Monday, June 15, 2015

Welcome to Saint Aidan's Orthodox Mission!

We are a community of Orthodox Christians dedicated to proclaiming and living the Orthodox faith in the East Kootenay region. Feel free to explore our web site. Contact information is in the sidebar.

Monday, August 25, 2014

August 24th Reading

A St. Aidan story: Building Begins

After the forty days, it was time to build. The earth bank was made, to show clearly the holy place. It enclosed not just the church but the whole site. Not only would prayer be offered to God. They would offer their labour, their sweat and their tears. They would offer prayer, but in much the same way they would offer the tilling of the ground, the milking of cows, the catching of fish and the teaching of young men. All work was sacred, for all was done in god’s presence and to His glory. The sawing of wood and the fixing of timbers were as much acts of worship as kneeling before the altar. There was no false division into sacred and secular. Hands that were already toughened became calloused with so much hard labour, but it gave them so much joy. The work-worn hands were the same hands that raised the chalice in the Eucharist. . . .

. . . The church building was a simple affair made from oak planks and beams brought in from the mainland. The roof was thatched with bents, wiry grasses from the sand dunes. Following the tradition of Columba, they built their church of oak rather than stone. Perhaps it was to express that we have no abiding city, that building on earth is not eternal. . .

Reconstruction drawing of an early monastery (Image Philip Armstrong ©Northern Ireland Environment Agency)
Photo from

Huts were soon built as cells. Upright poles of birch were driven into the ground less than two feet apart, and a second line was built in parallel about  foot away from the first, to form the outline of the walling. Pliable Hazel and willow branches were woven into hurdles, and tied to the inner and outer poles. Once this was done, panniers of earth were poured into the gap to make a solid infilling. The inner and outer walls were smeared with clay, or daub. During the waving of the saplings the brethren would pray quietly. Often not a word would be heard for hours, each meditating and weaving into his life the power and the presence of God. How often, again and again, this weaving pattern appeared in Celtic art. It was the basis of their house building, of their clothes, and of their prayers. Heaven and earth, God and each person are interwoven. God made it so, that we are woven together with Him and with each other. God and each individual are interdependent, remove one piece and all are affected. If one piece is missing the whole structure suffers. Often, whilst weaving hurdles, the brethren chanted, a music not so much concerned with words but vibrant with memories of hymns and psalms. The sound of their chanting was very like the rising and falling sound of the sea. They all knew what depths were in this sound, though to a stranger it might have sounded just like the hum of bees. . . 

Once the cells were built, the brothers were ready to take on the first pupils. As there were twelve brothers, there would be twelve pupils to start with. Each pupil would have a teacher, an anamchara, that is one who shared his cell. Not all teaching would be done one-to-one but each needed a personal guide and soul mate. The foundations had been laid, now the work Oswald had called them to do could begin.

This extract is taken from 'Flame of the Heart' by David Adam and reproduced by kind permission of SPCK. You can find this book at

Sunday, August 17, 2014

August 17 Reading

Blessing the Island

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Have a wonderful day!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

