YOU’RE STUPID!

In these polarized times in our country, it is often a common sight to see folks on opposite sides of topics show so little love and respect for each other. We all seem to surround ourselves with like-minded folks since in these days disagreement leads to hate and intolerance. Just look at my friend list on FACEBOOK and you will see a large majority of my “friends” share most of the common views I share. Social media is taking away an important aspect of communication which is reading someone’s body language and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and present. We are not taking time to love each other and lift each other up in prayer! True caring is taking some of our precious time and freely donating it to others, even those not on our “friends” list!

 

Written words are often misinterpreted, just look at the ever fracturing Protestant Church and the self-interpretation of scripture alone path it has taken. We constantly see things someone says or writes being recreated by someone else’s viewpoint or a group of folks that have lost their ability to love across lines of differences and just looking for a way to inflict division and hurt. After all we are right and everyone else is wrong!

 

We learn a lot from people with different stories and viewpoints. We can only learn from them if we openly communicate and not from behind the keyboards of our laptops or screaming at each other across the lines of protest! And when we get to the point of telling someone to go to hell that is exactly what we are giving them, instead of the love of Christ we have allowed our hearts to slam the doors of loving our neighbor closed like a prison door entrapping us to a sentence of judgment. Absence of God is pure Gehenna.

 

Many of the folks we strongly disagree with are also in their churches this morning, worshipping the same God. How do we defuse this political time bomb? It is a 4 letter word of action that we have forgotten how to practice. It is a 4 letter word that has offered all a way to salvation. It is a 4 letter word that is the exact opposite of the 4 letter word “hate” that we continually see in these times and at times even practice ourselves!

 

St. Paul tells the church in Rome: “Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another.” (Romans 12:10) And we hear these instructions from our Lord in the Gospel reading today: “But keep on loving your enemies and doing good, and lending, hoping to receive back nothing; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be sons of the Highest; for He is kind to the unthankful and to the evil. [Lk. 6:35]

 

And for those folks who ardently deny the authority and existence of our God we need to remember that the seed for salvation has been planted in their hearts by the Creator and just maybe by our actions, we can show them an example of Christ that is supposed to be beaming from us like a morning sunrise breaking through a cry of darkness, and maybe they will see something they just cannot live without!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 10-14-18

YOU’RE A KEEPER!

I like fishing! In all the times I have been fishing there have always been rules and guidelines I needed to follow. The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries enforces rules and regulations concerning every aspect of fishing. This includes permits, seasons, limits and sizes for all types of fish. I have never been a great fish catcher but I do enjoy fishing. I love being out in nature and away from noise and the distractions of my smart-phone and the loud and noisy world.

 

In all the fishing adventures I have had, I don’t remember ever catching my limit but I do seem to be gifted in attracting really small fish, you know the ones you have to throw back. Some of these little guys have such small mouths I am really shocked they were even able to swallow the hook. And as I release them I usually give the small fish a few encouraging words like: come back when you’re a little bigger, or go tell your big brothers and sisters to come over for a bite! But even if the fish is too small, I really enjoyed the excitement of catching it.

 

In the Gospel reading today, the professional fisherman had an awful day fishing. The disciples had worked all night and had been unsuccessful. Not only did they not catch any keepers but they did not catch a thing! And then by the grace of our Lord and their obedience, although exhausted, they went right back to work and caught more fish than their nets could hold and just about sank their ships from all the weight of the fish they had caught.

 

I know as for me, when I am exhausted and have had a bad day at work or fed up with life in general, the last thing I want to do is be obedient to my Orthodox lifestyle. I prefer to selfishly set aside my salvific struggle and neglect church and prayer. I turn my back on my fishing net and leave my boat beached without any attempt to be productive in the waters of life. I disappear into the darkness of doubt and seek comfort from the world. Poor ole me!

 

After all, what benefit do I get from being obedient? St. Nikodemos tells us: “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 firewood 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

 

We pray Thy will be done but you see it takes an effort on our parts. We have to be willing to cast our nets back into the stormy waters even when we are tired or we seem to be losing our battles in life! We have to be ready to work and our nets must be in good repair, ready and able to love our neighbors. We must shove our vessels out into the water trusting in the great commandments that hold our mighty ship afloat! And in the end when the Masters net is cast, we want to measure up and be a keeper! Glory To Thee!!!

And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. (Luke 5:10)

Fr. Gabriel Weller 10-7-2018

True Joy Is Found At The Cross

As the church calendar nears the celebration remembering the recovery of the most precious cross which once bore our Saviors body, we remind ourselves that the pagans were once again defeated in their effort to hide any memory of Christ. Even after burying the cross deep in the Earth the Roman Emperor Hadrian erected a Roman pagan temple to the goddess Venus and once finished, 300 years of pagan sacrifices were offered there.

