Orthodox Thought for the Day


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A resource for readers

I would like to let you all know about a professional on-line counseling service offered by someone I know and respect, John Garner.  John’s been a licensed, professional counselor for about 30 years and he is also a devout Orthodox Christian.  So, if you are looking (or know someone who is looking) for a counselor or life coach, please visit his site to learn morehttps://counselorcobblerjohn.com/  Be sure to check out his video on the “About Me” page. 


God’s peace,
Presbytera Candace

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Bible is like a garden

All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for training in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16.  The soul, therefore, gains great advantage from the reading of the Bible.   

Like a tree planted by streams of water, Psalms 1:3, the soul is irrigated by the Bible and acquires vigor, produces tasty fruit, namely, true faith, and is beautified with a thousand green leaves, namely, actions that please God. 

The Bible in fact, leads us towards pure holiness and holy actions.  In it we find encouragement to all the virtues and the warning to flee from evil. 

The Bible is a scented garden, delightful, beautiful.  It enchants our ears with birdsong in a sweet, divine and spiritual harmony, it touches our heart, comforts us in sorrow, soothes us in a moment of anger, and fills us with eternal joy.   

Let us knock at its gate with diligence and with perseverance.  Let us not be discouraged from knocking.  The latch will be opened. 

If we have read a page of the Bible two or three times and have not understood it, let us not be tired of re-reading it and meditating on it.  Let us seek in the fountain of this garden, a spring of water welling up to eternal life, John 4:14.  We shall taste a joy that will never dry up, because the grace of the Bible garden is inexhaustible.   

Thinking about gardens and bees, here is a short message from former bee keeper, Matushka Nina: 

Another great patron of bees and beekeepers is St. John the Baptist. We had an outdoor icon of him in our bee yard.  Every year on the feast of Mid-Pentecost, when gardens and orchards are blessed, he also would bless the bee yard.  And also St. Spyridon would be one, as he is always depicted wearing a beekeeper’s hat in icons.


Some people have undertaken a project of planting a Bible Garden.  You can find photos of these beautiful gardens on-line.  The book below is useful for getting your own Bible Garden going:

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Found: Patron Saints for Bee Keepers

St Ambrose of Milan is considered to be the patron saint of beekeepers (+ December 7).  In the life of the saint it is mentioned that when he was an infant a swarm of bees settled in his mouth, said to be a sign he would become a great orator. His preaching was reported to "sound as sweet as flowing honey" which earned him the alternative moniker of the "Honey-Tongued Doctor." 

Sincere thanks to Carmen, who provided the information above.

Vasiliki writes that Deacon George, who is a bee keeper, honors St. Haralambos as a Patron Saint for those who tend bees: 


Both Ss. Haralambos and Ambrose were mentioned as Patrons for bee keepers in the comments section of The Blessing of Bees article.  It’s very nice to see both Saints being put forth by readers as Patrons for bee keepers.  God bless and maintain the bee population and those who help keep God’s creatures healthy and viable on the earth!

Meet St. Gobnait, whose icon was recently written by Ortho Thought reader, Vicki Kendall.  Thank you for sharing this piece of sacred art with us.  

There are a few sources on line with reference to St. Gobnait.  This basic one https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gobnait has a photo of a statue of the Saint found in Ireland.  If you zero in on the details, you will see the bees at the base of the statue. 
Thanks to all of you who submitted info on Bee Keeping Saints in the Orthodox Christian tradition!

On the Blessing of Bees

This is a very  neat page from Fr. Ted’s blog regarding bees and the blessing of bees:  https://frted.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/the-blessing-of-the-bees/

Does anyone know if there is an Orthodox Patron Saint for bee keepers?  One of our readers would like to know.  I see that some names are suggested in the article comments—if anyone else knows more, please write and let me know in return.

Thank you,
Presbytera Candace

Perseverance above all

St. Jerome wrote, "Christians will not be asked how they began but, rather, how they finished.  St. Paul began badly, but finished well.  Judas's beginning was praiseworthy, but his end was despicable.”

St. Gregory said, "You live a good life in vain if you do not continue it until you die."  And, "The value of good work depends on perseverance." 

And, to St. Isidore it is attributed, "Our behavior is only acceptable to God if we have the strength of purpose to complete any work we have undertaken."  And, “The reward is not promised to the one who begins, but rather to the one who perseveres.”

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Blessings worth sharing--you've made it possible!



How often do you receive a request for prayer or a financial appeal and then hear nothing afterwards?  Are you ever curious to know what your prayers or financial gifts are doing?  Are they making a difference?  How would you know?   

As an Orthodox Priest and President of the Decani Monastery Relief Fund, I feel a special obligation to let you know what your prayers and gifts have accomplished over the past year.  Be assured--God is great, even in difficult circumstances, such as daily life for the Orthodox Christians of Kosovo and Metohija.   

