And, behold, the half was not told me

I BELIEVED not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me.

3[1] Kings 10:7.

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LORD, Thou art fulness, I am emptiness:
Yet hear my heart speak in its speechlessness
Extolling Thine unuttered loveliness.

Christina Rossetti.

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Samuel Barber, Adagio for Strings.

She seemed to love you, and you loved her in return

Jane Austen (1775-1817), the 'Rice Portrait'.

Jane Austen (1775-1817), the ‘Rice Portrait’. Though disputed, the portrait closely matches her nephew’s description of her: “a clear brunette with a rich colour; she had full round cheeks, with mouth and nose small and well formed, bright hazel eyes, and brown hair forming natural curls close round her face”.

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AS a very little girl I was always creeping up to aunt Jane, and following her whenever I could, in the house and out of it. I might not have remembered this but for the recollection of my mother’s telling me privately, that I must not be troublesome to my aunt. Her first charm to children was great sweetness of manner. She seemed to love you, and you loved her in return.

Said of Jane Austen (1775-1817) by one of her nieces. Source.

See also Be Like Children by Fr Alexander Schmemann.

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HEREIN is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

1 John 4:10.

Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

Mark 10:15.

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Schumann, Kinderszenen (‘scenes from childhood’) No. 7
Played by Lang Lang.

A love letter from God

An icon of the return of the prodigal son

“His father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)

This was in Briefing News yesterday.

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MY child.

You may not know me, but I know everything about you. Ps 139:1 [Hebrew numbering]
I know when you are sitting down, and when you are standing up. v2
I know every step you take. v3
Even the hairs of your head are numbered. Mt 10:29-31
Because you were made in my image. Gen 1:27
In me you live, move, and have your being. Acts 17:28

I knew you even before you were formed in your mother’s womb. Jer 1:4-5
I chose you when I planned creation. Eph 1:4-6
You were not a mistake. All your days are written in my book. Ps 139:16
I set the precise time of your birth, and where you were to live. Acts 17:26

Because you were fearfully and wonderfully made. I formed you in the womb of your mother. Ps 139:13-16
And it was I who brought you into the world on the day you that were born. Ps 71:6
People who do not know me have been misrepresenting me. Jn 8:41-44
I am not distant and angry, but am the absolute expression of love. 1 Jn 4:16

And it is my desire to overwhelm you with my love. 1 Jn 3:1
Simply because you are my child, and I am your Father. 1 Jn 3:1
I offer you more than your fleshly father could ever offer you. Mt 7:11
I am the perfect Father. Mt 5: 48
Every good gift that you receive comes from my own hand. Jas 1:17

Because I am your breadwinner, and take care of all your needs. Mt 6:31-33
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. Jer 29:11
Because I love you with a love that is eternal. Jer 31:3
My thoughts concerning you are innumerable as the grains of sand on the shore. Ps 139:17-18
And I am glad for you with songs. Zeph 3:17

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The sands on the west coast of the island of Iona, at one time Scotland’s Mount Athos. © Adam Ward, Geograph. Licensed for reuse.

“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.” The sands on the west coast of the island of Iona, at one time Scotland’s Mount Athos. © Adam Ward, Geograph. Licensed for reuse.

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I will never stop doing good to you. Jer 32:40
For you are my treasured possession. Ex 19:5
I want to plant you firmly, with all my heart and all my soul. Jer 32:41
If you look for me with all your heart, you will find me. Dt 4:29
Look for your happiness in me, and I shall give you what your heart is longing for. Ps 37:4
Because I am the one who gave you those longings. Phil 2:13

I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. Eph 3:20
Because I am your biggest supporter. 2 Thess 2:16-17
I am also the Father who comforts you in all your difficulties. 2 Cor 1:3-4
When you are in trouble, I am beside you. Ps 34:18
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I carry you close to my heart. Is 40:11
One day I will wipe every tear from your eyes. Rev 21:3-4
And I shall take far away all the pain you suffered on this earth. Rev 21:4

I am your Father, and I love you like I love my son, Jesus. Jn 17:23
Because in Jesus my love for you is revealed. Jn 17:26
And he came to prove that I am with you, and not against you. Rom 8:31
And to tell you that I am not keeping a running record of your sins. 2 Cor 5:18-19

Jesus died so that you and I might be reconciled. 2 Cor 5:18-19
His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. 1 Jn 4:10
I gave up what I loved most, so that I might win your love. Rom 8:32
If you accept the gift of my son Jesus, you are accepting me. 1 Jn 2:23
And nothing will ever separate you from my love. Rom 8:38-39

Come home, and I will throw the grandest party heaven has ever seen. Lk 15:7
I have always been Father, and I will always be Father. Eph 3:14-15
My question is: Will you be my child? Jn 1:12-13
I am waiting for you. Lk 15:11-32

With love, your Father
Almighty God.

Source. My emphases are not all the same as in the original.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem

PRAY for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.

Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.

For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee.

Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good.

Psalm 122:6-9.

He became what we are, so that we might become what He is

EYE hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

1 Corinthians 2:9

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A c. 12th century fresco in Cappadocia, of the Adoration of the Magi. From Wikimedia Commons.

