Sunday, 5 May 2013

St.Stylianos, Patron of Children, Born and Unborn


Icon "Saint Stylianos", by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

Born about 550, Adrianopolis, Paphlagonia
Died Date Unknown, Paphlagonia
Venerated in: Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Eastern Catholic Churches
Feast: November 26
Attributes: Child wrapped in swaddling
Patronage: Children, both born and unborn, and Orphans

Saint Stylianos (Latin: Stylianus, Greek: Στυλιανός, English: Stylian) was born during the 6th century in Adrianopolis in the province of Paphlagonia (in modern day Turkey) into a very wealthy family. At a young age, Stylianos joined the hermits of the desert with a view toward cleansing his soul through a period of meditation and prayer, as well as through association with men likewise pledging their lives to Jesus Christ.
Unlike most other hermits, however, he did not withdraw from society altogether, preferring to go among the people for whatever good he might do, and then returning to his little cave for rest and prayerful meditation.

According to the church tradition, one night while he prayed for guidance in helping others, Stylianos felt a divine presence and was consumed by the great glory of the Holy Spirit, emerging from his cave the next day with a spirit of exultation and serenity he had never known before. In his customary rounds, wherein he counseled and comforted, he felt compelled to place his hand on a stricken child, something he had not up to that time dared to do; he felt the power of the Lord being transferred to the ailing youngster through his extended arm. The child immediately recovered, and thenceforth Stylianos was sought after by every suffering soul for miles around, young and old. His cave became a magnet for the sick and suffering, many of whom received complete cures not only through the power in this man but through their own faith as well.

During this period, Stylianos concerned himself primarily with children, not just the physically afflicted but also with those who were in need of spiritual guidance. Families from all walks of life were said to have entrusted to Stylianos the enlightenment of their children, and he was forced to seek out larger headquarters and to recruit from the ranks of his hermit friends the assistance needed to tend to so many. His was probably the first day-care centre in the world, where mothers could safely leave their children while tending to other matters of the home.

Stylianos was to become the patron saint of children yet to be born, owing to stories of his miraculous intercession for a young woman who helped him with children but could bear none of her own. When the woman conceived, her husband out of sheer joy spread the word of this miracle, and before long many barren women came to the great hermit. Those whose faith in Jesus Christ was genuine became fertile.

The cheerful countenance of Stylianos was his hallmark, because he was reported to always to be smiling. According to oral histories, he was approached by greedy mercenaries with all manner of propositions for commercializing his talents and reaping a tidy fortune, but for these people he always had the same answer: that he had been paid in advance for his services when the serenity of the Holy Spirit came upon him. He would smile as they left. He lived to a ripe old age, and it is said that when he was buried his countenance still beamed with a faint smile from the light of the Lord.
Above information taken from Wikipedia

I only "discovered" St. Stylianos a few months ago and was immediately taken with him when I read about his concern for children, both born and unborn.

This was about the same time I started finding out little bits of information about this Dr. Kermit Gosnell on trial at this time in the U.S.  He has been running an abortion "clinic" for some years now and after years of apparent mistreatment of women and babies, it finally came to light that allegedly he had actually killed a women in a botched abortion and hidden the fact.  

As well, he was known as the person you wanted to go to for a late-term abortion.  According to testimony, huge numbers of live births occurred in this "clinic" and when this happened, the practice was, allegedly, that he and his staff would usually cut the spinal cord of the new born baby or kill it in some other horrible way.  And even more disgusting, evidently Dr. Gosnell kept many of the feet of these babies born live in jars on the shelves of his office.  The details of this case are so distressing that I am not going to tell you anymore of them.  Suffice it to say that finding St. Stylianos at the same time that I first started hearing about this case was, for me, a message from Heaven saying:  Here is a Heavenly friend for you, Sallie, who will gladly intercede on behalf of these poor babies and their mothers and who will even pray for Dr. Gosnell that he, too, may come to understand what he has done and seek forgiveness from our merciful Lord.

