St Henry’s Cathedral in the heart of Bayonne is 125 years old this year. I found it to be such an inspiring church. As a Christian, it’s very important for me to seek out significant churches when in a new area. Their address is 82 West 29th Street Bayonne, New Jersey. At the moment we are going through Lent. Lent is the Christian season of preparation before Easter. In Western Christianity, Ash Wednesday marks the first day of the season of Lent which begins 40 days prior to Easter (Sundays are not included in the count).The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial. Here is an interesting article written about the pope’s suggestions on preparing for confession. The Bible does not mention the custom of Lent, however, the practice of repentance and mourning in ashes is found in 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; and Matthew 11:21. When I was in New York I also took a visit to St Patrick’s Cathedral. Some more articles on Lent:
Now that you’ve read this awesome post on how to get comfortable with yourself, we can focus on how to get all aspects of you working together in harmony. This part is about working with chakras. Energy work is one of the best ways to feel whole and balanced. It’s why yoga all over the world is so popular.
Although originating as a Buddhist belief, I’m Christian and still find it useful. With a few stretches, you focus on each of these centers and what they represent. It works for anyone. You always finish feeling energized. Take a few minutes as you concentrate on each energy center and do a yoga pose while you think on what they teach and how it applies to your life.
ROOT CHAKRA / RED
This chakra is based on being physically aware and feeling comfortable in many situations. If opened, you should feel well-balanced and sensible, stable and secure. You don’t distrust people around you for no reason.You feel present in what is happening right now, and very connected to your physical body. Think about:
– Accepting all that has been
– Forgiving yourself and others for mistakes and releasing bad energy
– Holding onto wisdom you’ve learnt
– Remembering where you come from
– Anchoring yourself in all that you are: your history, your culture, your religion, your nationality, your family, your education.
SACRAL CHAKRA / ORANGE
This chakra deals with feeling and sexuality. If open, feelings are released with liberty and are expressed without you being over-emotional. You are open to affinity and can be passionate as well as outgoing. You also have no problems based on sexuality. You are free without comprimising your integrity or health. Think about being open to receive the romantic energy of a partner in your life; the idea of power in collaboration and strength in unity. You feel comfortable in exploring and expressing your sexuality with someone. Work on believing there is a committed, good, loyal person who will compliment you and love you unconditionally.
SOLAR PLEXUS CHAKRA / YELLOW
This chakra encircles confidence, especially when in a group. When open, you should feel in control and have a good feeling of dignity in yourself. This is because you recognize your self-worth and take pride in all the achievements, victories and triumphs you’ve enjoyed in life. Spend time on this chakra honouring yourself and what you’ve built – that which you have created and manifested. It’s important to thank yourself for what you have worked hard to achieve. Think on the opportunities you have taken hold of. It’s about the success of inspired action, progess, reputation and good intentions towards others. Part of your self-worth is standing your ground on your values and moral principles. Through this power chakra, you feel confident in life and embrace the endless possibilities of the future.
HEART CHAKRA / GREEN
This chakra is all about love, caring, and endearment. When open, you seem to be compassionate and friendly, always working in amicable relationships. This chakra is about emotional empowerment, including that which you give yourself and that which you give others. It is nurturing and kind; seeing only the beauty in others. It’s acknowledging all the good people you’ve met along the way. It’s focusing on the abundance of people in the world who are happy in themselves; balanced, supportive and sweet. It’s asking God to send you more of them. It’s agreeing to honour others if they honour you; practicing mutual give and take. It’s caring for the planet and loving your environment unconditionally. The heart chakra sits right in between the three lower chakras and the three upper chakras. The three lower chakras have everything to do with your physical body, while your upper chakras are more about your spirit. It’s a deeply balancing chakra.
THROAT CHAKRA / BLUE
This chakra is based on self-expression and communication. When the chakra is open, expressing yourself is easy. Art seems to be a great way to do this. You express your truth with comfort. You also receive others’ truth well and can assimilate information with clarity and deep understanding. It’s listening and communicating clearly, maturely and equally. It’s knowing what you want out of life and not being afraid to ask for it. It’s focusing on offering creative, helpful advice. It’s receiving the thoughts and opinions of others with humility. It’s taking responsibility for your needs and what you need to say. When it’s open, any blockages in your speech and communication dissipate and the peace of God flows through you. It’s about the nourishment of authentic communication so you can live a happy, enriched life communicating and receiving ideas freely. It’s about the potency of prayer and talking – to yourself, to others and to God.
