23 September, 2021 18:40

"…BE CLOTHED WITH HUMILITY…" (1 Peter 5:5).

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

"Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your
elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and
be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives
grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under
the Mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time"
(1 Peter 5:5-6).

"Humility is constant forgetfulness of one’s achievements,
someone says.
"It is the submission that in all the world one is the least
important and is also the greatest sinner," another says.
"It is the mind’s awareness that one is weak and helpless,"
a third says.
"It is to forestall one’s neighbor at a contentious moment
and to be the first to end a quarrel."
"It is the acknowledgment of Divine grace and Divine
mercy."
"It is the disposition of a contrite soul and the abdication
of one’s own will." (The Ladder of Divine Ascent)

According to Saint John of Kronstadt "to be humble means to consider ourselves deserving, for our sins, of every humiliation, injury, persecution, and even blows; and to be meek means to patiently endure injustice, abuse, and so forth, and to pray for our enemies." Humility is the mother and the foundation of all virtue. The Orthodox Christian learns from the most excellent of all examples our Savior Jesus Christ and that He Himself is the original, Divine, true, pure, and authentic humility. His entire earthly life is one of meekness and humility. "Learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29). Meekness is the mother of love, the foundation of discernment, and the forerunner of all humility. Our Savior Jesus Christ finds rest in the hearts of the meek, while the unholy spirit to the home of the evil one.

The pure of heart and humble are lead and guided by the Holy Spirit. Saint Paul writes: "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others" (Philippians 2:2-4). "Authentic humility means to understand reliality as it actually is in God." The believer can never go wrong if he models himself after the Head of the Church, our Lord Jesus Christ. With the aid of humility the Orthodox Christian is able to overcome many of his/her spiritual obstacles and continue to successfully pursue the attainment the many other virtues and thus strengthen the "likeness" of God in us.

"God abides in the souls of the humble" say the Holy Fathers of the Church. Our Divine Creator Who sees and knows all is very aware who is and who is not sincerely humble. The Almighty God can never be deceived by us no matter how clever we think we are. Remember the Lord saying, "Before I formed you in the womb, I KNEW YOU" (Jeremiah 1:5). The Christian needs to always recall these Divine words and cease all efforts to shield his/her own sinfulness and hypocrisy. There can be no spiritual growth if we are in a state of denial of our soul’s impurities and weaknesses. We all stand naked before the Lord.

We, Orthodox Christians, must follow the good example of the venerable Prophets and strive to reafirm always our reliance upon God’s will and their hope in His mercy. Saint Simeon the New Theologian states, "Humility consists of obedience, patience, recognizing human weakness, thankfulness to God for everything–for both glory and dishonor, health and illness, wealth and poverty." The proud person places himself on a pedestal while the humble person debases himself. Jesus Himself make it very clear when He says, "But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and eh hwho humbles himself wil be exalted" (Mattthew 23:11-12). Those who exalt themselves are abandoned by God.

In the Gospel of Saint Luke 18:11-14 the Lord says, The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men–extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘GOD. BE MERCIFUL TO ME A SINNER. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; FOR EVERYONE WHO EXALTS HIMSELF WIL BE HUMBLED, AND HE WHO HUMBLES HIMSELF WILL BE EXALTED." The Lord expects the believer to be profoundly humble and contrite and not boastful and arrogant. This is reafirmed in Psalm 50[51]: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart–These, O God, You will not despise" (vs.17).

Prayer must be honest, sincere, and as Saint Neilos the Ascetic says, "Let us prepare and adorn ourselves with all of our soul and heart and strength, and with all of our mind andd with profound humility… Let us express, with compunction and pain of heart, the confession of our sins which we, as fools, commit against God on a daily basis… Pray with much humility and then a greater desire will come to you from God, with yearning and grace, to approach Him with greater piety and more contrition…When the soul and the mind come together with piety and contrition and humility, and are united with prayer to become three, there in their midst certainly Christ will be found to do His own activity."

Saint John of Kronstadt writes: "We must by every means humble our hearts and subdue our proud intellect, lest we should be like the contemporaries ofthe Prophets, who looked on them only as sweet-voiced singers, and nothing more; they did not wish to fulfil their commands, they even despised, persecuted, beat, and killed them; lest we should be like those, by whom "no Prophet is accepted in his own country." However insignificant and unimportant the man may be, honor in him the image of God, especially when he speaks with love, and, above all, when he speaks of and does the works of love."

Saint John continues, "Consider yourself worse and more infirm than all others in spiritual respects, and despise, hate yourself for your sins, –this is pious and right — and be indulgent to others, respect and love them in spite of their sins, for God’s sake, Who commanded us to respect and love all men, and also because they are created after His image — although they bear the wounds of sin, and because they are members of Jesus Christ."

_____________
"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!

“PRIDE IS OF THE DEMON”

My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

"PRIDE IS OF THE DEMON"

"For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh,
the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not
of the Father but is of the world" (1 John 2:16).

Who has lived here on earth and has not tasted the taste of pride? Pride is the common enemy to every human being. The chief of pride is none other then Satan. It was because of his pride that he lost his place in the heavens and cast out. "And He said to them, I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven" (Luke 10:18). Satan is both fallen from heaven, and he is defeated and dethroned from his demonic lordship over the world by the Divine earthly Ministry of Jesus Christ and His holy Disciples. And in Isaiah 14 we read, "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, who rose up in the morning! He who sends for all the nations is crushed to the earth. For you said in your mind, ‘I will ascend into heaven; I will place my throne above the stars of heaven. I willl sit on a lofty mountain, on the lofty mountains toward the north. I will ascend above the clouds; I will be like the Most High.’ (Pride) But now you shall descend to Hades, to the foundatons of the earth" (vs. 12-15). Five times Lucifer says "I will" in this passage. In this five-step process, he fully intended to take the place of the One Ture God.

Pride has different names i.e., egotism, arrogance, conceit, vanity, etc. but nevertheless it is the same passion and is just as destructive."The one who is subject to pride is desperately in need of God, for no man can savse such one" (St. John Climacus). Saint John Climacus writes: "Pride is a denial of God, an invention of the devil, contempt for men. It is the mother of condemnation, the offspring of praise, a sign of barrenness. It is flight from God’s help, the harbinger of madness, the author of downfall. It is the cause of diabolical possession, the source of anger, the gateway of hypocrisy. It is the fortress of demons, the custodian of sins, the source of hardheartedness. If is the denial of compassion, a bitter pharisee, a cruel judge. It is the foe of God. It is the root of blasphemy. Pride begins where vainglory leaves off…" (The Ladder of Divine Ascent).