At this present moment, the jury is out for deliberation but there should be a verdict soon.  If you are interested in more background on this case, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kermit_Gosnell 

As for the icon of St. Stylianos, I just need to mention a couple of things.  In many representations of the saint, he is shown smiling.  As I quoted earlier: "The cheerful countenance of Stylianos was his hallmark, because he was reported to always to be smiling."   However, as I was praying about something so dreadful as the Gosnell case while I was working on the icon, I ended up giving the saint a sad expression.  The child in swaddling clothes on his arm could be the Baby Jesus, but is usually considered to simply be a representation of the neediness of young children -- the neediness which first drew the saint to reach out in healing and love to them.

Finally, I want to leave you with this prayer to St. Stylianos:
Holy St. Stylianos, you were a tower and an unshaken pillar of the Church.
Dedicated to God from your youth, you became a dwelling place of the Spirit.
Dear Saint, please pray for us as we, too, seek to follow the path of righteousness.
We particularly ask for your constant intercession on behalf of all pregnant women and their unborn babies – especially those in the last trimester.
Ask God that these mothers will not seek an abortion, but should they do so, please pray for the safety of that baby that it may be allowed to live and given to others to love and raise.
Finally, dear saint, never stop praying that abortion may end throughout the whole earth. Amen.


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BRADEN AND HIS EXERCISE ROUTINE

As you can see from the photos below, Braden has already developed his first exercise routine.  Like his Dad, he enjoys running.  But, as you can see, he knows he has to do things properly if he wants to stay healthy!

WARM-UP:

Here we see Braden doing his pre-run stretches by sensibly holding onto a convenient fence in order to warm up.  Now all he has to do is learn to walk and run and he will be ready to go!!


COOL DOWN:

Here we see Braden at the beginning of his "cool-down" routine!  Always a good idea to
massage your feet after a run!



As Braden finishes his "cool-down" routine, you can see that he is feeling good!

THE "SHOWER":


Braden is a bit too young yet for an actual shower so he has a bath instead!
Ah, life is good... right, Braden?

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SUKI AND SALLIE

"Is there some important reason why
you are disturbing me?  Oh, I see,
you think I am in your chair.  No, I
am in my chair.  Yes, I forgive you but
try to see that this doesn't happen again!"
Well, Miss Suki has found a new way to rattle my chain!

As many of you know, Suki will only eat Fancy Feast Turkey with gravy.  She will nibble at her Iams dry food when she is desperate; however, when it comes to her regular meals, I can only serve Turkey WITH gravy.

Last night she started doing something new:  eating only the gravy and leaving most of the meat behind.  Of course, this means that she doesn't really get full when she eats and thus she is begging to eat more often.  I, in turn, keep her unfinished food and keep putting it back down each time she begs to be fed.  The first couple of times I do this, she sniffs it and turns and walks away.  Finally, she is hungry enough to try most anything and so she eats a couple of bites of the food I have saved.  Then she looks at me as though to say "have I eaten enough of this?  now can I now have some more meat with GRAVY?"

Sometimes I give in, sometimes I don't.  And so the battle continues.  Hopefully, she will soon get over this foolishness and return to her normal eating habits.  You know, it is almost as though she just has to do something every so often to see how much she can get away with!

As for me, things continue much the same as they have for these past weeks.  I continue to try to decide what I want to do about this possible surgery at the end of May.  The more I consider it, the more I am inclined to choose not to schedule it.  It has taken me so long to begin to really recover from the October surgery and I am still recovering from the surgery in February.  I just don't think I can face any additional pain and other physical distress leading to increased fatigue.  I may still have the surgery eventually, but I would really like to give my body a chance to recover from all it has gone through these past six months.

This coming week I have an appointment with the optometrist for new glasses.  All this surgery has led to some changes in my vision. I still don't need glasses for general activities, thank goodness.  Otherwise, my week looks pretty quiet at the moment.

In today's Liturgy, we had the reading from St. John's Gospel which contains one of my favourite passages.  In the Holy Thursday discourse, Our Lord says to His apostles:  "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid."  Jn 14: 27.

This is also my prayer for all of you -- that your hearts will not be troubled or afraid, but will instead be filled with that peace that God alone can give.

St. Stylianos, pray for us.

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