FLAPJACKS

Whenever we have the opportunity to eat pancakes, syrup must play a vital part of the meal. My wife and I have very different techniques in enjoying our flapjacks. I carefully place a glob of butter in between the top and bottom layer and then circle the cake with just enough pancakes-imagesyrup to touch and flavor each and every bite, occasional adding fresh berries or a little jelly to enhance the experience. And when I am enjoying my last bite, my plate has been wiped dry, not wasting a drop.

 

Now for my wife, there is never enough syrup. When we visit our favorite breakfast place, Bob Evans, even before the waitress is able to land all the saucers and plates of what we have ordered on the table, my wife briskly informs her that she will need more syrup! She enjoys her pancakes totally submersed and wringing wet with the sugary maple liquid we call syrup. It seems as though she should order syrup with a side order of pancakes. And when she has finished, there is still a lake of syrup in her plate, awaiting anything else that she could chose to submerse. Well for my wife and me, we do not associate eating flapjacks without adding syrup!

 

As a human being, we too need ingredients added! What did Saint Paul’s instruct to the church in Galatia! For if we confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, than we must possess the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control. [Gal. 5:22-23] Without these qualities it is like a plain ole pancake without any toppings!  Blessed Jerome writes: “What deserves to hold the first place among the fruits of the Spirit if not love? Without love other virtues are not reckoned to be virtues. From love is born all that is good.[“Epistle to the Galatians,” 3.5.22, P.L. 26:419B-420B (510-512), cited in ACC, VIII:89.]

 

When people get to know you, are you a plain ole pancake without any toppings or are you wringing wet with the sweetness of Christ-like love? In this season of Nativity we are reminded that everything should be covered with the syrup of love! For it is love that God sent His Son into the world and it is love that the Son sacrificed himself for you. You are loved! You have a purpose in this life! Be like my wife’s flapjack, wringing wet with the syrupy sweetness of love covering everything and everybody you encounter in your life with prayerful love, warmth and joy.

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 12/25/16

Reflector or Refractor

Now that we are settling into our cabin we are trying to get use to the 8 foot descent of our driveway. It is somewhat gradual but none the less it is a drop. At the bottom of the driveway is our porch. There is a 12 inch thick 12 foot tall retaining wall holding our driveway and garage in place. Well, that leaves quite a drop off so we installed a guardrail to help prevent anything or anybody from going over the wall!

 

refectorWhen we arrive home at night as we descend down to our cabin, the guardrail is hard to see so I installed reflectors on the posts to readily help us identify the possible danger. The soft reflected glow of light alerts us to the possible danger and helps ensure our safety.

 
In town, reflectors are everywhere. We see them on bicycles, construction workers, vehicles, joggers and pedestrians. I even noticed them around the edge of a stop light. All of these products reflect a light source usually bouncing it back to the light source. When light is reflected, there is a loss associated with the bouncing back due to the change of direction of the light, the type of material of the reflector and the working condition of the reflector. Obstacles or dirt on the reflector, weather such as fog, snow and rain and physical damage to the device greatly affect the performance of how much light is bounced back as well.

 
We humans are also reflectors. In the epistle reading from Ephesians, we here: “walk worthily of the calling in which ye were called, with all humility and meekness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love, giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” We reflect the light of the Creator in our day to day walk in life. We are instructed in Eph. 5:8 to “Be walking as children of light”. The world is being seduced by darkness and desperately needs His reflectiveness.

 

For the safety and sanctity of life, we need to brilliantly reflect the Light of Christ. Not obstructed by dirt and debris by missing church services but shining as a beacon in the midst of a mighty storm, keeping our lens polished by the reading and study of the bible and writings of the church fathers, and the cleansing of our soul with confession and the Body and Blood of Christ continually washing away the layers of weathering life has applied to our heart.

 
There is a lot of danger in the world today and we are descending down a dark treacherous slope leading us farther and farther away from the safety of our great Sheppard. May the uncreated light of Christ reflect in your life brilliantly and protect you and your loved ones from the entanglements and snares of the evil one. Be a great reflector! Glory to Thee!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 12-11-16

The Chance Of Monopoly

The parable in the Gospel reading this morning takes me back to a board game I use to play many years ago. When the weather was bad or darkness arrived way before bedtime, my sisters and I would play the game of monopolyMonopoly for fun. Having two older sisters kept me on my toes as they wheeled and dealed their way into financial security. Often times we had to reference the rules to ensure no one was cheating or bending the rules and taking advantage of the little guy!