 

The Empress St. Helen in 326 had the pagan temple destroyed as she bleached Jerusalem, the city of peace, of its pagan whores and the precious life-giving cross was recovered as well as the other two crosses of the thieves; that which brought life in abundance could no longer be hidden. St. Helen found a rare fragrant flower growing there which has been named “Vasiliko” or Basil which means “of the King”. Underneath this Basil the true Cross was found as well as the sign with inscription which read “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” and also the four nails which had once pierced our Lord’s body. To this day, we adorn the Holy Cross with fragrant Basil, a flower of royalty, reminding us of this event.

 

In her quest to find the site where our Lord was crucified she was unsuccessful but continued to search. St. Helen didn’t give up! And we are reminded in the Gospel reading about the Canaanite woman who would not give up either. Our Lord did not answer after her first plea but she did not give up. She continued to plea with more determination and refused to give up! Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is thy faith! Let it be to thee as thou wilt.” And her daughter was healed from that hour. [Mt. 15:28]

 

Determination and trust, don’t give up! For the Lord has given you a reason for joy. He has sacrificed His body, hung on a cross in great humiliation and incredible pain amongst the common crooks, so that you and I can one day experience great joy. And with great anticipation we long to hear our Good Sheppard say: “Welcome Home!” Don’t give up, hold on to Christ, He won’t let go! “For God did not send forth His Son into the world in order that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. [Jn. 3:17]

 

Whatever sins keep tempting you over and over again can be defeated at the foot of the Precious Cross. The One who sees and knows everything about you is here with you fighting for your salvation! You are not alone, you are loved! Not the kind of human love filled with insecurities and demands but a Divine Love that is perfect, an uninhibited love that defeats death by death, and a love so rich that it took the keys to Hades, shut and locked the door and freed its captives.

 

Joy has come to the world! “The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 

Glory to Thee Oh Lord, Glory to Thee!!!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 9/23/2018

GOOD MEDICINE

I can still hear the words from my mother’s mouth “OPEN WIDE”. I was not sure what it was I was going to be receiving but I knew it wasn’t going to be candy, but then I also trusted that my mother wanted what was best for me. In her quest to keep me healthy, I on occasion had to swallow some distasteful medicine, and on occasion some fried liver and cold Brussels sprouts but that is another story! Mom didn’t want me to suffer and trusted the good doctor’s prescription and only needed my cooperation, open wide and swallow!

 

When it comes to suffering, sometimes I feel like a tall lightning rod rising up touching the sky in the midst of a violent electrical storm! Yes, at times my struggles seem to be more than I can possibly bear! But any good lightning rod is well grounded and able to take an enormous amount of violent attacks. And we Christians are to be well grounded anchoring our souls to the Lord of Creation cooperating with His efforts in our salvation. St. John of Kronstadt wrote: “God is always stronger than evil, and therefore always conquers. Everything is possible unto those who believe and trust. We must struggle and conquer.”

 

We pray in our evening prayers: “Help Orthodox Christians to struggle” and what we are really asking for is to be a taller lightning rod amidst our storms with a better connection to ground though our trust in our risen Lord, open wide! We in the Russian church hear the word “podvig” and it is difficult to fully define. But mostly podvig means a spiritual struggle or a battle between our earthly scarred sinful bodies and our salvation seeking souls.

 

Saint Theophan the Recluse defines our total Christian life as αγώνας (agonas) (struggle). He says that the spirit hates sin, while the flesh dwells in it. How is this battle within ourselves to be won? Through αγώνα (agonas-spiritual struggle) of bringing the soul into mastery over the body and according to Saint Theophan “all the Saints accept the only true path to virtue to be pain and hard work…lightness and ease are a sign of a false path. Anyone who is not struggling, not in an agona, is in spiritual delusion” (The Path to Salvation).

 

Sometimes we find the path to being a well grounded lightning rod as a bit distasteful. St. John of Kronstadt reminds us: “Do not fear the conflict, and do not flee from it: where there is no struggle, there is no virtue; where there are no temptations for faithfulness and love, it is uncertain whether there is really any faithfulness and love for the Lord. Our faith, trust, and love are proved and revealed in adversities, that is, in difficult and grievous outward and inward circumstances, during sickness, sorrow, and privations.”

