79. “Weeping Icons? Get Serious…”

That would have been my reaction when I was a Protestant long ago, even when I was an Anglo-Catholic Episcopalian. We didn’t disbelieve in miracles. We knew there were miracles in New Testament times and afterwards. Roman Catholics claimed to have them. But this just wasn’t part of our experience.  Not us. Not here. Not now. 

And then I saw one. I think it was in the spring of 1987 that an Orthodox priest friend invited to me to an OCA clergy conference in Chicago. I was still Episcopalian, but more than curious about Orthodoxy. One afternoon someone said casually, “Let’s go over and visit the weeping icon”, so we did.  This is it.  I had never seen anything like it. This was something beyond my previous imaginings. It didn’t fit into any of my categories. I even peeked behind the iconostasis to see if… but no, there were no hoses attached.

These things obviously had been covered in the press. I just never noticed. Here’s a New York Times article about this one:

https://www.nytimes.com/1986/12/22/us/weeping-virgin-icon-draws-throngs-to-chicago.html

The icon stopped weeping after a time. Then, I have been told, she resumed briefly, and I heard that the parish priest was distraught. He thought he just couldn’t handle all the commotion a second time. So she ceased again.

The Presence of the Theotokos

Among Roman Catholics the Mother of God usually appears in visions with associated miracles. Don’t discount this. I know people who have been genuinely moved to the Good by these.

Likewise, in the Orthodox Church she sometimes appears in dreams and visions. A former member of our parish told that his Greek grandmother when she was a little girl woke up one night to see a woman in light standing at the foot of her bed. Terrified, she ran to her mother who said, “Oh, don’t worry. That’s just the Panaghia. * She won’t hurt you. Go back to sleep.”

  • The popular Greek name for Mary, taken from the ascription at the end of litanies: “Calling to remembrance our all-holy [pan aghia], immaculate, most blessed and glorious Lady the Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary, with all the saints…”

I think this suggests how thoroughly and naturally (to put it mildly!) the Theotokos is integrated with the life of Orthodox people. Not that she shows up every ten minutes, but her involvement with us is not considered all that remarkable. This seems to be especially true in the “old Orthodox countries”. Why?  And why do Protestants and even Anglo-Catholics seem not to have these experiences with her?

However, with us Orthodox her usual way of making her presence known is through her weeping icons. She gives us something we can get our hands on. Literally.

It’s called myrrh. It flows from her eyes and usually exudes a sweet fragrance. What is this myrrh? It’s a mystery! No one knows. Obviously it has a chemical makeup or it wouldn’t exist in our world, but it isn’t in the nature of Orthodox people to take it to a chem lab and test it. Even if we knew what it was, what difference would that make? How would that diminish the miracle? How would that explain why it flows only from icons? sometimes even from paper icons? and on icons of the Theotokos only from her eyes?

But before we talk about weeping icons of the Theotokos, let’s look at another much less common category of miraculous images called…

Myrrh-streaming Icons

With these icons, the myrrh streams from the entire surface of the image.

I think these are usually of Saint Nicholas. In Blog Post 65, you can read about one at Saint George Church, Michigan City, Indiana. I know of another at Saint Nicholas Church, Tarpon Springs, Florida.

But there is presently a very unusual one of Saint John the Baptist at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Homer Glen, Illinois, a south Chicago suburb. Here’s some Chicago TV coverage of it:

And an article from the Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-greek-orthodox-icon-exudes-oil-met-20160428-story.html

While I was sick, some of the myrrh was brought to me on a little ball of cotton. The spicy sweet fragrance lasted for about a year. Did it help? Unless there is instant cure, how can we know? All I know is that with the myrrh and a good neurologist, I’m better now. The certain result is that I have come close to John, who had previously seemed distant to me.

P.S. As of 2019 another icon in this little church has begun to weep – from the hands of our Lord Jesus Christ! Has anyone heard of a similar icon anywhere? I have not.

Weeping Icons of the Theotokos

These are the usual kind, in which the myrrh flows from her eyes. “Usual”? Well, they’re certainly not rare. Google it and see for yourself.

If you do, don’t confuse them with a current “experimental noise punk” band named “Weeping Icon”. (Don’t ask…) They advertise, perhaps  inadvertently or perhaps not, “unlimited streaming” (!) of their music. It’s a weird world we live in.

Weeping icons of Mary are found all over. Here’s one in Hawaii: https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/orthodoxbridge/encounter-hawaiian-miraculous-icon/   There are even icons of the Theotokos that are carried from church to church, and she weeps wherever she goes.

