PATCHES

Of all the dirty jobs I have had over the years, I would have to say harvesting hay and straw is at the top of my dirty job list. Not only was that job a real workout in the heat of the summer, the amount of dust, dirt and allergens circulating around me was like an intense fog rolling down the mountain moistening my skin. Handling the hay bales gave me thorns in my hands and arms and holes in my Wrangler Jeans. Usually by the end of summer my clothes had patches on top of patches!

At the end of the day, I had dirt where my eyes couldn’t see and Grandma Hazel would have to visually check my clothing and see if I was even allowed in the house. And then of course when it was time to eat, Grandma would send me back to the sink again, where another heavy application of soap was necessary before I could sit at the table next to Granddad, the ear thumper! Yes sir, manners were taught at that table.

Clothes and skin come clean with some strong soap and heavy scrubbing. Holes in our clothing can be repaired and I am sure patches will be popular again real soon as I have noticed a lot of torn clothes being worn by our youth in much need of repair. You may want to stock up now on patches now as they may fly off the shelf like toilet paper when the patches wave hits!

We all have been invited to the table of our Lord, won’t you come? Won’t you put on your wedding garment by revisiting your Holy Baptism where you were clothed in the garment of salvation, laying aside the filthy old man? In the confessional the dirt of sin is removed and then washed by the blood of the Lamb which awaits you at the chalice in celebration of our mystical union with our Savior Jesus Christ. After all, that is why we are here!

If you come today to bring your children to receive these precious gifts mystically found here in the chalice, thank you. Glory be to God! It is important for them to be here and truly a blessing, but why not you? Do you really think the dirt and holes in your baptismal garment have made you unworthy? Our Lord offered His most precious life for you! Won’t you come? Come to confession and let those deep wounds begin to heal. Our Father will bind your rotting flesh and patch your life back together as only He can do, if you will allow Him in. We need you, we are family!   

A new day is coming, get out of you death bed and come to the wedding. St. John Chrysostom adds this warning: “Great is the punishment for those who have been idle, indifferent, and lazy. For even as those who showed insolence and gave injury by not coming, so also dost thou by thus reclining with a life corrupted.” [Mt. 22:12.] [Ib., P.G. 58:681, 682 (cols. 650, 651)

Fr. Gabriel Weller 9-13-2020

You Can Build His Church!

I hear every now and then, how can this small group of believers build a church? The task is enormous and the cost seems to be beyond our grasp. And now we can add the COVID-19 as another stumbling block or reason to question moving forward with this project. Has Fr. Gabriel lost his ever so limited connection with sanity?

Well, first of all, tithing is a spiritual discipline we all need to practice if we profess to be Christians. Simply put, if we don’t tithe now, why should God entrust us with more? I hear every now and then someone say that we just can’t afford to support the church as their bills are so high! This can mean that they have chosen to live beyond their means and not put God first, or they have truly been overwhelmed with unforeseen expenses! However, tithing is a necessary tool that we need to align our financial decisions with our spiritual growth. You can either choose to put your faith in God or in the paper dollar.

Secondly, you must know that our Father is very wealthy! We hear again and again these true words chanted: Everything that is, is His! (1 Corinthians 10:26) “For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine. “If I were hungry, I would not tell you; For the world is Mine, and all its fullness.” (Psalm 49/50:10-12) You see, money simply is not a problem.  So I ask, is everything His?

As a group of believers living in this community for decades, it is frankly our duty. We must plant our roots here in this fertile soil.  We must provide a proper space to worship God correctly. We desperately need a correct space for Worship, Communion, Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals. We need a place to rear our children in the ways of God. We need a mighty fortress to weather the storms with a hedge around it to protect His fruit! (Mt 21:33) The church building is a sacred place where man can offer himself fully. The church building is the heart of Christian life and it is where God offers Himself to man and man offers himself to God. The buildings architecture reflects this truth and helps our deification process. St. Athanasius the Great says: “God became man so that man might become god.” “Let the Christian consider well when he enters the church that he is entering another heaven. That same majesty of God which is in heaven is also in his church, and on this account the Christian must enter with reverence and awe.”

