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Tell An Old Joke Day, 2021

According to various websites, listed below, today, July the 24th, is Tell An Old Joke Day. I’ll leave the following links for you to read more about the history and the meaning of this holiday.

https://nationaltoday.com/national-tell-an-old-joke-day/
https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/tell-an-old-joke-day/
http://holidayinsights.com/moreholidays/August/tellajokeday.htm

So, without further ado, here’s an old joke. I hope you enjoy it.

What did the kid in first year at Catholic school say when asked why they kept walking next to the same person at school?
“I was told I’m supposed to walk by Faith!”

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A brief explanation of Christianity (the Christian religion)

In this short video I tried to present a brief explanation of Christianity (the Christian religion) in as few words as I could.

Christianity summarized explanation

Would you say that the information I presented is correct? Share your thoughts and feel free to add any information you consider I missed in this explanation of Christianity.

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What happiness in life is about

I found this wisdom-filled short story online. I do not know its origins and I’m unable to credit its author, but I thought it was interesting enough as to record it in a video and share it with you.

How happiness was illustrated with a group activity involving balloons

I invite you to share your thoughts on the matter in the comments section. If you know the origins of the story, please post it below, so that I may give it proper credit.

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Happy Eat Your Vegetables Day, 2021

While Eat Your Vegetables Day is currently celebrated mostly in the USA, I think its message is so important that it should become an international thing.

It is undeniable and scientifically-proven that vegetables and fruits are an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Thousands of studies conducted in the field of nutrition over the past decades have highlighted the benefits of a plant-based diet.

If you care about your body and want to improve your health, I recommend you increase your intake of fresh, organic vegetables and fruits. To learn more about Eat Your Vegetables Day, please visit the following websites:

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/days-2/national-eat-your-vegetables-day-june-17/
https://nationaltoday.com/national-eat-vegetables-day/
https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/fun/eat-your-vegetables-day
https://nextnationalday.com/national-eat-your-vegetables-day/

Some ideas for celebrating Eat Your Vegetables Day are to include vegetables in all your meals today, and to visit your local farmer’s market and get some locally grown produce. If your schedule doesn’t allow it, plan to do so at your earliest convenience.

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Share The Struggle – online mentorship platform

I recently came across this video on TikTok:

@dudewithgoodnews

Is God calling You to change a life? God loves using “ordinary people” #Jesus CAN use YOUR #story

♬ original sound – Dude with Good News

As their About Us page mentions, ShareTheStruggle.org is an independent Christian project created with the goal of helping struggling young people in their native digital landscape to provide hope and healing through Christ-centered mentorship.

I invite you to visit the website and read more about how you can get involved as a mentor (if you are a Christian and over 23 years old). You can also find several interesting articles about overcoming various struggles on their blog.

If you are unable to or don’t want to be a mentor, but still want to give a helping hand, sharing the link on social media in order to increase the project’s visibility is appreciated.

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He will finish what He started

Today, I came across this video that lifted my spirit while I was demoralized as a result of the spiritual attacks I’ve had to deal with lately.

It’s a video from Rabbi Kirt Schneider’s YouTube channel, a channel that I invite you to subscribe to if you are interesting in exploring Messianic Judaism. He also has a website where you can find out more about his ministry and how you can support it.

Rabbi Schneider – He (God) will finish what He started

The video expands on the apostle Paul’s statement from Philippians 1:3-6 —

3I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In every prayer for all of you, I always pray with joy, 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

The Bible – Phillipians 1:3-6

Let me know if you’ve found encouragement in this message. Feel free to share in the comments section below your views about Rabbi Schneider’s teachings, but please make sure you do so in a respectful manner.

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Faithfulness starts while you are single

I’ve decided to start sharing, on this blog, some public posts that I find interesting and useful from various social media sites.

I’m going to start with this very well-put message about the importance of containing your sexual desires while you are single, from realloveoverlust’s Instagram page. I also invite you to check out their page and, if you like their content, follow them. 🙂

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Blessed Pascha, 2021!

My life has had a lot of ups and downs over the past half a year or so. I currently feel exhausted, and I don’t think I have the right mental state to write a detailed article or to even gather information from the internet and mix it into an article about Orthodox Easter.

I invite you to read about the holiday in the previous years’ articles (2019 and 2020), and I wish you a blessed Orthodox Easter (Pascha), filled with joy for Christ’s resurrection from the dead, and with gratitude for everything He has done for us.

Christ is risen!

The Holy Light from Jerusalem, 2021
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Who is Jesus Christ?

Many non-Christians believe that Jesus Christ was simply a great teacher, but Christians believe that He was far more than a mere human being. His death and resurrection radically changed the course of history. Christ’s love allows people to enter into a true and meaningful relationship with God The Father.

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7 lessons for pure prayer from Saint Silouan the Athonite

Silouan the Athonite (Russian: Силуан Афонский) also sometimes referred to as Silouan of Athos, Saint Silvanus the Athonite or Staretz Silouan (January 17, 1866 – September 24, 1938) was an Eastern Orthodox monk of Russian origin, born Simeon Ivanovich Antonov who was a poet and monk of the St. Panteleimon Monastery.

Wikipedia
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International Day of Happiness, 2021

The idea of an International Day of Happiness was introduced to the United Nations back in 2011 by the advisor Jayme Illien, along with the United Nations’ New Economic Paradigm project and “happytalism”, which aim to change the way nations approach economic growth by focusing on “happytalism” over capitalism.

The day was founded in July of 2012 and was first observed in 2013. Its celebration is an acknowledgement of the importance and desirability of happiness in human life, and the need that happiness be incorporated into public policy.

Despite being a challenging concept to define, there is a general consensus that happiness broadly covers two key areas – how people feel in the present moment and how satisfied people are with their lives overall. Consequently, happiness can range from a sudden rush of intense emotion (such as joy or euphoria) to a much calmer and steadier sense of contentment.

For ideas on how to celebrate International Day of Happiness this year, check out the following websites:

https://www.un.org/en/observances/happiness-day
https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/international-day-of-happiness/
https://happinessday.org/
https://www.livehappy.com/practice/happiness-around-world
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Day_of_Happiness

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A Great Christian YouTube Channel: Christopher West

I’m continuing the series of mini-articles in which I showcase interesting Christian YouTube channels that I stumble across and that have a positive impact upon me, with Christopher West’s channel.

An author, speaker and founder of the TOB Institute (The Theology Of The Body Institute), Christopher West Th.D., has been creating videos on YouTube for several years. Alongside his wife, Wendy West, he has an online podcast in which he has tackled a wide variety of Catholic Christian topics, but his focus is on aspects related to the theology of the body.

Check out a few of his videos and let me know in the comments if you found yourself impressed with the approach in which topics such as the Christian perspective on sexuality are discussed. I know I was.

Christopher West – What to do with your «sexual needs» as a Christian
Christopher West – Be real with God! How to pray authentically
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Reminder of our identity in Christ

Here’s a list of Bible verses that will serve as a helpful reminder of our identity in Christ Jesus, Our Lord and Savior:

John 1:12 – Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
John 15:15 – “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
Romans 5:1 – Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
1 Corinthians 6:17 – But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:20 – you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
1 Corinthians 12:27 – Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
Ephesians 1:1 – Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Ephesians 1:5 – He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will
Ephesians 2:18 – For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Colossians 1:14 – in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 2:10 – and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.

Romans 8:1-2 – Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8:28 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:33-34 – Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Romans 8:35 – Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
2 Corinthians 1:21 – Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us,
Colossians 3:3 – For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
Philippians 1:6 – being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:20 – But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,
2 Timothy 1:7 – For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
Hebrews 4:16 – Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
1 John 5:18 – We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.

Matthew 5:13-14 – “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.”
John 15:1-5 – “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:16 – You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
Acts 1:8 – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
1 Corinthians 3:16 – Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?
2 Corinthians 5:17-20 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 6:1 – As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.
Ephesians 2:6 – And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
Ephesians 2:10 – For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 3:12 – In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Philippians 4:13 – I can do all this through him who gives me strength.





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The origin of the word “AMEN” in Christianity

In the following video, Fr. Angelo Maggos from the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church offers us a detailed presentation of the origin and significance of the word “AMEN” in Christianity. If you were interested in finding out what “Amen” means and why Christians use this word at the end of the prayers, I invite you to watch it.

What is the Origin of “Amen”? | Orthodoxy Fact vs Fiction

Also, subscribing to the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church’s YouTube channel would be a lovely way of supporting their work.

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Religious Freedom Day, 2020

On the 16th of January, 1786, soon after the United States of America came into existence as a sovereign nation, the Virginia General Assembly adopted Thomas Jefferson’s landmark Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. This statute then became the basis for what is known today as the First Amendment, which guarantees religious freedom to all people residing in the U.S.A..

Every year since that time, a statement is released on this same day by the president of the United States, officially proclaiming Religious Freedom Day.

Here is this year’s statement, made by president Donald Trump:

For a list of resources about the importance of Religious Freedom Day, check out the following websites:
https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/religious-freedom-day/
https://news.yahoo.com/franklin-graham-importance-national-religious-161755667.html

To find out how you can celebrate Religious Freedom Day, I invite you to browse the following articles:

https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/religious-freedom-day/
https://www.awarenessdays.com/awareness-days-calendar/national-religious-freedom-day-2021/
https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-religious-freedom-day-january-16/
https://the-armijo-signal.com/20899/current-theme/the-awareness-national-religious-freedom-day-brings/
https://gogateways.org/articles/tag/Religious+Freedom+Day
https://religiousfreedomsunday.com/

Happy Religious Freedom Day, 2020.

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Happy Feast of The Holy Epiphany, 2020!

Today we observe the Feast of The Holy Epiphany, a commemoration of our Lord Jesus Christ’s baptism in the river Jordan. Happy Feast of The Holy Epiphany to everyone!

Basilica of St. Mary – Feast of Epiphany 2020 – Blessing Your Home
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Joyful Christmas, 2020!

“Today is born of the Virgin Him Who holdest all creation in the hollow of His hand. He Whose essence is untouchable is wrapped in swaddling clothes as a babe.” — From the Royal 9th Hour of the Nativity.

I hope everyone has a joyful Christmas, filled with the blessings and the peace that only God can provide. Happy Birthday to Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

PhotoMania Christmas collage, Lucian Hodoboc, selfie, 2020

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Look on the Bright Side Day, 2020

Every year on the 21th of December it’s Look on the Bright Side Day, a day to be optimistic, a day that encourages people from around the world to see positive situations and circumstances. Look on the Bright Side Day is all about learning the positive lessons and embracing an optimistic approach.

The origin of the phrase “to look on the bright side” remain shrouded in mystery. As for the meaning, it’s a way of someone telling us to be cheerful and optimistic despite of the difficulties one may be facing during the day.

This advice has many benefits, as making sure to keep a positive mindset can actually help in various ways, such as:

  • Increase life span.
  • Lower rates of depression.
  • Lower levels of distress.
  • Offer greater resistance to the common cold.
  • Improve psychological and physical well-being.
  • Reduce risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
  • Improve coping skills during times of stress.
Lucian Hodoboc smiling selfie 2020
Lucian Hodoboc smiling selfie 2020

Since I’m called upon to look for something positive, out of an otherwise bad or sad situation, I will try to do so. I’ve been suffering from chronic pain for a long time, I struggle with mental health problems, such as OCD, anxiety and depression, I’ve been raised in a dysfunctional family and I am too poor to afford the medical help I need. And that list of problems doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what I’ve been through. But God has been by my side throughout my life and I trust that He who started a good work in me will complete it and will glorify Himself by showing His mercy on me.

Sometimes, bad experiences have positive lessons to be learned. If you have any such lessons from your life that you would like to share with the world, I invite you to do so (either in a brief paragraph or in more detail) in the comments section below.

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Christianity and neuroplasticity

Home Brewed with Jon Hand: Becoming Christian in a Post-Christian World

“We don’t think our way into new ways of living; we live our way into new ways of thinking.” – Richard Rohr.

Do you agree? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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Happy Hanukah, 2020!

Everyday Jewish Mom – Hanukkah: The Basics

The Festival of Hanukah commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after a group of Jewish warriors defeated the occupying Greek armies, about 150 years before Jesus’ birth.

Central to the celebrations is the story that the Temple menorah (seven-lamped candelabrum) miraculously burned for over a week – even though they thought the had only one day’s worth of ritually pure oil left.

They used the extra week to purify themselves and were therefore able to maintain the sacred space.

I recommend watching the following video of Founded In Truth’s YouTube channel if you want to know whether Christians should celebrate Hanukkah:

Why should Christians celebrate Hanukkah?

Happy Hanukah to everyone who celebrates it!

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International Day of People with Disability, 2020

This year, on International Disability Day, I want to leave you with this short video created by Australian motivational speaker Tim from AskTim.com.au, about why we should try to find the ability in disability:

https://www.facebook.com/timreplies/posts/2853123825009010

It reminds me of a quote attributed to Mr. Rogers: “It’s not what you can’t do. It’s what you can do that matters.” (or something along those lines)

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Happy 102nd Great Union Day, Romania!

On December the 1th 2020, Romania celebrates its 102nd Great Union Day. This national holiday marks the unification of Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bukovina with the Romanian Kingdom in 1918.

To find out more about Great Union Day, I invite you to read last year’s article: https://lucian-hodoboc.com/happy-101th-anniversary-romania/

If you’re interested in finding out some cool facts about Romania, please watch the following video:

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=976090446105970

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Happy Saint Andrew’s Day, 2020

To learn more about the Feast of Saint Andrew and why the Romanian Orthodox Church observes it every year on the 30th of November, please read last year’s article: https://lucian-hodoboc.com/happy-saint-andrew-s-day-2019/.

I also invite you to read this article if you are interested in finding out some fascinating details about the various traditions related to St. Andrew’s holiday, from Romania, Russia, Scotland, Barbados, Georgia, Ukraine and Greece: https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/scotland/1757086/st-andrews-day-scotlands-patron-saint-and-the-international-appeal-of-saint-andrew/

Happy Name Day to all who were named after St. Andrew! May everyone have a blessed St. Andrew’s Day this year!

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Free, open-source, customizable illustrations updated daily

I was just browsing the “InternetIsBeautiful” subreddit the other day and came across something that really impressed me and that I wanted to share.

When creating a website or blog articles, many people add illustrations to make their articles visually-attractive. But free illustrations are hard to find, and purchasing illustrations can get quite costly in the long run.

Illustrations are no easy to create. It takes skill, time and dedication, which is why I think you will really appreciate what the guys from https://2.flexiple.com/scale/all-illustrations have done.

On that site you can find over 100 illustrations that can be customized in terms of colors and gender, and are all free to use. That’s right: according to their FAQ, you can use them for academic, personal and commercial purposes without any attribution. It would be nice if you linked to their site and gave them a retweet, but you don’t have to. The only condition is to not sell them.

The illustrations can be downloaded as SVG files and as PNG images. Feel free to explore them. Oh, and one more thing: a new one is added every single day.

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Singles Day (11 11), 2020

There’s an unofficial Chinese holiday celebrated every year on the 11th of November (also known as 11 11 or Double 11) called Singles’ Day. It was started by online retailer Alibaba and you can read more about its history by clicking the links in this article. You can also learn about what it means for Chinese commerce here: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-54876524. Its purpose is to celebrate the unattached, which makes it an antithesis to the romantically-involved on Valentine’s Day.

However, seeing how the holiday is not popular anywhere outside of China, I’m not going to talk about it, but rather I want to include a few videos about what it means to be single for a Christian. This is a selection of videos from Evangelicals, Catholics and Orthodox Christians. Enjoy!

Ben Stuart – Love the Single Chapter of Your Life
Steven Furtick – Singleness, sex and self-control
Kim Zember and Jackie Angel – The Right Way to Be Single
Fr. Mike Schmitz – Learning to be Alone
Fr. Josiah Trenham – Orthodox Dating 101

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Orphan Sunday, 2020

An initiative started by Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) in 2003, when  Gary Schneider, an American visitor to Africa attending a church service in Zambia was moved by the pastor’s call to care for the numerous orphans in a local community plagued by hunger, poverty and AIDS, Orphan Sunday occurs each year as an opportunity for local churches and communities to rally together in response to God’s call to care for the orphaned and vulnerable.

By 2003, Schneider’s efforts to help the Zambian leaders take care of the Zambian orphans, had spread to the United States. Nowadays, the Christian Alliance includes more 150 respected ministries, and Orphan Sunday is celebrated in thousands of churches across the globe in over 50 nations.

