Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Truth

“He who loves and always defends the truth, before he takes God's rights from people, he must first take God's right from himself.

He who loves the truth, never favours himself or any of his beloved ones on the account of truth, because he loves the truth from all his heart more than he loves anyone.

The lover of truth has only scales to weigh for all, he does not strain out a gnat for one and he does not swallow a camel for the other.

He does not condemn anyone for something which he justifies for another because of his feelings towards this or that. He has no objection to take the blame and refuse to justify himself as he considers that self-justification does not agree with the truth and it puts in front of him the Lord's saying: “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord.” (Prov. 17:15). He who loves the truth never oppresses anyone and does not accept someone to suffer injustice, even those who are against him.

He loves the truth far from any denomination and discrimination, with no difference between a relative or a stranger. To him, the truth does not differ because of religion, sex or relationship.

Truth is one of God's names and he who loves the truth, loves God and who keeps away from the truth, keeps away from God.”

“He who is led by the truth will be pleased with its leadership and nourishment and lives by it.”

Excerpt From: H.H. Pope Shenouda III. “Words of Spiritual Benefit Vol. 4.” iBooks. 
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Thursday, July 23, 2015

All American Council reflection

One of the more remarkable things about the All American Council is the opportunity to see and venerate icons and relics that most would otherwise have no chance to see. Two wonder working icons were present here: Our Lady of Sitka (pictured above) and the Weeping Icon of St Anna.
These are not the first wonder working icons that I have had the honor of venerating, but they are the first in 20 years.
Even in the crowed ballroom, with its harsh lighting and crowds, there was something calming about standing in front of these icons, and the row of relics. To know that one stands in the presences of the Kingdom manifested in these Saints simply draws one away from the trials and tribulations of the world  and offers hope and solace that comes from a Loving God, even in this place of rampant consumerism. I did not want to leave their presence.
I know that when I once again stand in front of the altar where, by the Grace of the Holy Spirit, I have been called to serve, I will remember this small peace that I have experienced here. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

All American Council continues...

Up to early for the sunrise this morning. This was taken yesterday. This morning I will be going to Liturgy (6am) or at least spending some time contemplating the icon of Our Lady of Sitka (picture to come).
Yesterday, the "business" of the Church was to vote on the resolutions for the Statute Revisions and Financing of the Church for the next three years - both resolutions passed overwhelmingly. In listening to the discussions, both pro and con, for the resolutions, I wasn't particularly surprised at the over all lack of clarity when it comes to the understanding of Stewardship. Whether one is for the so called "head tax" or proportional giving, tithing... what have you: the ultimate questions comes down to "why?" Why do we give to the Church at all? In the Old Testament, tithing was commanded, both as a sacrifice and a blessing, so that the Temple, its priests, servers etc. had the means live so that they could perform their sacred duty.
I heard it discussed yesterday, that tithing isn't mentioned in the New Testament, but that Christ simply asks us to dedicate, not a tenth, but everything to the Lord. Just as the rising sun shines on everyone, so too are we to offer our lives without regard to circumstance. This is such a foreign concept to a consummer society!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

All-American Council - continues

Here at the Atlanta Hilton, there is an entire "Church" set up within ballroom; and while the acoustics are not great, there is still something about 500 voices singing "O Gladsome Light" that is immensely moving and the power of which cannot be denied.
It is so infrequent for most Orthodox to experience this kind of the gathering of the Faithful in one place. It provides all those here an opportunity to see the True meaning of the Church as the Body of Christ. Not because we have simply come together here at one place and time, but because we have gathered here with one purpose, to proclaim the Gospel of Our Lord, and to celebrate what the Church is and who we are.
In his address to open the All American Council, His Beatitude made the statement that "we", the OCA, are a missionary Church; and this is our mission, to evangelize and to spead the Gospel. In paraprasing St Herman, "Love God, and fulfill His Holy Will."
Certainly, a challenge, but if a hotel ballroom can be transformed into "house" of worship, we can begin in our our own community as well.