Pride blinds a person and cannot see his/her sin. A proud person has lost all discernment between good and evil. Man is deceived through pride that he and not God is the Supreme Being. Man is self-absorbed and so egotistical that he believes that he is all-powerful and in control of life and destiny. He is drunk with pride, so much so, that he believes himself to be a supreme and a brilliant being, very talented and indinspansable. He has become delusional and psychotic. He has rebelled against His Creator and God and lives in total isolation. Thanks to his all-consuming pride he has lost vuluntarily communion with the Lord and has reached the point of insanity.

Saint John of Kronstadt writes, "Adam became so proud that he wished to become God and died for his pride; the Son of God humbled Himself unto death, and gave life to the fallen. O abyss of humilty! Adam and Eve lost themselves through gluttony, the Lord fasted and died for them, in order to give them life. They were disobedient, Christ fulfilled obedience. We are invited to join the company of the cherubim, seraphim, thrones, dominations, angels, and archangels — to take the place of the proud, fallen spirits."

The antidote for pride is HUMILITY! "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you." "Therefore, thank God for outward dishonor:those who endure dishonor here will not be subjected to it in the next world." Keep a strict watch against every appearance of pride: it appears imperceptibly, particularly in time of anger and irritabillity against others for quite unimportant causes. See yourself as the Saints do as the sinner or sinners and reject self-love. The two idols that a proud man worships are materialism (wealth) and hedonism (pleasure).

The proud and foolish man says ‘there is no God.’ "Man, in his present state, is wholly permeated with pride, wickedness, unbelief, doubt, incredulity, disobedience, heedlessness, malice, fornication, envy, covetousness, avarice, slothfulness, sometimes cowardice, despondency, theft, falsehood, and blasphemy. What a great labor lies before every Christian man to cleanse himsel from all the impurity and corruption of the passions! (St. John Kronstadt)

Saint Kronstadt advises how to overcome pride: "Value highly, and always preserve Christian meekness and kindness, mutual peace and love, crushing by every possible means the impulses of self-love, malice, irritabiility, and disturbance. Do not be disturbed and angered, when anybody bells you a falsehood to your face, or claims any unjust pretension, or speaks offensively, or boldly detects any of your weaknesses or passions, the wrongfulness of which, through your self-love, you did not suspect."

"Watch you heart during all your life — examine it, listen to it, and see what prevents its union with the Most Blessed Lord. Let this be for you the science of all sciences, and with God’s help you will easily observe what estranges you from God, and what draws you towards Him and unities you to Him. It is the evil spirit more than anything that stasnds between our hearts and God, he estranges God from us by various passions, or by desires of the flesh, by the desires of the eyes, and by worldly pride." (St. John Kronstadt)

Saint John of Kronstadt states, "This is why Christ, the Savior, and the Christian religion command everyone to hae the meeknes and humility which do not allow the spirits of evil and pride, seeking the death of all and each one, to work in the hearts of true Christians. The Lord says: "Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart." The wrath of man is a terrible unnatural phenomenon in a man; it is often aroused in the heart by the most unimportant causes — mostly through the self-love or pride concealed in our heart. We must remember that "The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God" (James 1:20). "The wrath of man" is unjust, ungracious and severe. It proceeds from unconrtrolled anger and it is not God’s judgment. For us to discern "the righteousness of God" requires patience, graciousness, and controlled passions.

Saint John of Kronstadt reminds us that "humility destroys all the snares of he enemy. Ah! how much secret pride there is in us. This, we say, I know; this I do not need; this is not for me; this is superfluous; in that I am not a sinner. How much sophistry of our own! "He who is infected by pride is inclined to show conempt for everything even for holy and Divine objects: PRIDE MENTALLY DESTROYS OR DEFILES EVERY GOOD THOUGHT, WORD, NOT, EVERY CREATION OF GOD. IT IS THE DEADLY BREATHING SATAN.. It is the evil spirit than anything that stands between our hearts and God, he estranges God from us by various passions, or by the desires of the flesh, by the desires of the eyes, and by worldly pride."

____________________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!

“AND BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER…” (Ephesians 4:32).

My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

"AND BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER…" (Ephesians 4:32).

One of the most poignant and stark examples of kindness is the Parable of the Good Samaritan told by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and illustrates Jesus’ teaching of who our "neighbor" is: anyone in immediate need, including our enemy. The Good Samaritan symbolically is our Savior Jesus Christ Himself and the wounded man is humanity attacked by demonic forces, and the inn is the Holy Church. True love for neighbor is love for our All-Loving God. Saint Paul reminds us that "Love suffers and is kind, love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seeks its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil…love never fails…" (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

Kindness is the fruit of pure love. A kind person is one who is gentle and sweet with those who are hurt and in pain. A kind person is one who instinctively responds to a fellow human being suffering and through his/her love, compassion, and tenderness brings healing to the one injured. Kindness knows no boundaries, no nationality, no culture, no language, and yes, no race. Kindness is impartial and free of all prejudice. Our Creator God created humans to always reflect in our lives His unconditional agape and kindness to one another.

"… Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You? Then He will answer them saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, INASMUCH AS YOU DID NOT DO IT TO ONE OF THE LEAST OF THESE, YOU DID NOT DO IT TO ME…" (Matthew 25:44-45). "THE LEAST OF THESE" refers to all those people who are in agony and who are suffering. Anyone who shows kindness and compassion to his/her neighbor does it also to the Lord Himself.

When our Holy Orthodox Church speaks of "good works" she speaks about works of philanthropy or charity. The holy Apostle James writes, "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but doe snot have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also FAITH BY ITSELF, IF IT DOES NOT HAVE WORKS, IS DEAD" (James 2:14-17).

The world in which we all live is in need of greater kindness. Kindness is essential to a more perfect human being. Cruelty and a hateful disposition are not a part of the human who possesses the image of God. Writing to the Galatians Saint Paul says, "But the fruit of the Spirit IS LOVE, JOY, PEACE, LONGSUFFERING, KINDNESSS (Gk. Χρηστότης), GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, SELF-CONTROL" (Galatians 5:22). Again Saint Paul writings to the Colossians 3:12, says, "Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, KINDNESS (ΧΡΗΣΤΟΤΗΤΑ=ΚΑΛΩΣΥΝΗΝ), HUMILITY, MEEKNESS, LONGSUFFERING; BEARING ONE ANOTHER, IF ANYONE HAS A COMPLAINT AGAINST ANOTHER, EVEN AS CHRIST FORGAVE YOU, SO YOU ALSO MUST DO."