Orphan Sunday is often called, “Zambia’s gift to the world” as a way of honoring the Zambian church Schneider had visited for the inspiration they gave people all over the world to care about the orphan.

Over the years, many different churches and organizations have hosted events they called, “Orphan Sundays” in an effort to raise awareness of the orphans in their areas, their problems and needs.

This year, Orphan Sunday is observed on the 8th of November. Read more about the holiday and find out ways to get involved in helping out by clicking the links below:

https://lifelinechild.org/orphan-sunday/
https://havenofhopeintl.org/orphan-sunday/
https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/orphan-sunday/
https://www.efca.org/orphan-sunday

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Free oil painting course by Len Hend

Thinking about taking up oil painting as a hobby? Allow me to share with you one of the most useful free oil painting courses I’ve come across on the internet. It was created by Australian painter Len Hend, and it can be found here: https://paintwithlen.com/painting-lessons/, as well as on OpenLearning.com. You can also buy additional lessons on DVDs or via direct download on his website.

I would like to thank Len Hend for using his knowledge so altruistically and for taking the time to record all these wonderful painting tutorials. I invite everyone who is interested in learning oil and acrylics painting to check out his websites ( LenHend.com, PaintWithLen.com, SpeedPainting.net/Len ), his YouTube channel and his Facebook page.

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Happy Apple Day, 2020!

Yesterday was International Apple Day, and no, I’m not talking about the company. October 21st is the day when we celebrate one of the most popular, nutritious and delicious fruits around the world: the apple.

The heart and soul of Apple Day are supporting the genetic diversity of Apple Orchards not being consumed by monoculture farming.

Sorry that I’m a day late, but Happy International Apple Day, 2020!

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Conflict Resolution Day, 2020

The Bible teaches us to love peace and to live in harmony. In the Beatitudes from The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus blessed the peacemakers and mentioned that they will be called “Sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).

This is one of the reasons why I think that everyone, and Christians in particular, should observe Conflict Resolution Day, a global event intended to promote the concept of peaceful conflict resolution.

Each Year, since 2005, the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) celebrates Conflict Resolution Day the third Thursday of October. This year it is held on October 15.

The ACR logo of the tree was designed as a symbol to celebrate growth in Conflict Resolution. The first year, start small, but, just like the tree, the seeds you plant one year, will continue to grow and blossom each year.

Conflict Resolution Day was conceived in 2005 by the ACR to:

  • Promote awareness of mediation, arbitration, conciliation and other creative, peaceful means of resolving conflict;
  • Promote the use of conflict resolution in schools, families, businesses, communities, governments and the legal system;
  • Recognize the significant contributions of (peaceful) conflict resolvers; and
  • Obtain national synergy by having celebrations happen across the country and around the world on the same day.

October has become a time to promote and celebrate peaceful conflict resolution practices worldwide. Dedicated dispute resolution practitioners are helping to educate the public about mediation and other innovative conflict management processes.

The Art of Listening presentation by Don Schapira for the Conflict Resolution Day Planning Committee
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The Jesus Prayer according to Christian Orthodox Elders

The Jesus Prayer is one of the most important prayers in Orthodoxy, and its repetition throughout the day is recommended by many of the Orthodox Fathers.

Below is a compilation of videos presenting the opinions of several Christian Orthodox Elders about the Jesus Prayer.

Elder Arsenie Papacioc on whether everyone should say the Jesus Prayer
Elder Ephraim of Katounakia on how to say the Jesus Prayer
The Jesus Prayer explained by Fr. Aimilianos of Simonopetra
Fr. Spyridon’s reflections on the Jesus Prayer
The Jesus Prayer said by Orthodox Saints and Elders

In the comments section, I invite you to share your thoughts on The Jesus Prayer, and tell us in what ways you have incorporated it your prayer life.

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October 1st 2020 – what are you celebrating today?

October 1st seems to be a very popular day. Lots of things seem to be “disputing” their primacy over October 1st. According to various internet sources, World Vegetarian Day, International Coffee Day, Nigeria’s Independence Day, CD Player Day, the feast day of St. Thérèse of Lisieux (in the Catholic Church) and Bring Your Bible To School Day, among others – are all observed every year on this day.

Which of these will you be celebrating, in particular, this year? Which ever it is, I hope you have a lovely day and a blessed month ahead of you!

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Father’s Love Letter – “God’s letter” to humanity

Created by Barry Adams in the late 1990s, “Father’s Love Letter” is a compilation of Bible verses that are arranged in the form of a love letter written by God to you or to humanity in general. I invite you to watch Barry Adams explain it himself in the following video:

Barry Adams explaining what Father’s Love Letter is

According to their website, since 1999, the “letter” has impacted countless people, has been translated into over 100 languages, has appeared as full page newspaper ads and has even been delivered home to home in entire countries.

The Father’s Love Letter is available on the website FathersLoveLetter.com in a number of free downloadable multi media formats, and people are welcomed to share it with others as long as they abide by the site’s terms of use guidelines.

I invite you to watch the video and check out the website FathersLoveLetter.com to read the text and watch various versions of the video.

And don’t forget to check out the God Loves You page. That’s one of my favorite parts of the site. 🙂

Let me know what you think about the Father’s Love Letter project. In the comments section below, I invite you to share how it has impacted you.

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How to pray when you haven’t got a prayer

In this video from Saddleback Church’s YouTube channel, Pastor Buddy Owens offers some helpful advice about how to pray when you’re going through a time of turmoil and crisis and you feel like you don’t have a prayer.

How to Pray When You Haven’t Got a Prayer – Pastor Buddy Owens – Saddleback Church

Turning to Psalm 77 as an example of how to pray when you’re going through a season of darkness and confusion, Pastor Owens lists 5 important steps:

  1. Crying out to God
  2. Admitting your feelings and your fears (groaning in prayer)
  3. Appealing to God’s faithfulness (meditating on the many ways in which God has blessed you before, thinking about the things that God has already done for you, how He saved you, how He got you out of a tight spot in the past, what you were facing, what His timing was, what difference it made etc.)
  4. Turning your complaints into praise (switching from “God, are you finished being kind?” to “God, You’re amazing!”)
  5. 5. Following fearlessly (follow God into the unknown)

I hope this will help you if you ever find yourself in a season of confusion when praying and remaining faithful to God look like difficult tasks.

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Fr. Mike Schmitz – If you’re not feeling loved

In what is probably one of the best videos I’ve watched lately, Fr. Mike Schmitz from Ascension Presents’ YouTube channel addresses the topic of not feeling loved (by the people in your life) and how to handle it in a Christian worldview. I’ve found the Biblical example of Leah from The Old Testament particularly moving.

Let me know what you think about this topic. Do you agree with his advice? How do you think Christians should handle the emotions that stem from not feeling loved?

Fr. Mike Schmitz – If you’re not feeling loved
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MuscleWiki – a cool site for getting in shape

I recently came across a website that people who are looking to get in shape might find very useful – MuscleWiki.com.

Just choose your gender, select whether you want to do exercises, stretches, bodyweight or kettlebells training (at the top of the home page), click on the muscle group you want to train (on the front and back of those figures), and it will take you to a page that lists the work-out you have to do, complete with GIF images and text.

Have fun getting in shape! Make sure you read their Disclaimer page and take everything it says very seriously before attempting any type of exercise.

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The Feast of The Transfiguration of The Lord

The Liturgy of the Feast of The Transfiguration, Church of St. Mary Of The Angels, 2020
Feast of The Transfiguration of The Lord, Orthodox Liturgy, 2020

Every year, on August 6, both the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches celebrate the Feast of The Transfiguration of Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ. The feast commemorates the transfiguration or metamorphosis of Christ on Mount Tabor when our Lord appeared in His divine glory before the apostles Peter, James, and John.

Recorded in three of the four Gospels (Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8, and Luke 9:28-36), the event of the Transfiguration unfolded as following: Jesus took the Apostles Peter, James, and John with Him up upon a mountain, and, while they were on the mountain, He was transfigured. His face shone like the sun, and His garments became glistening white.

Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ, talking to Him. Peter declared how good it was for them to be there and expressed the desire to build three booths for Moses, Elijah, and Christ.

While Peter was speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them. A voice came from the cloud saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.” When the disciples heard this they fell on their faces filled with awe. Jesus came to them and told them to not be afraid. When the three looked up they saw only Jesus.

As Jesus and the three apostles came down the mountain, He told them not to speak of what they had seen until He had risen from the dead.

Original article can be found here: https://greekcitytimes.com/2020/08/06/feast-of-the-transfiguration-of-our-lord-jesus-christ/

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International Friendship Day, 2020

Created with the purpose of celebrating the bond of friendship in our lives, Friendship Day (also known as International Friendship Day) is observed every year, in many countries, on the 30th of July. According to Wikipedia, the holiday’s date differs in several countries.

To mark this special day and to highlight its importance in promoting the role that friendship plays across all cultures, the UN encourages community groups, organizations, and governments to hold initiatives, activities, and events that promote reconciliation, mutual understanding, and solidarity.

Learn more about it by clicking the following links:

https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/international-day-of-friendship
https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/un/friendship-day
https://nationaltoday.com/international-day-friendship
https://www.awarenessdays.com/awareness-days-calendar/world-friendship-day-international-day-of-friendship-2019
https://www.un.org/en/observances/friendship-day

Whether it’s through a virtual message, a phone call, a letter, or any other way that respects the official social distancing rules, tell your friends a happy friendship day and thank them for their friendship. 🙂

Happy International Friendship Day, 2020!

Friendship Day, 2020
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Vanilla Ice Cream Day, 2020

Vanilla was discovered in regions of (present-day) Mexico back in the 14th century, when Spanish conquistadors came across vanilla-flavored foods and drinks consumed by Meso-American individuals.

After having been brought back to Spain, vanilla began being used to flavor a drink consisting of honey, water, corn, vanilla, and cacao beans.

The drink eventually spread to England and France, and then the rest of Europe by the early 1600s. In 1602, the apothecary of Queen Elizabeth I, Hugh Morgan, suggested that vanilla should be used separately from cocoa.

Later, the French began using vanilla in ice cream, which was a rather popular dessert in 18th century France. It was Thomas Jefferson who discovered vanilla ice cream in France and brought the recipe to the USA.

Vanilla Ice Cream Day is an unofficial holiday observed every year on the 23rd of July. While having a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream might no do any significant harm to you, provided you don’t suffer from any illnesses, try to not overindulge in the celebration, as too much ice cream can be bad for you, regardless of its flavor.

More info here:
https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/fun/vanilla-ice-cream-day
https://www.awarenessdays.com/awareness-days-calendar/national-vanilla-ice-cream-day-2020/
https://www.wincalendar.com/Vanilla-Ice-Cream-Day

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Happy World Emojis Day, 2020 !

An unofficial holiday celebrated every year on July 17th since 2014, World Emoji Day is “the brainchild of Jeremy Burge the founder of Emojipedia.

Learn more about it on these websites:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Emoji_Day
https://emojipedia.org/world-emoji-day/
https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/world-emoji-day
https://www.instagram.com/worldemojiday/
https://www.facebook.com/pg/worldemojiday/posts/

World Emoji Day, 2020
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International Rock Day, 2020

No, this isn’t about Dwayne Johnson or about the apostle Peter. It’s about rocks. Stones. Those hard things that can be found on the ground. Yes, they have their own international day. July the 13th. Why? Well, International Rock Day has been created so that people all around the world can learn more about rocks and their variety. After all, stones play a big role in the environment, and they have been used by humans for many purposes over the years.

The rock or stone is a naturally occurring solid aggregate of one or more minerals or mineraloids. For example, the common rock granite is a combination of the quartz, feldspar and biotite minerals. The Earth’s outer solid layer, the lithosphere, is made of rock. Rocks have been used by mankind throughout history. From the Stone Age, rocks have been used for tools. The minerals and metals found in rocks have been essential to human civilization.

Read more about how to celebrate International Rock Day and learn more about rocks by visiting the following websites:

https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/international-rock-day/
https://www.uniquenewsonline.com/international-rock-day-history-meaning-significance-and-ways-to-celebrate-it
https://happydays365.org/rock-day/international-rock-day-july-13/

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Happy 4th of July, 2020, America!

Happy Independence Day to all Americans!

4th of July fireworks, 2020

The fourth of July is celebrated in the US as Independence Day. The tradition of Independence Day goes back to 18th century when the Continental Congress in the US voted in favor of independence on July 2nd. 

Two days later, the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson, was adopted by delegates from the 13 colonies.

From 1776 to the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.

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Read a daily joke for charity

Do you like corny jokes, the so-called “dad jokes” type? Do you like to help out, give to charitable organizations and have a positive impact upon the world. Well, now you can do both at the same time.

Meet https://www.textsfromdad.co, a website that will send you one “dad joke” per day. And, if you decide to support it through a donation, it will donate 100% of the profits to the GoodPlus Foundation. Check out the website’s FAQ for more information about their project.

So what are you waiting for? Check it out and let me know (in the comments section) what you think about this website.

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World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, 2020

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is commemorated each year on 15 June to highlight one of the worst manifestations of ageism and inequality in our society, elder abuse.

Elder abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust such as a family member or friend. The abuse may be physical, social, financial, psychological or sexual and can include mistreatment and neglect.

Elder abuse is a problem that exists in both developing and developed countries yet is typically underreported globally. Prevalence rates or estimates exist only in selected developed countries — ranging from 1% to 10%. Although the extent of elder mistreatment is unknown, its social and moral significance is obvious. As such, it demands a global multifaceted response, one which focuses on protecting the rights of older persons.

Approaches to define, detect and address elder abuse need to be placed within a cultural context and considered along side culturally specific risk factors. For example, in some traditional societies, older widows are subjected to forced marriages while in others, isolated older women are accused of witchcraft. From a health and social perspectives, unless both primary health care and social service sectors are well equipped to identify and deal with the problem, elder abuse will continue to be underdiagnosed and overlooked.

There are several ways you can help fundraise for the cause of this day if you so wish. You can also donate to charities which support the elderly and their well-being.

Perhaps today you could play your part by volunteering somewhere which ensures the happiness of the elderly, such as in a retirement home. You could also visit an elderly relative and spend some time chatting or having a cup of tea.

Be sure to spread the word by posting about the day on your social media accounts.

Read more about it on these websites:

https://www.un.org/en/observances/elder-abuse-awareness-day
https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/world-elder-abuse-awareness-day/
https://www.euro.who.int/en/media-centre/events/events/2020/06/2020-world-elder-abuse-awareness-day-the-impact-of-covid-19-on-abuse-and-neglect-of-older-people
https://eldermistreatment.usc.edu/weaad-home/

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World Environment Day, 2020

Established in 1972 by the United Nations General Assembly at the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, World Environment Day is observed every year on the 5th of June.

A holiday aimed to inform people about environmental issues and offer them the opportunity to change the habits they have that are affecting the environment and work towards change, World Environmental Day has grown to become a global platform for discussions about the environment, spreading awareness of the effects of human activity.

Since its creation, World Environmental Day is celebrated in over 100 countries and each year, a theme is chosen to help draw attention to a particular concern.

The theme for 2020 is “Bio Diversity”, and will be hosted in Colombia in partnership with Germany. Colombia is one of the largest “Megadiverse” nations in the world to hold 10% of the planet’s biodiversity. Since it is part of the Amazon rain forest, Colombia ranks first in bird and orchid species diversity and second in plants, butterflies, freshwater fish, and amphibians.

You can make a difference by sharing and discussing about World Environment Day on social media.

UN chief on World Environment Day, 2020
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The Feast of The Ascension of Jesus Christ, 2020

In Orthodox Christianity, The Feast of the Ascension of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ is celebrated each year on the fortieth day after The Great and Holy Feast of Pascha (Easter). Since the date of Pascha changes each year, the date of the Feast of the Ascension changes. The Feast is always celebrated on a Thursday. This year, today, May the 28th is said Thursday.

The Feast itself commemorates when, on the fortieth day after His Resurrection, Jesus led His disciples to the Mount of Olives, and after blessing them and asking them to wait for the fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit, He ascended into heaven.

