Thursday, December 24, 2015


St. Paul counsels the Colossians, "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful."  In today's Gospel, ten lepers stand afar off (as lepers, they are outcasts of society and dare not approach too closely) beseeching Christ's mercy. "Go show yourselves to the priests," our Lord instructs them (that is, they need to be examined by the religious authorities and declared clean).  And so it came to pass that "as they went, they were cleansed."

Now while all ten lepers were healed, only one (a Samaritan--an outcast among the outcasts) turned back to give thanks.  The other nine were no doubt thankful to be healed--but it never did seem to occur to them to thank the One Who had healed them. 

It is easy for the likes of us  to accuse the nine of being ungrateful, but think: how often do you and I take for granted the multitude of blessings God has so graciously bestowed upon us?  We are quick to grumble and complain when things aren't going our way--but seldom do we fall down upon our knees before Him to praise Him, thanking Him from the bottom of our hearts for the innumerable good gifts he grants to us--unworthy sinners though we are.

Do we think to thank God when we awaken in the morning for the mere fact that we are still alive and have been given another day to love and to serve Him, and to sincerely repent for transgressing again and again His holy commandments?  Do we thank Him for the sun, moon and stars--for the very air we breathe?  The angels in heaven sing ceaseless praises to God, while we cast the blame on other people or circumstances for our own misfortunes and fail to see how every moment of every day we are sustained by God's providential care.

All ten lepers were cleansed, but only to the one who returned to give thanks did our Lord say, "Arise, go on your way: your faith has made you whole."  Surely God makes his sun to shine on both the righteous and the unrighteous, the just and the unjust: but only to those who are truly thankful does He bestow His greatest blessing--true and eternal life as sons and daughters of God in His heavenly Kingdom.

Monday, December 14, 2015


St. Paul writes to the Colossians, "For by Him [Christ] all things were created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible....  All things were created by Him and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist [have their being]."  That is: Jesus Christ is not a mere creature--no matter how exalted.  He is "supernatural" according to the proper meaning of this word: uncreated.  As the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, He is God, and therefore--contrary to what the arch heretic Arius taught--there was not [a time] when He was not.  (Notice the brackets: what Arius actually taught was that Christ was created before the creation of time).

This claim cannot be made concerning the founder of any other world religion.  Even the Koran, it seems, considers Jesus to be the Word of God, Who will come again to judge the word--whereas Mohammed is a mere mortal who has long since returned to the dust of the earth.  But the hearts of the Jewish leaders were darkened, their spiritual eyes blinded: and so they dared in their presumption to pass judgment upon the Godman--He who had taken flesh from the pure blood of a Virgin, willingly suffering a brutal death upon the Cross that those who believe in Him might be granted the gift of eternal life in His heavenly Kingdom.

The Jewish leaders knew not (or perhaps refused to acknowledge) that Jesus was in truth the pre-existent Christ, the very One Who had revealed the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai.  Nor did they understand that the real purpose of this Law was to guide the Jews into a higher understanding of the truth, drawing them into a closer relationship with the living God: not to bind them to the earth through a slavish obedience to a legalistic set of rules and regulations.

Christ came to earth not to enslave us, but rather to save and enlighten the fallen human race.  "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," as He assures us.  And so it was that He--as the Lord of the Sabbath--deigned on the Sabbath to set free the woman who had been bound for eighteen years by a spirit of infirmity.  And while the leaders--consumed by jealousy--gnashed their teeth and sought to destroy Him, "all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him."

Indeed, it is by the grace of God that we are saved, and not by the works of the Law.  While we must ever strive to fulfill the pious precepts as set forth in the Canons of the Church (not as an end in itself, but rather for the sake of our salvation), we must never forget that it is only through communion with the living  and compassionate God of love that we can hope to be delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the Kingdom of light.

Saturday, December 5, 2015


There's a widespread belief nowadays that "things" are getting worse.  Fading away is the optimism of the past--based in a blind faith in "progress"--that every day in every way things are getting better and better.  But exactly what are these things that have seemingly taken a nosedive into an apparently irreversible downward spiral? 

Many of us (myself included) bemoan the spiritual decline and moral bankruptcy of this nation (and the world in general), which have especially accelerated during the past few decades--and this is certainly a valid concern that should prompt every committed Christian to "put on the whole armor of God, that we may be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." 

On the more mundane level, however, there is an inevitable likelihood that sooner or later (and probably sooner) our entire economy will collapse into the dust.  Yes indeed--it does seem like difficult economic times are on the way, and I would say that it is this scenario that concerns most people more so than our continuing moral decline (though the rampant greed and selfishness of contemporary society that have contributed to our financial woes is in itself a moral issue).

But not to worry!  I am frequently receiving in the mail offers for financial newsletters and "free" reports that will explain to me not only how I might survive the coming hard times--but even to profit from them!  If only I follow this advice, I can--at the very least--live my retirement in comfort, but at best--I might even become filthy rich!

The problem is--I'm already 65.  My body aches, my energy level is depleted  and I no longer find a great deal of pleasure in the ordinary things of this life.  It may be I'll live another 20 years... but so what?  Like my elderly female parishioners back in Pennsylvania used to tell me, "Oh father... don't ever get old!"  Stupid me: I never listened to their advice.  Threescore and seven, as the Good Book says.  Anything more is likely to be toil and tribulation.

Now don't get me wrong: building up a nest egg for retirement is both sensible and responsible.  But has it ever occurred to you how much time and energy we expend in this life in order to assure for ourselves a comfortable and pleasant life in this world?  But yet this life we live is merely a pilgrimage, a preparation for our ultimate destination in eternity.  Would you, for example, order cheerful drapes and a plush carpet for a one week stay in a motel? 

The man in today's Gospel has been blessed with an abundance of provisions, and he has no room to store it all.  Whatever shall he do?  Well... he could open up his barns to the poor and destitute, or perhaps sell a portion of his goods and contribute to worthy charities.    By this means he would show himself to be merciful, even as his heavenly Father is merciful.  After all, it was surely God Who blessed him with such an abundance.  But no--his solution is to tear down his barns and to build bigger and better ones in order to provide for his own future--that he might eat, drink and be merry.  But the joke's on him... this very night God will demand his soul!