Monday, July 20, 2015

All American Council - Open Day Reflection

Despite the traveling angst, the accompanying stiffness, and the sleeplessness from being in a stange bed for the first time, I awoke to this view out my window: a reminder of God's presence in all creation, and not just where we are comfortable.
As I sit in the hotel foyer, watching people come and go, I am also reminded of how much I don't like "change". I see verious clergy wonder by, and greet those whom I have not seen in years: have I changed as much as they? I don't like change because it reminds me that I am not really in control. The nice barricade of complacency that I have constructed is a facade at best.
And yet, the sunrise is illustrative of how wonderful change can be in its consistency. I know the sun is going to rise, but I don't know what spectical it will provide. This is life in Christ - who is the same yesterday, today and always: His constancy overcomes all anxiousness of change, but through Grace we may be continually amazed. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


“Prayer is to open the heart to God, so that the faithful talks to Him, lovingly and openly. It is laying the individual before God. Prayer is a tie, a relationship between man and God. Therefore, it is not just talk, it is a heart connected to a heart. Prayer is a feeling of being in the presence of God. It is a partnership with the Holy Spirit and unity with God... Prayer is the food of the angels and the spirituals by which they are nourished and taste the Lord, "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good." (Ps. 34:8)

Prayer quenches a soul's thirst for God , "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul to you, 0 God" (Ps. 42: 1),

"I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness." (Ps. 63:5) Prayer is the submission of life to God to conduct it Himself, "Your will be done. " Prayer is an admission of our lack of strength. and insufficiency of intelligence. Therefore, we resort to a greater power where we find our care...

Prayer is abolishing our independence from God “It is meeting with God: either we lift ourselves up to Him or He comes down to us...

It is turning oneself to Heaven and to the throne of God... Prayer is not an obligation or an order. It is not just a commandment or piety and devotion... It is a desire and longing... otherwise, it would be a burden which we, unwillingly practise, just for obedience sake!!

Prayer is not just a request. One might pray without asking for anything... but contemplate on the beauty of God and His life giving qualities... Therefore, a prayer of praise and glorification... is more sublime than that of a request... Whoever seeks something else besides God alone, will never be able to enjoy prayer as he ought to.

Prayer means dying completely to all the world, an utter forgetfulness to pleasures, where God alone remains in one's thought...

Prayer is the ladder which connects heaven and earth. It is a bridge that we cross to reach the heavenly places where there is no world...

It is a key to Heaven ...

Saturday, June 27, 2015


“Perhaps our relationship with some people could be described as earnest. But would our relationship with God have the same seriousness?

Are our promises to God earnest? Are our personal decisions about our spiritual life serious decisions? Or do we promise and never keep our promise; decide and never take action, as if we are not committed to anything?

Are our vows to God firm and serious? Or do we take important pledges with God at critical moments of our life and when the crisis is over, we cancel these pledges or try to change them?

When we proceed to receive the Holy Communion, “with wholehearted intentions to lead a holy life with God, do we keep this feeling or do we forget the undertakings of our hearts and seriously neglect the life of repentance?!... Do we have a clear cut line that we firmly follow, or are we like a feather that the wind shifts without seriousness?

Is this seriousness, in our spiritual life, bound to certain principles of purity without going astray, no slackness in the means of grace and serving without being slothful?”

“The saints who repented, like St. Moses the Black, St. Augustine and St. Mary the Egyptian, were serious about their repentance. They never turned back to their old lifestyle, which they deserted with no return...

Those who formed friendship and companionship with God never betrayed this friendship. They seriously remained loyal to Him, feeling an emotional and practical commitment towards His love...”

“Those who are serious in their spiritual life are never moved by tribulations or temptations. They never forget that they are the temples of God and His Spirit dwells in them. They never forget that they are the children of God and they must keep His image and example...

Those who are serious in their spiritual life show this seriousness in each aspect of their life: in their talk, their behaviour, their service, their worship, their relationship with others and their firm stand towards the thoughts and feelings that fight the heart.

They have principles and they are committed to these principles. Let us all then live in earnestness... It is one of the qualities of God's children. It is an evidence of steadfastness...”

Excerpt From: H.H. Pope Shenouda III. “Words of Spiritual Benefit Vol. 1.”