Great Vespers for the Ascension of The Lord Jesus Christ, 2020

The Lord Jesus passed forty days on earth after His Resurrection from the dead, appearing continually in various places to His disciples, with whom He also spoke, ate, and drank, thereby further demonstrating His Resurrection. On this Thursday, the fortieth day after Pascha, He appeared again in Jerusalem. After He had first spoken to the disciples about many things, He gave them His last commandment, that is, that they go forth and proclaim His Name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. But He also commanded them that for the present, they were not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait there together until they receive power from on high, when the Holy Spirit would come upon them.
Saying these things, He led them to the Mount of Olives, and raising His hands, He blessed them; and saying again the words of the Father’s blessing, He was parted from them and taken up. Immediately a cloud of light, a proof of His majesty, received Him. Sitting thereon as though on a royal chariot, He was taken up into Heaven, and after a short time was concealed from the sight of the disciples, who remained where they were with their eyes fixed on Him. At this point, two Angels in the form of men in white raiment appeared to them and said, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? This same Jesus, Who is taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven” (Acts 1:11). These words, in a complete and concise manner, declare what is taught in the Symbol of Faith concerning the Son and Word of God. Therefore, having so fulfilled all His dispensation for us, our Lord Jesus Christ ascended in glory into Heaven, and sat at the right hand of God the Father. As for His sacred disciples, they returned from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem, rejoicing because Christ had promised to send them the Holy Spirit.

https://www.goarch.org/chapel/saints?contentid=943&PCode=6PTh&D=T&date=05/28/2020

Christ has ascended! Truly He has ascended!
http://www.pravmir.com/the-ascension-a-beginning-not-an-ending/

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Feast Day of Saints Constantine and Helen, 2020

Feast Day of Sts. Constantine and Helen, 2020

Eastern-Orthodoxy observes the Feast Day of Saints Constantin and Helen every year on May 21st.

Saint Constantine was born in 272, the son of Constantius Chlorus, ruler of the western part of the Roman Empire. His mother was St Helen.

After his father death, in 306, St. Constantine was proclaimed successor to the throne. The empire was ruled at that time by several Caesars, each with his own territory.

When Constantine learned that the Caesars Maxentius and Maximinus had joined against him, he marched on Italy, where, on the eve of a decisive battle outside Rome, he saw in the sky a radiant Cross with the words “In this sign conquer.” He ordered that a battle-standard be made bearing the image of a cross and inscribed with the Name of Jesus Christ.

The following day he and his forces attacked and won a spectacular victory. He entered Rome in triumph and in 312 was proclaimed “Emperor of the West” by the Senate. The East was ruled by his brother-in-law, Licinius. Soon thereafter he issued his “Edict of Milan”, whereby Christianity was officially tolerated for the first time, and persecution of Christians ceased. (Many believe, mistakenly, that the Edict made Christianity the only legal religion; in fact, it proclaimed freedom of religion throughout the Empire).

Licinius, though he pretended to accept the Edict, soon began persecuting Christians in his domain. In response, Constantine fought and defeated him in 324, becoming sole Emperor of the entire Roman Empire. In 324 he laid the foundations of a new capital in the town of Byzantium; in 330 he inaugurated the new capital city, naming it “New Rome” and “Constantinople”. In 325 he called the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea, attending its sessions himself. Shortly before his repose in 337, he received Holy Baptism; he died on Holy Pentecost, at the age of sixty-five, and was interred in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople.

St. Constantine’s holy mother Helen, in her role as “Augusta” of the Empire, founded countless churches. She traveled to Jerusalem and found the True Cross on which the Lord was crucified. In the Holy Land she established churches at the sites of Christ’s Nativity and burial, which still stand today in much-modified form. She died at about eighty years of age.

Read the original article here: https://greece.greekreporter.com/2020/05/21/greeks-worldwide-celebrate-saints-constantine-and-helen/

Read more about the Saints Constantine and Helen on these websites:

https://www.goarch.org/chapel/saints?contentid=62
http://www.greekwestisland.org/our-church/saints-constantine-and-helen/
http://www.stsconstantinehelen.org

People who wear the names of Constantine and Helen, or other names derived from these, celebrate their name day on May 21st.

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No Diet Day, 2020

International No Diet Day (INDD) is an annual celebration of body acceptance, observed on the 6th of May. This day is dedicated to promoting a healthy life style with a focus on health at any size and in raising awareness of the potential dangers of dieting and the unlikelihood of success; the Institute of Medicine summarizes: “those who complete weight loss programs lose approximately 10 percent of their body weight only to regain two-thirds within a year and almost all of it within five years.

First started by Mary Evans (who had battled anorexia in her life) in 1992 with the aim of helping men and women around the world appreciate their own bodies, No Diet Day has evolved over the years and currently brings attention to tough issues regarding diet and body awareness, focusing on a number of agendas. This includes the following:

  • Educating people about the right way to diet responsibly and effectively
  • Having all people take a one-day break from their diets
  • Celebrating the diversity of different shapes and sizes

To celebrate No Diet Day, you can start by recognizing that your own body is beautiful exactly as it is. De-emphasizing your efforts to shed weight to look a particular way, it is far better to celebrate the holiday with efforts at beginning to live a healthier lifestyle altogether. Worry less about your final goal, and more about getting out and being active and keeping your body healthy.

Participants are also encouraged to:

  • Compliment colleagues on skills, achievements, and contributions instead of focusing on appearance
  • Declare a day free of dieting and obsessions about weight and shape.
  • Challenge the idea of one “right” body shape and embrace body diversity.
  • Learn the facts about the diet industry and understand the inefficacy of commercial diets.
  • Help end weight discrimination, sizeism, and fatphobia.
  • Use the #NoDietDay hashtag to share on social media.

Read more about it here:
https://nationaltoday.com/international-no-diet-day/
https://nationaldaycalendar.com/international-no-diet-day-may-6/

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World Book Night, 2020

The idea of World Book Night was conceived by Jamie Byng, MD of Canongate, back in 2011, after discussing it a year before with those present at Book Industry Conference. It created another way for adults to read more and, since then, the holiday has become an international success.

However, because World Book Day existed for children, World Book Night became a day for adults to read more books. In order to coincide with UNESCO’s International Day of the Book, in 2012, the holiday moved from March to April. In 2012 and 2013, the holiday was celebrated in the United States. Over 50,000 people gave books to others on this day.

In late 2013, World Book Night then became part of the Reading Agency, an organization focused on promoting the benefits of reading books. Each year, books are given to people in hospitals, prisons, libraries, colleges, homeless shelters, and their communities.

World Book Night 2020 will be going digital, and the plans have been modified due to Covid-19. According to the official World Book Night website, people are encouraged to share in the pleasure of enjoying a book – in print, in or in audio. Those who want to partake in the celebration are invited to join in the Reading Hour, take time out to read alone or with others, and share a book with family, friends or colleagues, by giving recommendations, encouraging someone to join the library or gifting a book. Find out more about how the plans have been adapted by visiting the website.

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Christ is risen, 2020!

Orthodox Easter in 2020 is on Sunday, April 19. In Orthodoxy, this day is called Pascha.

While Pascha and the western Easter are both calculated using the same formula, the end dates often differ because they have different starting points. Orthodox Churches still use the Julian calendar as the starting point for the Pascha calculation.

While the majority of Orthodox Churches adopted the modern Gregorian calendar, some retained the Julian. To maintain unity within the entire church, all Orthodox celebrate the feast of feasts on the same day throughout the world.

The old Julian solar calendar is 13 days behind the Gregorian’s at the moment and its lunar calendar is four to five days behind, causing the date for Pascha to often fall on a different date to that of Easter.

While Pascha normally falls either one or five weeks later than Easter, on occasion they can be four weeks apart and on some years the dates of Pascha and Easter coincide. The dates coincided most recently in 2017 and the next coincidence will be in 2025.

Pascha is the most joyous celebration of the entire year, as the community gathers together to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Except that, this year, in many Orthodox countries, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, people are prohibited from attending the liturgies and from gathering together in large numbers in any public places. Nevertheless, we can gather together in spirit and be united in prayer from our homes.

Happy Easter! Blessed Pascha! Christ in risen!

https://www.thegoodshepherd.org.au/date-orthodox-easter-2020
https://akroasis.org/2020/04/12/pascha-2020/
https://www.oca.org/reflections/misc-authors/the-pascha-no-one-wants

Orthodox Pascha, 2020
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The Lord’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (Orthodox Palm Sunday), 2020

Palm Sunday, also called the Triumphal Entry, is one of the Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church, celebrated on the Sunday before Pascha. This year it falls on April 12. Palm Sunday is the day when the Orthodox Church celebrates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem in the days before the Jewish Passover. A mere few days before His crucifixion, Jesus Christ was received by adoring throngs at his entry into Jerusalem on the back of a young donkey.

Orthodox Palm Sunday, 2020

The believers meet him, and spread out before him his clothes and olive branches. When He and His disciples approached the city Jerusalem, He ordered them to go to the near-by village, and bring him the donkey and his little who were tied-up in the beginning of the village. If they were asked, they should say that the Lord needs it. When the people knew that the donkey was for Jesus, they did not prevent his disciples. They gave Him the donkey, and He solemnly entered Jerusalem. The news of the resurrection of Lazarus already got ahead and thousands of people went to Bethany to meet him.

You can find the event told in the four Gospels:

I invite you to read more about it on these websites:
https://www.orthodoxphotos.com/readings/LG/jerusalem.shtml
https://www.oca.org/fs/sermons/the-lords-entry-into-jerusalem
https://www.goarch.org/-/stewardship-the-entry-of-christ-into-jerusalem
https://pravoslavie.ru/69881.html

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The Sunday of Saint Mary Of Egypt

Born probably about 344 A.D. revered as the patron saint of penitents, most particularly in the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Churches, and Oriental Orthodox Churches, St. Mary Of Egypt was a desert ascetic who repented of a life of prostitution and passed away in a remarkable manner in 421 A.D. The primary source of information on Saint Mary of Egypt is the Vita written of her by St. Sophronius, the Patriarch of Jerusalem (634–638).

The date of the saint is somewhat uncertain. The Bollandists place her death on 1 April, 421, while many other authorities put it a century later. The Greek Church celebrates her feast on 1 April, while the Roman Martyrology assigns it to 2 April, and the RomanCalendar to 3 April. The Greek date is more likely to be correct; the others may be due to the fact that on those days portions of her relics reached the West. Relics of the saint are venerated at Rome, Naples, Cremona, Antwerp, and some other places. In The Orthodox Church, she is also commemorated on the fifth Sunday in Great Lent due to her recognition by the Church as a model of repentance.

I will paraphrase a brief story of her life, as told by CatholicNewsAgency.com:

When she was 12 years old, she moved from Egypt to the city of Alexandria and worked as a prostitute for 17 years. She joined a large group that was making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the feast of The Exaltation of The Holy Cross. With the intention of luring others into sexual sin, she followed the crowd as it was headed to the Church in order to venerate the relic of The True Cross. When she got near the door of the church, a mysterious force prevented her from entering, pushing her back whenever she approached. After trying to enter several times, Mary moved to a corner of the churchyard and was filled with a sense of remorse for her sins. As she was crying, she saw a statue of The Virgin Mary and she prayed to The Holy Mother for the permission to enter the church for the purpose of venerating the relic. She promised the Virgin Mother, she would renounce the world and its ways. Mary of Egypt was then able to enter the church, as the mysterious force no longer held her back. After she venerated the relic, she returned to the statue outside and prayed for guidance. She heard a voice telling her to cross the Jordan river and then she would find rest. She did as told and arrived at the Jordan, where she received communion at a church dedicated to St. John The Baptist. The next day she crossed the river and lived in the desert alone for 47 years. Then, while making his Lenten retreat, a priest named Zosimus found her. She asked him to return to the banks of the Jordan on Holy Thursday of the following year and to bring her Communion. The priest was true to his word and returned bearing the Eucharist. Mary told him to come back again the next year, but to the place where he had originally met her. When Zosimus returned in a year’s time, he found Mary’s corpse. On the ground beside it was a written request that she be buried accompanied by a statement that she had died the previous year, in 421 A.D., on the very night she had received Holy Communion.

Read more about Saint Mary Of Egypt by following these links:
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09763a.htm
https://orthodoxwiki.org/Mary_of_Egypt
https://www.oca.org/saints/lives/2018/04/01/100963-venerable-mary-of-egypt
http://www.copticchurch.net/topics/synexarion/maryofegypt.htm

The Life of Saint Mary of Egypt by Saint Sophronius.
Week 6 of Lent – Mary of Egypt – Coffee with Sister Vanessa
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International Carrot Day, 2020

Observed every year on the 4th of April, the International Carrot Day is a day when carrot lovers all over the world celebrate and enjoy this healthy and delicious vegetable.

The carrot is a orange-colored root vegetable that (according to historians) originated from Persia, wherein its leaves and seeds were the ones cultivated first. Containing alpha and beta carotene, vitamin B6, and vitamin K, among others, the carrot presents a lot of health benefits for humans.

Because of people’s love for this vegetable, a special day is dedicated just for it – the International Carrot Day. Established by an unknown creator in 2003, when the website http://www.carrotday.com was created, the International Carrot Day is aimed to spread awareness about carrots.

There are so many ways on how people celebrate this amazing day dedicated to an amazing vegetable. Some ideas for celebrating this day include the following: buying and eating carrots and carrot-based dishes, planting carrots, and sharing the word on social media.

Happy International Carrot Day, 2020!

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National Emergency Library – Archive.org

To address our unprecedented global and immediate need for access to reading and research materials, as of today, March 24, 2020, the Internet Archive will suspend waitlists for the 1.4 million (and growing) books in our lending library by creating a National Emergency Library to serve the nation’s displaced learners. This suspension will run through June 30, 2020, or the end of the US national emergency, whichever is later. 

During the waitlist suspension, users will be able to borrow books from the National Emergency Library without joining a wait-list, ensuring that students will have access to assigned readings and library materials that the Internet Archive has digitized for the remainder of the US academic calendar, and that people who cannot physically access their local libraries because of closure or self-quarantine can continue to read and thrive during this time of crisis, keeping themselves and others safe.  

This library brings together all the books from Phillips Academy Andover and Marygrove College, and much of Trent University’s collections, along with over a million other books donated from other libraries to readers worldwide that are locked out of their libraries.

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Letting go of your anxiety

In this video, Fr. Casey Cole from Breaking In The Habit talks about how Christians can let go of their anxiety and trust in God’s word: “Be still and know that I am God”.

Breaking In The Habit – Letting Go of your anxiety
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Happy International Writers’ Day, 2020!

Celebrated since 1986, The International Writers’ Day has been proposed by the International Congress of PEN Club. Aiming to promote mutual support among writers from all over the world, this organization was formed of poets, essayists, and fictionists was founded in London in 1921 and it includes writers that approach every literary genre, from translators and journalists to historians.

Whether you’re an aspiring writer who has been trying to put their thoughts in words, or a published author, I hope you have a happy International Writers’ Day!

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Dragobete – the Romanian love holiday, 2020

Dragobete Romanian love holiday Lord Of The Rings meme

A non-religious version of Valentine’s Day, Dragobete is a festive Romanian holiday, observed on the 24th of February, that is associated with love and the arrival of spring. Dragobete is an observance and not a national public holiday in Romania.

According to myth, Dragobete was the son of Baba Dochia (“baba” means old lady in Romanian), a woman who marks the return of spring. The day is also known as “the time when birds are betrothed” because during this time of year, birds generally build their nests and mate.

In the countryside there is an old tradition with girls and boys going into the woods to pick flowers. When they return home, the traditions says that boys were running after girls to kiss them. If the girl liked the boy she lets him kiss her. There is a saying in Romania that makes a lot of sense regarding this: “Dragobete kisses the girls” (“Dragobete pupă fete”).

Learn more about Dragobete by visiting the sites linked below:

Dragobete in Romania

https://rolandia.eu/en/blog/discover-romania/dragobete-celebrate-love-as-it-s-meant-to-be

http://www.holidayscalendar.com/event/dragobete/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragobete

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Happy Saint Valentine’s Day, 2020!

Happy Saint Valentine‘s Day to everyone! Whether you are in a relationship or single, may you have a lovely, blessed day! Don’t let singleness stop you from serving God.

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If you ever feel like you don’t matter, remember this:

God gave you a fingerprint that no one else has, so you can leave an imprint that no one else can. You matter. You can do great things. You can accomplish your dreams if you keep your eyes on God and pray to Him for guidance.

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Meditate on Scripture everyday for a month – February 2020 challenge

In today’s world, in many countries, February is considered the month of love. Since God is love, this seemed like a really interesting challenge. I found it on Instagram and I wanted to post it on my blog and encourage you to give it a try. If you miss one or two days, it’s probably alright.

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Feast Day of St. Thomas Aquinas, 2020

Every year, on the 28th of January, The Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Italian Dominican friar and priest, philosopher, theologian, jurist, and Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas is best known today for his influential writings such as the “Summa Theologica”.

