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!