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.