incompatibility with our faith in Jesus Christ.
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.