He is the Dominican order’s greatest glory. He taught philosophy and theology with such genius that he is considered one of the leading Christian thinkers. His innocence, on a par with his genius, earned for him the title of “Angelic Doctor.”

Find out more about St. Thomas Aquinas by visiting these websites:

https://www.livingfaith.in/news/saint-thomas-aquinas/7243

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7 truths to remind yourself when you are in a difficult spiritual battle

The apostle Paul warns us that, in this life, we are in a constant spiritual battle against evil and the enemy’s forces (Ephesians 6:12). Sometimes, the spiritual battles can get difficult. I want to share this short list of 7 truths that you should remind yourself when you feel overwhelmed fighting the good fight:

  1. God is good (Luke 18:19)
  2. His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9)
  3. You are a child of God (Galatians 4:7)
  4. You don’t have to be afraid (Philippians 4:6)
  5. He is able (Ephesians 3:20)
  6. You are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  7. Be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10)

God bless you!

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Word of the year quiz – 2020

It’s 2020, a brand new year that needs a word to define it in our lives. Luckily, there’s a Christian quiz for that. I just randomly found it on the internet and I invite you to take it and share your result in the comments section below.

https://www.dayspring.com/yourwordquiz#/home

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The Feast of the Holy Epiphany, 2020

On January 6, the Feast of the Holy Epiphany is celebrated by the Orthodox Church. It is the commemoration of the Baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan by John the Baptist, and the divine revelation of the Holy Trinity.

At the Baptism of Christ, all three Persons of the Holy Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — were made manifest. Thus, the name of the Feast is “Epiphany”, meaning manifestation, or “Theophany”, meaning manifestation of God.

John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus and the one chosen by God to proclaim His coming, was preaching in the wilderness and was baptizing all who would respond to his message calling for repentance. As he was doing this, John was directing the people toward the one who would baptize them with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11).

The Scriptures tell us that Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. Initially, not feeling worthy of baptizing The Son Of God, John told Jesus that Jesus should baptize him. Jesus said to John, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness” (3:15). John consented and baptized Jesus.

When Jesus came up from the water, the heavens opened, and The Holy Spirit descended upon Him. The Bible records that the Spirit descended like a dove and alighted on him. When this happened, a voice came from heaven and said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased”. This was the voice of God the Father.

Check out the following sites to find out more info about The Feast of the Holy Epiphany:

https://greekcitytimes.com/2020/01/06/the-feast-of-the-holy-epiphany/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphany_(holiday)

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Happy New Year, 2020!

May God bring all of us a blessed New Year! Happy 2020 to everyone!
I don’t have any resolutions for 2020 other than to work on my relationship with God as much as it’s in my power, and to remain alive.

Having nothing else to add to this post, I leave you with this New Year’s selfie:

New Year selfie 2020

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Reading challenge for 2020

I stumbled upon this cool thing on Popsugar.co.uk, and I just wanted to share it for all the book enthusiasts out there. It is a reading challenge. The more books corresponding to the requirements from this list you can read, the better.

In the comments section, let me know what you think about this challenge. Feel free to share your thoughts and list some of the books you have in mind.

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Merry Christmas, 2019!

It’s Christmas once again, and I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! I hope God blesses you, your family, your friends and everything you love.

Let us take a few minutes to remember what Christmas is all about — namely, the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

The Birth of Jesus – Gospel of Luke, Chapters 1 and 2
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The Child Christ: A Nativity Story – short film

With Christmas right around the corner, I wanted to share this short movie I recently discovered while browsing YouTube. This new depiction of the Nativity story, made by LightOfTheWorld.com, recounts in beautiful detail the sacred events found in the Bible about Jesus’s birth over 2,000 years ago.

Journey with Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Witness the awe of the shepherds in the plains of Judea. Feel the joy of the wise men as they kneel before the Light of the World – our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Visit http://www.LightTheWorld.org to learn more about the significance of this special first Christmas.

The Child Christ: A Nativity Story

#LightTheWorld: Since 2016, #LightTheWorld has grown into a global initiative each Christmas, with millions of participants. Throughout the Christmas season, individuals perform acts of service and kindness to demonstrate Jesus’s love one by one.

Want to join in? Go to http://www.LightTheWorld.org for daily service challenges, prompts, resources, and more. Follow them on social media:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ComeUntoChrist
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/comeuntochrist
Twitter – https://twitter.com/ComeUntoChrist

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STRIVE – a Christian recovery program that’s proven to help men break free

I’ve recently come across a very promising and unique project developed by Matt Fradd and the team behind Cardinal Studios (a Philadelphia-based Ministry), aimed to help people break free from pornography addiction. It is called STRIVE and it is a program that combines religious and secular approaches to empower both men and women with the tools needed to battle porn addiction and win the war against pornography. I invite you to check it out and support the project by clicking the links in this post.

STRIVE Parish Resources

What is STRIVE? 
STRIVE is a powerful 21-Day Challenge (videos, written content, worksheets) by Matt Fradd that helps men understand why they go to porn in the first place, why they should break-free, and how to do so. It’s not a silver bullet, but a highly effective resource that equips men with the knowledge, tools, and accountability needed to quit porn and begin to live the life to which God is calling them.

Does it work?

Yes! We’ve received over 6,000 comments from men already whose lives are being transformed in ways they never thought possible. See reviews below.

What Does it Cost?

FREE. 
For a limited time, the cost of STRIVE has been underwritten, so it is FREE for your men to register! STRIVE usually costs $49 for each individual. If 100 men at your parish sign-up, that’s a savings of almost $5,000!

How best to share STRIVE? 
We have several resources below to help you spread the word. The best way is through STRIVE Cards to hand out to men, and for your team to have on-hand. You can order those above in boxes of 250.

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The Feast of Saint Lucia, 2019

Saint Lucia (or Saint Lucy) is a virgin saint who lived at the end of the third century A.C., during the reign of Emperor Diocletian. Her feast day is celebrated on December 13.

The General Roman Calendar formerly had a commemoration of Saints Lucy and Geminianus on 16 September. This was removed in 1969, as a duplication of the feast of her dies natalis on 13 December and because the Geminianus in question, mentioned in the Passio of Saint Lucy, seems to be a fictitious figure, unrelated to the Geminianus whose feast is on 31 January.

She was from Syracuse in Sicily, a virgin betrothed to a certain pagan. Since her mother suffered from an issue of blood, she went with her to the shrine of Saint Agatha at Catania to seek healing (see Feb. 5). There Saint Agatha appeared to Lucia in a dream, assuring her of her mother’s healing, and foretelling Lucia’s martyrdom. When her mother had been healed, Lucia gladly distributed her goods to the poor, preparing herself for her coming confession of Christ. Betrayed as a Christian by her betrothed to Paschasius the Governor, she was put in a brothel to be abased, but was preserved in purity by the grace of God. Saint Lucia was beheaded in the year 304, during the reign of Diocletian.

A tradition says her eyes were gouged out in torture, so she is considered by some as the patron saint of the blind. She is also the patron saint of authors, cutlers, glaziers, laborers, martyrs, peasants, Perugia, Italy; saddlers, salesmen, and stained glass workers. She is invoked against hemorraghes, dysentery, diseases of the eye, and throat infections.

Happy Saint Lucy’s Day, 2019!

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Saint Nicholas Day, 2019

Every year on December the 6th, the Orthodox Church commemorates Saint Nicholas of Myra (known as “the Wonder-worker”). While widely honored and venerated, not only in the Orthodox Church, but throughout most Christian groups, not much is known of the life of Nicholas.

From what is known, he was archbishop of Myra and he may have participated in the Council of Nicea in 325, although the latter fact is uncertain. In addition to being honored as the patron saint of many countries, notably Greece and Russia, and of cities, he is the patron of many occupational groups, most notably of sea-farers. He is also the basis for the Santa Claus legends and imagery which accompany Christmas celebrations in some parts of the world.

St. Nicholas is commemorated by the Church on December 6, and also on May 9 (the transfer of his relics) and on July 29 (his nativity).

After he inherited his parents’ estate, he became known for his generous gifts to those in need. As a youth, he made pilgrimages to Palestine and Egypt.

In time his fame in northern Europe as a saintly bishop began changing to that of a giver of gifts to children, usually done on December 6. As immigrants from the Germanic and Nordic lands settled in the United States the image of St. Nicholas, or “Sinterklaas,” as he is known among the Dutch, slowly changed to that of “Santa Claus” with little tie to the spirituality of Christianity.

Find out more about Saint Nicholas by visiting the sites linked below:

https://orthodoxwiki.org/Nicholas_of_Myra
https://www.oca.org/saints/lives/2007/12/06/103484-saint-nicholas-the-wonderworker-archbishop-of-myra-in-lycia
https://www.sngoc.org/content/about-st-nicholas
http://saintnicholas.ucoz.com/stnich-page.html

Saint Nicholas, pray for us.

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Happy 101th Anniversary, Romania!

On December the 1st 2019, Romania celebrates its National Day, marking 101 years since the Great Union.

In 1859, the southern region of Wallachia and the eastern region of Moldavia banded together as the Kingdom of Romania, and declared independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1877. The Resolution of the National Assembly joined Transylvania, Banat, Crişana, and Maramureş, with the Kingdom of Romania, further expanding the size of the nation.

In 1918, an accord making the union official passed without objection, having been ratified in the historic city of Alba Iulia, in the presence of over 100,000 people. The accord contained clauses that protected religious freedom, codified universal suffrage, and freedom of the press, it stood as a testament to the path Romania hoped to pursue.

Find out more about Romanian’s National Day and about the festivities that took place, by clicking the following links:

https://www.romania-insider.com/romania-national-day-parade-2019
https://www.rri.ro/en_gb/november_30_2019-2608147
https://www.stiripesurse.ro/royal-visit-to-iasi-to-celebrate-national-day_1408581.html

Happy 101st Anniversary, Romania! La mulți ani, România pentru aniversarea a 101 ani de la Marea Unire!

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Happy Saint Andrew’s Day, 2019!

Every year, on the 30th of November, the Orthodox Church celebrates and honors the sacred memory of the holy apostle Andrew, “the First-called”. Saint Andrew was from Bethsaida in Galilee, a small town on the shores of Lake Gennesaret. He was the son of Jonah and the brother of Simon, whom Jesus Christ later re-named Peter.

Andrew was first a disciple of John the Baptist and is called “the First-Called” because he was the first to be invited by Christ to the ranks of the apostles. Like his father and brother, he was a fisherman. When the holy Prophet, forerunner and Baptist John began to preach, Saint Andrew became his closest disciple. Declaring Christ to be the Lamb of God, Saint John the Baptist himself sent to Christ his own two disciples, the future apostles Andrew and John the Theologian. Saint Andrew heard John the Baptist pointing out Christ and saying: “Behold the Lamb of God”. He and another disciple approached Christ, Who turned to them and asked: ‘What do you want?’ Andrew said to him: ‘Teacher, where are you staying?’

A new church dedicated to Saint Andrew, who is considered the Protector of Romania, will be consecrated this Saturday in Johannesburg, South Africa. The consecration ceremony will be officiated Nov. 30 by His Eminence Metropolitan Iosif of Western and Southern Europe. The event represents the crowning of the efforts of the Romanian community that started 6 years ago when the foundation stone of the church was laid in the suburb of Midrand.

The legend of Saint Andrew in Romania tells that today’s territory of Romania was Christianized by Saint Andrew in the 1st century AD. While these claims lack any historical and archeological evidence, the legend has been embraced as fact by both the Romanian Orthodox Church and the Romanian state, both during Ceaușescu’s Protochronism period and after 1989, when Saint Andrew was named the patron saint of Romania.

Happy Saint Andrew’s Day, 2019!

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International Day for Tolerance, 2019

According to UN.org, “in 1996, the UN General Assembly invited UN Member States to observe the International Day for Tolerance on 16 November. This action followed up on the United Nations Year for Tolerance, 1995, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 at the initiative of UNESCO, as outlined in the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance and Follow-up Plan of Action for the Year“.

Every year, with the purpose of generating public awareness of the dangers of intolerance, various conferences and festivals are organized in the occasion of International Day for Tolerance. Among them, “Universal Tolerance Cartoon Festival” in Drammen, Norway which organized an International Cartoon Festival in 2013.

Happy International Day for Tolerance, 2019!

Read more about the International Day Of Tolerance and find out how you can make a difference in spreading awareness about the importance of tolerance within society by visiting the websites linked below:

International Day For Tolerance, 2019

https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/international-day-for-tolerance/

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Remembering Brittany Murphy on her birthday, 2019

Today, November the 10th, is the birthday of the late actress Brittany Murphy (1977 – 2009), who (I unashamedly admit) has been one of my biggest celebrity crushes. But for her tragic and untimely death in 2009, she would have been 42 years old today.

Let’s take a moment to remember her and pray for her soul. May God rest her in His Kingdom. Happy Birthday, Brittany! You will not be forgotten! Your remarkable talent, your charming personality and your beauty will remain for years to come in the memories of the people who watch your movies and listen to your music.

The “Clueless” cast pay tribute to Brittany Murphy

On Brittany Murphy’s death
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World Vegan Month, 2019

Established in 1994 to commemorate the forward movement of the vegan ideology, as well as the creation of The Vegan Society in the UK in November 50 years prior, World Vegan Month is an annual designation observed in November.

According to DayOfTheYear.com, the date was selected to fall in line with Halloween and the Day of the Dead as a way of honoring those animals who had already passed under the unnecessary cause of supporting human life.

The underlying “rule” to embracing the vegan lifestyle is to eat a plant-based diet. The majority of vegans don’t just avoid meat; they also avoid fish, dairy, eggs, and honey, as well as products like leather or fur.

Whether you are interested in veganism for health-related reasons, due to compassion for the animals or to protect the environment, I invite you to check out the following list of links where you can find more about World Vegan Month, so you can make an informed decision in case you want to get involved:

Vegan.org
NationalCalendar.com
VeganSociety.com

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Bing’s Halloween 2019 homepage

While I’m not really into Halloween, I found it interesting and share-worthy to see that Bing celebrates this holiday today by having a video of the Romanian Corvin castle (also known as the Hunedoara Castle), one of the 7 wonders of Romania. Count Dracula can be seen on the castle roof after the lights turn off, and, after he transforms into a bat, a bunch of bats fly out towards the camera.

Also, if you click on the “Protect your neck” text in the lower-right corner of the page and then on the “Play today’s quiz” in box that pops up, you can play the daily Bing quiz, which, especially for Halloween, is vampire-related.

bing Halloween 2019 Corvin Castle Romania
bing Halloween 2019 Corvin Castle Romania
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Catholic one liners

I came across this short list of Catholic one liners on social media, and I found it rather interesting, therefore I thought I should share it. I could not find its author, so I’m unable to credit the person who wrote them.

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International Artists’ Day, 2019

Observed every year on October 25th, International Artists’ Day was founded by Chris MacClure (more than a decade ago) with the aim of bringing recognition to the world of art and celebrating all the ways that artists bring their own special view to life.

You can read more about it and learn about various ways in which you can celebrate International Artists’ Day and support local artists by clicking here.

Happy International Artists’ Day, 2019!

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OCD awareness week, 2019

OCD (obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) awareness week is observed every year during the second full week of October. This year, between the 13th and 19th of October, community groups, service organizations, and clinics across the US and around the world celebrate throughout the week with events such as educational lecture series, OCD-inspired art exhibits, grassroots fundraisers, and more.

As a person who’s been struggling with OCD for most of their life, I invite you to read and get informed about this disorder, so that you may be better prepared to interact with people who have this illness.

You can read more about Obsessive-Compulsive week here: https://www.ocduk.org/ocd-awareness-week/ .

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The Litany Of Trust by Sister Faustina Maria Pia

I would like to share with you a lovely Catholic deliverance prayer that I have come across recently – The Litany Of Trust. It was written by Sister Faustina Maria Pia from The Sisters Of Life. Also, check out the video where you can see Sister Faustina Maria Pia herself read the prayer and talk about it.

From the belief that I have to earn Your love … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that I am unlovable … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the false security that I have what it takes … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that trusting You will leave me more destitute … Deliver me, Jesus.
From all suspicion of Your words and promises … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the rebellion against childlike dependency on You … Deliver me, Jesus.
From refusals and reluctances in accepting Your will … Deliver me, Jesus.
From anxiety about the future … Deliver me, Jesus.
From resentment or excessive preoccupation with the past … Deliver me, Jesus.
From restless self-seeking in the present moment … Deliver me, Jesus.
From disbelief in Your love and presence … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being asked to give more than I have … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the belief that my life has no meaning or worth … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of what love demands … Deliver me, Jesus.
From discouragement … Deliver me, Jesus.