August 10th Reading

The Dormition of the Mother of God - August 15

Tender Love and the Dormition

My mother lives far from me, many states away; it takes me about twelve or thirteen hours to drive there. So I don’t get there that often. I usually fly down about once a month. I didn’t used to go that often, but she had emergency surgery last January, and ever since then she’s been in a nursing home, and her mind is a little fuzzier than it used to be. She’s never quite gotten her strength back, never gotten on her feet again. Eighty-two years old, and it’s hard to foresee what the future holds. At present it looks like she just might continue being in that nursing home. I’m grateful that my two sisters live closer, so they can go there frequently, and one of them goes every day.
But when I go down there, I do see how much care it requires; that her food must be not just cooked, but then put through a blender so it’s soft, and spoon-fed to her; that she has to be picked up bodily in order to be bathed or to have the changes made, or to change the bed, the sheets; it’s hard work, taking care of an older person. I was thinking that, it’s kind of an ominous thing, to realize that. To think about the whole stretch of human history, going back to the beginning of time, how much elder abuse there probably was. And, how many older people probably did not come to a natural end, just because someone was tired of taking care of them. The mess happens after you give them food. If you don’t give them food, you won’t have the same mess. I can sure picture people throughout history making that decision. If you think about it from an aspect of cold calculation, then elder neglect or elder abuse is a sensible crime.
Little children are equally demanding, of course; little children and babies are not productive, they soil their pants. But with children you can expect a return on your labor one day. Elderly parents are every bit as troublesome, and they’re heavier, but they’re not going to get better. They’re larger, they’re more trouble, and sometimes they smell just as bad as the babies do. Interacting with a baby can be fun. It gives mom and dad satisfaction and joy. But the emotions aren’t as sunny, it’s not as unclouded when all the parties involved are older and care is moving in the other direction, from the child to the parent. A son or daughter may feel a complex net of resentments and fears toward the parent they must now take care of, tend, wipe and feed.
I was thinking about this because of the feast of the Dormition, thinking about Mary as an elderly woman, and what the end of her life was like. She must have been quite old by then. We never picture her that way, of course; we picture her like in icons, she’s always young. She’s always holding a baby. But her days of holding Jesus as a baby were at least thirty-three years before the crucifixion, so a lot of time has gone by. She must have been, I’m guessing, at least fifty when she gathered with the rest of the apostles on the day of Pentecost. I assume that she was at that point still pretty strong and healthy, because our tradition says that she took part when everyone drew lots to see what nation they would go to in order to evangelize, as they all went out to spread the Gospel. The tradition says that she drew the lot for the nation of Georgia, but then received word from the Holy Spirit that she was not to go, and that someone else would go in her place, later on of course. That’s St. Nina of Georgia, a couple of hundred years later.
In her old age Mary was living with St. John the Evangelist. That would have been in Jerusalem. I know that there’s a recent tradition that she died in Ephesus, that she was living with John in Ephesus; John ended his life in Ephesus, but apparently she died before he moved there. Her death was actually in Jerusalem, and she was buried in the garden of Gethsemane. There is a church there, the Sepulcher of the Holy Virgin, and down at the lowest level, you keep going down to the very bottom, it is a first century tomb, and that is where Christian memory has always said was the burial place of the Virgin Mary. So in the end she was living with St. John the Evangelist, the same John who was standing next to her at the foot of the cross. We see them like that in icons of the Crucifixion. When Jesus spoke, he said, “Woman, behold your son.” And he said to John, “Behold your mother.” We can’t even imagine what Jesus was thinking about when He was on the cross. That was a period of such intense cosmic spiritual warfare. But whatever else was going through his mind, one thing he was thinking about was his mother. He thought about her, and He wanted her to be taken care of. He wanted John to love her like a son, to love her like He did.
The Gospel of John tells us, the next line is, “From that hour, the disciple took her to his own home.” So this adoption of him taking Mary as his mother was something that began on the day of the crucifixion and continued through the end of her life. As I was saying, if you picture what it’s like to care for an elderly person, this requirement that the Lord laid on John was more than just being hospitable. In taking on the duty of a son to the Virgin Mary, John assumed whatever burdens might come, as well as the blessings. Some cultures have even permitted adult children to abandon or even end the life of an elderly parent. But the tradition in the Hebrew scriptures and of course in the Christian Tradition as well is that the elderly must be treated with respect, they must be respected, they must be care for to the very end.
It takes a strong command to guarantee that kind of care, because eruptions of frustration and disgust and the obvious question, “What am I getting out of this?” are going to push natural inclinations the other way. A grown child, in fact, might get more out of a parent’s death than his continuing life, if the child calculates that lingering, ugly old age is the only thing standing in the way of an inheritance. So when John took Mary to his own home, along with the wonderful blessing of having the light of her life in his own home, he was also accepting anything that might come at the end, any dementia, any physical weaknesses. Whatever it took, he was going to care for her to the end of her life. It’s a solemn obligation.
We don’t know what Mary’s declining years were like. She may have been toothless. She may have had to have her food crushed up small and soft, like my mother does. Her memories might have become dim. Maybe she wasn’t talking much at the end. Picture this: picture St. John feeding her soup from a spoon, settling her head on fresh pillows, turning her, changing her dressings. It’s very hot in the middle east in August. You can imagine a one-room stone house on a hillside. Inside it’s dark and still; yellow flowers are dusting pollen outside the open window. You can hear the children shouting outside as they play in the declining sunlight. A fly is buzzing outside the wooden door. As one day after another succeeded each other in early August, it must have been obvious that her end was drawing near.
I recently received a book from an iconographer who had put together plain, line-drawing examples of all the icons from the life of the Theotokos, from her conception by St. Anna all through her Dormition. I was surprised that there were eight different images, icons, having to do with the Dormition alone. It gave me a little more insight into what the last days of her life were like. The first one showed the Angel Gabriel appearing to the Theotokos to tell her that her end was near, and he gave her a palm branch as a symbol of her victory. In the next image we see her going out to the garden to pray, and carrying the palm branch, and all the trees are bowing down to her. The image of the Dormition itself, of course, is familiar to us; it shows all the apostles gathered around her bedside. I had known that the tradition is that some of them were brought miraculously from far away by the Holy Spirit. But until I was reading about these images, it hadn’t occurred to me that some of these Apostles had already been martyred and were brought back from paradise to stand in attendance at her Dormition. The remaining icons after that, the beautiful one of the apostles grieving and the Lord carrying her soul up to Heaven- the remaining icons show the discovery of her empty tomb, St. Thomas praying and having a vision of the Virgin Mary in Heaven and she drops her sash to him as a sign that she has, indeed, gone up into heaven. And the last of the icons shows St. Thomas showing the sash to the other apostles, the evidence that the body of the Theotokos has been taken up into Paradise.
It’s the icon of the Dormition itself which I think is the most moving. In the icon we see them standing and kneeling around her little body stretched on a bed. Her eyes are closed and her small, thin hands are crossed over her chest. The Apostles are beside themselves, they stare and weep in distress at the departure of their beloved mother. Christ stands in the midst of them unseen, within a shimmering blue halo that surrounds his whole body, holding a tiny, white-swaddled figure in his arms. It reminds us of the familiar images of young Mary clasping her infant child, but this time it is the Son who holds the radiant soul of his mother.
The feast of the Dormition focuses on the departure of the Virgin Mary from this mortal human life. But there is another person in the story, St. John, who cared for her through all her last years, up till her death on that hot August day. In the icon, he is kneeling next to her bed, tear-struck, clutching a bit of her mantle in his hands. He loved her so much.
Many of us care for and worry about elderly parents, and we can use need a patron saint to be a guiding example, to support us through the hard daily toil and through even harder decisions that we face while caring for the elderly. Dear St. John, pray for us. Be our inspiration and out guide. Show us how to be good caregivers to our elderly parents, and to show to them the love and respect that you were so blessed to give to our mother, the Virgin Theotokos.

