The winter is past, the rain is over and gone

At Vespers for the Feast of St Ephrem the Syrian (January 28). Source.

WHEN thou hadst beheld, as in a mirror (2 Cor 3:18), the beautiful things of Paradise, and delighted abundantly in its unspoiled meadows, thou madest the knowledge of God to blossom in the world; and when we partake of it, through the spiritual disposition of our souls, we bloom again in spirit.

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Fuchsia 'Deep Purple' glistening with raindrops. © Jonathan Billinger, Geograph. Licensed for reuse. Click for original.

Fuchsia ‘Deep Purple’ glistening with raindrops. © Jonathan Billinger, Geograph. Licensed for reuse. Click for original.

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Song of Songs 2:10-13.

MY beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

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Frédéric Chopin, Prelude No. 5 (“Raindrop”).
Played by Hélène Grimaud.

Seek for me, O Master

WE venerate thy immaculate icon, O Good One, as we ask forgiveness for our failings, O Christ God; for with full consent it pleased thee to go up upon the Cross in thy flesh, to deliver what thou hast made from servitude to the enemy; therefore, we cry out gratefully to thee: When thou wast among us to save the world, our Saviour, then didst thou fill all things with joy.

Fridays, Tone 2. Source.

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An icon of Christ the Good Shepherd

An icon of Christ the Good Shepherd

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THOU that didst illumine earthly things by the Cross, and call sinners to repentance, do not separate me from thy flock, O good Shepherd, but seek for me O Master, the one astray, and number me together with thy holy flock, thou who alone art good and lovest mankind.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
Both now and forever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Theotokion.

O VIRGIN Theotokos, highly glorified, of thee we sing. For through the Cross of thy son, Hades was overthrown, and death hath died utterly, and we though we had died we were raised, and made worthy of life. Paradise we gained, the ancient delight. Therefore in gratitude we glorify Christ our God, mighty and alone rich in mercy.

Fridays, Tone 2. Source.

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THOU Shepherd of Israel, and mine,
The joy and desire of my heart,
For closer communion I pine,
I long to reside where thou art:
The pasture I languish to find
Where all, who their Shepherd obey,
Are fed, on thy bosom reclined,
And screened from the heat of the day.

Ah! show me that happiest place,
The place of thy people’s abode,
Where saints in an ecstasy gaze,
And hang on a crucified God;
Thy love for a sinner declare,
Thy passion and death on the tree:
My spirit to Calvary bear,
To suffer and triumph with thee.

‘Tis there, with the lambs of thy flock,
There only, I covet to rest,
To lie at the foot of the rock,
Or rise to be hid in thy breast;
‘Tis there I would always abide,
And never a moment depart,
Concealed in the cleft of thy side,
Eternally held in thy heart.

Charles Wesley

Be brought back again to Paradise

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Today is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (OrthodoxWiki).

THE Lord reigns; —let the people rage; it is he that sits upon the cherubs, let the earth be moved. (Ps 98[99]:1)

O LORD, save thy people and bless thine inheritance,
Granting victory to Orthodox Christians against their enemies,
And keeping guard upon thy commonwealth by thy Cross.

THE Lord is great in Sion, and is high over all the people. (v2)

O LORD, save thy people and bless thine inheritance,
Granting victory to Orthodox Christians against their enemies,
And keeping guard upon thy commonwealth by thy Cross.

WISDOM! Stand upright!

EXALT ye the Lord our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy. (v5)

O LORD, save thy people and bless thine inheritance,
Granting victory to Orthodox Christians against their enemies,
And keeping guard upon thy commonwealth by thy Cross.

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A Cross in an Orthodox Church

“For by your precious blood in love for mankind, you snatched our souls from death. You brought us back with you again to Paradise.”

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THE sword of flame no longer guards the gate of Eden,
For a strange bond came upon it: the wood of the Cross.
The sting of Death and the victory of Hades were nailed to it.
But you appeared, my Saviour, crying to those in Hades:
‘Be brought back
Again to Paradise’.

NAILED to the form of the Cross
As truly a ransom for many
You redeemed us, Christ our God,
For by your precious blood in love for mankind
You snatched our souls from death.
You brought us back with you
Again to Paradise.

Romanos the Melodist, from Kontakion 22 “On the Victory of the Cross”. Translated by Archimandrite Ephrem Lash.

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WE worship your Cross, O Master, and we glorify your holy Resurrection.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted

AND I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Revelation 21:2-4

Candles in a Russian Orthodox church

“... for they shall be comforted.”

Elder Joseph the Hesychast (+1959) lost two siblings when they were very young children, Maria and Virginia.

I FORGOT to write to you a sweet little story.

Once while I was kneeling – I had become tired while praying – I saw something wondrous: a fiery youth had two beautiful small girls beside him.

One of them was our Maria and the other was Virginia – the two little ones who had died.

The young man said to them, “This is your brother. Do you recognize him?” Maria was older. “I recognize him,” she said, “but many years have passed since then.”

The other one said, “I did not see him when I was alive.”

Then he said to them, “Embrace him and then we shall leave.” And the two little ones kissed me like sweet-smelling flowers and left. Then I came to myself with eyes full of tears, recalling the joy which takes place in the heavens when sinners repent and when the righteous enter paradise.

From “Monastic Wisdom”, published by Saint Anthony’s Monastery in Arizona, and available from Skete.com.

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BLESSED are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
Both now and forever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Matthew 5:3-12.