And even if he were to live for many years more, what profit does he gain ultimately from all of this eating, drinking and merriment?  For truly whatever temporal enjoyment we may achieve in this world, it will soon enough wither and pass away--like grass in the midday sun.  And so it is when we lay up for ourselves treasures on earth--and are not rich toward God.

Sunday, November 29, 2015


"Awake thou that sleepeth, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light"--this prophetic verse written by St. Paul to the Ephesians is inspired by a verse from Isaiah, "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee."  Indeed, the theme of light as an image of God's revelation is a golden thread that ties together both Testaments--old and new.  Truly the light of Christ illumines all: but to the spiritually blind, this lights is manifest as an impenetrable darkness.

In the beginning, "darkness was upon the face of the deep... and God said, Let there be light!"  This is not the physical light of the sun, but the very same uncreated light that Christ revealed to  His chosen disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration--the same light He bestows upon those who strive to purify their hearts and to sweep clean the house of their souls. But in order to behold this light, we must first awaken from the sleep of sin and earthbound delusion, casting off that shroud of lethargy that lulls us into mistaking a living death for the true and eternal life that shines forth in God's heavenly Kingdom.

And so St. Paul exhorts us that we should "walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil."  Unfortunately, we tend to take time for granted--just as we take for granted the natural resource of water--as though it were unlimited--and we squander it frivolously, or even worse: we render it replete with evil thoughts, words and desires.  We do not consider as we should that time is a precious and irreplaceable gift of God--a commodity that should be used wisely and reverently.

As St. Nectarios of Aegina (whom we commemorate today) has written, "The Divine Light illumines the pure heart and the pure intellect, because these are susceptible to receiving light; whereas impure hearts and intellects, not being susceptible to receiving illumination, have an aversion to the light of knowledge, the light of truth; they love darkness....  God loves those who have a pure heart, listens to their prayers, grants them their requests that lead to salvation, reveals Himself to them and teaches the mysteries of the Divine nature."  So let us strive to become good stewards of the gift of time, casting aside the works of darkness--that we may be illumined both in this life and in the life to come with the transcendent and all-pure light of Christ.

Monday, November 23, 2015


     "And as ye would that men should do unto you, do ye also to them likewise."  This so-called Golden Rule our Lord enjoins us to follow is the cornerstone of Christian morality--and, in fact, a similar rule has been expressed in other religions throughout history.  Nor is it even necessary that we believe in God or that we profess any particular religious faith to consider this injunction worthy to follow--on purely practical grounds.  After all, if we treat others as we ourselves wish to be treated, they will be inclined to treat us with respect, and thus we shall have a better chance of achieving success in this world--whether in business or any other aspect of life. 

     The truly radical injunction of our Faith, however, is the command to "love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again."  Yet even though if we should fulfill this commandment, our "reward shall be great," it is simply impossible to do so merely for the sake of receiving this reward.  Such selfless love can only be attained as a gift of God, given to those who strive to live a life centered in God.  So long as we expect to receive something in return, our love remains imperfect.

     The fact is: so long as the smallest trace of egotistical thoughts and desires motivate our actions, we are still very far from fulfilling the commandment to love God with all our heart, soul and mind and our neighbor as our very own self.  By its very definition, perfect love is selfless and never considers for the briefest moment, "What's in it for me?"  For if we truly desire to partake of our Lord's glorious Resurrection, we must be willing to put to death everything within us that separates us from His love.

     But this, of course, is not something we can hope to accomplish overnight: it is a lifelong process, an ascetic struggle that must continue until that moment when we draw our dying breath--and even beyond that, as we continue our ascent towards God throughout eternity.  The only thing that truly matters at the moment is that we have set our course forward upon the path of salvation, and that we are headed--however imperfectly--in the right direction.  Because once we have passed on from this mortal life into eternity, there can be no repentance.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


The Holy Apostle enjoins the faithful, "Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."  For indeed, the demonic hosts--though invisible to our material eyes and cloaked in darkness--fill the air around us, seeking to deceive (if it were possible) even the elect.

Such is the spiritual warfare we baptized Christians--as members of the Militia of Christ--have been called to engage in, and only he who endures unto the end will be saved.  But too often we fail to direct our God-given anger toward the real source of our tribulations--both as individuals, and as a society.  For the true enemy of the human race is the demonic host that ever strives to destroy us (just as they murdered the herd of swine in today's Gospel).  It is much easier, though, to demonize our brothers and sisters in the flesh who have (just like us) been deceived and led astray by Satan.

And so we toss our darts of venom toward those whom we hold responsible for the evils in this world.  And so we vilify politicians (take your pick... it's all Bush's fault, or it's all Obama's fault--as though evil is not a constant in this fallen world that will be with us until the end of time)--and we somehow think that a political regime change will magically restore this fallen world to a state of Paradise!  Or... we may choose to vilify the Jews, Masons, Jesuits--or any other institution we consider to be responsible for the present state of the world.  Or perhaps it is the Media, the entertainment industry or Big Business that we consider responsible.  Yet St. Paul never said our warfare is against flesh and blood... quite the contrary!

Lest I be misunderstood... it is doubtless needful from time to time to defend our compatriots and our Faith against those visible forces aligned with Satan--by physical force, if necessary.  Nevertheless, it is essential that we never lose sight of the fact that our primary struggle is against Satan himself--the father of lies and the sower of chaos and confusion in  the world.  And this struggle begins not out there in the world where all sorts of bad things are happening, but rather within our own souls. 

Jesus never condemned the demoniac he encountered in Gadara, while delivering him from the legion of demons that had for so long held him in bondage....  What then of you and I, who willingly consent to the counsel of the demons time and again--giving in to wicked temptations with barely a fight?  It is surely not for us to judge the weakness of a brother, but rather to look unto ourselves--ceaselessly calling upon God to deliver us from the Evil One.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Jesus and His disciples entered into a ship, and while our Lord slept... a great storm arose.  "And His disciples came to Him, and awoke Him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.  And He said unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?  Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.  But the men marveled, saying, what manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him!"  What manner of man indeed!  Surely no ordinary man, no matter how great and exalted a teacher or prophet He may have been.   He is, in fact, the Godman--perfect God and perfect man--the incarnate Son of God, second Person of the Holy Trinity, Who created in the beginning all things visible and invisible.