Frederica Mathews Green,

Sunday, August 3, 2014

August 3rd Reading

The Transfiguration of Jesus (August 6)


Photo from
The Three Apostles

The Three Apostles were specially chosen to witness the Transfiguration, and did so through ascent of the mountain, prayer, and by keeping watch. Why only three Apostles and not all twelve? St Nikolai of Ohrid explains it was not possible to allow Judas, who would betray Christ, to behold the Transfiguration, and that to bring all Twelve Apostles to the top of Mt Tabor except Judas would justify his resentment. St Nikolai also writes“[God] Himself gave the Law through the mouth of Moses: ‘At the mouth of two witnesses or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established’ (Deuteronomy 19:15). Therefore, three witnesses are sufficient.” As to why these three in particular – Peter, James, and John – St Nikolai further states:

These three witnesses represent three main virtues: Peter – Faith, for he was the first to confess his faith in Christ as the Son of God; James – Hope, for, with faith in the promise of Christ, he was the first [Apostle] to lay down his life for the Lord, being slain by the Jews; John – Love, for he reclined on the bosom of the Lord and remained beneath the Cross  of the Lord until the end. God is not called the God of many but rather the God of the chosen. “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:6).

One thing to note is that in some icons, the Apostles are deliberately depicted without halos. Firstly, this is not to take attention away from the depiction of Christ shining with uncreated light. Secondly, more importantly, the halo represents the glory of God and the sanctity of the Holy Spirit: this was given to the Apostles dramatically at Pentecost, but not before then. This is often shown in icons by omitting the halos from Christ’s Apostles when they are shown before Pentecost.

Photo from
The Two Old Testament Righteous
Icons of the Transfiguration show Moses and Elijah (Elias) in profile, bowing towards, and focused on, Jesus Christ: Who stares straight ahead at us. This emphasizes the ancient understanding of why Elijah and Moses appeared at the Transfiguration: They symbolized Christ’s sovereignty – being Divine – over both the Prophets (Elijah) and the Law (Moses) of the Old Testament. It also emphasizes how the Old Testament laws and prophecies all point toward Jesus Christ, just as Elijah and Moses now bow toward Christ in the flesh. Saint Ephraim the Syrian, in his sermon of the feast, explains the significance of Moses and Elijah (Elias) more fully:

He [Christ] led them up the mountain to show them who the Son is and whose he is. Because when he asked them, ‘Whom do men say the Son of man is?’(Matt. 16:13) They said to him, some Elias, others Jeremias, or one of the Prophets. This is why he leads them up the mountain and shows them that he is not Elias, but the God of Elias; again, that he is not Jeremias, but the one who sanctified Jeremias in his mother’s womb;(Jer 1:5) not one of the Prophets, but the Lord of the Prophets, who also sent them.

And there is more that Moses and Elijah represent. St Ephraim continues:
And he shows them that he is the maker of heaven and earth, and that he is Lord of living and dead. For he gave orders to heaven and brought down Elias, and made a sign to the earth and raised up Moses.
Because Moses died and was buried, and because Elijah was taken up as into heaven in a fiery chariot and did not taste death, St Ephraim and other Holy Fathers also interpreted Elijah and Moses’ presence as representing both the living and dead righteous; of “heaven and earth”. But, it is not an apparition of Moses and Elijah that the Apostles see, but the actual men themselves. Therefore it is believed that Moses really was raised from the dead to be on Mt Tabor, and that Elijah was translated from the heavens for the same reason. Medieval icons, therefore, often contain small scenes of Moses rising from a tomb, and Elijah traveling on a cloud – both accompanied by angels, emphasizing that the two are summoned by Christ, and it is God’s power which brings them to Mt Tabor. These are especially common in later Russian icons, but Theophanes the Greek also paints these two scenes in the top corners of his famous icon of the Transfiguration.

The Holy Trinity
Along with the three Apostles and two Prophets we have, in the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ, a manifestation of the Holy Trinity. St Gregory Palamas explains this ancient understanding this way:
There were eight on the mountain, but only six were visible. Three, Peter, James and John, had come up with Jesus, and they saw Moses and Elias standing there and conversing with Him, so altogether there were six of them. However, the Father and the Holy Spirit were invisibly with the Lord: the Father, with His Voice testifying that this was His Beloved Son, and the Holy Spirit shining forth with Him in the radiant cloud. Thus, the six are actually eight, and there is no contradiction regarding the eight.
Depicting the Holy Trinity in Transfiguration Icons when the Father and Holy Spirit were “invisibly present” is a problem overcome by painting three distinct rays of light shining forth from Christ. This is done in many Icons, although other iconographers prefer to paint an eight-pointed star in the mandorla surrounding Christ, the number eight signifying eternity in the Church and in the Old Testament Scriptures alike.
Recognized by the Church as a manifestation of the Holy Trinity, it is for this reason that the Transfiguration is sometimes called a “second Theophany”, the first Theophany being the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan. At both events, all Three Persons of the Holy Trinity are present, and at both the Father uses the same words – “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” – further emphasizing the connection. It is perhaps for this reason that Elijah is always shown on the left, slightly bowed, facing Christ. This is similar to the depiction of John the Baptist in icons of the Baptism of Christ. The similarity between Elijah and St John is surely deliberate, as Christ Himself said of John: And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come (Matt 11:14).