We, Orthodox Christians, believe that the Almighty God and Creator is most kind, most generous, most forgiving, so too, His followers are called to emulate His Divine and Good example and practice kindess, compassions, gentelness, and come to the aid of our fellow man. According to Saint Isaac the Syrian, "In God there is no hatred towards anyone, but all embracing love which does not distinguish between righteous and sinner, between a friend of truth and an enemy of truth, between Angel and demon. Every created thing is precious in the sight of God/"

It is necessary, however, to comprehend that kindness does not mean ignoring the sins of others, it means praying for them and forgiving them. Furthermore, a kind person should attempt to help the one who has lost his/her way with patience, gentleness, and compassion. Even when one has self-inflicted these spiritual injuries to himself/herself needs time to regain their perspective and realize his/her own mistakes and to rectify them himself through prayer and seeking guidance from the Master Himself. Let us not forget that "we are members one of another… forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:26-32).

Another noble example of kindness is revealed in the life of Saint Agathon who lived in the 4th century. One day the Saint had to travel from the desert to the flour mill to grind his wheat, which was hard work. He loaded his sack of wheat on his shoulders and went to the mill. The moment Saint Agathon was prepared to spread his wheat, another traveler arrived and pleaded with him to let him go first because he was in a hurry. The Saint answered, "happily," and he even offored to assist the man to mill his wheat. They finished the grinding and the man got his flour and departed. As soon as Agathon was about to unload his wheat to grind, another man came and the same thing happened over again. Then two more came along asking him for the same thing. Night came, and Saint Agathon was still unable to grind his wheat. He put it on his shoulders and returned to his monastery.

Saint Agathon a most virtuous monk set an example of Christian kindness (Gk. Καλωσύνη, Χρηστότητα). This God-like goodness or kindness is needed today and would be of greater benefit and more fruitful than anything else. All Saints throughout time possess the same spirit of kindness and selflessness. By reading the Lives of the Saints one can see clearly their generosity, their meekness, they humility, their kenosis and sacrifice for the good of others. It is imperative that we keep focus on their holy lives and be inspired by their virtuous example.

In recent days I have heard of "random acts of kindness" performed by complete strangers in one form or another which is edifying and welcomed. When kindness is practiced randomely and not pre-planned by us, it is more authentic, more sincere and its value is much greater. I have been a recipient of a random kindness as a child and I know how wonderful it is.

Long, long ago, in Athens Greece my father and sister Ioanna and i arrived late in the afternoon from our village, tired, hungry, and cold from our long trip. Everything in the city was closed except for a small caffenion that was still open with only one customer left. This took place after the civil war came to end in 1948. The country was devasted and there were no place for us to spend the night. We went in the caffenio to get out of the cold and for my father to think of what to do next. The last customer and stranger that was there came over to my father and said to him: "I see that you and the children are from the country do you have a place to stay tonight?" My father answered the man that we did not. The man said "you will come with me to my house and you may stay with us until you are well situated and have a place to stay. " This was a true random act of kindness which even after many decades I have not forgotten and never will.

These kind of acts of kindness are very important and touch deeply the soul of the one hurting and those in despair. They are not only good for our own salvation, but they are necessary manifestations of God’s χρηστοτητα και αγάπη for all of mankind. None of us should ever stop expressing kindness to the countless people who need to be loved and comforted. We must continue to act as God’s instrument of kindness, love, mercy, compassion, goodness and hope for as long as we live. The world cannot exist without God’s help and without man’s care for one another. There are many opportunities for one to make a real difference in the life of someone and to save him or her.

Isn’t the life of our Lord Jesus Christ one of love, kindness, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, sacrifice and healing? The question of whether one ‘deserves’ kindness is never asked. We definitely know that none of us are worthy of all that the Almighty God had and continues to do for us. The Son of God gave His life so that we may be saved not because we ‘deserved’ it but out of His unconditional love to save us from sin and death. "For His mercy rules over us and the truth of the Lord endures forever" (Psalm 117:2). God’s mercy "rules over" those who walk by faith and His Truth is the subastance of faith that "endures forever" in them.

_________________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father Geoge

MAN’S QUEST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS

My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

MAN’S QUEST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS

"Μακάριοι οι πεινώντες και διψώντες τήν δικαιοσύνην,
ότι αυτοί χορτασθήσονται" (Ματθαίον 5:6).

Μακάριοι είναι εκείνοι, πού μέ σφοδρόν εσωτερικόν πόθον σάν
πεινασμένοι και διψασμένοι επιθυμούν τήν δικαιοσύνην και
τελειότητα, διότι αυτοί θά χορτασθούν δια πλήρος ικανοποιήσεως
τού πόθου των.

"Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they
shall be satisfied" (Matthew 5:6)

Blessed are they, who with a great inner desire is hungering
and thirsting for righteousness and perfection, for their desire shall
be fulfilled.

Man’s quest for righteousness never ceases. He continues seeking God’s righteousness throughout his earthly life. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ says clearly, " But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). This is the central theme of the Divine Teaching of our Lord. Saint Theophylact writes, "The Kingdom of God is the enjoyment of all that is good. This comes through righteousness. To him who seeks after spiritual things God in His generosity adds that which is needed for physical life."

The Christian must willingly pursue righteousness because this is what means to "hunger and thirst." We are assured by our Savior Jesus Christ that it is the righteous who shall be filled, even here in this earthly and transient life, because all that they possess cannot be taken away from them.
The Orthodox Christian believer cannot be satisfied with what he is now but continues growing and developing spiritually striving for theosis (deification) by the grace of the Holy Spirit. None of the spiritual growth and development is accomplished on his own but by His Divine Creator. The holy Apostle Paul writes, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

God the Holy Spirit bestows upon us "liberty" freeing us to have access to Him. Created in His image, we see His uncreated image, the Son "when one turns to the Lord." Saint Paul writes, "Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, THE VEIL IS TAKEN AWAY" (v.16). As we behold Him, we become what we were created to be. Almighty God is eternal, therefore, growing in His image and glory has no limits. We shall ever see God more clearly and ever be "transformed" into His likeness.

In his Letter to the Romans 3:23, Saint Paul writes: "… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." We believe that the ultimate purpose of man’s existence is to attain "the glory of God." The way to God is both perfect righteousness and eternal life. This can only be attained through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who alone lived in complete righteousness. He alone was resurrected to eternal life. Therefore, He alone is our way to God. No person, by virtue of his/her own ability, has the power to be righteous, has the capability to live up to the moral standards of a Righteous God but fall short of the glory of God.