So then how do you eat an elephant, one fundraiser at a time? Yes, we need projects and many willing hands, don’t expect others to do all the work! After all, we are instructed to tithe our valuable time as well! Don’t sit back and miss this opportunity, we need you! God is calling you and we need your talents! We need folks that can organize a fundraiser and include help from the church family, and include our neighbors. It will be a blessing for you and for them! This is a time of growth!  This is a time to grow spiritually and grow deeper into the community by inviting our neighbors. As we remember: “Let all your things be done in love.” [1 Cor. 16:14]

Here the words of St. John Chrysostom: “The church is an enclosure, if you are within, the wolf cannot enter, but if you stray outside, the wild beasts will get you… Do not wander from the Church; there is nothing more impregnable than the Church. She is your hope and your salvation. She is higher than the heavens, firmer than rock, wider than the world; she never grows old, but is forever renewing her youth.” (St. John Chrysostom)

Next week, we will break ground! Glory to God! Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan is coming to break the ground and prepare it for spiritual fruit! There will be plenty of opportunities to help in the near future! But we need sweat-equity, don’t be lazy! We need a thousand small money-making projects. We need continuous prayers. We each need to attend to the body of our Lord, His people!

With faith, we will not only take a bite out of this elephant, but with thanksgiving we will keep on chewing until this beast is consumed, ears, tail and toenails! Through the prayers of the Holy Myrrhbearers, who sacrificed so they could attend to the body of our Lord, pray to God for us!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 9-6-2020

1, 2 Skip a Few

I think one of the greatest inventions in the last decade has been spray paint! I probably have six or eight cans myself just waiting for the next project! Spray paint arrived on the market in 1945 by the hands of Ed Seymour in Sycamore, Illinois. It is a faster way to paint with less cleanup time, although it seems to be a bit thinner and may require a second spraying but I think spray paint is an important product for most folks. Paint can be used to help prevent decay and weathering from the natural elements. Some people put a new coat of paint on something they are preparing to sell so that it sells easier and real estate agents will tell you, a home with fresh paint sells faster and for more money.

I have also seen some folks misuse spray paint by covering up problems before they sell their item or home and hide defects or rotten wood, or as we say around here, they put lipstick on a hog! Instead of doing the work and making the necessary repairs, they spray over it, masking over the defects and taking advantage of any potential new owner, buyer beware!  

I am writing about spray paint today because it is just as easy for us to spray over weathering and rot as it is as we sometimes do the very same thing with the Law of God. For starters, our Good Lord has given us 10 Commandments to live by. Over the years, I have heard them referred to as the 10 suggestions and I can only imagine that these folks own a lot of spray paint as well. I think if you struggle like me, you are a gold-medal holder on most of the Commandments but struggle with one or two! And it is easier to see other folks failing as if we have masked over our sinfulness like spraying paint over our imperfection so we appear flashy of almost sparkling new.

The young man in the Gospel reading this morning seemed to be masking over the commandments. The young man saith to Him, “All these I kept for myself from my youth; what lack I yet?” [Mt. 19:20] And our Lord quickly points out his attachment to gluttony as he has starved the poor with what he was entrusted with. St. Basil writes: “But now your money sticks to you closer than the limbs of your body, and he who would separate you from it grieves you more than someone who would cut off your vital parts. For if you had clothed the naked, if you had given your bread to the hungry, if you had opened your doors to every stranger, if you’d become a father to orphans, if you had suffered together with all the powerless, what possessions would now be causing you despondency?” When wealth is dispersed, in the way the Lord advises, it naturally stays put; but when held back it is transferred to another. If you hoard it, you won’t keep it; if you scatter, you won’t lose. For (says the scripture), “He has dispersed, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever” [Ps 112:9]. (St. Basil the Great: Sermon to the Rich)