And indeed--the very same Lord Jesus Christ Who calmed the winds and the sea can surely calm the turmoil and uprisings of the passions within our souls.  Indeed, our life in this fallen world of ours is corrupt and unnatural, and getting worse all the time as we head at a feverish pace toward the revelation of the Antichrist in these final days.  So it is only to be expected that so many nowadays should suffer the ravages of stress, anxiety and depression.  Unfortunately, far too many seek relief through drugs (both legal and illegal) and other forms of self-medication.  Others look to secular self-help programs for relief, or attempt to fill the empty God-sized hole in their hearts with work, noise and other non-stop frenetic worldly activities.

But as St. Augustine affirmed, "Our hearts are ever restless till they find their rest in Thee."  God alone is the source of true peace, happiness and the healing of our souls and bodies and above all--our salvation from sin, death and the Devil.  In other words, we are called to become "partakers of the Divine Nature"--not just in the future, but even now--in this earthly life.

As for the rich man in today's parable--it seems he gave no thought at all to the salvation of his immortal soul.  Instead, he sought only to enjoy to the fullest the vain and fleeting pleasures of life in this world, while the beggar Lazarus endured unto the end the trials and tribulations of poverty and affliction.  And so in the end he was deemed worthy of resting in Abraham's bosom--while the rich man died and descended into a hell of his own making.  In neither case was it a matter of punishment or reward, but rather the natural consequence of how one chooses to use that precious gift of life God has bestowed upon us all.

St. Dimitrius (whom we commemorate today) regarded the glory and honor of this earthly life to be but dung, and so he trampled underfoot every worldly desire--choosing instead to endure for Christ's sake the pain and suffering of martyrdom.  By this means he was found worthy to receive in abundance the grace of God, and the crown of victory in His eternal Kingdom. 

Monday, October 12, 2015


As Jesus stood upon the boat where he had been teaching the crowd gathered by the lake, he commanded Simon Peter, "Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught."  And lo and behold--although the fishermen had labored all night and caught nothing--"they enclosed a vast multitude of fishes, and their net brake."  Now it is true and certain that the depths of the sea of life in this temporal world are fraught with many dangers  for those striving to tread the path of salvation--but unless we are willing, placing our full faith and trust in God alone, to set forth into uncharted territories, we are destined to fall far short of our God-given potential.

For truly, a life worth living requires that we boldly step forward into the unknown, fully trusting in God's guidance and inspiration.  As our Lord revealed to  the Holy Apostle Paul: "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness."  It is, indeed, a spiritual law that the more we are willing to acknowledge our total dependence on God and our inability to do anything good whatsoever apart from Him, the more abundant will be the grace that He bestows upon us.

What this means is that we must strive always  to empty ourselves of every egotistical thought and desire.  For so long as we live as though our lives are all about us--the further we are bound to drift apart from God and to fail to acquire the good things He has in store for those who love Him and are willing to obey His commandments.

So long as we are full of ourselves, no room remains within our hearts to receive the love of God and the sanctifying grace of His Holy Spirit.  And so, in the end, we are bound to fall into the dark abyss of isolation and despair... to fashion for ourselves a hell of our own making.  We must be willing to die to ourselves if we desire to live with God--that we may--persevering unto the end-- be deemed worthy of the gift of eternal life in His heavenly Kingdom.

Saturday, October 3, 2015


It has become the fashion nowadays to be offended... by just about anything: from the Confederate battle flag to anything remotely religious displayed in a public setting (unless the display is a mockery of our Lord or the Theotokos,  in which case it is called "free speech.")  On a more personal level, it is considered well justified that we should be offended by anything we might consider to be an insult or critical comment (however obscure) against one's chosen lifestyle, ethnicity, religion, social and economic status... or anything else whatsoever.  There seems to be a plague in our modern culture of those who claim to be a victim, or at least aspire to become one. 

The Canaanite Woman in today's Gospel was as good a candidate as any for this coveted role.  Just because she had the misfortune of not being born a Jew, she is insulted and belittled--made to feel like trash--merely for requesting help for her demon-possessed daughter from this bigoted, insensitive, politically incorrect healer.  Obviously a member of the oppressive Jewish elite, this man judges her as unworthy of His help.  To Him, apparently, this woman is nothing but a "little dog."  If she were alive today, she'd most likely get a lot of sympathetic "likes" on Facebook and media support a-plenty. 

Yet rather than responding indignantly when first rejected, "she came and worshipped Him, saying, 'Lord, help!'"  Apparently the possibility of her daughter's deliverance is more important to her than her offended dignity.  And then, when our Lord adds insult to injury by insinuating that she is a dog, she doesn't disagree, but counters, "True, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."

It is only then that Jesus commends her for her faith and grants her request.  Thus she demonstrates for us all how essential is the virtue of humility for our salvation.  Now don't get me wrong: there are in this fallen world true victims of injustice and oppression, and as Christians it behooves us to aid and succor widows and orphans, the homeless, and all those in need of our compassion and understanding.  But as followers of Christ (if that is what we truly are), our Lord Himself assures us that we should expect persecution, trials and--if it be the will of God--martyrdom itself.  The proper reaction to this, however, is not outrage and anger, but rather the cultivation of a humble and contrite heart--to pray for our enemies and to do good to those who spitefully use us--that we might endure unto the end whatever cross Christ has deemed us worthy to bear.  Only then shall we be deemed worthy to receive crowns of glory in God's heavenly Kingdom.

Friday, September 18, 2015


The lawyer approached Jesus and asked Him, "Teacher, what is the great commandment in the Law?"  And our Lord replies, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and great commandment.   And the second is like unto it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these  two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."  (The text implies that the commandments "hang" like a door upon its hinges).  It sounds simple: only two straightforward commandments to consider!  Yet in practice... how very difficult to fulfill!  For which one of us would be so bold as to claim we have done so?  Indeed, do we even have the slightest concept of what it would mean to love God and our neighbor with such absolute devotion?  Yet it is exactly to this level of devotion that we have been called, "that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh" (St. Paul).  For having once died with Christ in the waters of Baptism, we are destined to partake of His glorious Resurrection.