The Orthodox Christian believer participates in the life of God. He or she knows God by uniting in divine activities that the Lord has taught His people i.e., the Mysteries (Sacraments). When the faithful receive the Holy Body and Precious Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ they are united with Christ Himself. Saint Basil the Great writes, "… teach me to perfect holiness in Thy fear that we the clear witness of my conscience I may receive the portion of Thy Holy Things AND MAY BE UNITED WITH THY HOLY BODY AND BLOOD, and have Thee to dwell and remain in me, with the Father and Thy Holy Spirit…". Through grace man is transformed, renewed and saved.

Grace used theologically, is that which radiates frm the hidden essence or nature of God, SUCH AS GRACE, are not created, and allow the believer to enter into a personal relationship with God while preserving the unique character of God, Whose essence always remains hidden from humanity. Prophet Moses was permitted to see the glory of God, His ENERGIES, but was forbidden to gaze on the face of God, His HIDDEN ESSENCE. In Exodos 33:18 we read: "Then God said (to Moses), ‘I will pass before you in My glory, and I will proclaim My name, the Lord… But He said, ‘You CANNOT SEE MY FACE; FOR NO MAN CAN SEE MY FACE AND LIVE…". No person can see THE ESSENCE OF THE Father("My face"), either in this world or in the one to come (John 1:18). But the Son IS ONE IN ESSENCE WITH THE FATHER, AND THEREFORE FULLY SEES AND KNOWS THE FATHER’S ESSENCE.

THEOSIS (DEIFICATION) means we are to become more like God THROUGH HIS GRACE OR DIVINE ENERGIES. In creation, humans were made in the IMAGE and LIKENESS of God (Genesis 1:26) according to human nature. In other words, humanity by nature IS AN ICON OR IMAGE OF GOD: The Divine image is in all humanity. Through sin, however the image and likeness of God WAS MARRED, AND WE FELL. When the Son of God assumed our humanity in the womb of the Ever-Virgin Mary, the process of our being RENEWED IN GOD’S IMAGE AND LIKENESS BEGIN A RE-CREATION PROCESS, BEING RENEWED IN GOD’S IMAGE AND LIKENESS, WE BECOME AS THE HOLY APOSTLE PETER WRITES, "PARTAKERS OF THE DIVINE NATURE" (2 Peter 1:4).

The Orthodox Christian nourished by the Holy Body and Precious Blood of Christ through the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist, the baptized believer partakes of the grace of God–His strength, His righteousness, His agape–and is enabled to serve Him and glorify Him. Thus we, being human, are being deified.

_______________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

TRUSTING IN GOD

My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,..
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

TRUSTING IN GOD

"IN THOU, O Lord, I put my trust; Let me never be put to shame… You
are my trust from my youth. By You I have been upheld from birth;
You are He Who took me out of my mother’s womb…" (Psalm 71:1, 5-6).

"They are tripped up because they fear and stand in awe of men;
but he who trusts in the Lord will rejoice." (Proverbs 29:25-26).

"And we have such trust through Christ toward God" (2 Corinthians 3:4)
As we grow and mature spiritually we come to the realization that human intellect and power are not sufficient to obtain all those things which we desire and hope for in life. We need to set our pride aside and with true humility ask the One Who we trust more than anyone in the world, the Almighty God.

One needs to overcome the temptation to attribute all that is accomplished in life to his/her intelligence, hard work, indivdual talents, and sound business choices or prudent investments alone. A wise person is a person who understands his or her human limitations and seeks to trust in God for HIs guidance and inspiration. The spiriutally mature person is the one who acknowledges his weasknesses and as he progresses spiriually becomes more dependent on God and less on himself. Jesus Himself says, "Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it" (Mark 10:15). Childrens hearts are pure, innocent, and in their openness and genuine trust. This is what the Orthodox Christian should be like "a little child." A child is totally dependent on his or her parents for everything and indeed, his/her relationship is based on love and trust.

Being in the presence of Geronda (Elder) Ephraim of Philotheou and Saint Anthony’s in Arizona one sensed not only his saintliness, humility, love, but also a childlike innocense. I felt the same way when I met Metropolitan Antonios of Siatista, Greece some years ago. Before me was a Metropolitan of the Greek Orthodox Church but at the same time when speaking with him it was as though you were in the presence of a child. He did not act like a child but he had this purity and genuine honesty and innocence about him. Meeting both of them I was reminded of Jesus’ words of how a Christian must become "as a little child" in order to enter the Kingdom of God. In my mind that was truly manifested in both Geronda Ephraim and Metropolitan Antonios. Therefore, my friends, it can be done by the grace of God.

How can ayone of us claim to believe in Jesus Christ and to not trust Him? How can we profess to be followers of Jesus Christ and not to trust Him? How can we faithful, be willing to confess our love in Him but not trust Him? How could we be willing to die for Him and not trust Him? How can we be willing to abide by His commandments and not to trust Him? How can we openly confess that He is our Savior but not trust Him? How can we be obident to Him and not trust Him? How can we preach His Gospel and not to trust Him? Trust is necessary if our faith in God is true and real. There cannot be a personal relationship with our Savior and God without trust. As a matter of fact no relationship is possible without trust whether between husband and wife, between friends, among co-workers, relatives, between priest and parishioners, between teachers and students, between fellow soldiers who protect eachother during battle without real trust.

The problem with human beings is that we have shown to God again and again that we cannot be trusted. Our Creator has always kept all His promises to us throughout time and space. Mankind has betrayed God and His Divine Commandments consistently and often without any shame or repentance. There is no justification for ouir actions and to lack of our fidelity to Him. Our sinful lives proves our deliberate defiance to God’s will and disobedience. We at times say that we trust Him except when things go wrong and then we tend to lose both faith and trust in Him. This reminds me of the time "when Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side… but the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary… Jesus went to them walking on the sea… they were troubled, saying ,’it is a ghost!’ But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer! IT IS I; DO NOT BE AFRAID.’ And Peter answered Him and said, LORD IF IT IS YOU, COMMAND ME TO COME TO YOU ON THE WATER. SO HE SAID ‘COME.’ AND WHEN PETER HAD COME DOWN OF THE BOAT, HE WALKED ON THE WATER TO GO TO JESUS. BUT WHEN HE SAW THAT THE WIND WAS BOISTROUS, HE WAS AFRAID, AND BEGINNING TO SINK, HE CRIED OUT, SAYING, ‘LORD SAVE ME!’ And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O YOU OF LITTLE FAITH, WHY DID YOU DOUBT?