Earlier this year, I asked for your assistance in purchasing a much needed ambulance for the hospital in Osojane.  I can joyfully say that the hospital now has a fully equipped ambulance!  It was recently purchased in Germany and driven back to Kosovo.  Its arrival was met with a great deal of relief and thanksgiving!

Fr. Isaiah & new ambulance 
The ambulance was actually purchased by a single donor!  This allowed all the funds given previously for that purpose to be used to purchase other long desired necessities—appliances, in particular.  The Fund purchased needed appliances for families as well as for a local monastery.  The joy of the receivers filled our own hearts with much gladness—thanks be to God!


The DMRF continues to provide basic necessities routinely—food, toiletries and the like for approximately 200 families.  One of the women served is shown here with a box of provisions.  Her gratitude is evident in her smile. 


In addition, the DMRF has purchased chain saws, tractors and farm animals (to replace those too often stolen).  And, we offer assistance to meet electric bills for families and monasteries which simply don’t have the financial resources to meet them.
Many of you helped provide seeds last fall for spring planting.  This project was a great success!  Families, monasteries and soup kitchens are all better supplied this fall than they were the last.  I’ve been asked to thank all of you who generously sent seed packets for our Christian brethren.  Last year I carried 1,000 packets with me to Kosovo and I hope to do it again when I travel there next month.

Fr. Nektarios & friend in Kosovo

 Yes, I am, by the mercy of God and with His blessing and help, traveling to Kosovo in mid-November.  I plan to leave the USA on November 14, returning home on the 30th.   

I ask your prayers.  My desire is to bless and be blessed in the process of this humanitarian trip.  Truly, it is hard to go and hard to return.  What God provides me is spiritual profit and heartfelt joy as consolation.  And I carry you all in my heart.   

I count it a privilege to make the journey and to represent the DMRF of which you are part.  Without you, there is no Decani Monastery Relief Fund.  There is nothing tangible to give to bring hope, love and inspiration to those living in difficult circumstancesSo, thank you, dear brothers and sisters!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart and from every Serbian heart which receives blessings from the Fund.

As I prepare for this trip, there are ways to help make it happen.  Here are my requests before God and you, His vessels of love: 

·       Unopened seed packets.  Preferably organic seeds.  Seeds for quick growing produce, high yielding summer produce and fall produce that can help sustain people throughout the cold winter months.  We have already received a gift of 400 organic seed packets from High Mowing Seeds in Vermont.  And word has just come in that Johnny's Seeds, of Maine, will be helping us as well.  God bless those who’ve made this possible!  Can we, among us, come up with a few hundred more seed packets to reach the 1,000 packet goal by the first week of November?  May God abundantly bless this endeavor once more!  

·       The structure of the Decani Fund does not allow for the use of funds for personal travel.  I have asked our Lord for assistance in meeting travel expenses:  plane fare to and from Belgrade and the cost of one night each way in a hotel in Belgrade for both arrival and departure.  Total anticipated cost is: $1,400.00.  Any donations made toward this effort are gratefully received—it does not matter the amount given.  Any amount given over and above the request will be changed into Euros and distributed to families when I reach Kosovo.  God knows what is needed and He has always provided for this need through His faithful servants. 

Would you help me?  Can you send seed packets?  Can you help with trip expenses?  Will you continue to open your hearts and receive God’s blessing in the process?  I have confidence in you—as do the fathers of the Decani Monastery and the faithful who, without knowing you, bless and love you from the heart. 

Unopened seed packets and any donations for travel expenses can be sent to: 

Very Reverend Nektarios Serfes
Ss. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church
2618 West Bannock Street
Boise, Idaho 83702

If you have any questions about the DMRF, please call me:  208-860-2479

God love and bless you!
+Fr. Nektarios Serfes


Thursday, October 6, 2016

On the quandary of voting


Apart from the election of a new president here in the United States, there appear to be at least two particular reasons for Christians to vote this November.  Neither seem to get much attention in the media, but both seem crucial for consideration:   

(1)  Supreme Court judges are expected to be appointed during next administration.  We, our children, grand-children and/or Godchildren will live with the consequences of the ideologies of the appointees and judgments handed down.  The possible implications for the future should be prayerfully weighed. 

(2)  This is an election for more than presidential candidates.  There are upstanding Christ loving men and women who are invested in upholding existing laws and improving various facets of the government who are seeking to be elected/re-elected to various offices across the United States.  Seek out those running in your locale if you don’t already know and give them your support.  Not every potential public servant is in the arena for the wrong reasons. 

When I think of the future of the United States, and the mercies and blessings that have comprised my own life as an American citizen for 60 years, I am brought to tears by the current state of affairs.  The Old Testament verse (II Chronicles 7:14) is something that I am clinging to and I hope all readers will cling to and practice faithfully as we move forward in uncertain and vulnerable times.  It is necessary to be both salt and light for the culture in which we live (Matt 5:13-16).  Humility, repentance, prayer—and doing what you can to keep evil in check as Edmund Burke so aptly wrote above.   



With love in Christ,
Presbytera Candace