A friend told me about one some years ago at Saint Vladimir’s seminary in New York, seen by about a half dozen people one Sunday afternoon. He had returned from his Sunday parish work, walked into the Saint Vlad’s chapel, and saw a puddle on the floor. He wiped it up, then returned and there it was again. Then he looked and saw that it was coming from an icon of the Theotokos. He called some friends and a professor or two, one of whom wouldn’t come because he didn’t believe it. She continued to cry for a little while, then stopped. No explanation.

In 1988 simple paper icons made by children wept at the Greek Orthodox Camp Nazareth outside Pittsburgh. Many people saw this, including a number from the Pittsburgh press. People said the fragrance was so strong they could smell it as they drove into the camp. Here is a television account:

For many years there was a weeping icon in a home in Milwaukee. It belonged to an old lady who had bought this simple icon of the Theotokos from a poor woman in Greece as an act of charity. Her daughter told me that when her mother prayed with it, the myrrh just poured down from it, so they kept having to wipe it off the table. They told only a few people about it, not wanting to cause a commotion. The old lady has gone to be with Jesus and his Mother now. I don’t know if the icon still weeps.

Here is the second weeping icon I saw:

The Miraculous Weeping Icon of Our Lady of Cicero

This was the title given by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip (of blessed memory) to the Weeping Icon at Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Cicero, Illinois, a west Chicago suburb.

It was on the eve of Lazarus Saturday in 1994 that a priest, a fairly new convert to Orthodoxy assisting at the service, noticed something shiny on the icon of the Theotokos on the iconostasis. Being new, he thought maybe this was some strange anointing he hadn’t yet heard of, so he asked the pastor Father Nicholas Dahtal, who went over to the icon, saw the tears running down profusely from her eyes and fell to his knees. A layman came over with a big jar which he had brought from his front hall at home (after he left home he had asked himself, “Why did I bring that along?”) and they used it to collect the myrrh. 

Father Nick called  Metropolitan Philip who sent His Grace Bishop Basil to check this out. The first thing he did was wipe off the myrrh and exorcise the icon, in case this was some kind of demonic manifestation. (The devil can also can do signs and wonders.) Bishop Basil went out for a cup of coffee, came back in, and she was still weeping. He also fell down prostrate before her. The title “Our Lady of Cicero” sounded odd to me at first; I was accustomed to more venerable old world titles, Our Lady of Kazan and the like. But God is in America, too. The Theotokos can also  make her presence known in Cicero, Illinois. And there were miracles.

I went down to Cicero several times. For the first few months the church daily was filled with pilgrims, buses parked outside, often police directing traffic. Inside the church was a multitude of flowers and burning candles, and a great crowd standing in line. It seemed like what I had read about medieval pilgrimage sites. I was still new to the Orthodox Church, and in time I learned that Orthodoxy today has many places like this.

I helped anoint people of all sorts: Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Protestants, rich and poor, male and female, the Dean of the Roman Catholic cathedral in Joliet. After I was exhausted and gave it over to someone else, the long line of pilgrims continued. 

There were are some strange stories: Father Nick had a professional photographer come in to take pictures of the icon, late at night so there wouldn’t be people in the way and so he could get good lighting. The photographer said, “I see it, but I don’t believe in this kind of stuff”.  He took many photos. When he came back and showed Father Nick the photographs, none showed the tears. He said, “I don’t know what I think now, but there’s something I can’t explain going on here”.  Father Nick said, “Okay, now you believe a little bit. Go take another picture”.  So he took one more picture. This is it. See for yourself.  

They also had trouble with the church bells. Now and then they would start ringing, and they couldn’t get them to stop. 

Father Nick’s young son came to church with his dad one day and brought along some cartoon videos to watch. They wouldn’t play on the church VCR  – blank screen. (You young people, ask your grandparents what VCRs were.) Then they tried Orthodox Church videos, and they played – no problem. Then they tried the cartoon videos elsewhere – no problem. Finally by process of elimination, they figured out that when the icon was weeping, only religious videos would play on the church VCR!

A family from Saint George had a paper picture of Our Lady of Cicero which began to weep profusely and continued for some time. 

There was later a great fire at Saint George Church, caused by an electrical short. Much of the church interior was destroyed. The icon screen and the icons on it were gone or melted out of shape, with once exception: the Weeping Icon of Our Lady of Cicero which came through completely untouched.