It is true that when we find ourselves in the stormy sea of life, we too lose our faith and trust in Christ we begin to also sink out of fear. We too hesitate and "doubt" because of our weak faith and trust and by taking our eyes off Christ and instead focusing on the storm or storms in our lives. The believer makes every effor no matter what the conditions are to have our Savior on our sights. When that becomes a reality then we will have the strength to meet the challenges head on and to surrender to the immediate threat. Fear as we know it can do a lot of damage. Fear renders the person unable to act, it makes one freeze in place, and it paralizes the person. Our Lord helps us overcome fear when we reach out to Him and cry out to Him "Lord save me!" Jesus does just that. We clearly see here how quickly the Lord answers our prayer and stretches out His hand and catches us. Prayers do not have to be long but prayer ought to be sincere and founded on faith. Just the words common to all Orthodox Christians "Kyrie eleison" ("Lord, have mercy") is enough. Or the more extendent prayer we say, the Jesus Prayer or the Prayer of the heart, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner."

____________________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Thngs!"

“Let us attend! The Holy Things for the holy!”

My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

“LET US ATTEND!
The Holy Things for the holy!”

“The Holy Things” are the Sacred Body and Precious Blood of our Savior Christ. As the celebrant priest raises the consecrated Holy Gifts he “invites” the faithful: “The Holy Things for the holy.” The invitation to approach and receive is not just to anyone but to the faithful, to those who have been baptized and have spiritually prepared to receive them. In the ancient Christian document, the Didache states: “If anyone is holy, let him come; if anyone is not holy, let him repent.” The spirit with which the believer approach is revealed by the following prayer authored by Saint John Chrysostom:

I am not worthy, Master and Lord, that Thou should come under the roof of my soul; yet
inasmuch as Thou desire to live in me as the Lover of mankind, I approach with boldness.
Thou has commanded: Let the doors be opened which Thou alone has made and Thou
shall enter with Thy love for mankind just as Thou are. Thou shall enter and enlighten
my darkened reasoning, I believe that Thou will do this. For Thou did not cast away the
prostitute who came to Thee with tears, neither did Thou turn away the tax-collector who
repented, nor did Thou reject the thief who acknowledged Thy Kingdom, nor did Thou
forsake the repentant persecutor, the Apostle Paul, even as he was. But all who came to
Thee in repentance Thou did unite to the ranks of Thy friends, Who alone are blessed
forever, now and unto the endless ages. Amen.

Saint Nicholas Cavasilas writes, “Those to whom the priest calls holy are not only
who have attained perfection, but those who are striving for it without having yet obtained

Who are the “holy”? or the “holy people of God?” (“Laos tou Theou?”) but the Church (Ekklesia) of course which our Lord and Savior Hmself founded. It is the entire body of believers in Christ. Essentially, all baptized Christians are part of the chosen race, and the royal priesthood, which form the holy nation of God. We read in Leviticus 26:12, “I will walk among you an be your God, and you shall be My people.”

In the Old Testament, the “people of God” were the Hebrews and citizens of other countries who converted and accepted the True God, the God of Israel. By chosing the Jews to be His chosen people God they were given a sacred mission and were required to obey Him and His Commandments and to proclaim God’s Truth to the entire world. God Who is just and does not show favoritism to one nations over the other, did not select the Israelites to be his chosen people out special favor to them, but to instead provide them the sacred opportunity to bring His Light to all of the human race and in doing so to be His messengers and reveal His glory and truth.

The “holy people of God” are the pleroma of the Ekklesia (Church). There can be no Church without the “people of God.” When the people ( O Laos) followed Jesus to hear His Divine Teachings there were unaware that He would also bestowed upon them His peace, love, hope, healing, and salvation. Each person in His presence responded indivitually by an act of faith. His or her personal commitment of faith incorporated that person into the Κοινωνία (Community) of believers from different countries. It was the group of believers that formed the Church of Jesus Christ and Who keeps them safe and nurtures them.

Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ is indeed the Head of the body, with the Church being the “People of God.” The “People of God” are and will always be the GUARDIANS OF ALL TRUTH, INCLUDING ORTHODOX DOCTRINE. The “People of God” form the “CONSCIENCE OF THE CHURCH” AND WHO ARE IN COMMUNION WITH GOD. Their obedience is to the Founder and Head of the Church Jesus Christ. The “People of God” have an obligation to God not only to protect and defend the Truth but to prevent the enemies of the Church from corrupting it. The “People of God” must NEVER ALLOW ANYONE FROM SILENCING THEM. They MUST NEVER BETRAY JESUS CHRIST OR ABANDONING HIM. The “People of God” have only one loaylty and that is to our Savior.

There are those who over the centuries who wish to mislead and misinform the “People of God” so that their hidden and sinister agenda may succeed but this must never be permitted. The “People of God” need to be constantly vigilant, informed, aware, and ready to confront all evil people who attempt to destroy the harmony in the Church. As the custodians of the Truth the “People of God” must seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and to be prepared for all out war with evil. Saint Paul writing to the Ephesians says, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand… having girded your waist with truth, having put onthe breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (6:13-17).

Just as important as SPIRITUAL ARMOR is a Christian’s readiness and alertness. Many Christians have fallen into complacency and a false sense of security. They are led to believe that they are not in any danger and that they are safe from all evil forces but that is not true. Evil forces work both within the Church and without the Church. Spiritual warfare never ceases. We cannot afford to fall into a lull or stupor, a state of extreme apathy and indifference. Religious leaders must be held accountable for their actions if their actions are contrary to the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Orthodox Church.

The “People of God”, the Orthodox Chrisians must be diligent in their prayers and always watchfull. Those who are engaged in spiritual combat and in the “front lines,” require the back up power of a praying Church. Always remembering the Divine words of our Savior, “for without Me YOU CAN DO NOTHING” (John 15:5).

“Compel yourselves, my children, in the spiritual struggle.
Do not forget the vast experience of the devil and our
own weakness. Just as a leaf in autumn falls at the
slightest wind, likewise we fall at the slightest temptation
or trial when the grace of God does not assist us. And
when does the grace of God assist us? Only when
humility guides our every thought and deed.”
(Geronda Ephraim of Filotheou and Arizona of blessed
memory.)

________________

“Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!”

THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN MUST BECOME A CONFESSOR (AN APOLOGIST) OF THE FAITH IN 21st CENTURY

My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND SHALL ALWAYS BE.

THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN MUST BECOME A
CONFESSOR (AN APOLOGIST) OF THE FAITH IN THE 21st
CENTURY

A Christian Confessor or an Apologist (Greek: απολογία) was and still is one who openly defends and explains the faith and one who attempts to present the positive light of Christianity. The Christian apologist addressed those standing in opposition and those yet to form an opinion such as pagan emperors, philosophers, and potential converts. A substantial number of early Saints, Martyrs, Holy Fathers, and Holy Mothers were Confessors even under a great threat to their lives. They taught that Christianity was a non-threatening religion that worshipped the one True God, that the Founder of the Faith was the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ, and although Christians were law-abiding citizens willing to serve and honor the emperor, their belief in a single Divinity prevented them from taking the loyalty oaths that acknowledged the emperor’s divinity and, therefore, could not worship the pagan gods and idols. Needless to say, soon after their confession, they were imprisoned, tortured, and killed.

Countless other Christian apologists were exiled and sent to the mines, remaining always faithful in their confession until the very end of their lives. The title, thus, distinguished them from the holy martyrs, who were so-called because they underwent death for the Faith. The Christian Confessors, as well as the holy martyrs, were crowned by our Lord Jesus Christ.

In Orthodox Christian theology, the term "Apologetics" is used in regards to defending the True faith against atheism, heresy, pagans, and schismatics. This defense of the faith, however, is done always in the spirit of Christian love, patience, dignity, truthfulness, and is non-confrontational, polemical and, of course, uncompromising.

The earliest apologists or confessors were the Holy Fathers of the Church. Their apologies covered a wide range of issues such as Christ’s Nature, Gnosticism, the Theotokos, miracles, Holy Scripture, and numerous heresies that threatened the unity and integrity of the Christian Faith and the Church.

The method adopted by the Church to resolve the vital differences and concerns of opinions on the meaning of the Holy Scripture was the Ecumenical Synods. There were Seven Ecumenical Synods that were representative of the WHOLE Church and formed the key "apologetics" for the Orthodox Church. One such important apologetic work was The Nicene Creed ("The Symbol Faith").

The holy Apostle Peter writes, "…but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, being ready to make A DEFENSE to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence" (1 Peter 3:15).

The Holy Apostles and early Christians preached Christ crucified and resurrected as a veritable fact, and were not in need of any scientific and philosophical arguments. Our Lord Jesus Christ said: "You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, AS A TESTIMONY TO THEM AND TO THE GENTILES. When they deliver you up, DO NO WORRY ABOUT HOW OR WHAT YOU SHALL SPEAK, FOR IT WILL BE GIVEN TO YOU IN THAT HOUR WHAT YOU SHOULD SPEAK; FOR IT IS NOT YOU WHO SPEAK, BUT THE SPIRIT OF YOUR FATHER WHO SPEAKS IN YOU" (Matthew 10:19-20). When the Christian bears witness to Christ, the Holy Spirit will speak through him/her and you will not be defeated (Mark 13:11; John 14:26), though you may be persecuted and even martyred for the faith.

Growing and expending Gentile world, Christianity, in defending itself from slanderous and defemendory rumors and attacks, was forced to disclose the delusions of the Gentile religions. It was necessary to prove to the Gentiles that the Christian God is the True God; and to the Jews that Christ is the Messiah promised by the holy Prophets. In defending the Christian faith, as the persecutions became more systematic and severe, the Christians felt it necessary to refute all defamation that was deliberatly spread throughout the Roman empire. To the watching pagan world, the perseverence of the faithful during affliction appears foolish. However, the holy Apostle Peter indicates that faith is precious, bearing greater glory and honor as it continues to stand firm under persecution.

Is the contemporary Orthodox Christian in this 21st century prepared to be and act as an apologist? Is our faith and commitment to Jesus Christ our Savior strong enough? These are questions that need to be answered, as we can clearly see that persecution against the Christian faith continues. Defamation against our Savior Christ and His Teachings continue to spread throughout the world. At the same time, heresies have divided the Christians among themselves and the Gospel message has been distorted by the various denominations and cults. Christians outside the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, are totally confused and disollusioned. The Christian teachings have been so diluted that the Person of Jesus Christ is disfigured and unrecognizable.

It is up to the Orthodox Christian Church and the Orthodox Christians world-wide to restore the true image of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and to defend the truth as taught by Him and the Holy Apostles. We need, the world needs, true apologists today. We need Apologists or Confessors who not only know the faith, but practice it, and have the needed knowledge to teach it, to preach it, to declare it, and to spread it throughout. We need apologist like the ones in the early years of Christianity who are willing to be tortured, suffer, and die for Jesus Christ the Son of God and our Redeemer. There are such apologist in every century who continue to defend the authentic Christian faith and who have devoted their whole lives in the service of the Lord. We can find them in our Monasteries. Orthodox Monasticism is flourishing today, monks and nuns practice the angelic life, and we know that they are praying unceasingly for the salvation of all mankind. Thanks be to God!

_______________________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

“THE LORD GOD PLANTED A GARDEN…” (Genesis 2:8-20)

My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

"Then the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put
the man He formed. Besides this, God caused every tree beautiful to the
sight and good for food to grow from the ground. Also, in the middle of
the garden were THE TREE OF LIFE AND THE TREE OF LEARNING THE
KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL… Then the Lord God took the man He
had formed and put him in the garden to tend and keep it. And the Lord
God commanded Adam, saying: ‘You may eat food from every tree in the
garden but from the tree of the KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL YOU
MAY NOT EAT; FOR IN WHATEVER DAY YOU EAT FROM IT, YOU SHALL
DIE BY DEATH" (Genesis 8:8-17).

In reading the story of Adam and Eve in the Old Testament Book of Genesis we understand that its author was Moses who was inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit to produce this beautiful account. However, to interpret it correctly we need to read it allegotically and symbolically.

Our Creator and Heavenly Father gave the first created man a beautiful place and a Divine Commandment. The man’s responsibility was to "tend and keep" the garden and obey His Commandment and he would enjoy the blessings of Paradise. But if he were to disobey His Commandment, he would die and his body would decay in the grave ("Die by death").

Although Adam and Eve disobeyed God they did not physically die the day they ate from the tree, the word "you shall die" indicate A SPIRITUAL DEATH through separation from God, this is what is referred to in Orthodox Christianity as the "Ancestral Sin." Adam and Eve fell from grace in so doing they were both expelled from Paradise as the Book of Genesis says, "therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of pleasure… So He cast out Adam and made him dwell opposite the garden of pleasure. He then stationed the Cherubim and the fiery sword which turns every way to guard the way to the Tree of Life" (Genesis 3:23-24).