Our Creator has given us rules to live by that are for our own benefit. We can freely choose another path in life if we want, but those other paths do not lead us to Him. With our limited view of our life and the future awaiting us, there are consequences for our choices. Who do you trust? The next time I reach up on the shelf for a can of spray paint, maybe I will reflect upon my choices of masking over my sinfulness because skipping over one or two leads to more than a few as the door of sin if opened, the deceiver will usher many more demons in. Sin loves company or as it is written in Proverbs: A violent man entices his neighbor, And leads him in a way that is not good. [Proverbs 16:29] We were not created for Earth, but for heaven.  I need to stop masking my shortcomings and work harder on my salvation! Please forgive me a sinner!

I am the LORD your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me (Ex. 20:2–3). You shall not make for yourselves a graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them (20:4–5). You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain (20:7). Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work (20:8–10). Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God gives you (20:12). You shall not kill (20:13).  You shall not commit adultery (20:14). You shall not steal (20:15). You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (20:16). You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s (20:17).

Fr. Gabriel Weller 8-30-2020

Closed FOR GOOD!

Driving around town this week, I am deeply saddened to see businesses closed and some of these businesses are closed for ever! I have enjoyed our variety of choices in places to eat and places to shop. I have enjoyed the many choices we have had for entertainment. I have enjoyed the choices of buying from the big corporate chain stores and I have enjoyed purchasing from the small local businesses that more reflect the heartbeat of our community.

The effects of the Rona of 2020 will be felt for decades. The decisions made right and wrong have had a huge impact on all of our futures! The depth of anguish and despair neighbors are suffering from is new to our generation. And still even in the midst of this great dilemma, we as an American people are still greatly divided. Instead of coming together as a nation as we did during previous epidemics and hardships, we have separated even more. There seems to be no sign of forgiveness and trust, as billionaires jockey for control of the greatest asset this country has, the heart and trust of the American worker, farmer, mother and father, business folks, educators, and service persons. Because of what folks have been through or the way they or their families were treated in the past has caused their distrust of everything and everyone to be nakedly exposed! Forgiveness has been forgotten as we substitute our own vanity ahead of loving our enemies. (Matt. 5: 43-48) Their hearts may be closed for ever!

Our great nation once dedicated to serving God has now been diffused into serving a bunch of little popes chasing a paper dollar, with their own little pope understanding of how people should live and how things should be. People not fearing God that put individuals’ perverted rights to choose higher than the laws of God, are in positions of leadership and masking the voice of Holy Scripture! It is truly a misunderstanding of the love of Jesus, who loves all and wants salvation for us all. Salvation is not accepting sin as normal but loving folks struggling to survive in this shattered world and loving people who are deeply hurt and confused. It means loving folks enough too still say no, this is not good for your salvation, but I love you, for I too have my own heavy cross to bear! These demonic choices separate you and me from the pure love that is available to us all. Quit settling for deceptive love that will rot you in the box, where the worms never cease! (Mark 9:48) It is NOT okay!

The actions of some people seem to highlight that they too are also closed FOR-GOOD! Our great nation of people has forgotten how to forgive. It seems as though we are encouraging each other to be little popes, making our own rules based upon our own wounded and lustful mindset. We have become our own traveling circus, while yet expecting someone else to clean up behind our asses and elephants! Who will you serve? You simply have to believe in something. Through our own limited understanding or the teachings of evolving science, we choose to accept only what our pee-brain analysis can conclude. And if something doesn’t fit into our four cornered box of understanding, we distrust it. In these choices we have become enslaved and our master is the great deceiver! Living on our own perception instead of trusting the One who created us all, we lack faith as death comes knocking upon our door!