This article is from

Saturday, August 2, 2014

August Newsletter

This is taken from our August Newsletter:

Growing Together in Faith. 

Vol. 1, Issue 9: August 2014


August 2 – Vespers. 6pm. Soup Supper to follow.
August 3 – Hours. 10:10am. Liturgy 10:30am. Potluck lunch to follow.
August 9 – Vespers. 6pm. Soup Supper to follow.
August 10 – Hours. 10:10am. Liturgy 10:30am. Potluck lunch to follow.
August 17 – Typika service. 10:30am. Potluck lunch to follow.
August  24 –Typika service. 10:30am. Potluck lunch to follow.
August 30 – Vespers. 6pm. Soup supper to follow.
August 31 – Hours. 10:10am. Liturgy 10:30am. Patron Saint Potluck Feast to follow, at a different location. Contact the church for directions to the feast at 250-489-8006.


  Children have a variety of activities to play with both inside and outside. These activities are available both during church, if your kids need a break, and after church. Please have adult supervision.

Readings (posted on the website):

August 2 – The Transfiguration of Jesus (on August 6)
August 10 – The Dormition of the Mother of God (on August 15)
August 17 – St Aidan story: Blessing the Island
August 24 – St Aidan story: Building the Monastery
August 31 – St Aidan story: The Freedom of Dis-possession


Aidan of Lindisfarne, August 31

Aidan of Lindisfarne[1] (who died 31 August 651) was an Irish monk and missionary credited with restoring Christianity to Northumbria. He founded a monastic cathedral on the island of Lindisfarne, served as its first bishop, and travelled ceaselessly throughout the countryside, spreading the gospel to both the Anglo-Saxon nobility and to the socially disenfranchised (including children and slaves). He is known as the Apostle of Northumbria.  Aidan was responsible for the construction of churches, monasteries and schools throughout Northumbria. He earned a tremendous reputation for his pious charity and dedication to the less fortunate—such as his tendency to provide room, board and education to orphans, and his use of contributions to pay for the freedom of slaves.

The Dormition Fast

The Feast of the Dormition (August 15) is preceded by a two-week fast, referred to as the Dormition Fast. From August 1 to August 14 (inclusive)Orthodox and Eastern Catholics fast from red meat, poultry, meat products, dairy products (eggs and milk products), oil, and wine. The first day of the Dormition Fast is a feast day called the Procession of the Cross (August 1), on which day it is customary to have an outdoor procession and perform the Lesser Blessing of Water. As with the other Fasts of the Church year, there is a Great Feast that falls during the Fast; in this case, the Transfiguration (August 6), on which, wine and oil are allowed.

Fasting Recipes available on the St Aidan website

Feast of the Dormition of our Most Holy Lady, The Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary - August 15

The Feast commemorates the repose (dormition and in the Greek kimisis) or "falling-asleep" of the Mother of Jesus Christ, our Lord. This great Feast of the Church and the icon celebrates a fundamental teaching of our faith—the Resurrection of the body. In the case of the Theotokos, this has been accomplished by the divine will of God. Thus, this Feast is a feast of hope, hope in Resurrection and life eternal. Like those who gathered around the body of the Virgin Mary, we gather around our departed loved ones and commend their souls into the hands of Christ. As we remember those who have reposed in the faith before us and have passed on into the communion of the Saints, we prepare ourselves to one day be received into the new life of the age to come.

The Transfiguration of Jesus - August 6

The Transfiguration is one of the five major milestones in the gospel narrative of the life of Jesus, the others being Baptism, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension.[7][8]
Jesus and three of his apostles go to a mountain (the Mount of Transfiguration). On the mountain, Jesus begins to shine with bright rays of light. Then the prophets Moses and Elijah appear next to him and he speaks with them. Jesus is then called "Son" by a voice in the sky, assumed to be God the Father, as in the Baptism of Jesus.[
In Christian teachings, the Transfiguration is a pivotal moment, and the setting on the mountain is presented as the point where human nature meets God: the meeting place for the temporal and the eternal, with Jesus himself as the connecting point, acting as the bridge between heaven and earth.[9]

Summer Camping Retreat

  Most summers, the families of St Aidans get together at Moyie Lake Campground for a weekend of fun, fellowship, and relaxation. 

This year, we will be camping in September, date to be announced. Please contact Joanna to book 1 or 2 nights or you can just drop in to visit for a few hours. Price will be approximately $28/night, depending on the number of vehicles and people on the site.

You are responsible for your own food, except for the pancake lunch on Saturday. There will be a potluck dinner Saturday night, and a potluck lunch after church on Sunday.  

If possible, Saturday evening Vespers will be held in the campground at 6pm, with the Potluck dinner to follow.

We will be driving into Cranbrook on Sunday for church and the potluck lunch. The campground is only 20 minutes from Cranbrook, so it is a nice easy commute!

Home Visits

Father Andrew and Matushka Sonia will be staying in the Kootenay area for the week of August 2 to August 10. They are hoping to visit with families from the parish. Father is also hoping to be serving with Fr. Gregory at Bonners Ferry for the Aug. 6 Transfiguration Liturgy.  