The icon continued to weep off and on for some time, then stopped.

In the 24 years since the miraculous icon began to weep, well over a million people have visited Saint George’s Church. More than 100,000 cotton swabs were distributed in the two months after the miracle was witnessed. More than 1,000 churches received bottles of oil mixed with the tears that are used in healing services all over the United States. We at Saint Nicholas anoint people with this myrrh frequently in times of need. It’s now greatly diluted with olive oil, but there are bound to be some molecules left.

What ever are we to make of all this? 

Why do icons of the Theotokos weep? Is it a sign of oncoming troubles? There were many weeping and other miraculous icons in Russia after the Communist revolution. But weeping isn’t necessarily out of sorrow. There are also tears of joy and tears of love. The effect at Saint George, Cicero was to revive a weary priest and struggling parish.

Someone asked me years ago why Chicago gets all the weeping icons. I thought, “How should I know?” Before I could stop myself I heard my mouth blurt out, “Because of the Cubs?” * That was flippant. I definitely should not have said that. But really, how in the world would I know why icons weep? No one knows except the Theotokos, and she’s not telling.

  • That was while the Cubs had long been a losing team. No more. 

All I know is what the weeping icons have done for me:

After seeing the icon at Saint Nicholas, Chicago, I saw that in this very traditional, seemingly stodgy old Orthodox Church there are wonderful things happening. I went home and began to talk publicly about Orthodoxy in my Episcopalian parish, which in time caused me to be kicked out of the Episcopal Church, and then there was nothing to do but try to start an Orthodox mission, and so we did, and here we are 28 years later – Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church, Cedarburg, Wisconsin. Only later did I realize that the weeping icon was at Saint Nicholas Church, Chicago – one of our many Saint Nicholas connections.

The icon at Saint George, Cicero, affected me like this: She confirmed to me that God is real, that Christ and his Mother are here with us. Now, when I’m tempted to doubt – I don’t know about you, but I am weak; I doubt –  then I think back to what I saw with my own eyes and felt for myself, the miraculous fragrant oil that I had to wipe off my hands, this undeniable material miraculous manifestation of the other World into this world. I cannot doubt that. It made me feel, I think, like the disciples on Pascha night, who “disbelieved for joy” – it seemed too good to be true, but it was! And I say to myself, “Yes, I saw the weeping icon. It’s true!” And my doubt goes away.

Are there any dangers here? Yes. People can become spiritual “thrill-seekers”, chasing from miracle to miracle, like those who are forever trying to recreate the feelings of their conversion experiences or whatever.  Beware! If it’s a choice between visiting a weeping icon or caring for “least of these my brethren”, you know which one to choose. But that’s not really the choice, is it? And as I looked into the faces of the people I anointed at Saint George’s I felt they were seeking – “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” – just as I had been.

I think because we are flesh and blood, not just spirit, we need occasional material signs of the reality of God and his saints. And all over the world, certainly in  the Orthodox world, for 20 centuries he has given us these signs. Ever since the risen Christ appeared bodily to the apostles, was touched by them, ate and drank with them, fixed breakfast for them, he has given his people solid  cause for faith, material signs of the ineffable, incomprehensible, invisible Mystery that always surrounds us.

Brothers and sisters, if ever you can go and visit a weeping icon, go! 

What follows is the Slavonic version of Saint Nektarios’ hymn to the Theotokos. For the background and the text, go to https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/frbill/wp-admin/post.php?post=4919&action=edit):

Next Week – on the road again after all this time: Our 2010 Trip to Greece

31 comments:

  1. The first thing I thought of regarding the weeping Icon of John the Baptist, is when he was saying loudly to the people, “Prepare the way of the Lord – repent and prepare the way of the Lord.” A good message for us still today! Interesting about the weeping Icons; I never had a prob believing this…..Blessings!

  2. Father Bill,
    Thanks so much for this! You wrote it as if I was sitting at your kitchen table and we were just talking about this, in the here and now. Thanks for reminding us that She has Her timing and when She ‘turns on’ Her icons, if we at possibly can, go and visit with Her in one of Her ‘guest appearances.’ Thanks very much!

    1. Oh, William, I hate to tell you this, but “no sign will be given … except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” (See Matthew 12:39-40.) That is the true Sign. So go about your business. Love God. Love your neighbor. Care for the least of Jesus’ brethren – and God will give you a sign if he thinks you need one. Meanwhile, it won’t hurt to check and see if there is a weeping icon in your area. Google it. Maybe there’s a lesser sign there waiting for you!