These two great commandments, you see, are not some new revelation added on to the Jewish religion: they are taken directly from the Old Testament itself.  Over the course of time, however, the Jews had added on so many additional commandments (213, if I'm not mistaken) that one could no longer see the forest for the trees.  That which is essential--to love God and neighbor--had become  obscured by a vast collection of rules and regulations that were never intended to be ends in themselves. 

Likewise, many sincere Orthodox Christians think that by literally and slavishly  following all the Canons, they shall be saved.  Yet if we keep all the Canons perfectly but have not love, we are like unto those "clashing cymbals" the Holy Apostle speaks of elsewhere.  Don't get me wrong: the Canons are indispensable guidelines for keeping us securely upon the path of salvation.  But we must never forget that our ultimate goal is to become partakers of the Divine Nature, and this can only come to pass when we are willing to die to our own self-centered thoughts and desires and to receive into our hearts the unconditional love of God.

But as St. Paul reminds us, "we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us."  We cannot lift ourselves up by our own bootstraps, nor can we achieve salvation by an act of sheer willpower.  It is, in fact, our own self-centered will that is our greatest obstacle on the path leading to the heavenly Kingdom.  "Who then can be saved?" as the Apostles once asked Jesus, and He replied: "With men this is impossible.  But with God, all things are possible."

Friday, September 11, 2015


"For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and he protected him.  And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly."  Fact is, Herod honored and respected John and held no grudge against him--despite the Baptist's objection to his unlawful marriage, which he was in nowise willing to annul.  It was rather his evil wife Herodias who hated the Baptist with a passion and so desired his death.  And so it came to pass that when the woman's abused and dysfunctional daughter demanded John's head as the reward for her lascivious dancing (in a futile ploy to please her mother) Herod "was exceedingly sorry."

Yes indeed, he was truly sorry and knew the murder of John was wrong--yet he lacked the moral integrity to forswear the evil oath he had made to his hapless daughter.  Ultimately, though, it cannot be said that it was Herodias' daughter who was to blame for this unfortunate turn of events--she was merely a tool manipulated by her conniving mother to accomplish the diabolical goal she sought.

But even the vengeful and cold-hearted Herodias is not directly responsible for the tragic decapitation of the Baptist, for it was Herod himself who gave the order for the execution--and he can nowise be justified by shifting the blame for this heinous crime.  Because, you see, his eyes were fully open and he knew exactly what he was doing--and he knew full well that it was wrong.  For though his lustful passions no doubt clouded his judgment in that moment, he was in no way constrained to commit this evil act.

The same can be said of you and I: how often are we guilty of committing deliberate acts of sin, knowing full well that what we do is wrong and contrary to the will of God?  And then instead of sincerely repenting with bitter tears, we search diligently for ways to at least partially exonerate ourselves from responsibility for our actions.  We are, after all, only human.  We were led astray by others, and our parents never did set a good example.  The excuses we can draw upon are legion... but when we stand at last before the dread judgment seat of Christ, none of our alleged excuses or justifications will be worth a tinker's damn.  We truly do know the difference between right and wrong--and unless we repent now, we are doomed to suffer eternally in a hell of our own making.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


The rich young man approached Jesus and asked (according to a variant text, which I prefer), "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?  So He said to him, Why do you ask me about what is good?  There is One Who is good.  But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments."  Then the young man asked (as though he did not already know), "Which ones?"  Christ thereupon recites five of the ten--as though to jog the man's memory.  "Oh, those commandments," he might have said.  "Of course I have kept them... since I was a child.  But there's got to be more than that.  So... what do I still lack?"

You see, following the letter of the Law--while never easy--is doable.  Even the Pharisees could boast that they were faithful followers of the Law, carefully observing the traditions of their fathers down to the smallest detail.  (Of course they did this in a spirit of pride, and thus unto their own condemnation).  Beyond this fact, however, they missed the point: the Law revealed unto Moses was never intended to be an end in itself.  It is rather a means through which we express our humble and willing obedience to God and our sincere desire to live our lives according to His precepts.

Jesus says that if we desire to enter into life, it is necessary first of all that we keep the commandments.  He does not say that our merely outward keeping of the Law guarantees our salvation.  Because there are no guarantees--though this is what the rich man seems to have been searching for.  The truth is, we can only enter into the eternal life of God's Kingdom when we are willing to relinquish our own life in this world in a spirit of sacrificial love.  If we desire to save our soul, we must lose it--that we may say with St. Paul, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ in me."

Therefore our Lord tells the young man, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me."  And why?....  Because the man was holding back, just as you and I are tempted to do.  "I will do anything for the sake of my Lord and Savior," we may well say, "except...."  Consider the example of Ananias and Sapphira in the Book of Acts, who held back a portion of the money they had pledged to the Church (and ended up paying for this sin with their lives).  There is almost always an exclusionary clause in our "contract" with God.

But in terms of our relationship with God, it has got to be all or nothing.  He commands that we must love Him with all  of our heart, soul and mind and our neighbor as our very own self.  And while this is indeed a standard most of us fall far short of, let us at least strive to attain it according to the grace God has given us, always remembering Christ's words: "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Saturday, August 22, 2015


Jesus took his disciples Peter, James and John to the summit of Mount Tabor, where he was transfigured before them, and the Holy Prophets Moses and Elijah appeared to bear witness.  "Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, 'Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.'"

What was Peter thinking?  He had just witnessed the transcendent revelation of our Lord's divine nature blazing through His humanity--His face shining like the sun and His clothes as white as the light.  And yet all that Peter could imagine was to construct earthly structures as though somehow to preserve this noumenal experience in time and space.

But then-- even while "he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them," and "suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, 'This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.  Hear Him.'"  And in that very moment the disciples "fell on their faces and were greatly afraid."

For indeed, God's revelation to the human race can be neither contained nor circumscribed by any categories of human logic, nor can it be comprehended according to philosophical concepts.  The light of Tabor is the uncreated light that has illumined the universe from the very beginning.  It is by this light that we see light, and are enabled by grace to become sons and daughters of God.

The disciples were enabled by the grace of God to behold Christ as He truly is, always and everywhere throughout eternity, as we ourselves are destined to become--if we strive to purify our hearts and to persevere unto the end on the path of salvation.


While my blog is entitled Sermons and Commentaries, so far I have posted nothing but sermons.  Today--for the first time--I will post a commentary.  So here goes....

To those of you who have been following the recent controversy concerning that noble and unmercenary organization providing services so essential to "women's health"--namely, Planned Parenthood--it may be of interest that the latest expose video is now available online.  It reveals how living babies with beating hearts are even now being sold and dissected, their body parts no doubt being sold to the highest bidder (free enterprise in action!)  This video opens with the charming and disingenuous Planned Parenthood executive Deborah Nucatola chatting about how she "huddles" each morning with her team to discuss which babies are likely to yield the best "harvest" of viable body parts.

Next, we encounter Holly O'Donnell--formerly a "tissue procurement specialist" (do they teach that at our local technical college, I wonder?) with StemExpress, who explains how "fully intact fetuses" are often "cultivated" for body parts.  (What with all of this talk of "cultivating" and "harvesting," one might think the topic under discussion is agriculture).  These biomedical "commodities" often include live babies already in the process of being born.

As the video continues, footage is shown of a baby in a dish moving its limbs, while O'Donnell relates how she was instructed by her supervisor to take the baby (its heart still beating), to cut open its face--and to extract its brain.  And though this woman was somehow able to suppress every natural human instinct and to complete the task as ordered, it was then she realized she could no longer continue working for StemExpress.

There is much more that could be written on this topic, but I trust that the average reader of my blog (whatever their political persuasion) is capable of doing the research on their own, and to discover that despite the biased coverage in the mainstream media and the continued support of our Commander-in-Chief, Planned Parenthood is without a shadow of a doubt engaged in patently immoral (by most standards) and probably illegal practices.  Are these practices, in fact, any less evil and bizarre than those "medical experiments" conducted by scientists in Nazi Germany?  Or have we as a nation become so morally insensitized that we no longer  recognize blatant evil--even when it stares us in the face--considering the willful, brutal murder of the unborn to be of no great concern?  If so, may God have mercy on us all!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


When our Lord descended from the Mount of Transfiguration with Peter, James and John, He was confronted by a man who complained that the disciples who had remained below had been unable to cast out the demon from his lunatic (lit., "moonstruck") son.  After Jesus had rebuked the demon and it came out, the disciples asked him why they had been unable to do likewise, and our Lord replied that it was because of their lack of faith.  He then goes on to say, "If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.  Howbeit, this kind does not go out save by prayer and fasting."  It was, then, due to the weakness of their faith that the disciples were incapable of casting out the demon.  Even so, evil can become so entrenched that even our most fervent faith is not sufficient to uproot it.

And so, as the Apostle Timothy writes, "be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus....  Ye therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ, remembering that no one engaged in warfare entangles himself in the affairs of this life."  Now as baptized Orthodox Christians, we have all been enrolled in the Militia of Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit to engage in spiritual warfare against the principalities and powers that rule this fallen world and who ever seek to destroy all who remain steadfast in the Faith--in the sure hope that all who endure unto the end shall be saved.

To be sure, not all of us are qualified to be front line soldiers.  Most of us are called to serve in some capacity behind the lines--according to the measure of grace God has bestowed upon us--supporting those who bear the brunt of the battle.  But whatever our name, rank and serial number, we are obligated by our terms of service to undergo regular training and discipline--even in times of relative peace.  A good soldier will never let down his guard, but remains ever vigilant and prepared for battle, lest the Adversary should attack unexpectedly and find the soldier unprepared for combat.

Now if this be true for a warrior who serves an earthly king, how much more so for a warrior who serves the King of king--not for the sake of worldly glory and honor, but rather that he may be made worthy of the eternal glory of God's heavenly Kingdom?  It is for this reason  that every Orthodox Christian, of whatever rank, is called to live an ascetic life of prayer, fasting, spiritual reading and meditation, and regular participation in the Holy Mysteries of the Church, striving to acquire the virtues while living a life of sacrificial love.  Only thus can we hope to receive a crown of victory on that dreadful Day when our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ shall return to judge both the living and the dead.

Saturday, August 1, 2015


"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."  Truly the Holy Martyr Czar Nicholas loved God with all his heart, soul and mind, and through the grace imparted to him through the sacred rite of Anointing, he deeply loved as well the Russian people who had been entrusted to his care.

"Moreover whom God predestined, those He also called; whom He called, those He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified."  Truly the longsuffering Czar of Holy Rus was consecrated in his mother's womb for the great task set before him: to bear witness to Christ and His holy Church in the midst of an evil, Godless generation.

Czar Nicholas--along with the pious and God-fearing family God had granted him--stood steadfast  in the Faith unto the end, courageously enduring the trials and temptations that inevitably assail "those who live godly in Christ Jesus our Lord," ever assured that no force or power in this fallen universe could ever separate him from the love of God.  The Czar and his Royal Family were as innocent lambs led to the slaughter, ready and willing to sacrifice a temporal earthly kingdom for a heavenly one.

It was through the prayers of Holy Czar Nicholas and his beloved family that the Holy New Martyrs of Russia were endowed with the faith and strength to withstand every assault of the Evil One, and it was through their prayers before the Throne of God that Holy Russia was enabled to cast off the Godless authority, proving that even the gates of hades cannot prevail against the Church Christ established through the preaching of the Apostles and the blood of the Holy Martyrs.

Through the prayers of the Royal Family and the Most Holy Theotokos, Holy Rus shall once again--like the phoenix--arise from the ashes in order to proclaim the final word in world history.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


"Now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.  The night is far spent, the day is at hand.  Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light."  So St. Paul wrote in his epistle to the Romans, and so the Holy Forerunner proclaims at the beginning of his ministry, "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!"  Indeed, St. John was "a voice crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord!"

There are those who complete the whole course of this earthly life without having once awakened from the deep slumber of indifference and self-chosen ignorance concerning the illumining grace of God that guides us along the Path of Salvation towards the inexpressible glory of God's heavenly Kingdom.  For truly those who dwelt in the shadows of darkness and ultimate despair and held in thrall by the demonic powers that rule this world of sin and death beheld a great light when He Who enlightens every soul that comes into this world took flesh from the pure blood of a Virgin--trampling down death by death, and bestowing life upon those in the tombs.

The Holy Prophet, Forerunner and  Baptist John was born in a miraculous manner to a barren mother well past the age of childbearing in order to bear witness to this Light, to prepare the hearts of the people of Israel that they may "receive the King of all Who comes invisibly upheld by the angelic hosts."  For though St. John was  not himself the long-awaited Messiah, he was indeed the prophet appointed by God to bear witness to the Light of the World.  He surely did baptize with water unto repentance, but our Lord baptized with water and the Spirit--that the sons and daughters of men might be granted the gift of eternal life.

The Baptist truly is the greatest of those born of woman--yet he himself confesses that he is not worthy to unloose our Lord's sandals.  Nor did he ever exalt himself above his God appointed role, nor did he seek to draw attention to himself and his exalted role in the economy of salvation.  He proclaimed, on the contrary, that "I must decrease that He may increase."

Scripture confirms that St. John was "filled with  the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb," consecrated by God to "go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah."  Nevertheless, he sought for himself neither the glory of God nor the praise of men, but only that he might bear faithful witness even unto the end to One incomparably greater than himself.  May God by His grace strengthen us all, that we may ever strive to do likewise.

Monday, July 6, 2015


As Jesus passed over into the country of the Gergesenes, the demon possessed men emerged from the tombs where they dwelt and cried out, "What have we to do with you, Jesus, you Son of God?  Have you come here to torment us before the Time?"  While the wicked Jewish leaders gnashed their teeth, persecuting our Lord while rejecting Him as the promised Messiah, even the demons believe--and tremble.0For they know full well that their days are numbered--that when Christ returns in glory at the end of time, they shall be cast into the lake of fire.

Meanwhile they struggle with artful cunning and demonic zeal to lead as many as they can to destruction, for they hate the human race with a passionate hatred we can barely conceive of.  That which they did to the swine--driving them violently headlong down the slope to perish in the waters--they would happily do to us, had not God set a limit forbidding them to kill us directly.

So the demons are forced to use more subtle means, influencing our minds through lies and deceptions to freely choose for ourselves the path of destruction.  The truth is: the demons can have no power over us unless we freely give it to them.  And so, we are lying to ourselves if we say, "The Devil made me do it."  The demons can and do suggest many things, injecting their insidious thoughts into our minds--but they can never prevail against us unless we ourselves give our consent.

The problem is, we do give our consent, time and time again, following their wicked counsels and willfully embracing their vile deceit.  Like the Jews of old, we may indeed "have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge."  For being ignorant of God's righteousness, we seek to establish our own righteousness rather than submit to the righteousness of God. 

For if we were truly willing to set aside our own self-willed thoughts and desires, committing ourselves totally to the fulfillment of God's commandments, then His grace and love would surely protect us from every demonic assault.  But God will never violate our free will--forcing us to tread the way of salvation.  The choice is ultimately ours--either eternal life in God's heavenly Kingdom, or an eternity in a hell of our own making.


My two latest books--Conspiracy of the Ancients and Dystopian Tales--are now available from Amazon Books.  Just type in "Fr. Thomas Kulp."  I also wish to point our that I haven't been posting on my blog lately, because it seems that only one person is actually reading them.  I don't know who this one person is...but thanks! 

Sunday, April 26, 2015


"Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week," the Myrrhbearing Women approached the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus with sweet smelling spices.  Meanwhile, the disciples were hiding behind closed doors "for fear of the Jews," mourning in solitude the untimely death of their Master.

Clearly that which the Myrhhbearing Women intended to do was an act of pure love and devotion, and indeed--perfect love casts out all fear.  Nor was this a rationally thought out plan they had conceived, considering that the tomb had been sealed with a large stone and secured by a guard of Roman soldiers.    Certainly they had no hope of rolling away the stone themselves.  What then were they thinking? 

Even so, they purchased the myrhh and set forth on their mission, because their hearts--overflowing with love for the Lord--would not allow them to do otherwise.  And so it came to pass that they were the first to receive the glad tidings our Lord's glorious Resurrection.  Though their hearts were burdened by inconsolable grief and despair no less than the Apostles, they nevertheless did not succumb to a sense of defeat and hopelessness, but rather--they actively sought to fulfill the laws of piety.

For their focus was not, you see, centered upon their own self-centered grief and disappointment that things had seemingly not turned out as they had hoped or expected.  Their focus was rather upon the One who had utterly transformed their lives, opening their spiritual eyes to the sublime vision of a dimension of reality that far transcends the stark reality of this fallen world.

The Myrhhbearing Women were, in fact, captivated by a vision of Beauty and ultimate Truth so profound that it can never fade away.  And it is indeed this very vision of ultimate Truth and Beauty that sinners such as you I  must ceaselessly cling to, no matter how dark and dreary our circumstances may appear in this vale of tears, as we patiently endure every trial and temptation we may encounter on the path of salvation that leads to eternal life in God's heavenly Kingdom.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


"Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."  This Gospel imperative is perfectly clear, yet all too often we simply gloss over what is demanded of us if we truly desire salvation.  Step number one is that you must deny your self --which means simply that you must cease to exist as a self-centered ego desiring little more than the satisfaction of your own earthly passions and desires (even though they may not be sinful in themselves).  But have you, my friends, so far taken even the first step toward this goal?

Then there's the part about taking up one's cross, which seems at first glance like a pious and proper thing to do, until we come face to face with the reality of this injunction in our day to day lives and come to realize that what is required is the eager and willing acceptance (with profound gratitude toward God) of whatever pain and suffering he may send us for the sake of our salvation.  And here again--can any of us truthfully say that we have taken up our cross in this sense without grumbling and complaining, and that we are determined to endure unto the bitter end the trials and tribulations that have been allotted to us in this life?

And yet it seems to me that we would all be eager to confess that we are Christians--followers of Christ.  But what kind of following is this, really?  We do believe, perhaps, that He truly is the eternal Son of God Who alone reveals the way of salvation.  We believe with our minds, however, while our hearts remain attached to the false promises of this world.