Saint Paisios writes: “The Church is suffering today because Divine illumination is missing and people understand things as it suits them. The human element gets involved; passions are arouse, and then, the devil comes and thrashes about. That is why people who are governed by their passions should not seek to govern others.” (Saint Paisios the Hagiorite +1994)

“O thou and evil slave” who then will you serve? (Matt 18:32)

Fr. Gabriel Weller 8-23-2020

I’M A MIRACLE!

As a young boy, I was quite a little dare-devil! I pushed my physical abilities to their peak or at least red-lined all of my safety gauges. After all, there was nothing that Mercurochrome and a band-aid couldn’t fix! And let me tell you, I wore my orange Mercurochrome paint like a badge of courage! Thus being said, I am a miracle! By the grace of God, I am still here with time to become more of a Myrrhbearer to the world, and much, much less of a dare-devil!

Folks that turn their back on God are still acting like little dare-devils, testing their physical and mental abilities against their Earthly existence! Maybe it is time to put away the Mercurochrome and Band-Aids and be about our Father’s business. (Luke 2:49) Maybe it’s time to recognize that we too are miracles and spend the rest of our Earthly time seeking divine grace. Maybe it’s time instead of participating in chaos we oozed myrrh to the broken world through our love and actions! You too are a miracle, get busy!

This morning in the reading from the Gospel of Matthew, we here of yet another miracle performed by Christ. (Matt 17:18) But we also remember the times people ridiculed Christ demanding He come down from the Cross and save Himself. And the time the Pharisees and scribes asked for a sign or a miracle on demand and our Lord rebuked them saying: “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matt 12:38-40)

Then there are some folks say they have never seen a miracle, well here I am! Even before my existence in conception, I was a miracle. The Creator knew me before the womb (Jer. 1:5) and still has high hopes for my outcome! As long as I obey His commandments, his grace sustains me. Listen to the words of Saint Nikodemos: “The grace of the Holy Spirit which is given mystically to every Christian when he is baptized acts and is manifested in proportion to our obedience to the commandments of the Lord. That is, if a Christian obeys the commandments of the Lord more, grace acts with him more, while if he obeys them less, grace acts within him less. Just as a spark, when covered in the ashes of fire becomes increasingly manifest as one removes the ashes, and the more fire wood you put the more the fire burns, so the grace that has been given to every Christian through Holy Baptism is hidden in the heart and covered up by the passions and sins, and the more a man acts in accordance with the commandments of Christ, the more he is cleansed of the passions and the more the fire of Divine grace lights in his heart, illumines and deifies him.”(St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, Christian Morality)

The grace that God gives us is also a miracle. How can we then get more grace? We remember in Saint Paul’s letters to the Ephesians: “by grace you have been saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8). Grace and salvation are connected at the hip! The Church Fathers teach that grace is the very life that flows naturally and eternally from God. It is the real, life-bestowing power that brings us into communion with Him.

In the Gospel of Luke, we read about the story of the woman with the issue of blood. We know her as Saint Veronica and she daringly touched the hem of Christ’s garment in faith. The Lord knew she touched Him because, because He said, “I perceived power going out from Me” (Lk. 8:46). This power is His divine grace or His energies.

Grace is the energy that allows us to participate in God’s life, to become more like Christ. It is as real as the light and warmth of the sun by which we truly experience the sun. It is present every day but we must participate and leave the darkness and seek after the Light! But unlike the created energy of the sun, God’s energies (as grace is called by the Fathers) are uncreated. God’s uncreated energies allow us to participate in Him and to know Him. St. Basil the Great wrote: “It is by the energies that we can say we know our God.”