      1. As an update I am now Orthodox.
        I did visit the miraculous icon in Taylor PA, after conversion…
        It’s more than one can tell.

        1. I’m glad God has led you to Holy Orthodoxy. Keep in mind what Father Peter Gillquist used to say: “Don’t expect perfection here. The perfect Church is in heaven.” The Orthodox Church is filled with sinners – hopefully all of us struggling for perfection.

          1. My husband and I, Roman Catholics, visited St. George’s Russian Orthodox Church in Taylor, PA last week. After veneration of the Blessed Mother, the icon was carried throughout the small church. Myrrh freely dripped from the icon into the palm of everyone who reached out. There was an opportunity to be anointed by the Priest, obtain an icon prayer card and myrrh to take to friends who have asked for prayers. The veneration lasted about an hour and is held every Wednesday evening beginning at 6 PM. This is a beautiful opportunity to thank our heavenly Mother and know she is always with us.

  3. Fr. Bill,

    I have done some research into the Divine Council in the Old Testament and have become convinced that it is the basis for the position/priority of Mary in the Church. God had a human family and a divine family that would have been incorporated together had the fall never happened. Man was to grow through theosis to become a god in the Council (our destinty is to rule and reign with Christ judging angels/elohim). Mary, being the first deified human chosen to bear God sits as pre-eminent after the Trinity (after God we run to thee in the Paraklesis )in the Council. So, it is no wonder that she would be instrumental in the world acting in love towards her brethren.

    As someone who would have never bought into streaming icons, when I saw that this was the worldview of the OT and the New – the logic was clear and I embraced Mary as a mother.

      1. Exactly – we, to the extent that we struggle to grow in the image of Christ, participate in the Council among the Saints, the Host of heaven – the bodiless powers – all as family. The rationale for Orthodoxy was so clear after realizing the worldview of the OT and NT that the early Fathers (pre-Augustine) embraced and elaborated. One spiritual and earthly family destined to be united in God’s household – we being heirs with Christ – accomplished by the work of Christ and by participation in His Body.

        This freed me immensely, to embrace Orthodoxy. There is a book I wish every Orthodox priest would read called the Unseen Realm. This book led me to Orthodoxy. The author is, I don’t know what you’d call him – an Evangelical of sorts – (I email him regularly to show him that his work should lead him to Orthodoxy). He gives an understanding of the OT worldview that Jesus, the Apostles and Fathers embraced. There are answers to apologetical questions in this book that were far more realistic and satisfying than many Orthodox pat answers to questions on, especially Mary.

        If you can show someone that the original destiny of man was particpation in the Divine household of God from the OT (and clear up several Augustinian mistakes – he barely mentions him but tells the perspective of the OT writers especially in showing where the LXX differs from the Masoretic) – then Mary is plausible, believable, admirable, venerable. That’s a much better explanation for praying to Mary than that it comes the Semitic tradition of displaying respect for a person by going through their mother or another intermediate. To be honest, the answers I received about Mary before converting were the most troubling because they made no sense. I really thought if I converted I would just keep my reservations about Mary to myself. After reading this (and he also denies Original Sin and talks about theosis being the goal of man – all this from the OT and he is not educated in Orthodox theology – it’s all in the OT) and Fr. Romanides on Ancestral Sin – Orthodoxy made perfect sense and I trusted myself to the Church.

        I only go on about this because, having myself been a well educated Reformed Protestant (and since all American denominations somehow owe their tradition and existence to Reformed theology) – if I were a priest I believe I would be used to convert thousands of Reformed and Evangelical Christians into the Church – by explaining Ancestral Sin at length. So when I get a chance to blabber on I try and tell priests about this.

        As someone who would have been quite able to steal Orthodox faithful with Protestant arguments – I would have tried if I had known any – having been very active and knowledgable in Protestant apologetics – if I were a priest going through catechchism classes – I would spend the majority of the time spelling out what Ancestral Sin is and how it differs from Original Sin – then move on to Orthodox specifics. Orthodoxy will not make sense without Ancestral Sin. What the Unseen Realm does is to show clearly that Ancestral Sin is explicitly the OT view of man and how theosis is to be his destiny – and that the work of Christ is victory over Satan, sin, and death.

        Sorry for going on so long. Thanks for your blog!!

        1. God is our Judge, of course. But there is a reason why Christ taught us to pray “Our Father…”, not “Our Judge…” It is very hard to get Western Christians to get past their legalistic view of Christianity. I’ve been Orthodox for 30 years now, but if I’m not careful I still find myself falling back into it.

