My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
HOLY AND GREAT LENT: A LIFE-SAVING ΦΑΡΟΣ (LIGHTHOUSE)
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines Lighthouse as "a structure with a powerful light for guiding sailors." A Lighthouse can be a circular stone structure erected upon the highest point of land or even a small island that is close to the seashore or surrounded by the sea and its potential threat. It warns the sea-farers or sailors that land is near and caution must be taken by them to avoid rocks, and reefs. The Lighthouse is also the assurance that a safe harbor is near.
The Lighthouse stands alone and fearless no matter the threatening weather conditions. Day and night it is a welcoming sight to all. Its beacon light slices through the darkest night or ferocious storm. I happen to be close to one during a storm and one could see how the enormous waves were pounding on it with great fury and yet it stood strong and resilient.
Our Holy Orthodox Church is very much a Φάρος (Lighthouse) that has stood strong throughout two thousand years of her existence during all kinds of persecutions, heresies, conflict, wars, communism, fascism, civil strife, enslavement by infidels, and lately by apostasy and secularism. No matter what kind of a storm in raging the Orthodox Christian Church is untouched and unharmed. It remains a powerful beacon of Truth and Light. It is there to remind us constantly that the Light of the Church is our Savior Jesus Christ, the Light of the World. He is the one and only guiding Light leading all those who are lost in the tempest and sea to the safe harbor.
Life, in general, can be treacherous and dangerous. Life is unpredictable and so are miseries that seem to always accompany it. We are constantly challenged and our life journey can be turbulent and painful. Life is uncertain just like the sea, it starts out calm, and by midway, through our journey, we are holding on for dear life. I have had the opportunity to speak with sailors who were on board a huge ship and who were caught in a great storm in the Atlantic Ocean that threatened to break the ship in half.
Spiritually the storms can symbolically be interpreted as demonic attacks upon us. Demons threaten our very salvation. Storms that appear out of nowhere at times can be extremely serious illnesses that shock us and are devasting. Where do we turn for guidance and direction? Everything seems bleak and dark to us at the time and the human reaction is to panic and be overtaken by fear. This is the time that we need a guiding light and of hope. Just like a ship we are in danger of breaking up on the rocks. As Christians we gratefully turn, even at the darkest hour, to see the Lighthouse with its bright beacon assuring us that a safe harbor is near to us and to trust its Light to lead the way to safety.
You see now why it is important to stay under the protection and guidance of our Holy Church. The world is full of evil threats and storms. We need faith and God’s help to confront them and triumph over them. The power of the Lighthouse reminds us that regardless of how turbulent the sea of life is we need only focus on the Eternal Light, Christ God, He, after all, is the Pilot of the ship that we are a passenger on.
This is the consistent message of the Holy Church, the Φάρος, and it will never change. Unlike the material Lighthouse and its noble purpose, there is another Lighthouse that we can find within our hearts. God the Holy Trinity dwells within us and it is our God that never abandons us, we are never without His Light and He will never allow us to face any of life’s storms no matter how threatening to be faced by us alone. The Lighthouse Keeper is only One Who never sleeps and keeps watch over all His creation and He is the only One that shines His Light upon a troubled world, and/or a troubled soul, and illumines it, and dispurses the darkness within it, bringing everlasting hope. The Lighthouse symbolizes the Church who is impregnable because its structure has no weakness in it, it cannot be conquered, it cannot be compromised, it cannot be penetrated, it cannot be held by any force, its form is round to indicate that it is eternal.
The Great Harbor is the Kindom of God. It is there that we find eternal peace and salvation. The Great Harbor is our home and we all seek to return there where Our Father awaits our return just like the prodigal son. "But when he came TO HIS SENSES he said, ‘How many of my father;s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, AND I PERISH WITH HUNGER! I WILL ARISE AND GO TO MY FATHER AND WILL SAY TO HIM, FATHER, I HAVE SINNED AGAINST HEAVEN AND BEFORE YOU, AND I AM NO LONGER WORTHY TO BE CALLED YOUR SON. MAKE ME LIKE ONE OF YOUR HIRED SERVANTS. AND HE AROSE AND CAME TO HIS FATHER. BUT HE WAS STILL A GREAT WAY OFF, HIS FATHER SAW HIM AND HAD COMPASSION, AND RAN AND FELL ON HIS NECK AND KISSED HIM…THE FATHER SAID TO THE SERVANTS (ANGELS), ‘BRING THE BEST ROBE AND PUT IT ON HIM, AND PUT ON RING ON HIS HAND AND SANDALS ON HIS FEET, AND BRING THE FATTED CALF THERE AND KILL IT, AND LET US EAT AND BE MERRY; FOR THIS MY SON WAS DEAD AND IS ALIVE AGAIN; HE WA LOST AND IS FOUND" (St. Luke 15:11-32).
Witnessing how turbulent our world is today due to the effort of extremists to undermine and compromise all traditional insitutions people world-wide are shocked, frightened, and scandalized. It is a human crisis of enormous proportions. There is so much manipulation, disception, intimidation, and constant threats that people do not know how to react or what to do to protect themselves and their families. As Orthodox Christians of course we turn to our Church which has dealt with persecution over the centuries from her enemies for support, for guidance, for encouragement, for fellowship, for spiritual comfort and assurance. The Church hierarchy has been entrusted with this responsibility and we all look to them to take the lead as shepherds, and lead the flock to safety. In the meantime all Orthodox Christians must stand together in solidarity and support one another and pray together.
The principle message of Holy and Great Lent is:
OUR HEAVENLY FATHER WHOSE LOVE IS UNCONDITIONAL FOR US AWAITS OUR RETURN TO OUR ETERNAL HOME.
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George