 
One of things I most liked about that game was the uncertainty or chance we took with every move we made on the board. Much like life, we never know what is around the corner and what decisions we may face. Around and around the board we go as the years of our life hurry by.

 
In the game of Monopoly, the person with the most stuff wins! In reality of this life we live, the one who loves God more than stuff and more than oneself is the winner. However, “stuff” can bring blessings and bare spiritual fruit if we are thankful and use our possessions in a Godly way. There is a famous quote from a desert Father “he who has received a gift from God, and is ungrateful for it, is already on the way to losing it”.

 
St. John Chrysostom compares the good wealth of a man to the Manna sent by God to the Jewish people as they were wandering in the Desert of Sinai. The people were allowed to take as much as they wanted and were satisfied. We know that many of them were greedy and desired to collect more to be put into storage. They discovered that the excess food molded quickly and went to waste. Selfishness brings rot and waste to our blessings from God. St. Peter of Damaskos wrote: “when God is thanked, He gives us still further blessings, while we, by receiving His gifts, love Him all the more and through this love attain that divine wisdom whose beginning is the fear of God.”

 
In the Gospel, “But God said to him, ‘Fool, this night they demand thy soul from thee; and what thou didst prepare, for whom shall it be?’ “Thus is the one who treasureth up for himself, and is not rich toward God.” [Lk. 12:19-21] Saint Basil instructs us in this manner: “Are you not a grasper of everything? Are you not a robber? You who treat as absolutely yours what you receive that you might dispense to others. He who strips another man of his clothing, is he not called a robber? And he who does not clothe the naked when he could, should he not be called the same? That bread you hold in your clutches that belongs to the starving. That cloak you keep locked in your wardrobe that belongs to the naked. Those shoes that are going to waste with you, they belong to the barefooted. The silver you buried away, that belongs to the needy. Whomsoever you could have helped and did not, to so many have you been unjust. I have spoken to you as best I could. For you who respond, the blessings are ready that were promised you. For you who do not respond, the sentence is already written; and I pray most earnestly that, reflecting upon this bitter counsel I am giving you, you may escape those penalties; that your riches may become instead the price of your redemption, and that you also may attain to those heavenly good things.” [Ib., III:332, §§ 7, 8.]

 
As we navigate around the board in life, we are to invest monoply-hatout gifts wisely by keeping what we need and giving generously to those in need. For if we give God control of our monopoly, there is no such thing as chance, only ample opportunity. You cannot out give God!

 
Fr. Gabriel Weller 12/4/16

DO YOU SEE THE LIGHT??

We humans don’t like the dark. When it is dark, we stub our toes as we try to navigate and we hear noises that we can’t identify the origin of. We need light! The human body needs the full spectrum of light supplied to us by the sun to function and stay healthy. And for those night owls that function best at night, they still need light to read, drive cars, work and so forth. We are not like nocturnal mammals that have rods in their retinas that make enhanced night vision possible.

 
For our safety and comfort we can easily flip a switch and enlighten our lives. It takes energy to create light. Illuminating light within our homes is usually 25% of the monthly electric bill. I have been excited to purchase and install only LED light bulbs in our cabin. Although the price of the led bulb is still a little high, the savings on my monthly electric bill and the savings in energy use was the determining factor for us. The old incandescent bulbs only converted 2% of their energy usage to light and the rest was wasted in heat. The new LED bulbs use about 15% of the electricity needed to produce the same amount of light as the old bulbs and generate a lot less heat. And NIT is currently developing a new light source that will be 40% efficient.

 
But the best attempt that we humans can generate to cross-glowing-1acreate light has a great loss of energy. Even with the new 40% bulbs, we will still be wasting 60% of our created source of energy! But God’s energy is different! The word energy means “working in” and the uncreated energies of God are always working! There is no power outage!

 
At home if we don’t pay the light bill, our energy provider disconnects us and our home goes dark. God’s energy is uncreated and ever-present. You can turn your back on God and deny His existence and allow darkness to overshadow your soul, but His existence is all around you. Everything that is, is His!

 
The energies of God enlighten our souls. We participate in God’s energy, described numerously in scripture as glory, life, love, virtue, and power. We see God’s energies in the sacraments of the church, the forgiveness of sins, miracles and the healing of our soul and body.