"The Tree of Life" prefigures our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through Whom man regains Paradise. Man is transformed by encountering the Person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son and Logos/Word of God. When man submits his life to Christ in repentance and humility, the Holy Spirit comes and through the sacraments of the Church bestows His grace upon him and lifting him up.

There is much more than one can say and theologize on the subject but that is not my intent. I would simply desire to contemplate and ponder on the beauty of the garden of Eden itself. Just allow yourself to imagine and visualize as much as possible how the garden was. The fact that the Almighty God Himself created it, must have been "very good" and anyone living there would sense the presence and glory of God. But not just beautiful and glorious but the holiest of places. Try, if you can, to imagine hearing "the voice of the Lord walking in the garden" (3:8). How infinitely glorious and unfathomable blessing is to be in your Creator’s presence for eternity.

The Holy Fathers of the Church confess a connection between the ναός (temple) and Paradise. Saint Symeon of Thessaloniki states that the: "Splendor of the ναός (temple) signifies the beauty of paradise…". What resonates with me is the Divine and compassionate words of our Savior to the "Good Thief" who appealed to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom. And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today your will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:42-43). The repented thief is the first to enter Paradise. The unmeritted grace of God toward penitent sinners is real and reveals the true spirit of the Gospel. Those who enter Paradise will enjoy it in the presence of our Lord God" (Genesis 3:8).

The "Living Tree" is the Tree upon which our Lord, God, and Redeemer sacrifice His life to save humanity and to open the gates of Paradise to those who believe in Him and are obedient to Him. Jesus made our return home possible just as the prodigal son who too was in danger of diying in self-imposed exile in a foreign land and through his disobedience seperated himself from his Father Who loved him. Communion with God is life but seperation from God is death. Obedience to God is life but disobedience leads to exile and death. Through repentance one is restored and granted Paradise but the unrepentant choses death over life.

The Son of God, the Second Adam, awaits us to willingly follow Him. He is our Liberator, our Redeemer and God. In the icon of the Resurrection of Christ we see clearly the true story of our redemption when we see our Lord Christ reaching out with His hands pulling Adam and Eve from the grip of Hades. He frees them from death and restores them to life and His Kingdom. Communion with Him is restored and Adam and Eve are set once again in Paradise to dwell in the House of God forever. The gates of Hell are destroyed, Satan is bound forever and his realm is no more.

________________________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things1"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

SAVORLESS SALT IS OF NO VALUE

My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

SAVORLESS SALT IS OF NO VALUE

New Testament

"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt
loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It
is then good for nothing but to be thrown out
and trampled underfoot by men" (Matthew 5:13).

"For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and
every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.
Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor,
how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves,
and have peace with one another" (Mark 9:49-50).

Old Testament

"Now every gift of your grain offering you shall season
with salt; You shall not allow the salt of the Lord’s covenant
to be from your grain offerings. WITH EVERY GIFT SHALL
OFFER SALT TO THE LORD YOUR GOD" (Leviticus 2:13).

According to our Holy Orthodox Church salt is a symbol of an indissoluble covenant, which was added to this offering.. As we all the olive oil symbolized the Holy Spirit, and incense was a symbol of prayer. Further, "In Leviticus, every gift, unless it is seasoned with salt, is forbidden to be offered as an oblation to the Lord God. Now the whole spiritual meditation of the Holy Scripture is given to us as salt which stings in order to benefit, and which disinfects, without which it is impossible for a soul, by means of reason, to be brought to the Almighty; "for ye are the salt of the earth," said our Lord Jesus Christ to the holy Apostles.

As far back as 6000 B.C. salt has been an important and integral part of the world. Ancient civilizations as the Chinese, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans considered salt more valuable than their own currency. This timeless ingredient is an essential element inthe diet of not only people but animals,and even plants. It is one of the most effective and most widely used of all food preservatives. Salt has played a vital part in religious ritual in many different cultures, symbolizing purity. There are more than thirty references to salt in the Holy Scripture, including the well-known expression "salt of the earth." It also made a good anticeptic, which the Romans used for that purpose. A soldier’s salary was cut if he "was not worthy his salt," a phrase that came into being because the Greeks and Romans often bought slaves with salt.

"For everyone shall be seasoned with fire" (v. 49), that is, shall be tested. Saint Paul also says that all things will be tried by fire. And every sacrifice, the Lord says, shall be salted with salt. It is good for you to season your sacrifices (offerings) with the salt of God, which, according to Saint Theophylact, meansm, do not make offerings that you have not carefully prepared to please God.

"Salt" is also what the Lord calls the Apostles, and in general, all those with the duty to preserve others from corruption. Just as salt preserves meat, and prevents worms from breeding within it, so do words of teaching, if they are astringent, shrink the fleshliness of carnal men, and prevent the worm that never sleeps from breeding within them. But if the teacher is without salt, that is, if he has no astringement to preserve us from rot, with what shall he be salted, that is, be seasoned? Hve salt therefore in yourselves, that is, have the pleasing and preserving grace of the Holy Spirit, so that you may have peace one with another. For he who is bound to his neighbor by love has shrunk his carnal self, and it is he who "has salt", and he is at peace with his brother. (Saint Theophylact)

Our Savior Jesus Christ is teaching His disciples their role in the world and society. "You are the salt of the earth" He tells them. I am sending you into the world to preserve (to save) the world just as salt preserves meat from worms to breed in it so I am sending you to preserve (to save) it from evil and sin. The disciples have been given by Him preservative powers, the grace of the Holy Spirit, necessary for life and the ability to give "flavor".

"You are the salt of the earth". The Prophets were sent to one race of people only, but you (disciples) "are the salt of the whole earth. By your teachings and reproofs you act as an astingent upoon the slack and the indolent, so that they will not breed the worms that never die. So donto desire from you astingent reproofs, even if you reviled or persecuted. Therefore He says: "But if the salt loses its flavor, how shallit be seasoned? It is therefore good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men". For if the teacher has become insipid, that is, if he doe not give astringent reproofs, but has become soft and lax, "how shall it be seasoned?" that is, how can this be corrected? So from then on he is cast out from the rank of teacher and is trodden under foot, that is, despised. (Saint Theophylact)

As "the salt of the earth" Christians are to be preservers of God’s covenant and give the proper "flavor" to society. It means that the Christian must be willing to suffer for Christ. They are to manifest the "light" of patient goodness, bringing glory to their "Father in heaven." Because of its preservetive powers, necessary for life and its significance to give flavor, or as some would say, meaning or purpose in life.