3rd EYE CHAKRA / INDIGO
Like it’s name, this chakra deals with insight. When open, you have excellent clairvoyance and tend to dream a lot. You are sensitive to your “gut” feelings of intuition and follow its promptings where you can. You know your intuition has your best interests at heart. As a result of work on this chakra, you have a “knowing” of what to do or how to act in any situation. You bring out the best in any person you’re with. You adapt to situations as your intuition tells you to. You sense emotions when you’re with people and change your energy to suit the mood so you leave them feeling good about themselves. You know you can give your peace and love freely because it will flow back to you from God’s limitless fountain. As a result, you enjoy fruitful interactions and productive outcomes. It’s about versatility through higher wisdom. It’s about flexibility in thought and connecting with people in a way that generates the best result. In helping others, you enjoy the mastery that deep spiritual intelligence brings. By the same token, this chakra is about sensing danger and “seeing” ill-intentioned people so you can avoid disaster. It’s your compass to navigate through the world; sticking around the good and steering clear of the bad.
CROWN CHAKRA / VIOLET
This is the seventh and most spiritual chakra. It encompasses a person’s wisdom and being one with the universe. When this chakra is open, prejudice disappears from your “To Do” list, and you seem to become more aware of the world and it’s connection to yourself. You access a higher wisdom; a connection to the Divine. You acknowledge your potential; all that you could be. You welcome God’s plan for your life, knowing it is good. You acknowledge that all manifestations are a result of what you think and believe. It’s about being open and asking for Divine guidance. Subsequently, it’s about receiving messages from God through people and nature. It’s owning that we’re all dreamers with the power of intention within us; creating our own reality via our thought life. We are equal parts of the same whole that is humanity. This chakra is about integration; of us with ourselves and of us with the universe God created. It is connection to lower, middle and higher self. It’s perspective on life and the ability to see the bigger picture. It’s transcendence, spiritual awakening, growth and ascension.
Other yoga poses to try:
Cover Photo: Death To The Stock Photo
It’s interesting that the apostle Paul wrote that to the Christians in Rome, because there are some obvious similarities between the social climate of first-century Rome and that of much of the world of today.
Evil was rampant in Rome, and its pull was strong. The Roman Empire hadn’t become the undisputed ruler of the Western world through compassion, kindness, or humility. Wealth was in the hands of a few, and they used it to control the rest. The rich and powerful lived extravagantly while the masses struggled to survive. Perversions and debauchery were practiced by some and ignored by others.
Christianity was just one religion and Christ just one more deity. Considering the pantheon of gods that the Romans worshipped, it must have been difficult to convince anyone that Jesus was “the way, the truth, and the life.”
Starting to sound familiar?
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the evil in the world. Every day we hear about another horrible crime being committed. Meanwhile, the popular media searches for new and more horrific ways to portray violence, perversion, and all manner of evil. Whether it’s a case of art imitating life or vice versa, life has lost its sanctity in the minds of many.
What can we do about a world so overcome with evil? This was the same dilemma that the Christians in Rome faced, and Paul’s counsel to them rings true today. “Overcome evil with good.”
If a dish is dirty, being angry about the situation does nothing to fix it. Neither does trying to ignore it. The only solution is to expose that dirty dish to the power of a little soap and water.
If a room is dark, you can curse the darkness or whine over how unpleasant it is—or you can flip the light switch or open the curtains and let some light in.
It’s the same with society’s evils. We can get discouraged, angry, or depressed—“overcome by evil”—or we can be a force for good, even if only through personal example. Not every dirty dish will be cleaned, and not every darkened heart will be enlightened, but we can each do our part day by day, person by person, decision by decision.
Reblogged from Let Jesus Help You.
Romans 12:17-20 – Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[a] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Romans 12:21 ESV – Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Here is a nice devotional for today that focuses on communication. I believe good communication is so important. Here are some key basic principles to get down in your spirit that will help you be well on the way to happy, productive relationships.
Honesty. If you want to get off on the right foot with others, be honest and straightforward from the start.
Tact. It’s important to be honest, but it’s also important to be loving and considerate in your presentation, especially with people who are naturally sensitive or when the subject could be sensitive.
Wisdom. Wisdom is what helps you be tactful. You’ll find a lot of useful wisdom within the pages of the Bible, but you can also get wisdom that is tailor made for each situation by asking God for it. That is promised in the Bible, but you need to ask.
Love. You may not do or say everything right, but if others see that you are motivated by love and concern, little problems or misunderstandings are less likely to become big ones.
Prayer. Sometimes praying together about a shared situation can help things click between two people like nothing else.
Positiveness. Being upbeat usually elicits a like response.
Timing. Knowing when to say something is often as important as knowing what to say. So is knowing when not to say anything.
Approachability. Dictionary definitions of approachable include accessible; easy to meet, know, talk with, etc.; friendly. When someone knows you will take time for him or her, you’ve won a friend.