 
We marinate in His energy like bathing in the sun, becoming more and more like Him. When you are in the sun, you will fill the warmth and your skin will darken and freckle. I can still picture my Grandmother Hazel sitting on the back porch with her meat hammer, pounding the toughness out of what we were having for supper. God’s energies are pounding out my head-strong gristle intertwined with my deep-deep well of free will, bringing me with my stubborn feet dragging into His tenderness of grace and His everlasting light. “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.” (Psalm 36:9) I must be a really tough piece of meat! Don’t give up on me Father, keep on pounding!

 
The uncreated Light and the knowledge of God “illuminates every man that cometh into this world.” God’s act is pure light, and when the Lord appears to us, he always appears as Light. In Holy Scripture we read: “In Your Light we shall see light.” Don’t let the divine energies running through body and soul be wasted! Deny power interruptions from the evil one and flip on your switch and let Him shine!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 11/20/2016

Puppy Dog Kisses

What caught my attention in the Gospel reading today was in verse 21: “even the dogs, which came were licking his sores.”[Lk. 16:21] Now I am sure that we have all heard the suggestion made to let Lassie lick our wounds 22222222221for a faster healing. Is it a fact that dog saliva can help heal human wounds? Scientific research has concluded that there are compounds in dog saliva that act against infection and encourage healing. However, in contrast to the healing ability, dog saliva also has a risk of causing serious infection introduced from the bacteria and organisms also found in a dogs’ mouth. Maybe after Lassie used some mouthwash it would be safer???

 
But in the Gospel story, dogs were licking Lazarus’s wounds because his sores were exposed and not hidden. Saint Kyril writes: “They licked his wounds, and that, as it seems was not to injure them, but rather as sharing in his suffering and attending him.” [Commentary, P.G. 72:358AB (col. 828).] God’s created, caring for God’s created, truly man’s best friend. Sorry cat people.

 
The Orthodox Fathers tell us that Christ is also referring to sins when he speaks about these sores. Lazarus’s sins were exposed where as the rich man sins were well hidden in his self- righteousness and wealth. He has covered his shortcomings with layers of worldly distractions. When we go to confession, Saint Gregory the Great writes: “holy teachers give us instruction during the confession of our sins, they are touching the wounds of our hearts with their tongues.” I suppose Mouthwash is optional there as well!

 
In the Gospel reading, the poor beggar was known by God because his name is recorded here in the scripture. The rich man, however, has been too busy indulging in the riches of this life and abandoned his relationship with God and therefore his name is not known! Is wealth a sin? Saint Ambrose tells us: “Lazarus was a pauper in this world, but a rich man before God….Yet not all poverty is holy or wealth sinful, but as excess dishonors riches, so sanctity commends poverty.” [Ib., Bk. VIII, § 13.]

 
The beggar Lazarus teaches us that to truly love God is a life-struggling act of humility. The first shall be last, love others more than ourselves, and do not cling to things of this earth which at the end of our time on this earth, have no heavenly value. And just maybe one day if we reach the depth of humility and Theosis as did the servant Lazarus, we too might find ourselves being carried by angels to the bosom of Abraham!

 
May our Lord God bless us, keep us and have mercy upon us!

Fr. Gabriel 11/16

Splinter

When you work with wood you enviably get splinters in splinteryour flesh. For some time now, I have been working on our log cabin and have come to know this frequently all too well. I keep plenty of Band-Aids and electrical tape in my truck for administering first aid and a tube of triple-antibiotic to battle against infection.

 
If the splinter is causing pain, I remove it. In order for me to remove the splinter I need a knife or pair of tweezers to aid me in digging the splinter out of my flesh. I also need plenty of light and I now, with my ageing eyesight, need my reading glasses to magnify the injury!

 
If I can’t see the splinter even with my magnifiers, I can still feel that there is something foreign under my flesh. Sometimes I realize this immediately depending upon the size and nature of the splinter. However, sometimes I am unaware that I have acquired a splinter until an infection sets in and my skin turns red and it becomes tender to the touch.

 
I also suffer the effects from another type of splinter, but this one lodges in my heart and adheres to my soul. These splinters are foreign objects and should not be found in my temple of God. But I have even grown accustomed to their existence and chose to continue on in life ignoring the soreness and the infections they have caused.

 
These splinters come from the jagged edges of sin and they hide in the darkness of my self-justifying intellect. I like to feel good about myself and my actions, and therefore ignore their existence! I allow the sinful splinters to separate me from the loving embrace of my creator which is the beginning of an infection that can literally threaten my life. Their existence distracts me from the light of Christ and I cling to the darkness seeking a place to hide them.