The Church Fathers use the comparison of iron and fire. When a rod of iron is placed in fire for a time, it takes on the properties of the fire, it becomes red hot. It doesn’t become fire itself, nor does it cease to be iron; rather, the iron participates in the properties of fire. In a similar way, our humanity can participate in God’s grace (not His essence) because of Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection. This is the undeniable “good news” of the Gospel and the goal of every Orthodox Christian. This is the purpose for which we were created. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20)

St Ephraim writes: “According to thy mercy, pour out upon me, who am miserable, at least one small drop of grace to make me understand and be converted, that I might make at least some small effort to correct myself, for if thy grace does not illumine my soul, I will not be able to see the carelessness and negligence that the passions have produced in me through my apathy and recklessness. (St. Ephraim the Syrian, “69: The Wiles of the Enemy and the Resources of Sin,” A Spiritual Psalter or Reflections on God)

Fr. Gabriel Weller 8-16-2020

I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!

I’ve heard the phrase “I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up” so many times! It is a slogan used to sell wireless medical pendants to folks that find their physical stability to be a challenge at times. As advertised, with the push of a button, another person has been notified and will start a procedure to check on your welfare. It begins with an attempt of a conversation on the phone with a series of questions that helps the operator discern how best to help you. A neighbor or loved one can be contacted and if need be, and a medical person can be dispatched to your home to help you with your struggle. Since so many people live alone and find themselves secluded, this can be a great aide.

This is also a very orthodox phrase as well. It is the very words spoken by the great saints of the church through the course of their life as they called out for help in the midst of their struggles and asked God for help to get up! We all fall short and miss the mark at times! The writer of Ecclesiastes writes: “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.”(Ecclesiastes 7:20) And we read in Proverbs:”Everyone is bound in the chains of his own sins.”[Prov. 5:22] And please don’t look here for perfection as I have thick calluses on my knees, not from hours of lengthy prayers but from my frequent hard falls from the ladder of accent.

The good news for us is we have a gracious and loving Father who yearns for our return. We are never alone! Even in times when we find ourselves dreadfully tormented, there is always hope! Saint Ambrose recorded this: ‘But whoever are outside the promises of the heavenly commandments are in the outer darkness, because God’s ordinances are light, and whoever is without Christ is in darkness, because Christ is the inner light.”(Mathew 8:12) So for us, we need to be constantly seeking the Light. The darkness is deceiving; it is a silver-tongued salesman trying to sell us an ole clunker! And we all know that a clunker’s metal is rotting away and mechanically unable to get us where we need to go! Sometimes an ole clunker looks good but can’t even make it up the hill!

When I think of myself as an ole clunker, I am reminded of a show called Vegas Rat Rods. It is a show about reviving old clunkers into high performance vehicles. The Rat Rods still show plenty of rust and neglect, but their powertrain and drivetrain have been completely renewed and are once again, back on the road. Once the title has been surrendered and ownership changes hands, even though they still have some dents and wounds, the power house has been refreshed and with the push of a button or turn of a key, down the road they go.

You and I have some rust and some faulty parts as well. Life choices have taken their toll on us and we find ourselves rusting or scratching the deep itch from the worms of darkness eating at our flesh. We feel the pain of dents in our bodies from collisions we have had in life. Our past cannot be erased but it can be buffed and repowered to make us high performance vehicles on this bumpy road of life.

Your Father can restore that which is in you that is malfunctioning or dented. Your Father can help you if you just fall on your knees, repent and surrender your title of ownership over to Him. Stop being a little pope and get up! Come out of the scrap yard of life and let the Great Mechanic put you squarely on the road to salvation, super powered by the love of Christ and fueled by the Holy Spirit.

 

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 7-5-2020

How Bright Is Your Bulb?

Over the years I have installed a lot of light fixtures. Some of the installations have been to replace a light fixture that was broken and leaving people in the dark. Some of the fixtures I have installed were purchased to change the ambiance or look of a room. But here lately I have been installing more efficient fixtures that use LED bulbs and use less power.  

I have also repaired many light fixtures as well. In troubleshooting a broken light, sometimes the fixture is bad, the bulb is broken, the light switch is burned out or there is a problem with the circuit breaker or wiring. Nevertheless, the fixture has left us in the dark!