As for myself, I fully accept as my own the words of St. Polycarp on his road to martyrdom in Rome, "I have not yet even begun to be a disciple of Jesus Christ."  May God have mercy on us all during this season of the Great Fast, and reveal to us the only Path that leads to eternal life in His heavenly Kingdom!

Monday, March 9, 2015


"Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away..."  the Holy Apostle Paul writes to the Hebrews, and again..."How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?"  For truly the living God Whom we worship is nearer to us than the very air we breathe.  It is through Him alone that we live and move and have our being, and it is by His grace that we are vouchsafed to become partakers of the Divine Nature, that we might be granted the gift of eternal life in His heavenly Kingdom.

For it is sure and certain that the God Whom our father among the saints Gregory Palamas proclaims is not some abstract philosophical construct totally inaccessible to our human experience.  While the essence of God is indeed totally transcendent to every conceivable conception of the human mind, His energies permeate the entire created order, sustaining every particle of existence...whether seen or unseen.  Unlike the false God of the Muslims, the God we worship is love, and it is precisely through love that he sustains the universe and opens unto us the path that leads to eternal life.

God alone is truly eternal--Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, and so--of all things in this created universe--love alone shall endure unto endless ages!  And so--if we truly love God with all of our heart, soul and mind, and our neighbor as our very own self--we shall be saved--and truly nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!

It is, however, unfortunate that we latter day Christians have rendered love itself into some sort of abstract principle, essentially unrelated to our everyday life in this world.  For to truly love means that we cease to exist as self-centered egos.  We must die to this world if we desire to live in Christ--and that is the great challenge we face during this Lenten Fast.  So may God grant to us all patience, courage, meekness and humility...and all things else that are needful for salvation.

Friday, March 6, 2015


Nathaniel said unto Philip, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"  And Philip replies, "Come and see."  Now it is obvious that what Philip invites Nathaniel to "see" is not the mere outward form of Jesus.  After all, the Pharisees and other religious rulers of the Jewish people likewise "saw" the human form of Jesus as He went about preaching and performing miracles.  They "saw" indeed, but truly they did not comprehend that this was the eternal Son of God, of one essence with the Father.

It is only through the eyes of faith--not the eyes of the flesh--that it is possible to behold the divinity of Christ concealed within and beyond His earthly form.  For surely Jesus Christ is not merely a "good man" or a prophet--He is in truth the Godman--fully human and fully God.  He is God made flesh,  Emmanuel--God With Us.

It is, for this reason, not only possible, but absolutely necessary that His human image be depicted in icons.  This is why all those who refuse to venerate the icons have placed themselves outside the Church of God.  For if it is not truly the case that our Lord took flesh from the pure blood of the Virgin, then all our hopes for salvation are in vain.

Heaven forbid that we should venerate the icon as a mere "religious picture," or even worse as some sort of idol.  An icon serves as a window into heaven, through which we behold--with the eyes of faith--the ineffable glory that shines forth from the prototype.  God became man, that the sons and daughters of God might become gods by grace, as the holy Fathers taught.  This is the true Orthodox Faith that has established the universe!

Sunday, February 22, 2015


In his Epistle to the Romans, St. Paul commands the Romans, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."  (This quote, by the way, is from the Old Testament book of Leviticus--one indication among many of the continuity between the Old and the New.  In Christ, the Law of Moses is not set aside, but fulfilled.)    St. Paul then goes on to add "And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep....The night is far spent, the day is at hand."

Truly time is God's great gift, given that we might work out our own salvation with "fear and trembling."  But do we, in fact, fear God in the biblical sense (for He is awesome)--according to the true meaning of the word--trembling before His presence as we contemplate the Final Judgment that awaits us all?  And are we seriously striving to work out our own salvation?

Ah! but no, my friends--is it not rather the case that we allow ourselves to be carried along upon the relentless flow of time while we slumber--mostly unaware that the night is well spent and the day of God's judgment is at hand?  But now the season of Great Lent is suddenly upon us, and we are about to embark upon a perilous journey upon the vast sea of the Fast.  It is, therefore, high time that we awake from our lethargy, setting aside our egotistic thoughts and desires for the sake of the heavenly Kingdom.  Let us, then, at least make a beginning at storing up for ourselves riches in heaven, which neither moth nor rust can corrupt.

Let us put on the armor of light and wage war against the forces of darkness that lurk within us all, seeking to destroy us in a hell of our own making.  But the truth is, we cannot even take the first step toward the light of salvation until we have sincerely forgiven, from the bottom of our hearts, all those who have offended us--even our worst enemies.  For truly love is the fulfillment of the Law.

Monday, February 16, 2015


Nothing's black and white, we are told, yet it seems like today's Gospel of the Last Judgment truly is black and white: when Christ returns at the end of time to judge the nations, it would appear that there will be but two categories...the sheep and the goats.  Each and every one of us, my friends, shall be judged accordingly: either we shall be a sheep or a goat, and there seems to be no middle ground.  There are, indeed, no geeks and no shoaps. 

Either we have ministered to the least of Christ's brethren during the course of this earthly life, or we have not.  Either we shall "inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world," or you shall "depart into the everlasting fire prepared for the  Devil and his angels."  It will be impossible, at that point, to straddle the proverbial fence.  Indeed, our salvation is not a game...or if it is, we are playing for keeps.

That situation at the Final Judgment could hardly be more starkly black and white, and surely there are no "fifty shades of grey."  So where in all of this is there any wiggle room at all?  There are but two possible outcomes: either we shall be welcomed as faithful sheep into Christ's pasture, or we shall be consigned to the outer darkness, where "there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Of course, this is not the "Jesus meek and mild" I learned about in Protestant Sunday school.  Until the Final Judgment strikes us like a ton of bricks, we can waffle all we want, but then--WHAM!  Either we are with Him or we are against Him, and there can be no middle course.  The bottom line is simple--we must put to death our self-centered egos for the sake of the least of Christ's brethren, or else we shall willfully isolate ourselves for all eternity in a hell of our own making.