If you would like to have a visit, please contact Father Andrew to arrange a time at 403-554-0193

The light of Christ that illumines all – The Transfiguration        Fr. Andrew

Elijah and Moses appeared to the apostles, Peter, James and John on Mount Tabor, when Christ was transfigured, and the uncreated glory of His divinity was revealed to His disciples. Transfiguration coming up on Aug. 6 is one of the great feast days of the Church. The revealing of the uncreated light during the transfiguration of Christ is considered to be a revealing of the normal state of reality. We are normally blind to this presence but it fills all things at all times. The apostles had their eyes opened to truly see reality. This is why the first icon that a student of iconography in the Orthodox tradition will usually be taught to complete is the Transfiguration. The uncreated light that is the theme of this icon is also present in every icon, and really in all of creation. The gold leaf that is in the background of many icons represents this heavenly light. This uncreated light that is ever-existing and fills all things is not just demonstrated at the Transfiguration, but also in many other incidents. Moses, in seeing the burning bush, was not seeing a special bush, but simply having his eyes opened to see the ever present reality of the uncreated light of God, that exists in all life at all times. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, the uncreated light of God shone in him to such an extent that people could not look at him. St. Seraphim of Sarov in his famous conversation with his friend Nicolas Motovilov, where he explains that the purpose of life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit, then begins to glow with the uncreated light. Motovilov says to St. Seraphim “I cannot look at you because your eyes are flashing with lightning. Your face has become brighter than the sun, and my eyes ache with pain.”…”Imagine in the center of the sun, in the dazzling light of its midday rays, the face of a man talking to you. You see the movement of his lips and the changing expression of his eyes, you hear his voice and a blinding light spreading far around for several yards and illuminating with its glaring sheen both the snow blanket and the snow flakes.”

Our God is a great God who created all and waits for us to come to Him in humility and love, that He may open our eyes to the light and beauty of the kingdom. With the Feast!

Orthodox Humor: Liturgical Olympics.

Here are some of the top sports:

Russians are the favorites in the Censer Swing, a gymnastic sport of timing and grace, in which priests and deacons compete to make the most intricate formations with the smoke and movement of the censer. Points off for setting vestments on fire.

Georgians and Bulgarians are expected to be top competitors in the Long Note: a track and field event to see who can hold a note the longest. There are individual, team and relay heats. Points off for flatting.

Greeks are taking top odds in Speed Liturgy, another track and field event, in which priest, deacon and choir compete for the speediest liturgy. Judges will be listening carefully to see if anything is left out.

St.Aidan Orthodox Church

Father Andrew and Matushka Sonia Applegate
201-7th Avenue South. Cranbrook, BC. V1C 2J6

Tel. (250)489-8006 (church)                         
Tel. (403)554-0193 (Fr. Andrew)                        
Tel. (403)217-9151 (Fr. at home)                          
Tel. (250)421-6013 (Admin – Ellen)

Fr. Philip Erikson  587-433-4270
Bishop Irenee  613-233-7780

Sunday, July 27, 2014

July 27 Reading

St Aidan story: Preparing the Ground

Photo from

The island was larger than Aidan had expected, though he was not quite sure where it began. Some of it was great sand dunes. The main part of the island seemed to be at its southern end. It felt about the size of Iona, though there was no hill like Dun-I. Two rocky outcrops, exposed to the sea, made the only hills on the island, on the north-eastern shore there were some caves. It was near these caves he heard the seals singing and it reminded him of Iona. God had blessed him and his companions with a good land. There was much hazel wood and a quantity of stunted trees, more trees than on Iona. But the trees had to survive the winds and the salt spray. In the sea there were ducks and many gulls, there were musses, oysters and winkles. The seals suggested there were fish in abundance. There was a good deal of machair (grassy plains) that would be ideal for pasture for their cattle. Cattle were essential to the community, not only for meat and milk, but for providing skins for parchments for the making of books. The soil was light and sandy, no doubt it would be good for growing grain. There was a small freshwater lough that reminded Aidan again of Iona. His heart was nearly bursting for joy. God had truly brought him into a good and pleasant land.

    From the southern end of the island Aidan could see the smoke rising at Bamburgh. He could see the great rock on which the fortress stood. The king was near at hand. Here on the island Aidan could follow the Rule of Columba which said, ‘Be alone in a separate place near a chief city, if your conscience is not prepared to be in common with the crowd.’ Here they were far enough away from the palace to be free from its own activity and demands, yet near enough to be of use to the king and the leaders of the people. Here you could feel the silence. Here would be a place of solitude, stillness and sanctity, essentials for growth in the Spirit. There is need for us all to get away from the business of life and stand at the edge of things. Yes, this island would be their home. 

There was a great deal to do. Land had to be cleared, and a vallum built (earth ramparts). There was need for a church, though a standing cross of wood could serve for awhile, until they could put up a building and a stone cross. Each of the brothers needed a cell as a place of retreat and for shelter. The farm needed to be in action as soon as possible. Then the primary reasons for which they came: they would have to start a school, and they would need to reach out in mission to the people of the land, both the English and the British.

  It was important at this stage to get their priorities right; there was so much to do that they had to decide carefully and lay a firm foundation. So a course of action was decided on, one that amazed the king when he heard of it. No land would be cleared, nothing done, until they had hallowed the land and cast out any evil. The area for the monastic community within the vallum was marked out and then the next forty days were a time of prayer and fasting. The brothers had to be sure of their priority and let others see it. Their priority was to give themselves in adoration to God; everything else could wait. It was only by doing this that they could enrich the lives of those who came to them. It was no use talking about God if they did not talk to Him. God was not a theory to be handed on to others, He is a person to be met and His presence enjoyed. Here the love of God was to burn within them. They did not try to make this happen, for it was a fact: they tried to become more aware of the reality that ‘we dwell in Him and He in us’.