Attentiveness. Listen to what others have to say without interrupting, trying to hurry them along, or finishing their sentences for them. Nothing opens a channel for constructive dialogue better than being a good listener.
Open-mindedness. People’s opinions and the way they approach problems are as different as people themselves. Letting others express their thoughts and feelings conveys respect and fosters positive, fruitful exchanges. People will be much more at ease with you and more likely to turn to you for advice if they know you will be open to what they have to say, even if you don’t agree.
Empathy. Be sensitive to others’ likes and dislikes, needs, and moods. Put yourself in their shoes. Practice the Golden Rule.
A sense of humor. A little laughter can be just the thing to keep potentially difficult exchanges from getting too intense. Lighten up!
Clarity. There would be a lot fewer misunderstandings between people if they didn’t beat around the bush or rely so much on hints. Don’t leave others guessing; say what you mean. If you’re not sure they understand your point, ask them.
Effort. Sometimes communicating is plain hard work.
Consistency. People who communicate regularly understand each other better and are more likely to be able to work through problems when they come up.
Colossians 4:6 ESV – Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Proverbs 15:1 ESV – A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Psalm 141:3 ESV – Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!
Not so long ago I traveled to Bavaria, Germany, with family and friends. We landed in Munich and took a train to Oberammergau; the prettiest village I’ve ever been to. The reason we went was to watch the famous “Passion Play”, which is performed there only every ten years.
Over the weekend I judged a freeze flash mob at my hometown’s beautiful seaside entertainment complex, the Boardwalk. It was a flash mob as part of the Salvation Army’s anti-trafficking campaign to stop human trafficking.
So I’ve just done another shoot with my favourite photographer Sarah Keogh. She is so professional with such a great eye and is very good at what she does!! I had a lot of fun with her on this shoot and also with Nina Thompson at Kinky Curly Straight Hair Design who did my make-up and hair. Together we shot a stunning editorial with a story about a passionate love. Our protagonist is an old hollywood theatre doyenne and as the story begins, she finds herself in a majestic opera house preparing for her performance in a few hours. She is decked in pearls, lace, fur and diamonds. She is surrounded by luxury, but as she walks through the gilded rooms she is torn inside. She knows her husband is having an affair. We have the first shots of her alone around the beautiful, golden theatre. She is angst-ridden and upset. She doubts herself, questions their love, worries about the future of a marriage she thought would never end. She feels betrayed, confused, unsure and lifeless. Yet, she knows she has to put on a mask for the world in a few hours when she performs on stage for hundreds of people. She puts her bravest face on for the world, while beneath she’s far from together. She wants to tell him the truth about her feelings, but decides it might be best not to. We have a rich surrounding of opulence on the surface with deeper layers of a less-than-lavish sadness.
I liked the symbology of the props we used:
1. Pearls. Pearls symbolize Purity, Spiritual Transformation, Charity, Honesty, Wisdom and Integrity, all the best within us. The woman in our story has always been faithful to her husband. She’s honest, pure of heart and values her own integrity as well as the integrity of the relationship. But now that’s all been thrown into question. She needs to believe it hasn’t all been for nothing. Through all the anxiety, she clings on to what she’s always held dear and appeals to her greater wisdom to make sense of it all and guide her to make the best decision for her future.
2. Gold. As well as being associated with power, strength and wealth, Gold is associated with the wisdom of aging and fruition. The fiftieth wedding anniversary is golden. Our precious latter years are sometimes considered “golden years”. The height of a civilization is referred to as a “golden age”. In the same way, our protagonist feels a connection to gold as she she feels she has grown up beyond her years. Her life has catapulted her into the limelight very quickly and she is experiencing her golden years at a young age. Through this she has attained great power, wealth, strength and influence. However, she has had to sacrifice her youth and naivety. She’s learnt hard life lessons that have pushed her spiritually, emotionally and psychologically beyond the age of her peers. As a result she feels alone in the world, with the red velvet settees her only companions.
3. The Mirror. Reflecting surfaces as well as the natural reflective surface of the water plays an important role in the religious concepts of many people. It is believed that somebody who gazes at his own reflection will lose his soul in the process. Therefore Narcissus, who was in love with his own reflection, was doomed. This was because his soul was ‘captured’. In many customs, in order to bar the dead from staying on earth, people veiled the mirrors in the death chamber (especially true in the Victorian era). This was to ensure that the soul of the departed would not get trapped behind the glass and be prevented from passing to ‘the other side. The woman in our story gazes at her reflection and it is symbolic of her feeling scared and trapped in the situation she’s in. She feels she can never escape. At the same time, she wonders if she would in fact want to, as it is a means of validation of her existence. If she escaped, she might fall into nothingness and cease to exist.