          1. I really think – as someone who was actively involved in spreading the Reformed Gospel – that the key is Ancestral Sin. The whole of Catholic and Protestant theology is built (of course they are other doctrines) on Original Sin and Total Depravity. The logic that follows these gets you a Judge. The logic that follows from Ancestral Sin gets you a Father. One creates perfect humans in a perfect paradise and they miraculously fall with all the posterity being depraved and worthy of judgment – and Total Depravity means God set up the whole think to fail by predestining the events. A.S. creates imperfect humans who sadly and tragically use their free will to disobey and God initiates counter-measures not willing that the plan for humans to be integrated family members be abandoned. A.S. takes seriously Satan as an enemy which he is not in the Western tradition – he is more of a puppet of God. God goes after our enemies with the Incarnation, the Cross, the Resurrection, the Ascension, Pentecost, etc – he is Father defending his children, going after the Prodigal. O.S. makes God our enemy because by default we are unable to love God or move toward Him – we are depravity. So Christ must suffer the Judge for our salvation and only monergistically save some apart from their will – as least in Reformed theology.

            I may be wrong or inflated in my thinking, but I think people like myself who were thoroughly Calvinistic at one time may see this better than others who are less consistent with where O.S. leads.

            This root doctrine Western Christians have built their soteriology on – I’m convinced, must be removed first and then again and again.

            Really, when we are asked to renounce heresy in baptism or Chrismation – if the person (of course my concern in all of this is for converts) doesn’t realize how much of their “Gospel” is based on OS/Total Depravity – they might just carry all of this baggage into the Church.

            This will be my hobby horse for some time to come.

            Thanks Fr. Bill

          2. Indeed! But don’t forget the liberal Protestants who have rejected legalism, total depravity and God the Judge, in favor of (what someone called) God the Grandfather, whose grandchildren (we) can do no wrong. That also is not true to the Gospel.

  4. There is also a myrrh streaming icon of the Theotokos, the Kardiotessa, at St George Carpatho-Russian church in Taylor, PA (near Wilkes-Barre). It has been streaming fragrant myrrh for over 6 years now. The volume of myrrh increases significantly when it visits Camp Nazareth with the children during the summer. Annointing with the myrrh has been associated with numerous physical and emotional healings . During my grandson’s baptism at St Georges the myrrh was so profuse, it was dripping on the heads of those who came forward to venerate it. There is a Moleben weekly on Wednesdays for those who come to venerate it.

  5. As someone else who used to be a reformed Protestant I agree with Matthew about ancestral sin, and also want to point Protestants who like early church councils to the problems posed by the implied monothelitism of Calvinism. If God is the only one who can truly will things, then what does it mean for Christ to submit his human will to his divine will? Or Mary, or anyone else, by extension? I share Matthew’s prayer and heart for all those Protestants who are searching.

  6. Matthew, so Unseen Realm is probably the best place to start in understanding Orthodoxy soteriology when coming from any flavor of protestantism?

    1. Is Unseen Realm the book I found on Amazon: “The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural” by Dr. Michael S. Heiser? Can you tell us more about it? I had never heard of it.

      1. I started reading it last year when it came up at my public library. It was so interesting to me but I stopped myself not knowing how Orthodox it was. I wanted to believe it, what he was writing. So to have Matthew discuss it for us here has made me want to get hold of it again, and start over, since the OT mindset is so hard for some to grasp – I do – but could not see where to go next. Heiser has taught Greek and Hebrew online for some time, hence my introduction to him…

        1. Michael Heiser, the author of “Unseen Realm” is not Orthodox. According to Wikipedia he “is an American biblical scholar and Christian author who has criticized ancient alien astronaut theorists. He is a scholar-in-residence at Faithlife Corporation, a Distance learning professor at Liberty University and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary”. I have not read him.

          1. Yes, thanks, Fr. Bill. I knew also he was not O, but it’s been interesting to see how Matthew utilized his work for our studies…let us know your thoughts on this work when/if you can fit it in…

  7. Dear Fr. Bill,
    Hello!

    Please pardon me, but I came across this video depicting the opening of the “Hawaiian myrrh-streaming icon”. If you could please explain the following scene at 3:50.

    Here is the video:
    https://youtu.be/E1shRL859eY

    As you can see, the wooden covering has holes on the bottom, which allow the oil (“myrrh”) to be collected in those cotton pads. However, why did they make/drill those holes in that wooden latch covering to begin with?! In addition, how come there is no oil (myrrh) on the top of the icon but rather only at the bottom where those holes are present?!

    Once again, I sincerely apologize, but sadly this makes it appear to be highly suspicious of being a fraud. ☹️

    God bless…

    1. Since I wasn’t there I can’t explain the details. The apparent lack of myrrh on the icon could be because of the lighting when the video was done, or perhaps she weeps sporadically. I’m not sure what you mean by the scene at 3:50. If it’s the reference to Nektarios, I think the speaker is thanking a man named Nektarios who brought the icon to the church. I can’t imagine why anybody would fake a weeping icon. Nobody gets rich off of this. However, the only icons I KNOW for myself were for real were the ones I saw in Chicago: no hoses, and I saw the myrrh running down from her eyes. That is why I believe such things can happen elsewhere.

    1. Well… nothing is impossible. However I am suspicious of “conspiracy” theories. I find it hard to believe that if something is a total fake, especially a “fake” that is carried from church to church to church, that nobody catches on and squeals. On the other hand, I can think of better things to do (weeping icon or not) than build an elaborate church. There are so many human needs in this world.

  8. Enjoy and God bless… 🙂

    http://orthochristian.com/115308.html

    Faith & Miracles

    Once, when Fr. Joel was traveling on a train, a rumor spread at one provincial station that a miracle had occurred in the church in the neighboring village—an icon was weeping! All of the passengers immediately left the train and rushed to see the miracle—everyone, that is, except Fr. Joel, who continued reading his book.

    When the passengers returned, touched, the man sitting right across from Fr. Joel couldn’t hold back his indignation at the priest’s calmness and said, “Father, I see you don’t believe!”

    “I believe,” Fr. Joel replied, “and therefore I’m not surprised by miracles. But you don’t believe, and so you ran to see the miracle and believe, didn’t you? So tell me—do you believe now?”

    1. I can speak only for myself. I find myself crying with the father of the epileptic boy: “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” My belief in God is genuine, God knows. I’ve given my whole life to it. But I find my belief, my faith is often shallow and needs to go deeper. It is not steady and needs to become more constant. My experiences with weeping icons and with other “signs” God has given have helped me in this growth. I wish I were like Father Joel!

  9. The Taylor PA myrrh streaming icon is also kept in a glass case, with a trough at the bottom packed with cotton to absorb the myrrh. When the case is opened, a prominent floral fragrance fills the surrounding area. During the week of the Dormition (Aug 15) the myrrh was so profuse it was even accumulating on the outer surface of the glass case. As far as inappropriate use/gains, Fr Mark will not allow photography or news articles about the Kardiotissa. He does bring it to Camp Nazareth each summer (add a minor correction to your article above–Camp N is owned and operated by the Carpatho-Russian Diocese, not the Greeks) and at times the fragrance can even be detected outside the chapel!

  10. Dear Father Bill, I stumbled across your blog post on another site. I wanted to write to you to thank you for writing it. Not only do I greatly appreciate your humour, sprinkled throughout your post, but your wisdom regarding spiritual thrill-seekers.

    I was born in an Orthodox household and in my youth (I still am a youth, in the grand scheme of things) I strayed from God. I am only, recently, back on my path and journey to the Orthodox faith and God. Be it a slow journey thus far. However, I can recall being quite the spiritual thrill-seeker as a child. And, today during a conversation with a dear friend of mine, he warned me against grace-seeking. Not an hour later I fell down a rabbit hole on miraculous icons that led me to your post.

    Unknown to myself, as to why I feel an urge to reach out to you about this post, but here I am. I just wanted to thank you for your humour and honesty. As well as, the time you took to write this for others. It really helped brighten my day and help me become more wary of a warning I may have overlooked.

    Thank you.

    1. You’re welcome, Julia. Yes, in religion, in marriage and I guess in anything else in life, it’s tempting to go for the thrills, for “feeling good” in whatever way. Some Evangelicals are forever chasing after the excitement of their “conversion experiences” or being “born again”. Some Roman Catholics and Orthodox are more likely to be “miracle chasers”. Some liberals go for the thrill of being more “off the wall” than everybody else. In marriage too many people try to preserve the wonderful feeling of falling in love. Total waste of time. If God grants these things, that’s a great gift. If not, then it’s time to get on with life. As C.S. Lewis said (did I quote him in the post? – I can’t remember) the one request God never grants is “Encore”!

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