So then we find that in order to stay spiritually healthy we are to open our hearts widely and trustingly swallow the good medicine that God has sent our way. Remembering the Gospel reading we heard this morning; “And Jesus said to him, “‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.’” [Mt. 22:37] Open wide!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 9-9-2018

Autumn Olive (thorn in my flesh)

Up on the mountain we have a thorny bush that grows faster than church gossip. It is the kind of plant that spreads quickly and chokes out all the good vegetation in its path. Their leafy branch shadows the ground and suppresses growth from everything else. Its thorny undergrowth inflicts wounds on those that oppose its path or try to uproot its branches. This wicked bush or weed has many names; Autumn Olive, Japanese Silverberry, and Spreading Oleaster are just a few, and it is akin to the Russian Olive as well. It is even considered to be a noxious plant by the USDA. And every time I try removing one of these wild unwanted plants, besides the thorns digging into my flesh I usually find a blood-sucking tick hanging on to my skin as well!

 

It seems as though this unwanted plant flourishes and the beautiful lush plantings we have made seem to struggle. And then there are the deer that leave the wild olive alone while they buffet-line the flowers and bushes we have planted. Needless to say, it is with great effort and sacrifice that we will hopefully conquer our landscaping up on the mountain and yet the thorny olive will continue to reestablish itself every chance it gets!

 

It takes a tremendous effort to be a good gardener or landscaper. With the battle we wage against rocks, tree roots and that ornery Autumn Olive we find ourselves downtrodden at times! And on our journey to salvation, it also requires a tremendous effort and at times we feel a bit whipped as well. You and I are the workers here in the vineyard of our Lord. We are to remove thorny, noxious weeds of hatred, selfishness and self-righteousness from choking the fruitful life out of His vineyard. The vineyard requires a lot of loving care from willing workers to produce salvific fruit!

 

We all connected in love by the Cornerstone of the vineyard which is Christ, and every Sunday we here the clear-cut method we have been given to care for His precious harvest: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for your reward is great in heaven.” (Mt 5.2–12; cf. Lk 6.20–26)

 

And each and every day we repeat that process against all obstacles, weather, varmints or thorny bushes! St. Anatoly of Optina writes: “Wherever God is — there is peace. And the opposite is self-evident: where there is envy, hostility, impatience, self-love — there is the devil. Wherever the devil is — there, everything is ruinous, proud and hostile.” + St. Anatoly of Optina, quoted from Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina. Loving each other through action and remembering: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that everyone who believeth in Him should not perish, but may have everlasting life.” [Jn. 3:16] May our work in His vineyard be fruitful and blessed!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 8-26-2018

IF ONLY

If Only, I had all the health and material things a man could want, would I make time to know a merciful God or would I place all my hope for eternity on things that rot? If only I could win the lottery and assure my family a comfortable mostly effortless life as well as taking care of as many hurting people as my surplus would allow, would I be at peace, would I come to know true joy? If only we could eliminate all physical and mental suffering, would we still have a need to seek the great Physician to heal our soul or would we allow the evil serpent to separate us once again?

 

And if only everyone was cured, would we completely deny sin from bringing back all forms of illness and suffering to mankind, would we? If only I could hear the voice of God or place my fingers in His pierced side, maybe then I would work harder, sin less and trust Him more! If only I was as loveable to everyone as my dog thinks I am could I bring more people

 to Christ? If Only I would stop dreaming my life away and buckle down on the here and now, after all we all are always one second closer to our Earthly death! How can I change the “If Only” into graciously accepting the gifts I have and long for changing the illness I continue to feed my soul? After all, He has given me more than I need!

Today we bless the transfigured fruit that grew from the vine with the nutrients from the Creator. The fruit lay in the sun and ripened to perfection, just as we “If Only’s” are supposed to change by being nurtured in the traditions and scriptures of the Creator and perfectly ripened by bathing in His Son. On the Feast of Transfiguration we do not bless the rotten or diseased fruits culled by the farmer and left to decay back in the orchard. We Christians are to cull our disease of sin and restore our soul back to health before our earthly harvest time nears. St. Anthony the Great wrote: “If we make every effort to avoid death of the body, still more should it be our endeavor to avoid death of the soul. There is no obstacle for a man who wants to be saved other than negligence and laziness of soul.” + St. Anthony the Great, “On the Character of Men and on the Virtuous Life: One Hundred and Seventy Texts,” Text 45, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 1)

 

Back on the farm, Granddad Rufus would always say you had to make hay when the sun was shining, and for us Christians, the Son is always shining!! No excuses, no more “If Only’s” just get busy! St. John of Kronstadt said: “Do not help the Devil to spread his kingdom. Hallow the name of your Heavenly Father by your actions; help Him to spread His Kingdom on earth, for we are laborers together with God.”’ (St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ) Glory to Thee!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 8-19-18

“O thou of little faith! Why didst thou doubt?”