That You are continually holding me sustaining me, loving me … Jesus, I trust in You.
That Your love goes deeper than my sins and failings, and transforms me …Jesus, I trust in You.
That not knowing what tomorrow brings is an invitation to lean on You … Jesus, I trust in You.
That you are with me in my suffering … Jesus, I trust in You.
That my suffering, united to Your own, will bear fruit in this life and the next …Jesus, I trust in You.
That You will not leave me orphan, that You are present in Your Church
…Jesus, I trust in You.
That Your plan is better than anything else … Jesus, I trust in You.
That You always hear me, and in Your goodness always respond to me …Jesus, I trust in You.
That You give me the grace to accept forgiveness and to forgive others …Jesus, I trust in You.
That You give me all the strength I need for what is asked …Jesus, I trust in You.
That my life is a gift … Jesus, I trust in You.
That You will teach me to trust You … Jesus, I trust in You.
That You are my Lord and my God … Jesus, I trust in You.
That I am Your beloved one … Jesus, I trust in You.

Litany Of Trust by Sister Faustina Maria Pia from The Sisters Of Life
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The Protection of Our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, 2019

The Protection of the Mother of God is one of the most beloved feast days on the Orthodox calendar among the Slavic peoples, commemorated on October 1. The feast is celebrated additionally on October 28 in the Greek tradition. It is also known as the feast of the Virgin Mary’s Cerement.

In most Slavic languages the word “cerement” has a dual meaning of “veil” and “protection.” The Russian word Pokrov (Покров), like the Greek Skepi (Σκέπη), has a complex meaning. First of all, it refers to a cloak or shroud, but it also means protection or intercession. For this reason, the name of the feast is variously translated as the Veil of Our Lady, the Protecting Veil of the Theotokos, the Protection of the Theotokos, or the Intercession of the Theotokos.

The story has it that on October 1st, 911, during the reign of Emperor Leo the Wise, an all-night vigil was being held at the Blachernae Church of the Mother of God in Constantinople, with many of the faithful crowding the church. St Andrew the Fool for Christ (commemorated tomorrow, October 2nd) was standing at the back of the church with his disciple Epiphanius. At around four in the morning, the most holy Theotokos appeared above the people, clothed in resplendent garments, surrounded by indescribable radiance, and holding a veil in her outstretched hands, as though to protect all the people. St Andrew said to Epiphanius ‘Do you see how the Queen and Lady of all is praying for the whole world?’ Epiphanius replied ‘Yes, Father, I see it and stand in dread.’ This wonderful event is recorded in Epiphanius’ life of St Andrew. Because of it, the Church keeps an annual feast on this date.

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When God seems far away

Recently, I’ve been going through a spiritual slump and I’ve been looking up encouraging stuff on the internet. Here are a couple of sermons that use “The Song Of Solomon”, one from a Protestant and the other from a Catholic, about what to do when God seems far away. I hope they will help you just as they have helped me, and maybe even more.

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Christian Love vs. worldly love

This video created by Coptic Orthodox Answers explains in a simple, yet incredibly eye-opening way the difference between Christian Love and worldly love. I invite you to watch it, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and share your thoughts on the matter in the comments section.

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Orthodox prayer for the blessings received from God

Here is a short Orthodox prayer I have translated from Romanian into English:

Lord Jesus Christ, Our Lord, God of all mercifulness and graciousness, Who have immeasurable mercy, unspeakable and unending love of people, falling now to Your glory, with fear and trembling, I thank you for the blessings you have given me, Your unworthy servant. I glorify You, I praise You and I sing about You as my Lord, Master and Benefactor. And again, falling before You, I thank You and I humbly pray to your immeasurable and unspeakable mercifulness for You to continue giving me good doings, so that I may increase in love for You and for my brethren. Deliver me from all evil and trouble. Give me peace. And make me worthy, so that all the days of my life I may give thanks to You and speak and sing all that is good to The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit, now and forever and ever. Amen.

Translated by myself from Romanian. Source: https://www.crestinortodox.ro/rugaciuni/rugaciune-pentru-binefacerile-primite-la-dumnezeu-72583.html

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The Feast Of The Exaltation Of The Holy Cross, 2019

Every year, on the 14th of September, the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches commemorate the Feast of the Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.

A blessed day and a celebration of the tremendous power of the Cross of our Lord, The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross reminds us how the power and wisdom of God have been revealed.  By the Cross, we are reconciled to Christ, and we can find true and enduring peace.  It is the Cross that directs us to Christ and to the way of salvation and eternal life.

The Feast commemorates the finding of the True Cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by Saint Helen, the mother of the Emperor Constantine.

You can read more about it here and here.

The Exaltation of The Holy Cross
Why we have a feast day for the Cross?

Lord Jesus Christ, Son Of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

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Prayer before reading The Bible

There’s an ancient prayer that Catholics recommend us to pray before reading The Bible in order to make of our hearts fruitful soil for the Word of God to take root.

The prayer is commonly attributed to St. John Chyrsostom, and can be prayed each time you open up the Bible. While it doesn’t guarantee divine inspiration, it can help prepare the ground so that your soul is ready to receive exactly what God wants to communicate to you.

Here is the prayer:

O, Lord Jesus Christ, open the eyes of my heart that I may hear your Word,
and understand and do your will, for I am a sojourner upon the Earth.
Hide not your commandments from me, but open my eyes, that I may perceive the wonders of your Law.
Speak unto me the hidden and secret things of your wisdom.
On you do I set my hope, O my God, that you shall enlighten my mind and understanding with the light of your knowledge; not only to cherish those things which are written, but to do them; For you are the enlightenment of those who lie in darkness, and from you comes every good deed and every gift. Amen.

I hope it helps you. God bless you!

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World Suicide Prevention Day, 2019

World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) is an awareness day observed every year on 10 September in order to provide worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides, with various activities around the world since 2003. It is organized by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP).

In past years, over 300 activities in around 70 countries were reported to IASP, including educational and commemorative events, press briefings and conferences, as well as coverage on most social media sites.

According to statistics listed on Wikipedia and other websites, an estimated one million people per year die by suicide. That is about one person in 10,000 (1.4% of all deaths), or “a death every 40 seconds or about 3,000 every day”. As of 2004 the number of people who die by suicide is expected to reach 1.5 million per year by 2020.

On average, three male suicides are reported for every female one, consistently across different age groups and in almost every country in the world. “Conversely, rates of suicide attempts tend to be 2-3 times higher in women than in men, although the gender gap has narrowed in recent years.” More people die from suicide than from murder and war; it is the 13th leading cause of death worldwide.

If you needed a sign to NOT kill yourself, here is a video I made a long time ago:

Anti-suicide video
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The Bible Project

The Bible Project is a non-profit animation studio that produces short-form, fully animated videos to make the biblical story accessible to everyone, everywhere. They create 100% free videos, podcasts, and resources that explore the Bible’s unified story.

The Bible is a divine-human book that speaks God’s word to his people. The Bible Project believes that The Bible ultimately points us to Jesus, who has the power to change individuals and whole communities when we let the biblical story speak for itself.

I invite you to check out their videos and read more about the project on their website. Let me know what you think about The Bible Project and support them by liking, subscribing to, following etc. their social pages.

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Thinking differently – Ps. Bob Hamp

Bob Hamp is one of the people whose teachings have had a remarkable impact upon my Christian views in the past few months. His lectures, his online videos (“Freedom Class”) and his YouTube channel have been real blessings in my life.

It is an honor to give him a shout out in this blog post. I invite you all to go subscribe to his YouTube channel, check out his website, watch his videos and experience the wonderful transformation you will see in your life.

Bob Hamp – The Keys To Freedom
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You anoint my head with oil…

Psalms 23 (HCSB)
The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.
He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He renews my life;
He leads me along the right paths
for His name’s sake.
Even when I go through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff — they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
as long as I live.

Psalm 23 beautifully evokes assurance and confidence to our souls while reminding us of what God, in His goodness, has provided for us.

I came across a post on a social networking page that shines light about what the verse “You anoint my head with oil” refers to, and no, it is not only figurative language for God keeping the Psalmist healthy (as it could seem for us, who are not familiar with pastoral life). Scripture abounds in allusions to pastoral life and the similes drawn from that life sometimes escape us, so these type of explanations are more than welcomed. I will copy and paste the explanation, and invite you to go follow said social network page, like their posts, leave them positive comments and show them your support.

“Sheep can get their head caught in briers and die trying to get untangled. There are horrid little flies that like to torment sheep by laying eggs in their nostrils which turn into worms and drive the sheep to beat their head against a rock, sometimes to death. Their ears and eyes are also susceptible to tormenting insects. So the shepherd anoints their whole head with oil. Then there is peace. That oil forms a barrier of protection against the evil that tries to destroy the sheep. Do you have times of mental torment? Do the worrisome thoughts invade your mind over and over? Do you beat your head against a wall trying to stop them? Have you ever asked God to anoint your head with oil? He has an endless supply! His oil protects and makes it possible for you to fix your heart, mind, and eyes on Him today and always! There is peace in the valley! May our good good Father anoint your head with oil today so that your cup overflows with blessings! God is good and He is faithful!!”

Facebook.com/FaithInGod247

Let me know, in the comments section, what you think about this explanation. Did you know this particular aspect of tending sheep? Did it cause you a “wow” moment, as it did to me when I first read it?

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10 reasons to love God

I’ve never been much of a Tumblr fan because the site’s user interface doesn’t really attract me, but I’ve tried to give it another chance recently, and I have to say that I have come across some really awesome Christian blogs.

I’ve decided to share some of them as articles on my blog and provide the links to them, so that you may go, follow, reblog and all that cool stuff.

I’ll start with this awesome post from spiritualinspiration.tumblr.com, which lists 10 reasons to love God. And here they are:

Please, check out SpiritualInspiration on Tumblr, Facebook and their website.

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Beheading of Saint John the Baptist Feast Day 2019

On August 29, The Orthodox and The Catholic Churches commemorate the beheading of John The Baptist. A strict fast is kept on this day.

I invite you to read a detailed account of the Biblical event here: https://greekcitytimes.com/2019/08/29/beheading-of-john-the-baptist/ and here: https://catholicexchange.com/memorial-of-the-passion-of-saint-john-the-baptist.

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Happy International Dog Day, 2019!

Founded in the US in 2004 by pet and family lifestyle expert Colleen Paige, International Dog Day has since spread all over the world, giving dog owners a special day to celebrate man’s best friend. And that day is August 26.

International Dog Day encourages dog ownership of all breeds. Whether mixed or purebred, all dogs should have the opportunity to live a happy, safe, and abuse-free life. They all give humans companionship. Additionally, they keep their owners safe, and they aid those in need. They can even keep us healthy, both physically and mentally.

Here are some ways to observe International Dog Day:

When considering adoption, adopt, don’t shop. If you have your heart set on a purebred companion, consider visiting a website like bestfriends.org or petfinder.com to find one at a shelter. Learn how organizations like these are changing the way we adopt.

Use #NationalDogDay and post photos of your dog on social media.  Take your dog for a walk.  If you do not have a dog, ask to take your neighbor’s dog for a stroll, or volunteer at a shelter.

Happy International Dog Day, 2019!

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Muslim girl discovers true peace and identity

A cool testimony (of an ex-Muslim girl) that I came across on The 700 Club YouTube channel, and thought I’d share. I don’t know why. It just seemed very interesting to me. May God increase my faith as He did to this sister in Christ.

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Reasons to love Jesus more than you love anything

As John Piper reminds us in the following video, we should strive to love Jesus more than we love anything.

Sometimes, while living in the world, this can be a challenge. The passions of the world can distract us from having Jesus in our minds all the time and love for Him in our hearts 24/7. Faith comes from hearing (Romans 10:17), so maybe love (the most important of the three godly gifts mentioned by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:!3) can come the same way. Well, in this case, reading.

In this article, I’m going to list (in no particular order) 5 reasons why we should love Jesus Christ, The Son Of God.

  1. He is the only begotten Son of the Father, a person of the Trinity, and our Creator.
  2. He gave his life for us. Whichever theory of the atonement you believe, the fact of the matter is that Jesus gave His life for us, and this is a part of Christian dogma. Through belief in and acceptance of the death and resurrection of Jesus, us humans, in spite of all our sins and brokenness, can be reconciled to God, and thereby are offered salvation and the promise of eternal life.
  3. He came to preach The Gospel (The Good News) of The Kingdom Of God.
  4. He condescended Himself to be in our presence, revealed to us His Wisdom, forgave the sins of mankind and destroyed death.
  5. He has shown us more love and compassion than any human ever could. He will always love us, and will always want us to come back to Him. No one else has this kind of unconditional love.

There are numerous reasons why we should love Jesus Christ. I just wanted to share five of them in the hope that it might help any Christians who are struggling with keeping the love burning in their hearts at times. I invite you to share your own reasons and opinions in the comments section below.

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Writing prompt 18

Despite the trauma-induced hallucination diagnosis that the doctors gave you at the hospital, you can’t shake the feeling that the light beings you saw helping the paramedics pull you out of the vehicle were real. When you pray to God for answers, He offers them to you in ways that change your life in ways you could have never imagined.

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The Dormition of The Mother Of God (The Theotokos)

The Feast of The Dormition of The Most Holy Mother Of God (The Theotokos) is celebrated is celebrated on August 15 each year. The Feast commemorates the repose (dormition and in the Greek kimisis) or “falling-asleep” of the Mother of Jesus Christ, our Lord. The Feast also commemorates the translation or assumption into heaven of the body of the Theotokos.

On the Cross, the Lord charged “the apostle He loved” (considered by tradition to be the Apostle John) to care for His holy Mother. After having been settled by the Apostle in a house in Jerusalem, The holy Mother lived for the rest of her days on earth, praying and offering counsel and encouragement to the Apostles.

It is unknown how old she was when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her and told her that in three days’ time she would enter into her rest, but many say that she was about 60 years old. After receiving the news from the Archangel, The holy Mother gave thanks to God and hastened to the Mount of Olives, where she prayed continually, preparing herself to meet the Lord.

Meanwhile, the Apostles, scattered in various parts of the earth, were caught up in clouds and miraculously brought by the holy Angels to Jerusalem, so that they might all be with the Theotokos at her repose. After she had blessed them, she gave up her soul to God. The Apostles buried her with all honor, solemnity and joy at Gethsemane.

The Apostle Thomas was delayed by God’s providence, and arrived on the third day. The other apostles went with him to her tomb, intending to honor her. But when the Apostles opened her grave, they found her holy body gone and only the winding-sheet remaining. That evening the Theotokos appeared to them surrounded by angels, and said to them, ‘Rejoice: I will be with you always!’. Thus they learned that she had been bodily translated to heaven, anticipating the general resurrection of all.

If you want to read more about the Icon of The Feast of The Dormition of The Mother Of God, I invite you to read this article. More information about the appearance and the personality of The Holy Theotokos can be found here.

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Old Orthodox monk talks about his prayer life

In this video from SoulSeekers Worldwide’s YouTube channel, Fr. Anthony, an Orthodox monks talks about his prayer life and longings. It is a fascinating video that I invite you to watch.

Fr. Anthony, an Orthodox monk, talks about his prayer life
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Book Lovers’ Day, 2019

Book Lovers’ Day is celebrated on the 9th of August every year. While it is an unofficial holiday observed to encourage bibliophiles celebrate reading and literature, Book Lovers’ Day has gathered a lot of attention during the past few years. It is widely recognized on global scale, but its origin and creator remains shrouded in mystery.

People are advised to put away their smartphones and every possible technological distraction, pick up a book (or two), and spend the day reading.

How are you spending Book Lovers’ Day this year? Let me know in the comments section.

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Happy International Cat Day, 2019!

August 8th is International Cat Day, a day when we celebrate one of mankind’s favorite pet, the cat.

Funny cat videos, cute pictures of cats and cat memes are some of the most viewed content on the internet, which just goes to show how much humans like these furry animals.

Some studies claim that watching funny cat videos online can boost a person’s energy and create positive emotions, and that owning a cat can also be good for your heart.

While I’m still skeptical about this due to personal experience, scientists say that petting a cat is said to reduce stress levels, and with people having such hectic lives, they can be an easier and less demanding choice of pet than owning a dog.

Regardless of whether cats can impact our health in a positive manner or not, they remain an important part of society.

Happy International Cat Day, 2019!

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A great Christian YouTube channel: Gamerfaith

When I wrote the previous article in which I gave a shout out to a Christian YouTuber, I intended it to be a one-time thing. I had come across many hardworking video content creators who put out Christian content on YouTube, so making shout out articles for each of them seemed like something I didn’t particularly feel like doing.

However, I’ve partially changed my mind. I currently intend to turn this thing into a series. I will include these shout outs in a category of their own. Every now and then I will write an article about a YouTube channel that has particularly impacted me in a positive manner in my walk with God.

In the current article I will present to you Gamerfaith. In hopes of helping him reach out more people through his videos, I just wanted to ask you to check out his channel, subscribe and watch some of his content.

He tackles various sensitive topics, such as overcoming pornography addiction, anxiety, insecurity that stems from bullying etc., and addresses the issues by bringing examples from his life and by trying to offer solutions that have worked for him. He strikes me as a very cool and helpful guy.

He also has social media accounts linked on his YouTube page and in the video descriptions, in case you want to support him through Patreon or message him and ask him for advice.

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About The Names Of God

The most important prayer in Christianity is The Lord’s Prayer (Our Father / Pater Noster), the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples. Used by most Christian churches in their worship, The Lord’s Prayer is recorded in Matthew 6:9-13 and, in a shorter version, in Luke 11:2-4.

The Lord’s Prayer begins with an invocation of God and a request related to His Name: Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.

God’s Name is of utmost importance in understanding His nature and His character. When asked by Moses asked Him what His Name was at the burning bush, God replied: “I AM that I AM… You must say this to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” (Exodus 3:14). God made it clear that He is eternally present. He has always been, He is now and He will always be.

Not only that, but this name of God also describes His eternal presence with His people. He is present to help, guide, comfort, save us etc. and His presence never leaves those who call upon His Name with a repentant heart. This is one of the most important lessons we learn from the very name of God: I AM.

The names that were given to God throughout the Old Testament offer us a glimpse into God’s character and how people saw and experienced Him.

Below I will post a list of God’s Names from The Old and The New Testament, as well as links to two websites where you can read detailed explanations about each of the names:

Yahweh
(Genesis 2:4, Isaiah 40:3; 10; 1 Samuel 1:20; Exodus 6:1-4, 3:1-22)

Adonai
(Genesis 15:2, Judges 6:15, Malachi 1:6, Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 2:4, 8:1, 97:5, 136:3; Isaiah 1:24, 6:1; Romans 10:9)

Yahweh-Maccaddeshem
(Exodus 31:13, Leviticus 20:8; Ezekiel 37:28)

Yahweh-Rohi
(Psalm 23, 80:1, 95:7, Isaiah 40:11, Jeremiah 31:10, Ezekiel 34:12, 23)

Yahweh-Shammah
(Ezekiel 48:35, Genesis 28:15, Ezekiel 48:35, Psalm 23:4, 46:1, 139:7-12, Jeremiah 23:23-24, Amos 5:14)

Yahweh-Rapha
(Exodus 15:26, Exodus 15:26, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Psalm 6:2, 41:4, 103:3, 147:3, Isaiah 19:22, 30:36, 57:18-19, Jeremiah 3:22; 17:14, 30:17)

Yahweh-Tsidkenu
(Jeremiah 23:6, Genesis 15:6, Jeremiah 23:6, Psalm 4:1, 5:8, 24:5, 31:1, 36:10, 71:15, 89:16)

Yahweh-Jireh
(Genesis 22:13-14)

Yahweh-Nissi
(Exodus 17:15)

Yahweh-Shalom
(Judges 6:24)

Yahweh-Sabbaoth
(Isaiah 6:1-3, 1 Samuel 1:3, 17:45; 2 Samuel 6:2, 7:26-27; 1 Chronicles 11:9; Haggai 1:5)

Yahweh-Ghmolah
(Jeremiah 51:6)

Elohim
(Gen. 1:1, 17:7, Ps 19:1 Jer. 31:33)

El-Elyon
(Genesis 14:17-20, Deuteronomy 26:19, Isaiah 14:13-14)

El-Gibhor
(Isaiah 9:6)

El-Olam
(Isaiah 40:28-31)

El-Roi
(Genesis 16:13)

El-Shaddai-Rohi
(Gen. 17:1, 49:24, Ps. 91:1, 132:2, 5)

El-Chuwl
(Psalm 139:13-18)

El-Deah
(1 Samuel 2:3; Romans 11:33-36; 1 Cor. 1:18-31)

Attiyq Youm
(Daniel 7:9, 13, 14)

https://www.godisreal.today/names-of-god/

https://www.jesusfilm.org/blog-and-stories/names-of-god.html

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Who did Jesus pray to, if He was God?

Here’s a very interesting video I’ve stumbled across. In fact, the entire channel, UltimateMordecai, contains a lot of insightful Christian videos and I recommend subscribing to it; but this video, in particular, address the question: “who did Jesus pray to if He was God?”, and answers it from the perspective of an ex-Jehovah’s Witness.

The answer might surprise you. Watch the video and share your thoughts in the comments section. Also, please show UltimateMordecai some support by liking and sharing his content.

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Words of wisdom from Elder Arsenie Papacioc

Elder Arsenie Papacioc of Romania, blessed memory, was part of the great generation of confessors for Christ that had suffered much while imprisoned for their faith under the atheist communist regime of the east.

I invite you to watch this video in which he shared some words of wisdom about various topics.

On the Church: Salvation exists only in Christ and His Orthodox Church. If you are Orthodox, you ought to hold tight to its teachings, if not you’ll fall into heresy. We cannot renounce even an iota from the Orthodox truth. This is a great matter that concerns God. Such it was with the fall of Catholicism! Personally, I no longer consider it a church, but a government body with a clerical name.

Miscellaneous: Intelligence and education have no value, if they are not in the service of love. The Mother of God represents the human race. Peace is greater than justice. We must refute immediately all [evil] thoughts that come to mind, and they will come until our last breath. Believe in God, love the church and follow the [spiritual] fathers of the church. Walk your life on the road of humility. Acquire a good name near Christ. Insist more in prayer. You’ll be free only when you walk with love towards those who hate you! Stay still in Christ for eternity…

On Salvation: God does more for our salvation than Satan for our destruction. Outside the Church, there is no salvation! Hell exists only outside the Church. He who can do good but does not do it, commits sin. Only the devil cannot be saved. Without God’s grace, it is impossible to be saved only by your actions, no matter how great of an ascetic you may be. It is the Cross that saved mankind! Not God’s justice or His miracles, but His Cross! When Jesus was crucified, Satan was defeated. Heaven is full of repentant sinners. And those from hell, He also loves. But they are whipped by His love, by His justice. And what Christ did not do to save us from hell? Fear of death is not caused by death but by life. If you want not to fear death, live as a Christian! Only those who don’t live in Christ, fear death! There is no sense or purpose, if there is no God. Nothing is lost, as long as our faith is alive!

On Marriage and Family: Love joins everything in the two. This is the symbol of the wedding ring. A marriage done just for pleasure has no meaning. Marriage means reaching together into eternity. On Prayer God is very rich! And He’s awaiting us!… He waits for us to ask! Wherever you are, and whenever you’re tempted, pray and do not be discouraged! Anyone who wants to acquire the gift of prayer, must keep silent and pray. We speak so much about prayer. That’s one thing that it cannot be discussed but practiced.

About Satan: To the devil, we don’t need to give explanations! We cannot talk about the devil without speaking about God. In God’ creation, the devil is a tolerated. Do you believe that the devil is free? No! He’s the most bounded for he is not in Christ… So do not be afraid of him. He is a tolerated, not a power. There is no relationship between good and evil. Our Savior says, “Give Me your whole heart!” But the devil says, “I only need one of your finger.” But through it, soon he’ll take over your whole being. The whole you. If you wound know how much zeal Satan puts to interrupt our prayer! It is a great mistake to enter into conversation with the devil. We ought to converse only with God. If you want to drive him away, say: “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me”, and speak to God. The power of His Name will rid him. It suits the devil to enter into a dialogue for it means that you acknowledge him. Thus through prayer, we ignore him. If we first address the issue of hell, then we ignore heaven! Walking on a wrong path, sinning means hell. Pride is a devilish state, an absolutely diabolical one. No other passion brings man closer to devil’ resemblance, as does pride. If you do not listen to those whom God had appointed for you, it is easily understood that you rather obey Satan. Lucifer fell hopelessly. The greatest fall and only two words: “I am”… Indirectly, the devil confesses God through temptations.

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Christ Tempted

I want to share this short movie I stumbled upon on YouTube. It’s called “Christ Tempted” and it depicts the forty days in the wilderness where Jesus Christ, prior to beginning His earthly ministry, was tempted by Satan,… but never sinned.

The movie was directed by David Helling, whose social media accounts are written in the movie description box.

Christ tempted – short movie

Please, check out and subscribe to David Helling’s YouTube channel, and show him some support (like, share and leave him a positive comment).

Let me know what you thought about this short movie. God bless you!

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Helpful Bible chapters for various occasions

In our walk with God, us Christians live complex lives. We have successes and failures, we feel all sort of emotions and we have to face various obstacles. In this article, I want to share with you a list of ten fragments from Scripture that will come in handy in various situations.

If you are worrying, read Matthew 6:19-34. Remember: God takes care of everything when you put your faith in Him. Besides, as Jesus points out, worrying doesn’t prolong anyone’s life.

If you are lonely or fearful, read Psalm 23. Remember: When The Lord is your shepherd, you lack nothing and should fear nothing. Trust in His goodness and His love, which follow His children forever.

If you are in sorrow, read John 14:1-6. Remember: Jesus is The Way, The Truth and The Life. You shouldn’t let your hearts be troubled if you trust that Jesus will show you the way to Paradise (His Father’s house).

If you are grateful, read Psalm 103. Remember to praise God for all He has done, is doing and will do for you. King David gave us great examples of how to praise The Lord in prayer.

If you are disappointed with other people, read Psalm 27. Remember: Seek The Lord, seek His Name, seek His Face, seek His beauty, and He will grant you confidence and help you face whatever enemies may come against you.

If God seems far away, read Psalm 139. Remember: God is everywhere and, even though we might not feel His presence sometimes, He is close. Like the psalmist, we should marvel at the omnipresence of God even in the most secret of places, and praise God for His vast knowledge of the future.

If you need courage, read Joshua 1. Remember: Joshua needed courage when he was installed leader, after Moses’ death. When we feel scared or uncertain about whether we can overcome certain challenges, we should read the words of encouragement that God gave to Joshua.

If you are in danger, read Psalm 91. Remember: God will deliver you from any troubles if you put your faith in Him. Psalm 91 is a reminder of the fact that God always helps those who obey Him and seek Him.

If you have sinned, read Psalm 51. Remember: it is important to confess our sins to God and to ask for His forgiveness. We should also ask Him to change our hearts and our souls according to His Will.

If you want to be more like Jesus, read John 15. Remember: it is important to be in Him in order to bear fruit. This chapter will also teach you about how to face the adversities of the world.

Let me know if these have helped you. Feel free to share, in the comments section below, your favorite verses or fragments from The Bible.

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Feast Day of Prophet Elijah, 2019

Saint Elijah The Prophet Orthodox Church Liturgy

Every year, on the 20th of July, the Orthodox Church commemorates Prophet Elijah (Elias).

The Holy Prophet Elijah was born in Tishba of Gilead into the Levite tribe 900 years before the Incarnation of the Word of God. Elijah is one of the greatest of the prophets, and the first dedicated to virginity in the Old Testament.

Saint Epiphanius of Cyprus gives the following account about the birth of the Prophet Elijah: “When Elijah was born, his father Sobach saw in a vision angels of God around him. They swaddled him with fire and fed him with flames”.

The name Elijah (“Yahweh is my God”) given to the infant defined his whole life. Having dedicated himself to The One God, Elijah settled in the wilderness and spent his whole life in strict fasting, meditation, and prayer. Called to prophetic service, which put him in conflict with the Israelite king Ahab, the prophet became a fiery zealot of true faith and piety.

Read more about the Holy Prophet Elijah in The Bible, and in this article.

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Don’t give up – motivational speech – Bishop T. D. Jakes

In this post I’d like to share one of the most inspiring motivational speeches I’ve ever listened to. It’s part of a sermon held by the Bishop T. D. Jakes.

If you’ve been feeling down lately, if you’re dealing with hardships in your life and are thinking about quitting, I hope this video will encourage you to see things differently. Remember: never give up! You do make a difference.

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The Chosen – TV series

Directed and co-written by American filmmaker Dallas Jenkins, The Chosen is the first original TV series about the life of Jesus Christ.

Backed by over $11 million dollars raised through crowdfunding, the groundbreaking multi-season series, that dramatizes the Gospel narrative and presents the ministry and miracles of Jesus Christ, launched this week for viewers to stream on-demand.

The writer and director behind The Chosen says they aim to change the rules for how to cinematically approach the biblical text.

“I’ve seen pretty much every Jesus movie or miniseries ever made,” says Dallas Jenkins, a filmmaker for the past two decades. “But I’ve had the hardest time connecting with most of them, even the ones I’ve enjoyed as a believer, because they make the journey safe and clean.

“There’s no way to portray redemption — from depravity and oppression, to joy and freedom — unless it’s desperate and authentic.”

On Tuesday, in advance of Easter weekend, a full trailer for The Chosen released along with the series premiere (currently free). Three further episodes are available for purchase. Producers announced the complete first season will release in November on the VidAngel streaming video platform.

Check out the official trailer below:

The Chosen trailer – a TV series about the life of Jesus Christ
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Saint Stephen The Great (Ştefan Cel Mare) of Moldavia

I know that this article is late, and I apologize for posting it now, but I just recently came across a video of the celebration of Saint Stephen The Great’s feast day on YouTube and wanted to inform my readers about this very interesting Romanian ruler who was glorified by the Orthodox Church.

Eleven days ago, on the 2nd of July, was the feast day of a rather controversial Orthodox saint — Saint Stephen The Great of Moldova. Stephen (“Ştefan” in his native language, Romanian) was one of the most important rulers of Moldova (a large region of modern-day Romania).

He ruled from 1457 to 1504 and gained his fame due to his great statesmanship. A remarkable military tactician, as well as a devout Orthodox Christian, he was responsible for defending Moldova against the Ottoman invasion, and went down in history not only for his victories, but also for having built a church or monastery in thanks to God after each victory.

Stephen the Great was glorified, along with his spiritual father St. Daniel the Hermit of Voroneţ (“Sfântul Daniil Sihastru de la Voroneţ”) and many other Romanian saints, by the Synod of the Church of Romania in 1992. His feast day is July 2.

Read more about his life in the Orthodox Wiki: https://orthodoxwiki.org/Stephen_the_Great

Let me know in the comments section if you have heard about Saint Stephen The Great and, if you haven’t, what your opinion about him is after having read the article I recommended above.

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Writing prompt 17

You’ve decided to pray, pray, and pray some more, until God grants you that one wish that’s been in your heart for years. As time passes, you begin to see things differently and realize how foolish said wish was.

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Health benefits of eating vegetables

Here is a list of health benefits that you can experience if you include vegetables in your daily diet. Vegetables, along with fruits, contribute to healing various illnesses and to improving one’s health.

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Happy Independence Day, 2019, America!

4th of July is, as some of you might know, the day on which America celebrates its Independence Day.

This year marks the 243rd anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, which declared that the 13 American colonies were not under British rule any longer, but rather were free, independent states.

Across the US, parades, parties and firework displays are held in celebration. It is customary for Americans to spend the day with friends and family, sharing food and decorating homes and clothes with the US flag.

At the first celebration in 1777, fireworks lit up the sky in celebration, despite the US still in the midst of the Revolutionary War. Ever since, on the 4th of July, firework displays have been held across the country.

Here is an article about the best fourth of July firework shows across the USA: https://people.com/travel/happy-birthday-america-here-are-the-best-fourth-of-july-fireworks-shows-across-the-u-s-a/

If you want to find out more about how the tradition started, click here.

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Get involved to help stop child trafficking

Operation Underground Railroad is an organization that has been founded in 2013 with the purpose of stopping child slavery and trafficking. Their operations are always in conjunction with law enforcement throughout the world.

In order to spread visibility about their righteous mission, I invite you to check out their website, and see how you can get involved by donating, volunteering, or just by posting about it on social media.

Stop child slavery.
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Writing prompt 16

Aliens visit Earth. They have futuristic spacecrafts, advanced weapons, are humanoid-like, seem highly intelligent and claim that they come in peace. But they’re terrified of everything related to Christianity (Bibles, priests, crosses, icons, churches etc.) for reasons they refuse to disclose.

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The Feast Day of the Apostles Peter and Paul, 2019

Today, on the 29th of June, 2019, the Holy Orthodox Church celebrates the feast day of the Holy Foremost Apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul.

I invite you to read about the holy lives of the two apostles by clicking the following links:

https://orthodoxie.com/en/june-29/

https://www.novinite.com/articles/198202/Today+the+Orthodox+Church+Honours+the+Memory+of+the+Great+Apostles+Peter+and+Paul

Saint Peter, Saint Paul, pray for us sinners.

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FaithSocial – a new social network for Christians

Thanks to Clayton Jennings’ instagram, I recently found out about a new social network for Christians, and it is my pleasure to write a short article about it and invite you all to join it.

FaithSocial.com aims to connect Christians from all over the world to personalized connections and content.

Its interface resembles Facebook’s to some degree, although the first page that guests see looks quite different from Facebook:

FaithSocial.com front page for guests

The site has mobile apps for Android and iOS available on Google Play and Apple App Store.

If you want to support them, you can purchase clothing items from their shop: https://www.shopfaithsocial.com

If you want to check it out and you feel like you could benefit in your walk with God by joining this new social media platform, then please do and feel free to follow me: https://www.faithsocial.com/LucianHodoboc

Let me know your opinions about this Christian social network in the comments section below.

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The devil who turned into an angel

There’s an old Orthodox story told by Elder Ilie Cleopa, a Romanian Orthodox priest whose life you can read more about in this article. I couldn’t find an English version of it on the internet, so I decided to translate it. The English translation below was done by myself, having this text as a source material.

Being humble (lowly of heart) is a good thing that the devil can’t do. We fast, but he never eats; we diligently work, but neither does he sit idle; we read (religious) books, but he is a great theologian, he knows all the Scripture by heart. Whatever we do, he also does. But there’s one thing he can’t do. He can’t humble himself; he can’t say “forgive me!”.

I will tell you a holy short story from the book “Everghetinos”. There was this nun at a nun monastery; she was a sacristan in the monastic life, the poor thing. The sacristan wakes up at 11 p.m at night and wakes up the abbess, as the Matins is celebrated at midnight. We used to do this too. When I was a sacristan, I used to carry a little bell and a hammer. I used to go and knock three times on the door and say: “For the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ, Son Of God, have mercy on us!”, and the one inside the house would say: “Amen”.

I used to ring the bell and move on to the next house. That was the way in which things were done at the time and that’s how we used to do them. Just like the nun from this story. What did she do to not fall asleep? She used to read Psalms from sunset until the hours of the Matins, and when it was 11 p.m., she ran to the abbess to receive the blessings required for her to ring the bells and wake up the sisters for prayer.

The devil used to be very displeased with her because her reading of the Psalms would burn him. But she toiled like this for years. So what did the devil think of in order to make the abbess and the other nuns reprimand her? The devil would go at night and ring the bells. But he wouldn’t do it at the right time. As soon as the nuns went to sleep, they would hear the bells going “ding dong ding dong…”. The abbess would call her and say:

“You foolish girl, the sisters have just went to bed, so why did you ring the bells?”

But she used to say:

“I’m sorry, Mother Superior, for I did bad.”

She didn’t know it was the devil. She thought it was another nun, trying to frame her. Another time, the devil rang the bells both in the evening and after midnight, after the sisters were asleep. But he didn’t ring them on time, so that he could trouble the nun who kept reading from the Psalms.

So what did she do? “I’ll climb up to the bell tower!” she said, “Seeing how I’m not asleep anyways!”. So she took the Psalms book, a cross in her hand and some candles — cause light bulbs hadn’t been invented at that time — so she could read in the bell tower, and to see which of the other nuns rang the bells to frame her, as she was given penance by the abbess and the spiritual fathers many a time because the bells were rang earlier than they should have been.

When she went to the bell tower, the devil came. He put one foot on one window case, the other foot on the other window case, and reaches out for the rope to ring the bells. So, as she was standing there with the cross in her hand, she said:

“In the Name of Jesus Christ, stop! May God’s power bind you!”

“Oh no, servant of God, free me and I will never return!”

“No. Wait!”

“Let me go! I swear that I will never come to this monastery again!”

“No. Wait until Mother Superior comes here to see who had been ringing the bells all this time, while she and the council of sisters gave me penance thinking that I was doing it.”

“Release me, servant of God!”

“No. May God’s power and the Holy Cross retain you! Stay like that, with your hand on the rope!”

And the poor nun climbed down from the bell tower and went to see the abbess.

“Mother Superior!”

“What’s wrong?”

“Come see who has been ringing the bells all this time, while you were punishing me for doing it!”

The abbess took a few nuns from the council and went to see who was ringing the bells. She thought it was another nun, who had been doing it just to cause trouble. When she arrived in the bell tower and saw him:

“Woe! Sister, chase him away! Oh, dear me, we’re scared to death! He’s very ugly!”

When they saw that the devil was a bell-ringer, they wanted to run away.

“No! Let him stay like this! He can’t run away, as he is bound.”

But he was constantly shouting:

“Release me, servants of God, and I will never return to this monastery!”

“No! Stay here until I get all the sisters in the convent to come, so you can ask their forgiveness for troubling them by ringing the bells early!”

“That I cannot do!”

Did you see the devil’s evil nature? “That I cannot do”. That’s what they say in hell: “We won’t serve You! We won’t serve You!”. Always going against God, as they have fallen because of pride.

So they rang the bells and the sisters gathered.

“The devil is in the bell tower! That one sister is ordering him to ask for forgiveness.”

When they saw him, (some of them) screamed and scurried away.

“Say forgive me!” the nuns told him.

“I can’t, for if I do I will become an angel.”

“That’s just what we want. To see a devil turning back into an angel, like he used to be (before Lucifer’s rebellion).”

See, since he has fallen due to pride, he cannot say “forgive me”. This applies to us too. If you see someone asking you for forgiveness and you don’t say “May God grant you forgiveness!”, you’re like the devil who can’t say “forgive me”. “I don’t want to say forgive me! But why? He’s the one who’s guilty, not me!”

“I’m not saying forgive me!”

Then the nun said:

“Look, if you won’t say forgive me, then sing us a song, like you used to sing when you used to be an angel.”

“If I sing, you’ll melt like candle wax.”

“We’re not afraid!”

“And what song should I sing?”

“Sing the Trisagion Hymn, The Holy God song.”

When he started singing, every nun who heard him cried. He was singing very beautifully. But do you know how he sang? Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, and then he stopped. That was it. He didn’t want to say, have mercy on us.

“Say have mercy on us!”

“I can’t!”

“May the Power of The Holy Cross burn you!”

“Oh no! Release me, and I will never step foot around here ever again! I will tell the entire hell what happened to me here.”

“No! Say have mercy on us!”

When he saw that the Power of The Holy Cross was burning him, he sang. And when he sang have mercy on us, he shone as brightly as the Sun and he flew up to Heaven. He became an angel. And then the nuns began making prostrations.

“We thank The Lord for we have seen a devil who was reverted into an angel for saying have mercy on us!”

That’s why anyone who has ever wronged someone else should immediately say forgive me, brother, for I was wrong!

Let me know your opinions about the story in the comment section below.

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Writing prompt 15

It’s the year 2200 and virtual reality advancement have taken the world by storm. Companies have developed cyber-realities that can simulate a heavenly experience by engaging all 5 senses. The “Paradise simulator” addiction becomes a threat that no one anticipated.

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Actor portraying Jesus Christ recites The Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic

On an episode of The Catholic Talk Show, actor Jonathan Roumie, who plays Jesus in the new series “The Chosen,” discussed what Jesus actually looked like with Ryan Scheel, Ryan DellaCrosse and Fr. Rich Pagano, and recited the “Our Father” prayer in Aramaic.

Watch the entire video below:

The recitation starts at around 29:25.

Read more about this here: https://churchpop.com/2019/04/30/powerful-watch-this-jesus-actor-flawlessly-pray-the-our-father-in-aramaic/

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Rest In Peace, Franco Zeffirelli (1923 – 2019)

Franco Zeffirelli, the famous Italian director of the made-for-television movie “Life Of Jesus” has passed away this morning, on the 15th of July, 2019. May God rest his soul in Paradise.

Zeffirelli delighted audiences around the world with his romantic vision and often extravagant productions.

Despite being most popularly known for his films, Zeffirelli was also inextricably linked to the theater and opera. Showing great flexibility, he produced classics for the world’s most famous opera houses, from Milan’s venerable La Scala to the Metropolitan in New York, and plays for London and Italian stages.

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Remembering Anne Frank on her 90th birthday

Born on June 12, 1929, Anne Frank would have been 90 years old today. She died in Bergen-Belsen in 1945.

Friends of Anne met with local school children and reminisced about eating cookies and watching movies for the young Nazi victim’s 13th birthday in 1942.

I came across this very interesting article about how Jacqueline van Maarsen and Albert Gomes de Mesquita, school friends of Anne Frank spent the day remembering her: https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5524305,00.html .

I don’t think there’s much to be said. May she rest in peace, in Paradise.

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The Catholic Feast of The Virgin Mary

Today Catholics celebrate the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, as decreed by Pope Francis. Viva la Virgen!

As Bishop Biron puts it, “if Mary is the one through whom Christ was born, and the Church is Christ’s Mystical Body, then she must be the Mother of the Church.”

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Kallistos Ware on the theories of atonement (Salvation in Christ)

In Christianity, there are various theories of atonement. In this series of videos, the late Eastern Orthodox bishop and theologian Kallistos Ware explains some of the theories regarding Salvation. I have found them very interesting and I wanted to share them in this article. Please watch them and let me know what your opinions on the matter are.

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The Feast of Ascension of The Lord 2019

This year, the Eastern Orthodox celebrate the Holy Ascension today, on the 6th of June: http://www.cicts.org/default.asp?id=819

From Wikipedia: “In the Eastern Church, The Feast of Ascension, known in Greek as Analepsis, the “taking up”, and also as the Episozomene, the “salvation from on high”, denoting that by ascending into his glory Christ completed the work of our redemption. Ascension is one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Orthodox liturgical year.

The feast is always observed with an All-night vigil. The day before is the Apodosis (leave-taking) of Easter (i.e., the last day of the Feast of Easter). Before the Vigil, the Paschal hours are said for the last time and the Paschal greeting is exchanged.

The Paroemia (Old Testament readings) at Vespers on the eve of the Feast are Isaiah 2:2–3Isaiah 62:10–63:363:7–9; and Zechariah 14:1–414:8–11. A Lity is celebrated.

Christ is ascended!

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The Prayer of Saint Cyprian of Nicomedia

Lord Jesus Christ, Our God, Creator and Provider of all, Holy and venerable You are; The King Of Kings and God Of Gods, may You be glorified.

I ask You, The One Who lives in the incomprehensible and distant light, to make the demons depart from your followers and extinguish all their deception, for the sake of my prayer, for I am your humble and unworthy servant. Make the rain fall over the earth when it is needed, and make the earth bear its fruit; make the trees and the vineyards plenarily bear their fruit; set the women free from sins and from any infertility of their womb; after all these are achieved and the entire world is freed, set the entire creation free of all of the devil’s binds. And set your servant (insert the name of the person whom you are praying for) and everything in his/her household free from all the binds of satan, of magic, of charms and of all of the enemy’s powers. Hinder, oh, Lord, God of our ancestors, all of satan’s work, You, Who offer exemption from magic, charms, spells and all his doings and bindings, and destroy all disingenuous work by the mention of Your Most Holy name.

Thusly, God, Lord of all things, hear me, the unworthy one, and unfetter your servant (insert the name of the person you’re praying for) from all of satan’s bindings, and if they be bonded in the skies or on Earth, or with the skin of unreasoning animals or with iron or with stone, or with wood, or with writing, or with human blood, or with the blood of birds or of fish, or through uncleanliness, or in any other way has this befall upon them, or if from other places has it come, from the sea, from wells, from graves, or from any other place, or if it came through human nails, or through the claws of animals or birds, or through snakes (alive or dead), or through the soil of the dead, or if it came through piercing of needles, unbind them all forever this very moment, Lord, with Your great power. 

You, Lord, Our God, Who knows and discerns all things, unbind, batter and destroy right now the works of magic, and protect Your servant (insert the name of the person whom you are praying for) and all their household from all of the demonic conspiracies.

With the magnitude of Your incorruptible and life-giving Cross, crush all the adverse powers. 

Desolate, destroy and banish forever the works of magic, witchcraft and sorcery from your servant (insert the name of the person whom you are praying for). 

Lord, hear me, the sinner, with everyone in my household, and set them free from the demon of the afternoon, from all sickness and from all the curse, from all anger, adversity, gossip, envy, charms, unmercifulness, idleness, greediness, helplessness, stupidity, foolishness, pride, cruelty, inequity, conceit, and of all known or unknown errancies and mistakes, for the sake of Your holy name, for blessed are you forever. Amen.

(translated into English by Lucian Hodoboc)

If you want to know more about Saint Cyprian of Nicomedia, an ex-wizard, and how he turned to God because of the Holy Virgin Saint Justina, I invite you to read this article:

http://www.orthodoxchristian.info/pages/Stjustina.htm )

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Pope Francis’ visit to Romania

As he continues efforts to bolster ties between Orthodox Christians and Catholics in Eastern Europe, Pope Francis arrived in Bucharest on Friday, the 31st of May 2019. It is the start of a three-day pilgrimage to majority-Orthodox Romania — the first papal visit since John Paul II in 1999.

After having been welcomed at Otopeni Airport by the country’s president, Klaus Iohannis, the Pope was driven through the capital where crowds lined the streets to see his motorcade.


Pope Francis will meet the patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church during his visit to the country, where Catholics are a minority.

During his trip, Pope Francis will celebrate mass at country’s most famous Marian shrine, Sumuleu Ciuc, in Eastern Transylvania and is scheduled to beatify seven Greek-Catholic bishops who were martyred during communist rule, when Catholics were brutally persecuted.

He will also meet the patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church in the latest of his foreign trips to Christian countries where Catholics are a minority.

“I’m coming to you to walk together,” Francis said in a video message released on the eve of his visit.

Read more about it here and here.

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The Orthodox view of salvation

In this video, Fr. Steve Robinson presents a comparison of the mainstream juridical-substitutionary atonement views and an Orthodox view of salvation illustrated with a couple of chairs.

I found it pretty interesting. Watch the video and let me know, in the comments section below, what you think about it.

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Red nose day 2019

Today I would like to present to you one of the most unusual and coolest initiatives I’ve come across online lately – Red Nose Day. What is it? Well, you can read the entire FAQ here, but allow me to give you the gist of the matter: Red Nose Day is celebrated this year on May 23 and it is a campaign to end child poverty.

Through the power of entertainment, Red Nose Day raises money and awareness to keep children who need help the most stay safe, healthy and educated in America and around the world.

Red Nose Day was was founded in America, but people from all over the world can donate. On Red Nose Day, millions of Americans, celebrities and businesses come together wearing their Red Noses – sold exclusively at Walgreens – to fundraise, donate, and tune in for a special night of programming on NBC.

In its first four years, Red Nose Day has raised nearly $150 million and positively impacted the lives of over 16 million children.

Donate and find out how to get involved at http://rednoseday.org 

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Catholic IQ test

I stumbled upon a very interesting website where people can take a rather long quiz to test their Bible knowledge. The site is: https://www.catholiciqtest.com/.

The quiz contains a lot of questions related to the Bible and Christianity (Catholic Christianity, to be more precise).

If you have some free time, I invite you to check it out and to see how many of the questions you can get right.

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Happy World Bee Day, 2019!

World Bee Day 2019

According to the United Nations website, on the 20th of May, it’s World Bee Day. The date was chosen because it coincides with the birthday of Anton Janša, who in the 18th century pioneered modern beekeeping techniques in his native Slovenia and praised the bees for their ability to work so hard, while needing so little attention.

Pollinators – our allies against climate change

You can read more about it here. Happy World Bee Day, 2019, everyone!

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Eurovision 2019 – Final

Congratulations to the winner of the 2019 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, Duncan Laurence from The Netherlands!

Duncan Laurence – Arcade – Eurovision 2019 winner

Personally, I’m kind of disappointed with the results, but oh well. Also, congratulations to Italy and Russia for winning the second and third place, respectively.

Let me know, in the comments section, what you thought about this edition of the European song contest Eurovision. Who were you rooting for? Are you satisfied with the winner?

