My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
LET IN FRESH AIR…
Following the long and cold winter, we look forward to a calm, warm, and refreshing spring. How great is God’s wisdom to provide for us not one, but four seasons, each one with its own character, much different and more unique than the other? In the spring, nature slowly returns to life once again. The magnificent colors reappear and trees, bushes, plants, flowers begin to grow and are ready to exhibit their new colorful garments and fresh appearance. The air is soothing and the aroma from the flowering trees, bushes, and wildflowers are in abundance.
For all of the winter months, our windows at home are tightly shut so that the heat in the house will not escape. However, there is a drawback from the lack of fresh air. The air in the house becomes stale, dry, and unhealthy. The absence of fresh air is felt by all the members of our family. Everyone can’t wait for the winter to be over so that they may be able to once again open the doors and windows and let in the fresh air and fill the house with nature’s perfume.
True faith, my brothers and sisters in Christ, comes not through contemplation, but through ascesis (action). Not words and speculation, but experience teaches us who God is. As I said before, to let in fresh air we need to first open a window or a door. Attaining faith is no different; we never obtain or reach a goal by doing nothing or just sitting in our comfort and waiting for God to do everything for us. When our Savior Jesus Christ says, that without Me you can do nothing, His message is not only that we need His help, but that we need to also cooperate and work together with Him to accomplish anything and everything in life. In one word, SYNERGY! What hurts man is his intolerable laziness, indifference, and apathy. Saint writing to the Thessalonians says, "If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat" (2 Thessalonians 4:10).
We must not make the mistake of postponing what we can do today for another day. Real and good opportunities are rare. Who knows if another opportunity will knock on our door again? One must act with courage and confidence and accept the challenges no matter how difficult they may seem at the moment. A person of faith is unstoppable and will not be afraid to attempt anything and assume all new tasks and responsibilities. A person of faith believes that he has God’s help and is not afraid of anything or anyone.
The Orthodox Christian never hesitates to kneel before the holy icon of Jesus and pray: ‘Lord, come to the aid of Your unworthy servant (name) for my hope is only in You, the God of my salvation. Amen." Our prayer is given with a contrite spirit and is heartfelt. God is not impressed with long-winded prayers which sound hallow and insincere. When the Holy Fathers of the Church speak of prayer are not referring to occasional prayer, morning and evening devotions and grace at meals, but for them prayer is synonymous with unceasing prayer, the life prayer. "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you" (St. James 4:8). It is for us to begin. If we take one step toward the Lord, He takes ten steps toward us. "Man is created for prayer, just as he is created to speak and to think. But especially for prayer; for the Lord God put man "into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it" (Genesis 2:15). And where will you find the garden of Eden if not in your heart."
"When you awake, before you begin the day, stand with reverence before the All-Seeing God. Make the sign of the Cross and say: "In the Name of the Fathe, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen." Having invoked the Holy Trinity, keep silence for a little, so that your thoughts and feeling may be freed from worldly cares. Then recite the folllowing prayers without haste and with your whole heart: "God, be merciful to me a sinner."
Just as a dwelling place or any closed up building, the air can be polluted, so can man’s mind, heart, and soul. Spiritual pollution are the "logismoi" (evil thoughts), evil desires or passions. Other pollutants are such things as anger, hatred, jealousy, vanity, avarice, lust, pride, revange, slander, gossip, etc. In order to drive out the pollution from our hearts and souls, we must act immediately and allow the fresh air to enter within. More specifically, what we need is get rid of all the spiritual pollution that remains within us by a poweful wind. In the Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit is described as, "a rushing and mighty wind" (Acts 2:2). It is this kind of "wind" that we need to clean the air, and it is the grace of the Holy Spirit that can restore our spiritual health and bring healing to our soul and body.
When we open up our lungs to the fesh air and fill them with oxygen, we immediately feel renewed and full of vigor. We feel happier and more energetic. We feel the change almost immediately and we feel energized. When the Holy Spirit enters our minds, our hearts, and our souls, He fills the whole person with His grace. There is no room for anything else. He energizes the Christian with His uncreated energy that no human language can ever describe or explain.
As you can see, the decision is ours to make, whether we desire purification or not. Our Loving God gave us the gift of FREE WILL to freely chose Him or the evil one. Also, to decide whether we are satisfied with our spiritual status quo or if we will be willing to accept Christ’s call: "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me" (St. Luke 9:23). We need to decide for ourselves which path to follow. We are taught by Our Savior Jesus Christ that, "narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (St. Matthew 7:14). Entering the Kingdom involves great labor and struggle. It does not happen without sacrifice. We must work hard to save our souls from evil and corruption. What is required of us is to first overcome our ego and pride. Secondly, we must overcome the world and all the worldly entrapments. Finally we must triumph over the evil one and his many deadly temptations.
"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