It seems like for me, and I imagine a lot of other folks, that when times of trouble come, and they do come, my practice of faith gets neglected. I tend to pray less or not at all, I fail the fast, my temper is shortened and it boils my blood as I practice loving myself more than others, and I hide in the shadows of the world binding my wounds and feeling forgotten and abandoned by God! Where is my faith? Where is my salvific practice?

 

As I stand on the bow of Orthodoxy sailing Eastward, I try to reflect upon my past struggles and thank God that He did not forsake me. I was not always able to see Him in the midst of the storm but at some instant when I quit panicking and surrendered my quest for control and then started my return back to the practice of faith that we Orthodox know, His loving presence was evident and had been there all along! I had doubted God, but He had not doubted me!

 

We hear the word “doubt” in the Gospel reading this morning. The Greek word for doubt here in the Gospel means wavering or hesitation. Peter sailing through the lake in the midst of a mighty storm began to waiver (Matthew 14:31). Our Lord was not visibly with him and Peter doubted, just like we do when a test comes. Just like we do when we find ourselves in an unfamiliar situation or a trial of our faith and we ask ourselves, where is God? Why am I alone?

 

And then in the fourth watch Jesus appeared. The Fathers explain that there are four steps to His divine mercy: in the first watch of the night God sent the Law to Israel; at the second watch, He sent the prophets; at the third watch, He gave His Son to the world; at the fourth watch of the night, when we are doubting and ready to give up, He comes back in glory to lead us into His Kingdom.

 

I think we have all been blown around by violent storms. We have thought to ourselves, I don’t think I am going to make it, or we think when people find out how messed up we truly are and what terrible choices we have made, they are not going to love us and cast us out with the demons! We all struggle. The crafty serpent entices us all by the rotten fruit of temptation. He tempted us when mankind was in his purist form and he is certainly working over-time distracting us now! We daily navigate the currents of sin-infested waters luring us to take our eyes from Christ and instead focus on our own abilities and past failures. Saint Kosmas said: “the fear of God compels us to fight against evil; and when we fight against evil, the grace of God destroys it.” (St. Kosmos Aitolos +1779)

 

O thou of so little faith, why do you doubt? Do you not know that you are deeply loved?  Glory to Thee, O Lord, Glory to Thee!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 7-29-18

ONE FOR ALL and ALL FOR ONE

One for all and all for One we shouted joyfully as we kids went off on our banana bikes and our very next adventure. Maybe trying to somewhat mimic the Three Musketeers in our time together, but definitely claiming to be inseparable and watching out for each other! We were brothers of some type of order or a secret promise made and solidified with our blood brother hand shake laced with spittle and dirt. We were discovering the unknown and trying to comprehend our existence. And folks knew if you messed with one of us you would be surrounded by all of us!

 

We here at Holy Myrrhbearers are also blood brothers and sisters, minus the spittle! Our group of believers supports each other with service and prayer. Here in the church we all have the same God and it is through the sacrifice of His Blood that we all should be one in love and spirituality through Jesus Christ our Lord. We are in the same mind or the same truth: “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. (John 14-15-18)

 

We heard in the Epistle reading this morning: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all be speaking the same thing, and that schisms may not be among you, but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same sentiment.” [1 Cor. 1:10]

 

It is against our blood brother and sister commitment or our promise to the ancient tradition of the church to divide this body of believers by any means as we find in the instructions written to the church in Corinth: “God is not a God of confusion, but of peace” [1 Cor. 14:33]. The Apostle calls us to be about the same purpose and understanding or as St. John Chrysostom says: “united both in mind and in judgment.” We trust our spiritual improvement to the proven tradition given to us, protected by the lives of the martyrs and through the wisdom and teachings of our forefathers and foremothers.  And we follow the proven rubics of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia as our bishops direct. We do not allow or encourage schisms to grow among us as unwanted weeds of conflict sucking away the nutrients that mystically sustain our fellowship.

