My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
GLIMPSES OF ORTHODOX FAITH AND LIFE.
"IN THE WORLD BUT NOT OF THE WORLD"
by Priest Thaddaeus
Every wakeful Orthodox Christian finds himself constantly striving to find the balance between necessarily having to be "in the world" (earning food, shelter, and clothing) and making the effort to escape it at every opportunity (rejecting a self-centered, entertainment-oriented existence in order to gain faith, virtue, and love). The world, the flesh, and the devil work ceaselessly to fill our minds with distraction: "Buy our product and you will be happy," "accumulate riches and you will be satisfied," "if it feels good do it," and "there is no reason to rush, you can save your soul tomorrow."
This bombardment of thoughts (logismoi) that separate us from God and our true self is to be countered with our own contemplation and prayer. "I am an immortal being. Where will I dwell eternally, heaven or hell?" "Someday I will surely die. What will my legacy of contribution be?" "Happiness is not found in material wealth or constant entertainment, but in sacrificial love (agape)." And slowly, through prayer and patience and submission to traditional Christian life and thought, our life is pried from the grip of fallenness and we experience glimpses of authentic faith and life in Christ. And this authenticity transforms everything.
Suddenly a tired dad arrives home from work and feels relief in finally being able to escape the world and be where his joy is rooted: at home caring for his wife and children. Suddenly an overly busy mom surveys the landscape of her family's life and sees the miracle of life which she has helped forge into existence. Suddenly a self-absorbed teenager has the life-changing realization that there is greater pleasure in serving others than in serving oneself. And a single person is suddenly overcome by the deep awareness that happiness does not come from a well-executed plan, but from what enter our lives providentially according to God's will day to day.
In moments like these, life is momentarily illuminated with spiritual vision, and we see truth as true and an authentic reality. In church is where we need and want to be. Praying and fasting are the true exercises (ascesis) that lead to life and immortality. Raising our children deliberately and methodically as Christians and good citizens is a work worthy of great sacrifice. God's will is in fact the perfect plan for our life and leads most directly to absolute fulfillment, joy, and satisfaction. In fact, most everything the world regards as an inconvenience is our very path to life.
When the Light of Christ shines within us, we see that every day is another great day full of fantastic adventure. We are immortal beings determining our own course and destination. All around us is love (agape), and life (zoe), and joy (hara) in the person of everyone we meet. And it's getting better all the time...no matter what the world is whispering.
"O God, Who has made the earth so fair, and written Thy glory in the heavens; help us inwardly to respond to all that is outwardly beautiful, and grant that as we pass through things temporal we may never lose the vision of things eternal, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
"Grant O Lord that we may cleave to Thee without parting, worship Thee without wearying, serve Thee without failing; faithfully see Thee, happily find Thee, and forever possess Thee, One only God, blessed without end. Amen."
"God is ineffable, inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible, ever existing and eternally the same" (From the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom).
[From "The Prologue from Ochrid", by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic]
About Saint John Chrysostom
"But, on the other hand, see what happened to Saint John after his demise. Reward. Just reward, such as only God can give. The Arab bishop, Adeltios, who has received the exiled Chrysostom into his house in Cucusus, prayed to God, after the Saint's death, to reveal where his soul was. The response came while he was at prayer. It was almost as he were outside himself and a young man bathed in Light was taking him to heaven. One by one he showed him the hierarchs, shepherds and teachers of the Church, naming them one by one-but John was not among them. Later God's Angel took Adeltios to the way out of Paradise and the latter returned to his normal state. When the Angel asked him why he was sad, Adeltios replied that he was distressed not to have seen his beloved teacher. The Angel explained: "No person still robed in the flesh may see him, because he is at the throne of God with the Cherubim and Seraphim."
Saint John's final words were "Glory be to God for all things!"
"For Christians above all men are forbidden to correct the stumblings of sinners by force...it is necessary to make a man better not by force but by persuasion. We neither have authority granted to us by law to restrain sinners, nor, if it were, should we know how to use it, since God gives the crown to those who are kept from evil, not by force, but by choice."
"Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit, our confidence in being heard must be based on God's mercy and His love for men. Even if we stand at the very summit of virtue, it is by mercy that we shall be saved."
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God