A c. 12th century fresco in Cappadocia, of the Adoration of the Magi. From Wikimedia Commons.

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CALL to mind who He is; and what He became for our sakes. …

All the penalties imposed by divine judgment upon man for the sin of the first transgression – death, toil, hunger, thirst and the like – He took upon Himself, becoming what we are, so that we might become what He is.

The Logos became man, so that man might become Logos.

Being rich, He became poor for our sakes, so that through His poverty we might become rich (cf. 2 Cor 8:9).

In His great love for man He became like us, so that through every virtue we might become like Him.

St Mark the Ascetic, Letter to Nicolas the Solitary. Source.

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I POUR out my prayer unto the Lord, and unto him make I my troubles known; for my soul is filled with evils, and my life cometh near unto Hades; and like unto Jonah I beseech him: O God, bring me up out of corruption.

AT this heaven was amazed, and the ends of the earth were afraid: that God appeared in the flesh unto men, and thy womb became more spacious than the heavens. Therefore the princes among angels and men magnify thee, O Theotokos.

On Thursdays of the Plagal of the Fourth Tone. Source.

Whom I have loved, whom I have sought, whom I have ever desired

EXALT ye the Lord our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy.

Psalm 98:5 (LXX)

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Trisagion

LET us pray to the Lord.
Lord have mercy.

Priest. For Thou art holy, O our God, and unto Thee do we send up glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages.
Choir. Amen.

HOLY God! Holy Strong! Holy Immortal! Have mercy on us.
Holy God! Holy Strong! Holy Immortal! Have mercy on us.
Holy God! Holy Strong! Holy Immortal! Have mercy on us.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages, Amen.

Holy Immortal! Have mercy on us.

Deacon. Power!

Holy God! Holy Strong! Holy Immortal! Have mercy upon us.

Liturgy of St John Chrysostom. Sung by the monks of the Vatopaidi monastery on Mount Athos. The repeated word ‘terirem’ is meaningless (a bit like la-la-la), and is used to extend a chant.

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HOLY of holies, who makest all things holy, I bless Thee, I glorify Thee, I worship Thee, I give thanks to Thee.

Let all Thy creatures bless Thee,
let all Thine angels and saints bless Thee.

Let me bless Thee in all the actions of my life.
Let all my frame, without and within, glorify and bless Thee.

My salvation, my light, my glory,
let mine eyes see Thee,
which Thou hast created and prepared to look upon the beauty of Thine excellency.

My music, my delight,
let mine ears bless Thee,
which Thou hast created and prepared to hear the voice of Thy cheerful salvation.

My sweetness, my refreshment,
let my nostrils bless Thee,
which Thou hast made to live and take pleasure in the sweet odour of Thine ointments.

My praise, my new song, my rejoicing,
let my tongue bless and magnify Thee,
which Thou hast created and prepared to tell forth Thy wonderful works.

My wisdom, my meditation, my counsel,
let my heart adore and bless Thee for ever,
which Thou hast prepared and given unto me to discern Thine unspeakable mercies.

My life, my happiness,
let my soul, sinful though she be, bless Thee,
which Thou hast created and prepared to enjoy Thy goodness.

Father adorable and terrible, worthy of worship and of fear,
I bless Thee, whom I have loved, whom I have sought, whom I have ever desired.

Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109).

[I know some Orthodox don’t like Anselm, but like St Augustine of Hippo I think he has been ill-served by his Western interpreters and should be reclaimed by the Orthodox. And anyway, Abbot Ephraim of the Vatopaidi quotes him, and that’s good enough for me!]

Lord, you know that I want to love you; give me your love

A detail of Christ's face from an icon

“Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?”

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JESUS saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.

Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

John 21:15-17

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Archimadrite Lev Gillet (1893-1980)

Archimadrite Lev Gillet (1893-1980)

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“LOVEST thou Me?”

The question which Jesus asked Simon Peter is still being asked of each one of us.

It is the essential question. My answer to this question defines my relationship with the Saviour.

Do I dare to say with Peter: “Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love Thee”.

But alas how often it happens that my life and deeds contradict such a statement!

Shall I humbly admit that I do not have this love? Shall I say with simplicity, perhaps truthfully: “No, Lord, I do not love thee”?

This radical denial does not quite produce the right sound.

For even in my worst failings the memory and image of the Saviour are never completely erased from my mind, do not cease to attract me.

What a complex situation for the sinner who, from the depths of his misery, and without having the strength to break his bonds, yet turns his head towards Him with whom he longs to be united.

The only answer which I can give is: “Lord, You know all things, You know that I want to love You; give me Your love”.

Fr Lev Gillet (“A Monk of the Eastern Church”), in “Jesus: A Dialogue with the Saviour”, Chapter XXIV, pp. 85-86.

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I WILL love thee, O Lord, my strength.

The Lord is my firm support, and my refuge, and my deliverer; my God is my helper, I will hope in him; he is my defender, and the horn of my salvation, and my helper.

I will call upon the Lord with praises, and I shall be saved from mine enemies.

Psalm 17(18):1-3.

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Alleluia! Behold the Bridegroom!
(18th century Russian)