  The period set aside for this preparation was forty days. As our Lord spent forty days in the wilderness, Aidan and his brothers spent forty days in prayer and fasting. As Jesus spent the time sorting out His priorities and putting His faith in the Father, so these men from Iona wrestled with their future. It was a time of depth, dedication and discipline, not of impoverishment but of enrichment, extension and vision. Without this awareness their world would be destroyed: we need to know the great mysteries that are about us, and within us.

More than this, here was land to win back for God. Here on this island was a desire for Paradise regained. From the land within the enclosure all violence would be excluded, along with all demons and darkness. All hostile elements had to be banished, this has to be a place to reveal the presence, the power and the peace of God.

From Flame in my Heart by David Adam, pgs 50-52

Sunday, July 20, 2014

July 20th Reading

St Aidan story #9: King Oswald and the Island

King Oswald of Northumbria 
photo from

Oswald wanted to know about their journey. He asked for news about Iona and Abbot Segene. He mentioned other names, only some of which were familiar. Soon they were offered a place to rest and a meal to refresh them. This king was in no way barbaric, although he was obviously a mighty warrior. All around were battle-shields and spears, great swords and bows. There were animal skins on the floor and a great fire burning. The meal was more than they would normally eat but today was special. For a while Aidan felt nervous, but he realized Oswald was personally determined to make them feel at home.

Soon they were talking over a campaign of teaching. Oswald was anxious that his closest subjects should be educated. If the kingdom was to grow it had to be built on more than a foundation of conquest. A school was of the utmost importance. He knew they would need a church. He understood that they would want to deal with the British also. In all this he was willing to give them whatever resources they needed. He kept emphasizing the importance of getting started. Never once did he mention Corman. Oswald insisted that the brothers remained in the most comfortable part of his palace and that they allowed themselves to be looked after by his servants. Aidan was about to object, then realized that this could be a good way of making contact with these Angles, and beginning to learn how to communicate with them.

There was certainly some interest shown when they said their prayers at night and again in the early morning. The monks did not make a show of their devotions, but they made sure that their hosts knew what they were doing.

 Over the next few days Oswald proved that he was true to his word. His generosity knew no bounds. If Aidan or his men needed anything Oswald supplied it. In fact they had to be careful in stating their needs, for Oswald seemed to be able to produce most things almost immediately. He made sure they had space for their worship, giving them a room to be set aside as sacred for the purpose. He offered them the full use of the palace. More than this, he gave them much of his time. He was also ready to worship with them. Sometimes they would find he had been the first to enter their little sanctuary and was sitting with his hands open and upturned and resting on his knees, his eyes closed, and praying. They were to discover that this was the posture that Oswald most often took up for his prayers. In the early days Oswald himself acted as an interpreter for them when he was able. When other duties prevented him, he delegated the task to one of the thanes who had been with him in Dalraida. Aidan was thrilled to discover that a few of the leading men at the palace could speak his language and were willing to help him learn their native tongue.

Oswald would have liked the school to have been in Bamburgh. He waved his arms and said, “You can have any land you like to build your monastery on.” At this Aidan was silent, and could not answer. He knew that if he was in the shadow of the royal residence, many of the British would find this offensive, or would be afraid to come. Another difficulty was all the activity that was going on around the palace. It was far too busy a place for them to establish themselves. Aidan said he would talk it over with his brothers. He knew that they would have to decide quickly, or Oswald might think that they did not appreciate his offer. Not one of them wanted the protection of the palace. They realized that it would not be good either for their mission or their development. They needed to distance themselves a little from the king.

 When Oswald was told this, he frowned a little but was his usual generous self. They could have anywhere in his kingdom. They could go to one of the great towns, they could have some of the wonderful rolling hill country, they could have a settlement by one of the rivers. The kingdom was large and it was at their disposal.

 What Aidan did next Oswald found hard to understand. He looked out to sea and pointed to some islands not far from the fortress. “How large are those?” Some of his companions, missing their island home, thrilled to the question.

“Not large enough nor productive enough for you to do your work on them,” came a rather blunt reply.
 “What, none of them?” Aidan asked in disappointment.

View of Lindisfarne, from Bamburgh beach.
Photo from

 “Well there is one, if you can call it an island,” said Oswald as he turned northwards and pointed. “It is the farthest one away from here. It is larger than the rest. It has its own water supply, which the others do not have. There is much hazel growing there that could be used in building. But it is not a proper island.”

 Those listening to Oswald wondered how an island could not be an island. Seeing their look of puzzlement, he explained. “The land is not so far from the shore as the other islands. In fact when the tide recedes it is not an island but part of the mainland. Each day it is cut off by the tides, and each day it becomes open again. You can cross to the mainland when the tide is out, on horseback or on foot. But when the tide is high you can only get off the island by boat, and there are some very strange sea currents that run about the island.”
“What is its name?” asked Aidan.

“I believe it is called Inis Metcaud” replied Oswald, “and I have been told it means the ‘Island of the strong winds’.”

 “It sounds as if we may have found our new home,” replied Aidan. Then to Oswald, “If you do not mind, it seems it could be just the sort of place we are looking for. It is not far from your royal dwelling and yet it will give us the silence and the separation we feel we need.”

 Oswald still seemed doubtful, but thinking that maybe these island monks would be more at home with the sea around them, he agreed, and said, “The island is your.”

 Aidan turned to his monks: “It appears we are on the road again. We will move off in the morning.”