The Christian life is one of virtue, righteousness, and "light". By living according to the gospel Christians are able to inspire others and bring them to the knowledge of the truth. The Christian that is willing to teach the word of God to others must himself/herself be ready to put into practice. To teach what one does not practice condemns the teacher (Romans 2:21). We ought to do right and teach ourselves, before we attempt to set other right.

Is there a possibility today that humanity is facing a salt deficiency? That what salt remains has lost its flavor? Is this reason why that our society is faced with a major spiritual crisis? What is needed is to seek its Source, Christ, and begin once again to produce it and to flood the world with it. We know that in ancient Greece worshippers consecrated salt in their rituals. Jewish Temple offerings included salt. Covenants in both the Old and New Testaments were often sealed with salt: the origin of the word "salvation." It is imperative, however, for the Christians to understand how much the world, this secular world, needs the spiritual salt that only our Lord Jesus Christ can provide. Salvation can only cocme from Him for only He can preserve humanity from corruption and death.

Our world today is saturated with the so called "comforts and pleasures" of life. Its appetite for material goods is out of countrol and humanity has become spiritually and morally weak. People are immersed in their earthly possessions and are enslaved by them. There is great apathy and indifference to God’s Gospel and way of life. More and more people realize that the human race is heading toward the abyss. However it is never too late to change this course and to rediscover God and invited Him into our lives. There is no other solution to this spiritual crisis!

__________________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

THE PATH TO OUR SPIRITUAL PERFECTION

My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

THE PATH TO OUR SPIRITUAL PERFECTION

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of
Nafpaktos

The most important work of the Church is TO CURE MAN. Therefore the Orthodox Church IS A HOSPITAL, AN INFIRMARY OF THE SOUL. This does not mean that the Church disregards other domains of pastoral activity, since she aims AT THE WHOLE MAN, CONSISTING OF BODY AND SOUL. She cares indeed for the physical, economic, and actual problems as well; yet the man wight of the pastoral service is put ON THE SOUL’S THERAPY, FOR WHEN MAN’S SOUL IS CURED THEN MANY OTHER INTRACTABLE PROBLEMS ARE SOLVED…

"… Healing of man’s personality is in fact his progress toward perfection which is actually identified AS THEOSIS (DEIFICATION), for in Patristic theology THEOSIS and PERFECTION ARE SYNONYMOUS TERMS. And this therapy IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY, BECAUSE MAN’S FALL, EFFECTED IN THE PERSON OF Adam, CONSTITUTES THE SICKNESS OF MAN’S NATURE.

In Paradise, before the Fall, Adam was IN A STATE OF THEORIA (VISION) of God. The study of the Book of Genesis reveals that Adam WAS IN within COMMUNION WITH GOD, however, it was necessary for him to remain in that state, BY VIRTUE OF THE VOLUNTARY STRUGGLE, IN ORDER FOR HIM TO BECOME MORE STAGLIZED AND REACH PERFECT COMMUNION AND UNION WITH Him. Saint John of Damascus describes this state of PRIMORDIAL "JUSTICE" CHARACTERISTICALLY. Adam was purified and nourished at the same time BY THE VISION OF GOD. His NOUS was ILLUMINED, AND THIS SIGNIFIES ABOVE ALL THAT HE WASTHE MEGACOSMOS A TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AND WAS EXPERIENCING UNCEASING REMEMBRANCE OF GOD.

"Original’ ("Ancestral’) sin CONSISTS OF THE DARKENING OF THE NOUS AND THE LOSS OF COMMUNION WITH GOD. This, of course, had other repercussions, as well: MAN WAS CLOTHED IN THE FLESHLY GARMENTS OF DECAY AND MORTALITY. The NOUS experienced A DEEP DARKNESS. In other words, MAN LOST THE ILLUMINATION of his nous; it BECAME IMPURE, IMPASSIONED AND HIS BODY BORE CORRUPTION AND MORTALITY. Thus, from THE DAY OF OUR BIRTH, WE BEAR WITHIN US CORRUPTION AND DEATH: A HUMAN LIFE IS BROUGHT INTO THE WORLD BOUND FOR DEATH. Hence, because of the Fall, we experience universal malady. Both BODY AND SOUL ARE SICK and naturally since man IS THE SUMMATION OF ALL CREATION,–THE MICROCOSMOS WITHIN THE MEGACOSMOS–CORRUPTION ALSO BEFELL ALL OF CREATION.

"…Man NEEDS TO BE CURED, that is PURIFIED, TO REACH THE ILLUMINATION OF THE NOUS–Adam’s state BEFORE THE FALL–AND THEN ATTAIN THEOSIS (DEIFICATION). This IS ACHIEVED PRECISELY THROUGH CHRIST’S INCARNATION AND THE ENTIRE WRK OF THE DIVINE ECONOMY AND OF THE CHURCH. It is within this frame of reference we must see many liturgical texts according to which Christ IS CHARACTERIZED A Physician and Healer of souls and bodies. Moreover, in the same framework various Patristic texts should be studied, where it is apparent that "THE WORK OF CHRIST IS FIRST AND FOREMOST A THERAPEUTIC ONE."

After the Fall man needed a cure. This was offered by the Incarnation of Christ and ever since then, it has been the work of the Church. She (Church) CURES AND IS CURING MAN; SHE (Church) primarily cures his ailing personality–his NOUS and HEART. All the Holy Fathers of the Church exhort men to seek to e cured. Man IS CURED BY THE ENERGY OF GOD WHOSE SOURCE IS UNCREATED AND REVEALED: "IN THE PERSON OF CHRIST." Christ’s energy, from which comes MAN’S CURE, is granted, and for this reason, is called Divine Grace. Therefore, whether we say UNCREATED ENERGY or DIVINE GRACE MAKES NO DIFFERENCE. The Apostle Paul writes: "FOR BY GRACE ARE YE SAVED THROUGH FAITH, AND THAT NOT OF YOURSELVES: IS IS A GIFT FROM GOD" (Ephesians 2:8).

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[Please note:  The word NOUS has various uses in Patristic teaching.  It indicates

EITHER THE SOUL or THE HEART or EVEN AN ENERGY OF THE SOUL Yet, the
NOUS is mainly THE EYE OF THE SOUL, THE PUREST PART OF THE SOUL; THE
HIGHEST ATTENTION.  It is also called NOETIC ENERGY and it is not identified
with reason.]

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"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"