 

And it is in the practice of all these things that we find oneness and the perfecting of love. It is a sacrifice we make to separate ourselves and our families from the world and to strengthen our bond in spiritual growth and be a valued part of our family here at Holy Myrrhbearers. “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to Whom be the glory to the ages.”[Rom. 11:36] ONE for all, and all for ONE!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 7-22-18

HIGH TIDE

Of the time I have spent at the beach over the years, the most enjoyable minutes for me have been when we take a walk on the beach. I prefer early morning or late evening walks. I like it when it is a little cooler and the day is beginning with the arrival of the sun casting its rays upon the water, or when the day’s activities are done and darkness will soon cover the sand. I enjoy the seabirds floating gracefully through the air and the sand fiddlers busily scurrying across the sand! And I like to witness the waves continually rolling to shore and the sounds of their motion bring me peace. Even with the crashing of a storm or the retreating of the tide, the waves continue to break again and again. The waves coming ashore always erase the evidence of the past days activities on the sand.

 

 

If only my prayer life was like waves crashing on the beach, unstoppable, always busily rolling in. I long for that since of stability in my life that I see in nature, the birds glide without effort, the sand fiddlers go about their business and the tide comes and goes. But with the ability to choose God or deny His existence I sometimes find myself thinking I am above His creation. I am in charge! Why does it take a storm crashing upon my feet for me to surrender my will? Were we not made for one thing! After all, everything in creation has a purpose and all of creation, with the exception of we humans, do not get distracted with separation from our Creator!

 

The evil one can provide you with earthly treasure but you will never be truly joyful. There will always be something missing. We will always need the next thing as we continue to chase our tail around in circles seeking our next high! We are created and we are always longing for something. People and things cannot fill that void, there is only way to find true happiness and that stability that we all seek! Listen to the words of the psalmist! (Psalm 148) Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels, praise Him, all His host! Praise Him, sun and moon, praise Him, all you shining stars! Praise Him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the Name of the Lord! For He commanded and they were created. And He established them for ever and ever; He fixed their bounds which cannot be passed. Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling His command! Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars.Beasts and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds! Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and maidens together, old men and children! Let them praise the Name of the Lord, for His Name alone is exalted; His glory is above earth and heaven. He has raised up a horn for His people, praise for all His saints, for the people of Israel who are near to Him. Praise the Lord!

 

God’s grace and forgiveness can erase our sinful existence from yesterday like the waves consuming the beach at high tide. In Letters from a Russian Monk, Father John writes it like this “There is no sin that is beyond God’s mercy, and the sins of the whole world are like a handful of sand thrown into the sea.” With the grace and cleansing we received at our Holy Baptism which is repeated with our confession and consuming of His Most Holy Body and Blood at Holy Communion, we can be wiped clean and stand strong to face yet another day, storms or not, being about our Father’s business! Now may the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded among one another according to Christ Jesus, that with one accord and with one mouth ye may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom. 15:5-6)

Fr. Gabriel Weller 7-15-2018

FOLLOW THE LEADER

It wasn’t that long ago that I enjoyed playing a game called “follow the leader.” I was a bit smaller and a lot more flexible back then. My friends and I would take turns setting out on a new adventure adding stunts like hopping on one foot, crawling under obstacles like the dining room table, walking backwards and one time, blind-folding each other and using our ears to try a imitate the leader. I believe I cracked my head on something that time!

 

This game was a good experience for me in life as I quickly learned by example, watching and listening as my sponge-like brain gained knowledge. If you want to learn how to do something, watch how others do it. When I later started my professional life, I was put with a senior technician and was told to try to be like him, or hopefully for the most part, maybe without the grumpiness and the grumbling!

 

And as I later became a senior tech, the boss started to put newbie’s with me. Some of these folks were really sheltered when it came to working with their hands and even working with the simplest of tools. I watched many a new-hire drilling holes with the drill in reverse but over time and with plenty of examples and patience, they started to imitate what a good technician was capable of!

 

Well it mostly comes down to how good a teacher the leader is. And of course in life, we come to realize that not every leader is setting a good example. In our maturing in life, we usually all go through times of rebellion and choosing to follow corrupt leaders in our days of demi-godness. But when our mortality becomes clear and we realize we have been wasting our time away after things of this world, we look for examples that help as we try to become more like God and as we seek eternal life. I have heard it said that there are no such things as atheists, only people not wanting the God they have seen exemplified in us!

 

How can we be a better icon of Christ? We hear in the Gospel reading our Leader inviting us to: “Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” [Mt. 4:19] And then later in His teachings He defines what we need to do: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens. Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall find mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are they who have been persecuted on account of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens. Blessed are ye whenever they reproach you and persecute you, and say every evil word against you falsely on account of Me. Be rejoicing and be exceedingly glad, for your reward is great in the heavens, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. [Mt. 5:1-12]

 

So there you go, follow that leader! Perhaps if your priest was a better example of Christ and followed His teachings faithfully, you too would be a better icon of the One who loves! Please pray for me a sinner!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 6-10-2018