From A Flame in my Heart by David Adam, pgs. 40 – 44.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

St. Aidan Story, #8

July 13th Church School Reading

St Aidan story #8: Meeting the Northumbrian People

  As they approached the kingdom of Oswald, Aidan began to speak to the people in the hill country. They spoke a language much like his own. They were often at least nominally Christian. If they were Christian, they could at least share the gospel and pray a little together. Aidan assumed that Christians liked to pray and wanted to share their faith. There were some language difficulties; but Aidan found apathy or indifference, when he encountered them, far harder to deal with. He also began to realize that within this kingdom of Oswald there was more than one kingdom to win for Christ. The people of the land were of a similar Celtic stock to himself. Rivers, hills, and landmarks all had strong Celtic names. It would only take a little practice and he would be able to communicate with the native people. The real difficulty was their fear and resentment of the English. Oswald was a foreigner and an invader. The English were the enemy of occupation, who had driven many of the British of their land and from their homes. Aidan realized that much of his work would be one of reconciliation, the building up of trust and good relationships. His heart went out to these people who were oppressed. He wanted them to know the gospel of liberty and love, also of forgiveness and acceptance. He would have dearly liked to stay among the hill peoples, but his call was to the coast and the fortress of Bamburgh.

 At last they came in sight of the eastern sea. It had not appeared until their journey was nearly over. It would be good to get sea air into their lungs again. They were aware that the people they met now were different; these were warrior peoples, even though they were settling in farmsteads. But they were people of culture. Aidan thought some had heard of Christ, but now the language was a major difficulty. The brothers were not able to communicate with many people at all. For this reason, when possible, they avoided the little scattered communities, and still bore eastwards. The coast was not far away but they travelled on the other side of the hills, making straight for the capital.

  When they came to the coast it was to a wide sweeping bay. The tide was out and they could hardly see the sea. There were sea birds aplenty. Evening prayers were said with a heron fishing nearby. The heron had been one of Columba’s favorite birds and it made the little group feel at home. During these last few miles they had seen more people, and the road seemed to be busy with soldiers. They noticed that some of the soldiers were carrying what must have been booty.

  One more steep hill, and then a great vista opened up before them. There was a lot of woodland, but much land had been cleared. Directly ahead was a great rock, standing proud in the landscape. Below it was a sprinkling of cottages, and fields with cottages and sheep. On the rock there was a mighty palisade, a fortress truly fit for a king. Beyond it was the sea. Smoke was rising form one or two areas on the high rock. It seemed to be well-fortified, with many inhabitants. As the brothers approached the gates they were stopped by a sentry. They explained who they were, but the language barrier caused difficulty. They repeated the name ’Oswald’ more than once, and ‘Iona’ again and again. But the guards did not understand enough to make any headway. Then one guard left and returned with a tall, slim regal-looking man with a short pointed beard. Aidan’s heart leaped. Surely this was Oswald himself. The king had come out to meet them. Recognising their attire, Oswald welcomed them in their own tongue. He issued an order to his guards which Aidan and his followers did not understand, but they were ushered in quickly.

From Flame in my Heart by David Adam, pgs 38 -40.

photo from

Friday, May 16, 2014

Long Weekend Calendar changes

Father Andrew will not be in Cranbrook this weekend, but is planning on being here for Pentecost on June 7 and 8th. Have a wonderful long weekend!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holy Week

Matins with Praises and Procession of the Shroud

Procession Around the Church

Venerating the Shroud

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Holy Week Services

A Guide to Holy Week Services at St. Aidan’s Orthodox Church, April 2014

The highlight of the Church year and the earliest festal celebration of the Church is Pascha (Easter). The celebration was originally tied to the Jewish feast of Passover (Pesach) where Christ’s Passion and Resurrection occurred. As the Church grew to encompass the Gentile (non-Jewish) nations, Pascha began to be celebrated on the first Sunday (the day of Resurrection) following the first full moon in the spring. The Pascal celebration was well established by 165 AD, as is described in Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History, and the dating of when to celebrate it was affirmed at the 1st Ecumenical council in Nicaea in 325 AD. While there was always some debate regarding the date at which Pascha should be fixed from the beginning, the present difference in dates that often falls between Eastern “Pascha” and Western “Easter”, goes back to 1582AD when Pope Gregory XIII adopted the “Gregorian” Calendar which changed the calculation for Easter, and the Orthodox Church kept to the original calculations.

Holy Week Services for St. Aidan’s
Wed. Ap. 16: 7:00 pm– Bridegroom Matins (approx. 1.5 hrs)
“Behold, the Bridegroom comes at midnight, and blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching…Your Bridal Chamber I see adorned, O my Saviour, but I have no wedding garment that I may enter.
O Giver of Light, enlighten the vesture of my soul and save me.”
- The theme of this beautiful service is the betrayal of Judas contrasted with the repentance of the Harlot. It follows the theme of the first three days of Holy Week where our Lord enters Jerusalem and voluntarily goes to His betrayal and to His death on the cross to redeem all of mankind from death.

Thur. Ap.17: 7:00pm: Matins with the 12 Passion Gospel Readings (approx 2.5 hrs.)
“Today He who hung the earth upon the waters is hung on the tree. The King of the angels is decked with a crown of thorns. He who wraps the heavens in clouds is wrapped in the purple of mockery…We worship Your passion O Christ. We worship Your passion O Christ. Show us also Your glorious Resurrection.”
- Today we accompany Christ our Lord as He voluntarily goes from the Garden of Gethsemane to be crucified and laid in his tomb by Joseph of Arimathea and the righteous Nicodemus. We contemplate our Lord’s journey in the 12 Gospel readings and in the deep and moving verses in the Canon and interspersed between the Gospel readings, the Beatitudes and the Praises throughout this touching service. We are called to experience the eternal and ever present reality of Christ’s work for our sake, not a distant historical event, but personally in the eternal here and now of our lives.