 
Saint John Chrysostom says: “As a wound, so long as it is embedded and concealed, running beneath the surface, it enjoys not a bit of attention, so also sin, as long as it is hidden, being as it were in darkness, is daringly committed with full license. But as soon as it is made manifest, it becomes light; not indeed the sin itself—for how could that be?—but the sinner. For when he has been brought out to light, when he has been admonished, when he has repented, when he has obtained pardon, hast thou not cleared away all his healed darkness? Hast thou not then his wound? Hast thou not called forth his unfruitfulness into fruit? For no one hides a blameless (irreproachable) life; whereas things which are hidden are hidden by darkness covering them.” [Hom. 18, P.G. 62:127 (col. 122); cf. Bl. Theophylact, P.G. 124:408 CD (col. 1108).]

 
When I realize I have caused someone pain, I need to examine my flesh for the jagged splinter by seeking first-aid from Christ by self-examination and exposing the splinters to the Light by study, confession, prayer and fasting, and then applying a heaping amount of the antibiotic of heartfelt forgiveness and the ever-healing Blood of Christ frequently.  The night is far spent; the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.[Rom. 13:12]

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 10/24/16

LINE IN THE WATER

As I stood there along the bank of the lake I instructed the youth that were fishing with me: “You can’t catch a fish if your line is not in the water.” After all, there is a difference between catching fish and fishing! And since results were not happening fast enough, my companions had a tendency to keep reeling in their line to make sure bobbertheir bait was still on the hook! And it usually was unless the youngins threw it off the hook with one of their many casts into the water showing off all their bionic strength! As far as catching fish that day, with all of the casting activity on the surface of the water, the fish probably swam away to safer waters.

 
Well, perhaps I was lacking as a fishing instructor! After all, I have never been a great fisherman or hunter, but not yet quite a vegetarian either. You see, in the red neck dictionary the definition of a vegetarian is “one who can’t hunt or fish!” But here in our Gospel reading today, these men were professional fishermen, making their living and feeding their family by the filling of their nets! These men knew every way and everything there was to know about catching fish!

 
Peter and Andrew were having a tough time fishing. They patiently fished all night and did not catch a thing. There nets remained empty. But after a fishless night, the grace of Christ made what was impossible, possible. Not only were the nets filled but they were full of fish even with tears in the nets. And there was enough fish caught to fill two boats and the boats were overloaded and began to sink!

 
In my life, my nets have known emptiness too! There have also been times when I didn’t even get in the boat but chased empty pursuits that did not sustain me! I also know there have times in my prayer life when my nets have continually been empty! As Christians even when our nets are empty, we need to continue fishing. “If you do not feel like praying, you have to force yourself. The Holy Fathers say that prayer with force is higher than prayer unforced. You do not want to, but force yourself. The Kingdom of Heaven is taken by force (Matt. 11:12).” – St. Ambrose of Optina.

 
We need to keep our lines in the water with disciplines of prayer, fasting, worship and charity even we it seems all hope is lost and our harvest is fruitless. The measure of a Christian is most accurately measured during these times when we have exhausted all of our efforts and our nets seem empty! Therefore, by resisting and fighting evil, we help to establish the Kingdom, or more correctly, we enter it and take possession of it.

 
We have one goal in life, seeking and serving God. And as God’s servant we are to be fishers of men. So many times we get distracted by worldly goals and get ourselves blown around by the storms of life. Yet we can be successful even with holes in our nets! We just need to remember the basics, keeping our equipment ready and maintained, our Christ-like bait fresh and on the hook, and of course keeping our line in the water with constant prayer and worship! And with the grace of Christ, our boats will be filled. We’ll catch ‘em and He’ll clean them!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 10-9-2016

YARD SALE!

This week as we prepared for the church yard sale I tookyard-sale a moment and reflected upon the effort needed to have a successful sale. Scheduling was a big problem for us this year with the many things in our lives we are so busy with. Matushka finally was able to corner me into setting a date and making a space in my hectic schedule.

 
And of course we needed items donated to sell and folks willing to give their precious time to price the items and also to help work the sale. We needed to advertise so we placed a small ad in the newspaper, the bulletin board and even placed yard sale signs on the street in front of the church. Matushka went to the store and found special yard-sale price tags and we had to go to the bank and get some small change to keep on hand.

 
On Saturday in the early morning before the roosters began crowing, we had to set up tables and moved all the donated items out front to the street. It sure took a lot of preparation to get rid of unwanted things we had kept in our lives and then we settled for pennies on the dollar. But the money raised will be put to good use!