4. The Star. For centuries, the symbol of the star has been used to reference divinity, intuition, the feminine, hope and guidance. Stars offer the unique ability to guide us through the night. They can also refer to one’s need to discover their own inner light. Stars exists above us as well as within us. They encourage us to reach beyond our own egos and trust in something much greater than ourselves. The woman in our story has a star around her neck, representing she has found her inner light and values her intuition to guide her in times of darkness. This is one such time, with the problem of an unfaithful spouse, and she puts her trust in her inner spirit to give her hope and guidance.
Easter was awesome, exhilarating, special and delicious. For me, as a Christian, Easter is the true new year. It is the period from Good Friday to Easter Sunday (when Christ was crucified and when he was resurrected). It is the most important and oldest festival of the Christian Church, culminating in the celebration of the resurrection of Christ (Easter Sunday) on the third day after his crucifixion at Calvary as described in the New Testament. He died on the cross to pay for our sins and allow us entry into God’s kingdom after death. His resurrection symbolizes the resurrection of all of us after death into Heaven, where our souls are very much alive and immortal in His eternal Kingdom. In short, his resurrection symbolizes new life. It sets Him apart from all the other historical figures in those times who claimed to be the Son of God because none of them came alive again after they died. This was a true miracle. Through doing this he proved that what he had been saying all along was true; every miracle he performed and everything he preached about God and the way man must live on earth was true. It renews your faith, this time of year, and for me it only cements it. You look again at the important lessons of the Bible and the Ten Commandments and re-commit yourself to living the loving Christian lifestyle. Satan will always be around to throw us off track and we need to be strong. Of course we will always sin, no matter how hard we try, because we live in a fallen world. What sets you apart is your repentance and prayers for forgiveness. God guarantees us He will always forgive us if we confess our sins and repent.
Easter is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance which begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts forty days (not counting Sundays). The Sunday before Easter is Palm Sunday, with the Wednesday before Easter being known as Spy Wednesday. The last three days before Easter are Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday (sometimes referred to as Silent Saturday). Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday respectively commemorate Jesus’ entry in Jerusalem, the Last Supper and the Crucifixion. Easter is followed by a fifty-day period called Eastertide, or the Easter Season, ending with Pentecost Sunday. The week beginning with Easter Sunday is called Easter Week or the Octave of Easter, and each day is prefaced with “Easter”, e.g. Easter Monday, Easter Tuesday, etc.
It is a very holy time for me. I really enjoy the service on Easter Sunday, before sunrise on the day of resurrection. The service is very early and I am not usually a morning person, but for this I am! The Easter Vigil is performed during this service. This is the most important liturgy of the year, which begins in total darkness with the blessing of the Easter fire, the lighting of the large Paschal candle (symbolic of the Risen Christ) and the chanting of the Exultet or Easter Proclamation.
There’s something about the lighting of the fire and the candle that makes you feel reborn in a way. After this service of light, a number of readings from the Old Testament are read; these tell the stories of creation, the sacrifice of Isaac, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the foretold coming of the Messiah. This part of the service climaxes with the singing of the Gloria and the Alleluia and the proclamation of the Gospel of the resurrection. At this time, the lights are brought up and the church bells are rung, according to local custom. A sermon may be preached after the gospel. Then the focus moves from the lectern to the font. Anciently, Easter was considered the ideal time for converts to receive baptism, and this practice continues within Roman Catholicism and the Anglican Communion. It is traditional for the congregation to renew the vows of their baptismal faith at this point. The Easter Vigil concludes with the celebration of the Eucharist (known in some traditions as Holy Communion).
The whole service consists of 4 parts:
- The Service of Light.
- The Service of Lessons.
- Christian Initiation, or the Renewal of Baptismal Vows.
- The Holy Eucharist with the administration of Easter Communion.
Here is something interesting I found: The first recorded “Sunrise Service” took place in 1732 among the Single Brethren in the Moravian Congregation at Herrnhut, Saxony, in what is now Germany. Following an all-night vigil they went before dawn to the town graveyard, God’s Acre, on the hill above the town, to celebrate the Resurrection among the graves of the departed. This service was repeated the following year by the whole congregation and subsequently spread with the Moravian Missionaries around the world, including Old Salem in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
So you see then the chocolate eggs are just the cherry on top for me 😛 Eggs symbolize the beginning of new life, fertility and abundance. And of course, chicks come from eggs and represent rebirth and springtime. Rabbits are known for their rapid reproduction and therefore also represent fertility and new life. So this is why these are popular symbols at Easter and why we eat them 🙂
How about you? How was your Easter? How did you celebrate?
Here is a gorgeous photo I found of the celebration of the Easter vigil at the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris.