Rector's Message of Arpil 2014

Thou hast redeemed us from the curse of the Law by Thy Precious Blood. Having been nailed to the Cross and pierced by the spear, Thou hast poured forth immortality for mankind. O, Our Savior, glory be to Thee!

The most beloved time of the year for every Orthodox Christian is now approaching, the holy season in which we celebrate Our Savior's saving Passion, Death, and Resurrection. If we have at any time grown cold towards Him, if our hearts are burdened by worldly cares and have forgotten Him, if we have failed to pray, failed to fast, failed to forgive, failed to prepare for Holy Communion... if we have put our Faith on the "back burner" - now is the time to rouse ourselves to fervor! .

The most dangerous spiritual state is, after all, insensibility, the lack of awareness of how far we are from God, the lack of awareness that we need God, that we are spiritual beings, that we have to fight sin and acquire holiness. The cares, fears, and desires of daily life overwhelm our minds, and we begin to feel and even think that we are merely creatures of this earth, and we forget our eternal destiny.

Most often, we are jolted back to an awareness of our need for God by difficulties and sorrows. When a crisis occurs, when great disappointments or great losses come upon us, then we are faced with a choice: do we embrace the cross which God has sent us with thanksgiving and courage, or do we become angry and resentful? Do we look our situation square in the face and then fall down before the Lord Jesus Christ and His Most Pure Mother begging for their help, or do we run away into various distractions and delusions in order temporarily to numb our pain and avoid the path God has laid out for us?

We must be absolutely convinced that everything that happens in our life is allowed by God for our salvation. When we have this perspective - when we see that life in this world is short, that death is certain, that our state after judgment will be eternal - we are simultaneously consoled and energized to undertake the path of repentance. We are consoled, because we realize that not only are our troubles of short duration, but that they have meaning - they are the path to salvation for us, and through them we can also become a source of grace and consolation to those whom we love. We are stimulated to repentance, because, realizing the shortness of this life and the certainty of death and God's judgment, we become eager to fight sin, to activate the baptismal grace within us, and to grow in righteousness and holiness.

By His Death and Resurrection, the Lord has already opened to us the door of Paradise! We have only to follow Him in His Passion in order to obtain the come upon us, then we are faced with a choice: do we embrace the cross which God has sent us with

The Path to Salvation

... when Christ had abolished death by His resurrection, He still let it remain for His followers, along with this life's other misfortunes, so that Christians should be exercised by these means for trhe sake of truth in both their lives and beliefs, and be made ready through the new covenant for the coming new age which will never grow old.

For those who bear them with faith, these misfortunes serve to correct their sins, to exercise and test them, to lead them to abandon the wretchedness of this life, and to encourage them to long fervently and seek constantly for everlasting adoption as sons, and redemption, the truly new life and blessedness. Our adoption as sons and our renewal in Christ in both soul and body is complex. There is a starting point and perfection, and an intermediate stage in between. The grace of baptism, which is called the washing of regeneration, inaugurates this action in us, providing remission of all our sins and of the guilt of the curse. Perfection will come with the resurrection of life for which believers hope, and the promise of the age to come. The intermediate stage is life according to Christ's gospel, by which the godly person is nourished, grows, and is renewed, making progress day by day in the knowledge of God, righteousness, and sanctification. Gradually he reduces and cuts away his eagerness for things below, and transfers his longing from what is visible, physical, and temporary to what is is invisible, spiritual, and eternal.

- from a homily by St. Gregory Palamas on Holy and Great Saturday

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