Thursday, May 27, 2010
Photo Gallery: First Episcopal Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Hierarchs of North and Central America
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Address of His Eminence ARCHBISHOP DEMETRIOS OF AMERICA, Chairman At the Episcopal Assembly of North and Central America -- Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
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Wednesday, August 5, 2009
More than this, and much less well remarked upon, is a more supreme energy that was revealed many centuries ago, and whose "unleashing" is commemorated by the Orthodox Christians on the same day as the first use of the "atom bomb."
Jesus, it is said, took three of his closest followers, the disciples Simon Peter, James, and John, up the mountain called Tabor and there appeared before them "in glory," "in a bright cloud," pure light transcending all earthly light. The full radiance of the Father was there beyond what the three disciples could bear, and they fell to their faces undone by the vision.
Mt. Tabor from a distance.
Mankind, by sheer will-power and ingenuity, has not "harnessed" this radiance. It is a divine light and uncreated. It makes of the radiation from Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the many nuclear tests (not mentioning the uncontrolled "bomb" of the Chernobyl reactors), it makes of them mere shadow. Inversely to them, it is received and "controlled" by us not as a prior means to violence and destruction, but only after violence ...
After the Transfiguration, Jesus told his disciples how He would be handed over to sinful men to be crucified.
And the glory of the uncreated light of Tabor was restored to the disciples only after this crucifixion and the mysteries that proceeded from it: the burial of the Son of God, the resurrection on the third day, the ascension in glory, the session at the "right hand" of Power, and the Advent of Glory that is to come. After suffering the Cross, uncreated light became a property of every believer, a property even of the whole creation graced by the power of the divine and most humble, suffering love.
From war came the atomic light of destruction; from the crucifixion of love comes the union with the uncreated Light of Life. To Him be glory, honor and worship to all ages!
Friday, July 31, 2009
"When the Holy Apostles confessed the Saviour to be the Son of God, He said, I must…suffer…and be killed. The work had ripened; it remained only to complete it through the death on the cross. The same thing occurs in the course of a Christian’s moral progress. While he is struggling with his passions, the enemy still hopes somehow to tempt him; but when passions have settled down and the enemy no longer has enough power to awaken them, he presents external temptations, all sorts of wrongful accusations, moreover, the most sensitive. He tries to plant the thought: “So what did you work and struggle for? No good will come of it for you.” But when the enemy thus prepares a war from without, the Lord sends down the spirit of patience to his struggler, thereby preparing a lively readiness in his heart for all sorts of suffering and hostility before the enemy can manage to stir up trouble. As the Lord said about Himself, I must suffer, spiritual strugglers also feel a sort of thirst for sorrows. And when the suffering and hostility come, they meet them with joy, and drink them in like a thirsting man drinks cooling water." -- St. Theophan the Recluse
And this from the Holy Apostle Paul's lesson to us for today, the Friday of the 8th Week after Pentecost.... when you assemble as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and I partly believe it, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. (1 Corinthians 11:19)
And our gospel teacher today, Matthew the Holy Apostle and Evangelist, tells us this of JesusAnd Jesus answered, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to me." And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. (Matthew 17:18)
Strife, discord, demonic influence, accusations, war in the spirit, even war against the Spirit. Some call these things "enemies of salvation." Such they may be, but perhaps they are not always. After all, "whom the Lord loves He chastises." See how these antagonisms are not the enemy, but the elements the Enemy employs as weapons for his own purpose to turn our minds and hearts to attend to anything, good or bad, that is not directed toward our salvation in Jesus Christ. Seen this way, these sorrows are not our enemies, but simply the ground of this earthly life against which our faith is strengthened to endure. In the face of them, and by the grace of God, we believers remain impassive and assured of salvation in the Lord.
Listen again to what the holy bishop Theophan has said we gain in the midst of these difficulties: "the Lord sends down the spirit of patience to his struggler, thereby preparing a lively readiness in his heart for all sorts of suffering ..." and this "before the enemy can manage to stir up trouble" (emphasis mine).
Before, during, and after the afflictions we are with the Lord, and He with us. Only in the impassioned variability of our pride and will to self-aggrandizement, can we depart from the Holy Spirit's unwavering protection and grace that is given only to the humble.
And how we are protected by the Lord and His own patience with us! Even though, as St. Matthew has just taught us, we do test the Lord's patience by our perversity and infidelity toward His goodness. Yet our missteps and poor judgments and sins -- our very freedoms misused -- are allowed by the Lord, "so that those who are genuine among you may be recognized."
The Lord's rebuke in the gospel lesson is not only for the demons that have seized and tormented their victim. He also rebukes us, who protest we are merely "innocent bystanders", in the process of his "ekballistic ministry." It is, in a sense, this very rebuke of our own twisted wills and unfaithful hearts that brings the exorcism to effect. It is in humble acceptance of God's rightful opinion of us as perverse and unfaithful that we accede to His driving from our midst the parasite evil that is in this good, God-made world. We veritably require this chastisement on account of our own perverse misuse, individually as believers and collectively as a church, of "the glorious liberty of the sons of God."
This is why, in the midst of strife and discord, we are ALL called to heartfelt repentance, to renewed fear of God, to perduring faith, to supernatural hope and to sacrificial love. By our patient endurance and "thirst for sorrows" we will we gain our souls' salvation and bring peace and reconciliation to that which is sundered by so closely-clinging sin and the world of spiritual ignorance.
Let us therefore eagerly begin the coming "fast-before-the-feast" of the Death of the Most Holy Theotokos, the Mother of our Life; let us begin it with the sure expectation of the unexpected joy that comes to us in her who by the fulness of divine grace has borne in herself the Lord's own deathless death and glorious resurrection;
By each of us now taking up our Cross, we eagerly await and, if God so wills, we may earnestly acquire "a life translated to Life," ever present in and among us believers whenever and wherever we "assemble as a church."
By the prayers of the Theotokos, O Savior, save us!
[Your comments are most welcome.]
Saturday, July 25, 2009
His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah presents a somewhat lengthy meditation on "Spiritual Maturity." Listen at your own risk!
Friday, July 24, 2009
Outside the General Assembly, one of the priests who was at the Clergy Meeting on Tuesday, approached me with his concerns: that the public sharing of information from a private meeting, to him, was an affront to that privacy and a kind of disrespect, even a betrayal of trust, toward our brothers among the clergy. He was unaware that I was one of the priests who through various means (email, blogs, telephone, spoken conversation, etc...) made some or all of the contents of that meeting known. I leveled with him though. I told him I did post a report for the purpose of informing my parishioners and family who are keen to know what is happening in their Archdiocese. However, I respect my brother's opinion. In fact, kissing his right hand, I share his opinion, myself.
The St. Raphael Clergy Brotherhood of the Diocese of Wichita, my own diocesan Clergy Brotherhood, knows very well the words of St. Silouan of Mt. Athos, "Grace proceeds from all that is good, but above all from brotherly love."
I posted the account precisely because of my love for my fathers and brothers in Christ. Now I have removed it for the same reason. This blog is not ocanews.org. It's not a "church news" site. There are probably enough of those at the moment.
So, to any priest or hierarch I have offended by my candor with regard to our recent Clergy Meeting, forgive. And may Christ our God be thus well pleased.
Please continue to pray for the accomplishment of God's will at the General Assembly of our beloved and God-protected Archdiocese. As His Eminence said when the Convention opened, "We are here to do God's work."
May it be blessed to God's greater glory.