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.