 
Matushka was pricing items on Friday when a local woman happened into the church, lured by our new bright yellow yard sale signs. She looked around and quickly realized she was in unfamiliar territory. The church hosting this yard sale was not like any church she been in before. She immediately wanted validation as to why we had icons of the saints and why we honor the Mother of God so much. She wanted proof between the black and white pages of the constantly re-translating solo in the scripture, she believes is the Bible!!

 
This woman had the “I’m not in Kansas anymore look” about her. That saying came from a great musical the-wizard-of-oz-12679entitled The Wizard of Oz and it involves an enormous tornado devastating the farmland in Kansas, and sending Dorothy and her dog Toto to a make-believe dreamland while the untamed winds scattered and lost all the families’ treasures. Interestingly enough, I parallel that imagery to the church in the West, only some of the treasures remain but many have been scattered and picked through or lost. Perhaps that great scattering wind originated in the lungs of the big bad wolf, the evil one.

 
Which brings me to the wedding banquet mentioned in the Gospel reading today, what does it mean to have our wedding garment on? Just like the yard sale, it takes a lot of work. You see it takes a time commitment, our God is a jealous God, keep the Sabbath Day holy! I have heard some people tell me that they are Orthodox but they don’t attend or rarely attend Church. Perhaps they have become OTHER-ODOX? They are just too busy chasing there tail around in circles instead of clinging on to the pursuit of everlasting life. They’re heart has become blind and darkness is looming!

 
And then there is the great wedding banquet which has been prepared. Is there a dress code to attend such a great banquet? Yes, we should wear our best! And how many people have been invited? Everyone has been invited but how many are prepared to receive the Great Feast? It takes preparation. You need confession, repentance and you must take time to say the pre-communion prayers which help us reflect upon our sin thirsty nature!

 
That brings me to the next point, how often should someone receive the Holy Gifts? And the answer is: as often as one can. If you are Orthodox, you need this prescription to heal. You need this Gift to make ready your soul for the life everlasting! It should be at the very least of least once a year! It really should be as often as you can, it should be as though you’re very life depends on it!

 
Some folks have convinced themselves that they are way too unworthy, they are convinced that there worth has diminished to only pennies on the dollar! Some folks may say that they are serving a penance. Here at our church, please come to your priests and let’s have a talk. We want you to receive all the great treasures that the true church has to offer!

 
Every week, you are invited a grand wedding. Jesus desires you in marriage. You are the church! He wants a commitment from you! It will take a great effort and it will not be easy, but you know way down deep in your heart that it will be worth it!

 
Come, won’t you come? Don’t be an OTHER-ODOX!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 9/25/16

St. John the Baptist

This week we began bleaching the exterior of our cabin. We applied a special mixture of Trisodium Phosphate, Clorox and water to the exterior and then rinsed with the power of a high pressure washer and this process removed all the oil and stains that have weathered and blemished our logs over the last year. Once dried, this process readies the logs for a protective coat to be installed to defend the wood from the rot, wood boring bugs and hopefully hard-headed woodpeckers.

 
We Christians also use a special mixture to remove our sinful stains and blemishes. We Orthodox use prayer, blessed oil and water and the help of the Holy Spirit. We call this process baptism. Baptism in the Church begins with the rejection of Satan and the acceptance of Christ. Before being baptized, a person, or his sponsors or godparents, officially proclaims the symbol of Christian faith, the Creed. Because the godparent speaks on behalf of the child, sponsors his entrance into the Church and “receives” the child out of the baptismal waters into the Church and cares for his spiritual life, the godparent himself must be an active member of the Church.

 
In the Christian Church the practice of baptism takes on a new and particular significance. It no longer remains merely a sign of moral change and spiritual rebirth. It becomes very specifically the act of a person’s death and resurrection in and with Jesus. Christian baptism is man’s participation in the event of Pascha. It is a “new birth by water and the Holy Spirit” into the Kingdom of God (Jn 3.5).

 

john-the-baptist

On this day we remember the patron saint of godparents and his sacrifice paid for his faith in Christ. St. John the Baptist lured people into the river water and by the power of the Almighty removed their stains and through their repentance their lives were changed.

 
St. John’s father, Priest Zacharias was murdered in the temple and his mother Elizabeth (daughter of Aaron and cousin of the blessed Theotokos) took the young lad into the desert where he was raised. Later as a young adult, St. John began to preach about the necessity of repentance and self-sacrifice. He denounced the Sadducees and Pharisees and warned the tax collectors and soldiers against extortion and plunder.