Our body is also a light-fixture. If we energize our body with Christ, it will be like a beacon piercing through the thick darkness, unquenchable. (Mt. 6:22-23) In this world today it so easy to get unplugged or disconnected from the narrow road that energizes our salvation and we then experience a dim or unworkable light. There are some troubleshooting techniques we can use as well to repair our broken spiritual light. But you will need some tools to repair your broken light! To be concise, listen to the words of Fr. Seraphim Rose: “Orthodoxy is life. If we don’t live Orthodoxy, we simply are not Orthodox, no matter what formal beliefs we might hold. (Fr. Seraphim Rose, Living the Orthodox World View -A talk delivered by Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose) at the St. Herman Pilgrimage, August 1982, St. Herman of Alaska Monastery, Platina, California)

There it is! Practice what the Holy Tradition teaches and watch yourself glow! Do not glow from the created light from your smart phone or flat screen but glow from being energized by the Word of God from a light uncreated! Glow from living the commandments! Flip your switch on by saying your prayers, no excuses! Glow from cleaning the dirt and scum off of your dim bulb through repentance and confession. And most of all, receive the Body and Blood of the Great Illuminator, our Lord, Jesus Christ (John 8:12). As Fr. Seraphim Rose says, if you are not doing these things, you are not Orthodox, no excuses!

There is a great cost to being Orthodox, it will cost you your life! By I tell you that it will be the greatest thing you ever do, but it is a life-long commitment! Surrender it all, every day, every hour! Life on Earth will be over for us very soon, don’t delay. What in the world is keeping you away? Hear the words of Saint Theophan the Recluse: “Refuse to listen to the devil when he whispers to you: give me now, and you will give tomorrow to God. No, no! Spend all the hours of your life in a way pleasing to God;” (From Unseen Warfare, St. Theophan the Recluse and St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain)

There is still time to repair your light-fixture! You have the tools and know-how available to you. Follow the footsteps of the Saints of the church. If your bulb is not brilliant and flickering light a lightning bug, you are most likely plugged into to the great deceiver. St. Leonid of Optina warns us: “Beware of passionate attachments to the world. Although they deceive you with peace and comfort, they are so fleeting that you do not notice how you are deprived of them, and in their place come sorrow, longing, despondency, and no comfort whatsoever.” (St. Leonid of Optina)

Be about your Fathers’ business and keep your light shining! Glory to Thee who has shown us the Light, Glory to Thee!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 6-27-2020

DEDICATED

 Sadly this year St. Seraphim’s camp has been cancelled. Folks have come from all over the east coast to attend this youth camp for the last 25 years. There are so many activities and new friendships that blossom from this week of camping spent in the mountains of the Poconos. But with so many restrictions and unknowns, it just is to complex this year and we will have to count the days until next year when we can be awakened to that good morning siren!

As I reflect on previous camp years, I smile as memories flood my mind of the tug of war competition, the capture the flag battles, the Olympic Games, and of course the crafts and so many other activities. You come to realize that the folks on your team and in your camp will try their best not to let you down so you can claim that victory!

Instead of being deep in the woods of Pennsylvania, we campers find ourselves in the midst of a lot of crazy stuff going on around us and all over the world. In today’s Gospel reading our Lord is asking you, can He count on you? If there has ever been a time of confusion and uncertainty, it is happening right now. Can He still count on you or will you let Him down (cock-a-doodle-do)? (Mathew 26:34)

Do we love our neighbor when we don’t love folks that are not part of our blood-line? Do we love our neighbor when we turn our backs on oppression? Do we love our neighbor with looting and destruction of property? I ask these questions as we want to know where we should be as Christians in the midst of this turmoil. I think Archbishop Peter answers this well when he recently wrote: “Since the day of Her foundation, the Holy Church always defended and cared for the oppressed, widows, orphans, and homeless. (Acts: III, 45; IV, 34-35; VI, 1-3) Besides, all charity was of free will and non-compulsory. (Acts: V, 4) And so it was throughout the ages… The Holy Church was always against any kind of revolutions or forceful overturning of power. Instead, She supported civil evolution. For example, being persecuted, She peacefully, without any riots, changed the course of the pagan Roman Empire, having completely regenerated it. The same was done by Orthodox Christian missionaries, who spread the Holy Gospel among different nations. Now we are experiencing great turmoil in our United States. Attempts are made to destroy all foundations of law and order. In the name of “justice” we see looting, destruction, and mayhem. The Holy Church was always against such actions, and Orthodox Christians cannot participate or support them. Apostle Paul writes that we should pray for the land we live in and its authorities. If there is peace in the land, so will the Church and Her children live in peace and prosperity. Therefore, we should enforce our prayers for our American land and its peace and tranquility.”(His Grace Peter, Archbishop of Chicago & Mid-America)

Just as when Christ was surrounded and betrayed in the midst of a great conflict, He asked Peter to sheath his sword (John 18:11), we too must show Christ-like love without causing harm in the midst of this strife. “Everyone therefore who shall confess in Me before men, I also will confess in him before My Father Who is in the heavens. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father Who is in the heavens.” [Mt. 10:32-33] I pray that I won’t fail you now as we navigate these new troubled waters (but I am sure I will). And I pray that you will continue to be a part of our loving family, and hope we can weave our bond of love even stronger through never ending prayer and sacrificial love.

 

“O Lord Jesus Christ our God, do Thou calm the agitation and discord in our American land, banish from us slander and conflict, murder and drunkenness, bitter disputes and scandals, and burn out of our hearts every impurity, conflict and evil, that again we all may love one another and abide, as one, in Thee, O Lord, our God, as Thou has commanded and directed us. Grant peace to Thy Church and to Her children, that with one heart and one mouth we may glorify Thee, our Lord and Savior, unto the ages of ages. Amen.”

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 6-14-2020

Holy Myrrhbearers

The Holy Myrrhbearers: Saints Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Salome (daughter of Joseph), Mary (Joseph’s sister) the wife of Cleopas, Susanna, Mary and Martha (Lazarus’s sisters), Obedient to the observance of the Sabbath, the women waited until very early in the morning after the Sabbath to launch their plan into action. They were going to do something costly, something dangerous, something maybe even foolish in the eyes of others, but they knew in their hearts that it was the right thing to do.

The Holy Myrrhbearers were poor peasant housewives with the exception of St. Joanna, who was the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza. Yet the Evangelist Mark tells us they purchased large amounts of pricey myrrh, ointments, and perfumes with which to anoint the body of the Lord. These humble servants sacrificed the little they had saved up for their own families for ‘a rainy day’ because they realized they needed to tend to the body of our Lord. Jesus’ presence in their lives had been priceless and they were not going to spare any expense to anoint the body of the One who loves without measure.

The Holy Myrrhbearers literally put their lives at risk to accomplish their goal. Cities in the ancient city were walled for good reason – the territory outside the walls was an unsafe area and the domain of wild animals and thieves, especially after dark. Since our Savior’s tomb was in the garden near Golgotha, it was beyond the safety of the city walls. The women deliberately and knowingly stepped out into this vulnerability in order to express their love, in order to do what their heart commanded of them. Even more, assuming if they made it safely to the tomb, the Roman guards would certainly have used any force necessary to prevent them from entering the tomb. But they were not paralyzed with the danger and risk, and they took action!