Friday, February 13, 2015


Just who is the man who has wandered into a far country, wasting his inheritance from his father on prodigal living?  It is, indeed, EVERYMAN--you and I--who has squandered the good gifts of our heavenly Father through loose living. 

And so it is that once we have willfully departed from our Father's house, we experience inevitably a famine--spiritual rather than material--for truly our Lord assures us that "Man does not live by bread alone."

Fortunately, the Prodigal Son at last "comes to himself"--he sees clearly what a foolish mistake he has made, and he repents.  But the fact is, nations can also "depart into a far country" and experience the spiritual famine of godlessness.  When the sons and daughters of Holy Rus rejected the authority of the God-anointed Czar and departed unto the  atheistic "far country" of Godlessness, they thought to experience the purely materialistic fruits of a New World Order through which would be created a heaven on earth--a so-called 'Worker's Paradise." 

Instead, they brought to pass a spiritual famine the likes of which the world had never known, until finally--in the fullness of time, through the prayers of the holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia--the nation repented of its madness and cast off the dark satanic forces that had held them in constraint for eighty years.

Only now it is we here in America who are confronted with the temptation to create a new evil empire in which man supposedly does live by bread alone.  And so, may God grant mercy to us all, that we may truly comprehend the deceits of the Devil and endure unto the end the persecution that is sure to come.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


Now that I have been enticed to join Facebook (by my own dear daughters--go figure!), I no doubt spend far too much time staring at an electronic screen.  Among other things, I've been sucked into taking those quizzes that can reveal so many things I never knew about myself just by answering six or seven questions.  For example, I now know that I am a Canadian at heart and that I was probably an inventor in a past life (never mind the fact that I do not believe in reincarnation).  In any case, like most people, I do enjoy these little quizzes and various surveys, and so I was thinking last night of printing out a survey of my own for my parishioners, but instead I checked into Facebook one last time before going to bed.

So I decided that as part of my sermon, I would present my parishioners with a VIRTUAL survey that can be easily answered in one's head.  It is a simple survey, really, with only three options: "I consider myself to be A) a good person, B) a bad person, C) undecided.  (In less than fifty words, explain your response--optional).  So I ask you: which box did you mentally check--and why?  This was supposed to be one of those interactive sermons in which I would pick on one of our parishioners who happens to be female, with three young children.  Unfortunately, she never showed up, along with a number of others, due to the first real snowfall of the winter. 

Well then: as faithful Orthodox Christians, most (or perhaps all) of you probably did the "politically correct" thing and checked "bad," explaining that you are indeed the worst of sinners.  And given that the Church considers humility to be the queen of the virtues, there is no better way of demonstrating our high level of spirituality than by proclaiming the depths of our own sinfulness.

On the other hand, maybe we do not really believe we are such utter wretches, and that it would be hypocritical to pretend otherwise.  Fair enough: after all, you do fast twice in the week, confess and receive Holy Communion on a regular basis, and otherwise you strive (with God's help, of course) to live the best you can as a faithful Orthodox Christian (unlike some people we know, but of course we will not name names...).

But whether you confess yourself to be a miserable sinner or an essentially "good person," the problem is that all too often our focus is not on God, but on our own self-centered egos.  After all, even the most hardened criminal strives to make himself look good in his own eyes, while those who proclaim themselves to be the worst of sinners can bathe in the glow of their own vaunted humility.

The Publican in today's parable does neither--he is real and he is authentic (in today's jargon).  He simply prostrates himself before God, saying in effect, "Lord, this is who I am and I make no excuses--have mercy on me!"  And thus he returns home justified, while the Pharisee--who prays not to God but to his own inflated ego--is condemned.


This is, by the way, the first time I have posted for awhile, because I have gotten the impression that no one out there in cyber space is really reading what I write.  So think of me as Tinkerbell--if you want me to keep blogging, clap your hands!  And be assured I will hear you, wherever you are in this  vast green cathedral we call Planet Earth.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


"A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they were no more."  Twenty thousand Holy Innocents were senselessly slain by a wicked psychopath....How can we modern, enlightened Christians even BEGIN to comprehend such blatant barbarism?  And--for that matter--how could a loving God even have ALLOWED such an atrocity?  At least here the answer is simple--God created us in His image, not as automatons, with the gift of free will, but as fallen creatures, we are capable of all manner of wickedness. And THIS us why bad things happen to good people. 

Besides....Are not those twenty thousand Holy Innocents part of that "vast cloud of witnesses" referred to in St. Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews?  Are they not, indeed, counted as martyrs glorified in God's heavenly Kingdom? For though they suffered for a short time, their eternal recompense defies the comprehension of the human mind.

But, oh my!.... We are so much more ENLIGHTENED now in this modern age.  Aldous Huxley's Brave New World has dawned!  The idea that we must SUFFER and ENDURE UNTO THE END that we may be made worthy of the good things to come is just so Passe!  Oh yes, of course, there are the millions of  innocents slain by the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Idi Amin.  But we are Americans--and we are Christians!  We are the City on the Hill, the light to enlighten the Gentiles, ordained by God Himself to spread the Gospel of American-style "democracy" throughout the world (by force, if necessary). 

But, oh my!....There is the inconvenient truth that since Roe vs. Wade, over fifty eight million holy innocents have been slain upon the altar of "freedom" and convenience.  (And after all, does a woman not have the right to control her own body?) 

Of course as faithful Orthodox Christians, we are dutifully opposed to abortion, but as Americans, we are complicit in this ongoing, "lawful" slaughter.  We may click our tongues disdainfully and click "like" on anti-abortion memes on the internet, but for the most part, I think we really just don't get it.  Yes, we are quick to agree, abortion is technically murder (the Holy Fathers tell us so), but somehow I think we have a sense that to murder an unborn child in the womb is not exactly the same as murdering a fully grown person.

And in a sense, this is true.  At least that fully grown person had the opportunity to experience life outside the womb, while an unborn child is not even given the chance to see the light of day.  The bottom line is, abortion is monstrous and there is no way whatsoever it can be justified.  So what can we ordinary citizens do about it?....I'm not sure....That is up to each individual to decide.  But at least let us not be complacent.  Let us look the beast in the eye and admit that to some extent, each and everyone of us bears responsibility for the tragic evil occurring in our world today.