 
St. John baptized thousands of people as a sign of repentance and a preparation for the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus was also baptized by St. John not because he was sinful and needed to repent, but because in allowing himself to be baptized he showed that indeed he was God’s “Beloved Son,” the Saviour and Messiah, the “Lamb of God who takes upon himself the sins of the world” (Mt 3, Mk 1, Lk 3, Jn 1–3).

 
Our baptismal water is prayed over and blessed as the sign of the goodness of God’s creation. The catechumen to be baptized is also prayed over and blessed with sanctified oil as the sign that his creation by God is holy and good. And then, after the solemn proclamation of “Alleluia” (from Hebrew, meaning “God be praised”), the person is immersed three times in the water in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

 
Through the act of immersion, the baptized person dies to this world and is born again in the resurrection of Christ into eternal life. He is clothed with the “garments of salvation” symbolized by the white baptismal robe which is the “new humanity” of Jesus himself who is the new and heavenly Adam (Jn 3, Rom 5, 1 Cor 15). Thus, the words of the Apostle Paul are chanted as the newly-baptized is led in procession around the baptismal font three times as the symbol of his procession to the Kingdom of God and his entrance into eternal life: “For as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Alleluia” (Gal 3.27).

 

I pray that your baptismal waters bleached away all your stains and the protective coating of salvation in Jesus Christ shed away all the sinful rot, fungus and the hard-headed woodpeckers of a world which is lost in the desert and in need of a Savior.

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 9-11-2016

DORMITION 2016

We read in the Holy Scripture in Luke Chapter 1 that: “And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent forth by God to a city of Galilee, the name of which was Nazareth, to a virgin who was espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the name of the virgin was Mariam. And the angel entered and said to her, “Rejoice thou who hast been shown grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women.” [Lk. 1:26-28]

 
We Orthodox claim without hesitation that Mary is the Mother of God in the flesh. Saint Basil the Great reminds us that: “The first fruit of the Spirit is peace and joy. Therefore…the holy Virgin had received within herself every grace of the Holy Spirit.” [“On Psalm 32,” Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, Toal, IV:415.] We know that the Christ–Child whom dwelled in her womb was found to be fully human and fully divine. Therefore, God in His essence was contained within the Ark of her womb and sustained by oxygen and nutrients supplied by the body of this mortal virgin. Saint Photios the Great writes: “The Virgin found favor with God because she had made herself worthy before her Creator, for, having adorned her soul with the fairness of purity, she had prepared herself as an agreeable habitation of Him….She found favor with Him not only because she had kept her virginity inviolate, but also because she had maintained her desires unsullied.” [“Homily V, On the Annunciation,” The Homilies of Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople, 116.]

 
The Holy Virgin was so obedient to the will of God, that having heard from the Archangel regarding her forthcoming service she meekly replied: “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord.” The Holy Virgin Mary was so obedient to the will of God, that having heard from the elder Simeon of the future painful agony to which her heart would be subjected, she humbly accepted her share in the suffering on the cross of her Son and God. (Luke 2:25-35) With these three qualities – humility, obedience, and purity of nature – our creator showed us the highest example of what we humans can be like, of what we should be like, and of how the Creator intended us to be.

 

Dormition
In this great Feast of the Church and in the Dormition Icon we celebrate a fundamental teaching of our faith, the Resurrection of the body. In the case of the Theotokos, this has been accomplished by the divine will of God. This Feast is a feast of great hope, hope in Resurrection and life eternal. And like those who gathered around the body of the Virgin Mary, we gather around our departed loved ones and commend their souls into the hands of Christ. As we remember those who have reposed in the faith before us and have passed on into the communion of the Saints, we prepare ourselves to one day be received into the new life of the age to come and into a life without end.

 
We also affirm through this Feast as we journey toward our heavenly dwelling place, that the Mother of God intercedes for us. She knows the Lord Jesus Christ in a closer way than any of us. Yet like us, the Virgin Mary is a human being, so we relate to her. Thus we are asking someone who lived like us, to intercede for us. Through the birth of Christ the Theotokos has become the mother of all of the children of God, embracing each and every one of us with a love that only a mother can fully comprehend. “The gates of heaven are opened to receive the receptacle of God, who, bringing forth the tree of life, destroyed Eve’s disobedience and Adam’s penalty of death.” St. John of Damascus

 
Pray to God for us unworthy ones oh compassionate one! Glory to Thee!