There is a powerful lesson here for all of us. For all of us profess our faith in Christ, but do we possess the fearless, trusting, unhesitating faith of the Holy Myrrhbearers? Too often, despite our initial good intentions, we allow ourselves to be hindered from expressing or acting out our faith. We fear the COST of living as Christians, whether in actual financial terms, or in terms of the time and energy or emotion it takes to sacrificially offer ourselves to others! We fear the DANGER of living as Christians – it always seems so much easier to maintain the status quo, so much safer to keep doing the same old things in the same old way, even if it means passing up the opportunities to allow Christ to manifest in our little corner of the world. We fear looking FOOLISH by living as Christians, in a world that holds values and priorities that too often are very different from the Gospel. Pride, Vainglory and Perversion of our created sexuality have been the demise of many great civilizations and have seemed to be the most sought out activities here in this once great nation. No, the love of Christ is not always a yes with total acceptance! It is a yes we love you but we must separate ourselves from warped teachings. We cannot marinate in sewage and place our youth on a path of self-destruction and emptiness. We need to speak out loudly and we need to speak out now, and we must take action!

And in this time of pandemic, we need to put our prayer time first and foremost. Even if we can’t be at church, we can be the church where we are. Don’t get lazy or allow this to be the new norm, it is a time when we must increase, we must deliberately make time to separate us from the goats. And we must remember how precious our time here is, as one family, seeking the Kingdom of heaven!

Pray to God for us, Holy Myrrhbearers!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 5-3-2020

Palm Sunday

Cease fearing, O daughter of Sion, behold, thy King cometh, sitting on a colt of an ass.” [Jn. 12:15] Today we here the prophecy repeated from Zechariah written over 400 years before our Lord’s entrance into the holy city.

The great kings of the earth come and bring destruction and devastation riding on an experienced war horse amongst a parade of solders. Our Great King comes riding alone into the holy city on a colt of an ass, an animal of peace, one never before ridden. And this is only meet and right, for the name ‘Jerusalem’ means ‘the City of Peace’; Christ alone, the King of Peace, is therefore Jerusalem’s rightful King.

People line the street and children greet Him with palm branches, the symbols of victory, and they cry ‘Hosanna’, meaning ‘Save, we pray’. Their cry and their action are greater than they know, for in their innocence they speak the truth, for Christ alone saves us. The palm branches are indeed tokens of victory, for Victory comes through the Tree of the Cross and the surrendering of our life to the One who gives us life.

This is not just an historic event and a great day in the church, but an event that can be repeated at every communion. For whenever we seek peace and humility as if seated on a colt, and come as innocent children crying ‘Save, we pray’, then Christ enters our souls and makes our souls into Jerusalem’s, ‘Cities of Peace’ within us.

The entry into Jerusalem upon an unbroken colt is also a repetition of Moses’ prophecy that the Gentiles would rejoice in the Lord, but the Jews would be rejected. Here, the unbroken colt, “whereon yet never man sat” (Lk. 19:30), is an image of the Gentiles. The Apostles’ garments that were placed on the colt are Christ’s teachings by which the Apostles would instruct the Gentiles, and the Lord Himself seated spiritually upon the Gentiles loving them and guiding them as His own. He led his people into Jerusalem to the city of salvation and blessedness, a city not made by the hands of men, to the bosom of the Church. The rejected Jews were also present there. With their lips they cried, “The King of Israel”, but in their hearts they had already decided to kill our Savior. Listen to the words written by Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy: They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation. Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? Is not he thy father that hath bought thee? Hath he not made thee, and established thee?’ (Deut. 32:5–6).

Today, as we receive our blessed Palm branches, let us take them to our homes and place them somewhere where we can always see them. Let the Palms remind us that Christ is the King of our families and the King of our hearts, and that Christ is the only True answer to happiness and meaning in our lives. And if we do proclaim Christ as our King, let us try and make time for Him in our daily life, let us be reminded that He is the one with whom we will be spending eternity. Let us be reminded that our careers, our education, our finances, our homes, all of the basic material needs in our lives are only temporary. Let us prioritize and place Christ the King as the primary concern in our lives. It is only when we have done this that we will find True peace and happiness in such a puzzled and complex world. Come, won’t you follow Christ? Be rejoicing in the Lord always; again I will say, be rejoicing. [Phil. 4:4] Glory to Thee, O Lord, Glory to Thee who has shown us the Light!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 4-12-2020-13