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Eurovision 2019 – second semifinal

The second semifinal of the 2019 edition of the European song content has just ended. The countries that took part in this semifinal were:

1. Armenia: Serbic – Going Out
2. Ireland: Sarah McTernan – 22
3. Moldova: Ana Odobescu – Stay
4. Switzerland: Luke Hanni – She has me
5. Latvia: carousel – That night
6. Romania: Ester Peony – On Sunday
7. Denmark: Leonora – Love is forever
8. Sweden: John Lundwick – Too late for love
9. Austria: PÆNDA – Boundaries
10. Croatia: Rocco – Dream
11. Malta: Michelle – Chameleon
12. Lithuania: Yuri Veklenko – Run with the Lions
13. Russia: Sergei Lazarev – A scream
14. Albania: Yonida Maliqi – Kethek Tokes
15. Norway: KEiiNO – Spirit in the sky
16. Netherlands: Duncan Lawrence – Arcade
17. Northern Macedonia: Tamara Todevska – Gordana
18. Azerbaijan: Genghis – The Truth

The 10 acts that earned the most points and qualified to participate in the final on Saturday are:

  1. North Macedonia – Tamara Todevska with Proud
  2. The Netherlands – Duncan Laurence with Arcade
  3. Albania – Jonida Maliqi with Ktheju tokës
  4. Sweden – John Lundvik with Too Late For Love
  5. Russia – Sergey Lazarev with Scream
  6. Azerbaijan – Chingiz with Truth
  7. Denmark – Leonora with Love Is Forever
  8. Norway – KEiiNO with Spirit In The Sky
  9. Switzerland – Luca Hänni with She Got Me
  10. Malta – Michela with Chameleon

My favorite song that did not qualify is:

Moldova’s Stay by Ana Odobescu

My favorite song from the ones that made it to the final is:

North Macedonia’s Proud by Tamara Todevska

Let me know who were your favorites in the comments below. Were you disappointed by the results? Even if I was not a fan of Romania’s entry, I am kind of disappointed that my country did not make it into the final. Share your thoughts about the second semifinal.

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Eurovision 2019 – first semifinal

The first semifinal of the 2019 edition of the European song content has just ended. The countries that took part in this semifinal were:

  1. Cyprus – Tamta with Replay
  2. Montenegro – D Mol with Heaven
  3. Finland – Darude feat. Sebastian Rejman with Look Away
  4. Poland – Tulia with Fire of Love (Pali się)
  5. Slovenia – Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl with Sebi
  6. Czech Republic – Lake Malawi with Friend Of A Friend
  7. Hungary – Joci Pápa with Az Én Apám
  8. Belarus – ZENA with Like It
  9. Serbia – Nevene Božović with Kruna
  10. Belgium – Eliot with Wake Up
  11. Georgia – Oto Nemsadze with Keep On Going
  12. Australia – Kate Miller-Heidke with Zero Gravity
  13. Iceland – Hatari with Hatrið mun sigra
  14. Estonia – Victor Crone with Storm
  15. Portugal – Conan Osiris with Telemóveis
  16. Greece – Katerine Duska with Better Love
  17. San Marino – Serhat with Say Na Na Na

The 10 acts that earned the most points and qualified to participate in the final on Saturday are:

  1. Greece – Katerine Duska
  2. Belarus – Zena
  3. Serbia – Nevena Bozovic
  4. Cyprus – Tamta
  5. Estonia – Victor Crone
  6. Czech Republic – Lake Malawi
  7. Australia – Kate Miller-Heidke
  8. Iceland – Hatari
  9. San Marino – Serhat
  10. Slovenia – Zala Kralj and Gašper Šantl

My favorite song that did not qualify is:

Montenegro’s Heaven by D Mol

My favorite song from the ones that made it to the final is:

Belarus’ Better Love by Katerine Dusca:

Let me know who were your favorites in the comments below. Were you disappointed by the results? Share your thoughts about the first semifinal.

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Happy Mother’s Day, 2019!

What is Mother’s Day? Well, Mother’s Day is a celebration meant to honor mothers and celebrate motherhood, maternal bonds and the influence of mothers in society. It is also one of those holidays that is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world. It complements Father’s Day, the celebration honoring fathers.

As a Romanian, I only recently found out that in most countries Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday in May. Most East European countries (including Romania) celebrate or used to celebrate Mother’s Day on March 8th. This date marked Mother’s Day as well as Women’s Day in Romania since the time of the communist period. The date was changed to the 5th of May this year.

However, in the USA, Canada, some European countries, Australia, New Zealand, India, China, Japan, the Philippines and South Africa, it is celebrated on the 12th of May. Notable exceptions to this rule are the UK and Ireland, which celebrate Mother’s Day on the fourth Sunday in Lent. Most Arab countries celebrate Mother’s Day on March 21st (vernal equinox). For a complete overview of the dates of Mother’s Day around the world see Mother’s Day on Wikipedia.

Therefore, Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers everywhere for all the days of the year! May you be blessed by God and cherished by your children!

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The Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic (Abun d’beschmayo)

I thought I’d share this video of Sarah Ego (Elyio) singing “Our Father / Pater Noster” in Aramaic, because I have found it quite beautiful. I hope you enjoy The Lord’s Prayer in one of the languages that Jesus Christ Himself spoke.

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An alternative to Android and iOS is kind of needed

Is it just me or has the Google – Apple duopoly become rather upsetting lately? Personally, I’ve found the gradual withdrawal of Blackberry OS, Symbian OS and Windows Phone OS from the mobile operating systems scene to be quite bothersome.

Do you remember the days when every major smartphone manufacturer had its own operating system? In our home, we still have two LG smartphones from the middle 2000s in our household and yes, they had a touchscreen and could be used to browse the internet. No apps were available at that time for the operating system they ran on, but still, for LG to create its own operating system for a device that probably sold for only a couple of years was a demonstration of the fact that it can be done; that companies can create their own operating systems and maintain them despite the competition.

So what happened? Why have all the companies that had the resources to compete with Apple and Google abandoned the race? All we got from Microsoft and Blackberry so far in regards to the reasons for the discontinuation of their mobile operating systems were vague answers that left their fans’s questions unanswered.

With the ever-increasing technological development, one would think that we should aspire towards diversity. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t necessarily want us to return to the time when each mobile phone manufacturer had its own OS, but a little variety would be more than welcomed. Is having more than two mobile operating systems too much to ask?

The struggle to create the best mobile operating system that got people excited in the early 2010s has now become the struggle to create customization appreciated by users. What do smartphone manufacturers do nowadays to differentiate themselves on the software side? They resort to insignificant and cumbersome gimmicks that have very little use in everyday life.

I can’t help but become nostalgic when I remember the old Nokia smartphones (with the gigantic camera on the back) that ran on Symbian OS, Blackberry’s OS 10 devices and their announcement that they had added a voice assistant to compete with Apple’s Siri, HP’s Web OS devices and, of course, Microsoft’s promising first Windows Phone devices.

Almost all the products (smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, smart TVs) on display in IT stores use Android. Different versions of Android, it’s true, but still Android. The others? iOS. Yes, I’m tired of having to choose between the buggy Android devices with their short lifespan and the expensive “iDevices” and their lack of customization.

Yes, I do miss the variety and the experience of learning to use a new software from scratch, the cool feeling you have when you discover hidden features. I remember learning to use Windows Phone quite intellectually stimulating among other things. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to use a Blackberry OS device and I do not intend to purchase one even though you can still find old Blackberry phones running on Blackberry 10 on the market.

What is your view on the Google and Apple duopoly on the smartphone, smartwatch and tablet market? Are you also fed up with it? Share your opinions in the comments.

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Anti-bullying Day

According to various online sources, there is no official date for celebrating Anti-bullying Day, as different countries celebrate it on different days of the year.

The idea originated in Canada more than a decade ago, and while Canadians celebrate Anti-bullying Day on February 27, the United Nations declared the official day to be May 4.

Anti-Bullying Day was instituted to prevent further bullying and it is a day when people wear mainly a pink shirt to symbolize a stand against bullying.

Anti-Bullying Day activities can take place at schools, workplaces, or any peer group location. They may include “abolishing bullying” rallies, information and networking booths to help the community in understanding the evils of bullying, and publicizing anti-discrimination organizations. Examples include Blue Shirt World Day of Bullying Prevention, National Bullying awareness month, and Pink Shirt Day.

Other features include handouts, resources, and information promoting the message of the “National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence”. Examples of other activities include races, conferences, video-creating competitions such as the “ScreenIt!” and the “Back me up” competitions, and community events, all used to spread awareness of bullying and violence.

Personally, I think that bullying is such a major problem in today’s society that we need as many anti-bullying days as we can get throughout the year.

Are you going to get involved in stopping bullying this year? Share your opinions about Anti-bullying Day and let me know (in the comments section) how or if bullying has affected your life. It certainly has affected mine a lot.

Bullying Must Be Stopped Photo Peace Sign Lucian Hodoboc
Bullying Must Be Stopped ! (Photo Peace Sign) – Lucian Hodoboc
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The Bible vs. The Quran comparison

In this video from Ravi Zacharias International Ministries’ YouTube channel, Andy Bannister lists five reasons why he thinks that the Bible is believable, while the Quran isn’t:

  1. manuscripts;
  2. the Quran’s failure to meet its own standards
  3. the ability to test the Bible historically
  4. the ability to test the Bible archaeologically
  5. the Quran’s claim that humans are intrinsically good

What do you think about his arguments? Personally, what I’d like to know is why the video’s comments section is closed.

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Happy International Labor Day, 2019!

International Labor Day is celebrated in many country around the globe every year on the 1st of May. It is a day dedicated to laborers of the working class.

While it’s not not completely clear why it’s celebrated in the USA in September, the origins of Labor Day can be traced back to the 19th century, when the labor union movement rose up against unjust working conditions and made several demands.

The day might stand for different things from one country to another, but it does have an overall theme, and that is celebrating the achievements of workers.

Happy International Labor Day, 2019!

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Christ is Risen! Happy Orthodox Easter!

Happy Easter (Pascha / Paşte or Resurrection Sunday) to all the Orthodox people in the world! Let’s celebrate Christ’s resurrection by rejoicing, praying and striving to be better!

In Romania and other European countries, one of the traditions is to boil and die eggs in red (and other colors, although they should generally be red because the color symbolizes Christ’s blood) and to crack them by tapping the end of one egg against the end of another. One person holds one egg and another person holds another. The first person says “Christ is risen!” and the second person replies: “Truly He is risen!”.

You can read more about the tradition by clicking the links below:

https://www.thespruceeats.com/greek-easter-egg-game-1705738

https://greece.greekreporter.com/2016/04/30/the-symbolism-of-cracking-red-eggs-on-easter/

This is how you say “Christ is risen!” and “Truly He is risen!” in Romanian:

Hristos a înviat! Adevărat a înviat!

And this is how you say it in various other languages:

https://orthodoxwiki.org/Paschal_greeting

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An Orthodox prayer for Good Friday

Lord Jesus Christ, sweet Savior of my soul, on this day of Your crucifixion, when You suffered on the cross and accepted death for our sins, I confess before You that I myself have crucified You with my many sins. But I beseech Your indescribable goodness: Grant me Your grace, O Lord, so that I may endure suffering for the sake of the faith, hope and love that I have for You, just as You, in Your long-suffering, endured the passion in order to save me. Strengthen me, O Lord, that from this day forth I may bear Your cross with joy and repentance, and that I may thus hate my wicked thoughts and desires.  

Instill sadness in my heart at Your death, allowing me to grieve just as Your beloved Mother, Your disciples and the myrrh-bearing women did as they stood near Your cross. Illumine the senses of my soul so that they may awaken and comprehend Your death, just as you brought comprehension to the lifeless creation at the time of Your crucifixion, and it trembled; just as the faithful thief understood, repented, and confessed You, and with that confession, You led him into paradise. May Your grace, which You then granted to him, now forgive my sins, for the sake of You holy passion; and as I truly turn and repent, may that same grace place me together with the thief in paradise, for You are my God and Creator.

I bow down before Your cross, O Christ, and because of Your love for us, I cry out to it:  Rejoice, honored cross of Christ, upon which He was lifted and affixed with nails for the salvation of the world; Rejoice, blessed tree, for you held the Fruit of life Who has saved us from the death of sin; Rejoice strong bar which has shattered the gates of hell; Rejoice, royal key, which has opened the door of paradise.

O, my crucified Christ, how You suffered for us! How many wounds, spitting, mockery and insults You endured because of our sins, giving us an example of true patience in times of suffering and troubles which we must endure in this life?! Since God sends these to us because of our sins, that we may correct ourselves and draw near to Him, He thus chastises us for our own good during this life. Therefore, I pray to You, O Master: during times of troubles, temptations and pain that come upon me, grant that I may increase in patience, strength and gratitude. For I confess that I am helpless if You do not strengthen me; blind, if You do not illumine me; bound if You do not set me free; fearful, if You do not make me brave; lost, if You do not seek me; a slave, if You do not redeem me with Your abundant and divine power and with the grace of Your holy cross, which I venerated and glorify, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Source: http://otftd.blogspot.com/2014/11/a-prayer-for-friday.html

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Writing prompt 10

Both your parents are heroic vigilantes. They don’t have superpowers, but they are trained in various forms or fighting styles and use gadgets to defend the city. They have done this for decades, and they expect you to follow in their footsteps, but you feel a strong calling to the monastic life.

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Happy World Book Day 2019!

World Book Day, also known as World Book and Copyright Day, or International Day of the Book, is an annual event the organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with the aim of promoting reading, publishing, and copyright.

Having been first celebrated on the 23rd of April 1995, World Book Day continues to be recognized on that day every year. A related event in the United Kingdom and Ireland is observed in March.

Happy World Book Day, 2019!

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Happy Earth Day 2019!

Each year, Earth Day, observed on the 22nd of April, marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

Earth Day has reached into its current status as the largest secular observance in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year, and a day of action that changes human behavior and provokes policy changes.

2019 marks the 49th anniversary of Earth Day, while next year, in 2020, 50th anniversary of Earth Day will occur. In honor of this milestone, Earth Day Network is launching an ambitious set of goals to shape the future of 21st century environmentalism. Learn more here.

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Blessed Easter to Catholics and Evangelicals

As Catholics and Evangelicals celebrate Easter today, I want to wish them a blessed Easter Day! Khristós Anésti! Christ has risen!

I also want to invite everyone to pray for the people in Sri Lanka, after several terrorist attacks at 3 SriLankan churches & 3 luxury hotels killed over 185 people and wounded more than 400. May the Lord comfort those suffering. Those who have been killed, eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. Jesus has risen! May they find strength in Him on this most holy day. We ask this in Jesus’ name.

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Bishop Barron – about pain

As Catholics celebrate Good Friday, I invite you to read a very interesting article about the metaphysics of pain, written by Bishop Robert Barron. I will quote this part, which has really caught my attention through its profoundness:

“Once we understand that God’s love is more powerful than suffering, we have lost, at least in principle, the motivation to sin.”

Let me know your opinions about the points brought into discussion by Bishop Barron in the article.

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Roman Catholic priest converts to Orthodoxy

A roman Catholic priest converting to Orthodoxy. You don’t see this often. Former Roman-Catholic priest, father Constantine, converted to Orthodox Christianity in 2014. He was converted by his grace archbishop of St. Petersburg in Chapel of Orthodox Academy of St. Petersburg. Father Constantine later became a monk and now serves the Orthodox Church as a monk.

Do you think he did the right thing? Express your opinions in the comments section below.

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Types of plant-based diets

There are several types of vegetarian or plant-based diets. The terms “vegetarian” and “plant-based” can sometimes create confusion due to the lack of consensus in regards to their official definitions. Here are some brief explanations of what the main types of vegetarians are:

Fruitarian: a person who eats exclusively raw fruits and seeds (or whose diet consists of at least 70% fruits and about 30% vegetables), mostly raw, but sometimes frozen or slightly cooked fruit is acceptable;

Raw Food Vegan: a person who excludes all food and products of animal origin, as well as food cooked at a temperature above 105 °F. It includes raw fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts, grains, legume sprouts, plant oils, sea vegetables, herbs and mushrooms;

Vegan: a person who does not eat or use animal products; vegans eat cooked products from the above list;

Lacto Vegetarian: a person who abstains from eating meat and eggs, but eats dairy products;

Ovo Vegetarian: a person who abstains from eating meat and dairy, but consumes eggs;

Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian: a person who abstains from eating meat, but eats eggs and dairy products;

Pescatarian: a person who does not eat meat but does eat fish;

Flexitarian: one who consumes a plant-based diet with the occasional inclusion of meat, eggs or dairy products;