Fri. Ap. 18: 10:00 am Royal Hours (approx. 2 hrs.)
“Today the curtain of the temple is torn in two, To convict the transgressors, And even the sun hides his rays, Seeing the Master crucified.”
- The special 1st, 3rd, 6th, and 9th hours interspersed with Old Testament, Epistle, and Gospel reading and verses all on the theme of the Passion of our Lord. This is considered a very strict fast day and there is no celebration of the Divine Liturgy.

Fri. Ap. 18, 5pm Vespers with the Shroud Veneration (approx. 1.5 hrs.)
“When You the Redeemer of all were placed in a tomb, All Hades’ powers quaked with fear. Its bars were broken its gates were smashed. Its mighty reign was brought to an end, for the dead came forth alive from their tombs, casting off the bonds of their captivity. Adam was filled with Joy!”
- Today we set up and venerate the shroud of Christ. It is appropriate to bring flowers, particularly red and white to decorate the tomb with. We sing “Nobel Joseph” then we wait together taking a little refreshment from our fasting before staring Matins.

Fri. Ap.18, 7:30 Matins with Praises & Procession with the Shroud (approx 2.5 hrs.)
“Do not lament me, O mother, seeing in the tomb, the Son conceived in the womb without seed, for I shall arise, and be glorified with eternal glory as God. I shall exalt all who magnify you in faith and in love.”
- We gather again before the shroud and sing Psalm 119 with verses in between describing the events of Holy week. Then we take the Shroud of Christ and in procession circle once around the Church, finishing up with veneration of the shroud and the hymn “We worship Your Passion O Christ! We worship Your Passion O Christ!And Your Holy Resurrection. As many as can manage, take a shift before the Tomb of Christ and read the Psalms throughout the night until the next morning’s Liturgy of St. Basil.

Sat.Ap.19, 10:00 am Vesp. Divine Liturgy of St. Basil & 15 O.T.Rd.(approx. 2.5 hrs.)
“Today, Hades cries out groaning; ‘I should not have accepted the Man born of Mary. He came and destroyed my power. He shattered the gates of brass. As God, He raised the souls that I had held captive.’ Glory to Your Cross and Resurrection, O Lord.”
- Today is the bridge day, the day between the death of Christ on the cross and His glorious resurrection. Christ is not resting, death has no claim over Him. He enters into hell with His soul and blows it wide open freeing those captured there! The new life and restoration of man to God is accomplished! The vigil before the Tomb then continues with as many as can take a shift reading the book of Acts.

Sat. Ap. 19, 11:30 pm, Nocturn 12:00, Paschal Matins 1:00, Liturgy (approx. 3 hrs.)
“Christ is Risen from the dead, Trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!”
- The feast of feast, the glorious highlight of the entire year! Our preparation in prayer and fasting is now is fulfilled. After the brief Nocturn service we await with unlit candles until the light candle coming from the Altar comes and all light their candles in preparation for the great triple procession around the Church singing “Your resurrection O Christ our Saviour, the angels in heaven sing. Enable us in earth, to glorify You in purity of heart” Entering the Church again we joyously sing the Paschal Matins interspersed with many “Christ is Risen” choruses! The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom follows with the Paschal sermon of St. John Chrysostom which has been read for many centuries encouraging us all. After the Liturgy, we assemble downstairs for the blessing of baskets and break the fast by enjoying the fruits of the blessed baskets before going home, tired but full of the joy of the resurrection!

Sun. Ap. 20, 12:00 Agape (Paschal) Vespers (service 45 minutes; fellowship - hours)
We gather to sing the short Vespers of Pascha service which is full of the resurrection joy from the Pascha service earlier in the morning. Once again “Christ is Risen” rings out. We then gather and share our joy with each other and the friends and visitors, feasting on the roast lamb and goat and celebrating the glorious resurrection of Christ!

Christ is Risen!!!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Welcome changes

A message from Father Andrew . . . . .

Hi all;
Please note that Matushka Sonia and myself are coming to Cranbrook next on March 29/30 not on March 22/23 as originally scheduled. We will be Chrismating the catechumen Carl into the Church at this time and this was when both his Godparents and parants could both make it. There will be Typica sevices this Sunday including a procession with icons for the Sunday of Orthodoxy immediately after the typica service…… in Christ……
.Fr. Andrew 403-554-0193

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Forgiveness Sunday

Father Andrew and Matushka Sonia will not be able to come as planned from Calgary for Vespers and Liturgy this weekend due to the weather. We will instead hold a Readers Forgiveness Vespers service following a Typika Service and potluck lunch. Please come and join us for this wonderful and important start to the Lenten season.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Presentation of the Lord

Father Andrew will be coming from Calgary this weekend to serve Vespers at 6pm on Sat, Feb. 1. 
There will be a soup supper to follow.

Sunday services: Hours at 10:10am, Liturgy at 10:30am. Potluck lunch to follow. 

If you would like your house blessed, please set up a time with Father Andrew - Tel. (403)554-0913 (Fr. Andrew) or Tel. (403)217-9151 (Fr. at home).