Archive for religion

Famous Last Words….

Posted in Orthodox Clergy and Information, religion with tags , , , on September 6, 2008 by blackincense

PT Barnum:”How were the receipts today at Madison Square Garden?”

Napoleon:  “Josephine…”

And this one shocked me to the core of my being:

“Damn it . . . Don’t you dare ask God to help me.”
To her housekeeper, who had begun to pray aloud.
~~ Joan Crawford, actress, d. May 10, 1977

How sad.  How final.

By contrast, I was instantly in mind of this holy martyr of Russia:

Hieromonk Nektary (Ivanov), an instructor in the Voronezh Seminary who had graduated from the Moscow Theological Academy, was killed in 1918 by means of various tortures of the cruelest sort: he was dragged by the feet, his arms and legs broken, wooden nails were driven into him, he was “given communion” with molten pewter. The martyr prayed: “Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, 0 Master, according to Thy Word; for my eyes have seen the glory of Thy salvation which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people, a light to enlighten the gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel”  Luke 2: 29-32

Let these be my last words.  God grant that I may be mindful to remember them when the time comes.

Martyrs of Russia circa 1918.  One of these men survived.

Martyrs of Russia circa 1918. One of these men survived.

Night Blooming Jasmine: A lesson in spirituality….

Posted in Arabian bakhour, bahkhoor, bakhoor, desert bakhoor incense, Desert culture, Ethiopia, Incense, Orthodox Christianity, Perfume Reviews, religion with tags , , , , , on September 4, 2008 by blackincense
I am working on the latest batch.  Blend, bottle and cure.  Blend, bottle and cure.  The repetition of the work begins to numb my senses and I was starting to wonder if it’s even worth it.  My nose was busy categorizing each formula, making sure it was exactly right.  One flower caught my nose and it seemed to overpower the others.  This doesn’t happen very often, so I went back and I checked the formula.  I hadn’t missed anything and yet this one flower seemed stronger than the others which, according to the precise formulation should not be.  Night blooming jasmine.
I tried again and this time, it seemed to fade back in, slowly.  I went for the coffee beans to clear my senses.  Leaving the bench, I went and picked up my book and tried to read.  But my nose kept nagging at me.  I could still smell it.  Went back to the coffee beans.
I knew which flower it was and that was not what bothered me.  What bothered me was that it should not over power the other ingredients.  I was starting to worry that maybe I was losing my nose as a perfumer.  I went back to the bench, and started to work again on a different blend, but I could still smell it.
Night blooming jasmine is not the world’s prettiest bush.  It releases its fragrance only at night.  In secret.
Then I realized, so it is the same with a suffering soul.  It’s beauty is not outward.  The suffering soul is at its most beautiful, when it releases its suffering to God alone.  In secret.
As for my nose, it’s recovered its senses.  Blend, bottle and cure.  Blend, bottle and cure.
Night blooming jasmine -- God's secret flower.

Night blooming jasmine -- God's flower

Frankincense and Myrrh : Fit for a mouse, Fit for a King.

Posted in bakhoor, Desert culture, Incense, Orthodox Christianity, Perfume Reviews, religion with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 3, 2008 by blackincense

Apparently, some scientists with too much time on their hands have discovered that mice love frankincense.  In their study, mice showed significant decreased anxiety and a general tendency toward uplifted spirits.  I am certainly not an expert on the emotional range or psychological states of mice, but I can tell you that none of this is news to anyone except scientists.

Original newstory:

http://www.kansascity.com/238/story/773432.html

Frankincense has always been a precious gift to humanity from God.  It’s anti-septic qualities as well as it’s effect on human emotions and human pain, has been well documented throughout history.  It has often been speculated that the Magi brought frankincense and myrrh to the Christ child in order to purify the area.  He was, after all, born in a stable, and one can only imagine the germ population that surrounded both Child and Mother.  Naturally, this would not affect Him, and by extension, His mother, but of course the Magi could not have realized that at the time.

In other parts of the world, where people are less addicted to the notions of “sweet”, frankincense and myrrh are used as chewing gum.  Not only does it clean teeth and gums, but it helps to prevent gum disease.  Myrrh, especially, is used for its anti-bacterial quality on wounds, cuts, and infections in general.

Does this mean that we should stop using anti-biotics or anti-depressants, etc.?  Not at all.  But I hope that when we burn frankincense and myrrh, we remember the One who gave it to us and rejoice in His kingly gift to us.

Smoke rising….

Posted in Arabian bakhour, bahkhoor, bakhoor, desert bakhoor incense, Desert culture, Ethiopia, Incense, Orthodox Christianity, Perfume Reviews, religion with tags , , , , on September 1, 2008 by blackincense

These are the last days of men, and I can see the smoke rising.  I feel it in the air; unholy times have come upon us and the people of God must rise up, and resist.  Too many, for too long have been content with so little.  And of these, I have been the worst offender.

The incense we burn is of no use to us if the passions of our souls do not burn in its fire, and the soul does not rise with the smoke, upward toward God.  The earthly tears of repentance are not enough to extinguish the flame; they can never be enough.  God grant us such heavenly tears that will extinguish the flames in our souls, and kindle us with the heavenly fire of love.

I dusted our new incense this morning with clay powder.  O, Lord, fashion me, just as I roll these blocks and sticks.  You are the fashioner of souls!  The work of my hands is pitiable before You, O Lord.  Sticks and stones.  What are sticks and stones in comparison?

“O Lord, how Great are Thy Works and Thy Thoughts are very deep.
A brutish person knoweth not; neither doth a fool underestand this.”
(Psalms 92:5-6)

Monks on the Holy Mountain - may they pray to God for me, a sinner.

Monks on the Holy Mountain - may they pray to God for me, a sinner.