BLOWIN IN THE WIND

The fall time of the year is such a colorful time in our lives. The green lush spring is now infused with trees of many fall colors as they will soon start to turn brown and litter the ground reminding us of just how short life is. Scientist say that leaves change color as the daylight hours draw shorter and it becomes cooler in the night. A biochemical processes in the leaves begin to paint the landscape with Nature’s autumn palette. Pretty soon the drab and the now deadened leafs will fall to the ground and blow like chaff in the wind. But it wasn’t that long ago that the days began to get longer and the brown and gray vegetation became vibrant and green with life and that time will soon come again! Cultivators will go out to work preparing and planting. Warmth will come with insects and pollination and gentle rain for nourishment. But for now, the season of growth nearing its end, and we look for nature’s lifeless period in its’ next season, a season of dormancy.


Our earthly life also has seasons. At times there is newness of life and also at times a bit drab or demise. Newness of life is at its peak when we Christians find repentance and forgiveness. This is our cultivating season and our Lord sends His grace for pollination which for us repentant is the spreading of His love through our acts of love. And His mercy rains down on us quenching our Godless drought of our self-love and self-pity. And in this time of spiritual growth, we move closer to the Divine and our healthy lush colors are full of life.


Forgetting to put God first in all things brings darkness over our souls and we begin our decent into the drab colorless dormant seasons in our lives. Turning from God severs our eternal nutrient supply. In the last number of years my wife has noticed another color change in me. On occasion, she sees a color change in my face. Redness appears in my checks if my blood pressure is elevated. Sometimes this redness occurs if I am hustling about doing tasks but mostly if I am experiencing anger with my fellow man or my loving wife. As far as my health is concerned, I am getting older but I do not make much time to stay in shape and I do not always take into consideration the nutritional foods that I need to eat. However, the fast will be here soon to help me with this! Maybe with all the leaves arriving in my yard I can gain some exercise by raking and gathering them. And as far as my spiritual health, I continue to be angered by my fellow man instead of looking inward, blowing like a dead leaf in the wind. My type “A” personality blinds me and my world at times only contains little ole me! I fail to exercise my soul as I forget my salvation and His love for creation. Saint John of Damaskos says: “Without practice and preparation it is not possible for anyone to attain deification (theosis) and communion with God.”


In my busyness, I don’t take ample time to help my brother, Lazarus (Lk 16:29). Maybe if I knew when my earthly expiration date was, I would spend more time being about my Father’s business. Maybe if I spend more time reading about Moses and the prophets rather than wasting my life away on electronic entertainment or worrying about COVID or the election, I would be better prepared for the next life and the judgment in which all my deeds will surely be made known. Rest assured, our days on this Earth are numbered and the pursuit of purple and fine linen takes away the time we have been given to be the church. We cannot allow the winds of time to blow us around where the winds will take us! We need to put our salvation as the most important task in our lives! We need to stay in the season of lush growth springing our souls to be more like God, finding out salvific nutrients in the deep fertile soil of Orthodoxy, and becoming more vibrant and alive in the Holy Sacraments of the church. Less of me, More of Him! May our color be one of vibrance through the life-sustaining blood of our Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 11-2020 / 11-5-17

He’s Alive! Are YOU?

Hope is such a powerful word! I actually come from a little town in Virginia named New Hope. Some people over the years have made fun of this little town by proclaiming No Hope for New Hope! But I prefer to be a positive thinker and always leave the door and the window open for hope to come and blanket me like a fog consuming Afton Mountain! The more hope the better! I feel like my tank would be empty without hope!

Sometime ago, I was disagreeing with a scientist friend of mine who needs to be able to explain things within the confined boundaries of science. It is sad because he has no grasp of hope! He may believe in lady luck but that seems to be his only acknowledgement of positive thinking. Everything has a reason for him based on the limitation of human knowledge.

In our Christian faith, we believe in the power of prayer and things unseen. We hope that our Creator will hear our supplication and take action on our behalf. And it is important that we always conclude our petitions with “Thine will be done” for we have no idea at times what are really asking for and we do not know what will unfold for us in the future. We are also reminded with Scripture such as: “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”[Mt. 19:26]  And then in the Scripture today, Christ restores life to the young dead son of a widow. There is always hope!    

We are reminded that we are in a fallen world, evil is mistaken for good. Mankind was booted out of the garden because of for our thirst for greed. Our life now has an age limit and the evil one is here amongst us, enticing our greed and wanting to separate us from our hope. “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”[Rom. 8:20-21] Saint Symeon the New Theologian writes: “This is the reason why, when God saw from before the creation of the world that Adam would be saved through re-birth, He subjected creation to him, and put it under a curse so that, having been created for the sake of man who had fallen into corruption, it should itself become corrupt and provide him annually with corrupted food. But then, when God makes man anew again and renders him immortal, incorruptible, and spiritual, at that time, I say, He will change all of creation itself together with man, and will bring it to completion as immaterial and everlasting.”

 It is easy to live as if we are god but the reality will overcome us on our death beds. Just like the dead son in the scripture today, I also am dead! My stench of death is not physical but spiritual! My greed forgets about my mortality and my need of God, and I chose to make decisions and seek things selfishly. Blessed Theophylact tells us: “The bier which carries the dead mind is the body. And indeed the body is like a tomb, as the ancient Greeks said, calling the body a burial mound, which means a tomb. Having touched the body, the Lord then raises the mind, restoring its youth and vigor. And after the young man, meaning the mind, has sat up, raised from the tomb of sin, he will begin to speak, that is, to teach others. While he is in the grip of sin, he cannot speak or teach; who would believe him?” (Blessed Theophylact)

But I have hope. “My hope is the Father, my refuge is the Son, my shelter is the Holy Spirit, O Holy Trinity, Glory to Thee.” (Venerable Joannicius the Great) I hope that through my continued effort and God’s grace He will remove my selfish scars from my darkened eyes and enable my vision of the Incarnate. Our hope is a submission that we need a Savior and a that He is still working in our lives. Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, in order for you to abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit.” [Rom. 15:13]

Fr. Gabriel Weller 10-25-2020

STINKY BAIT

Back in my 20’s when I took time to go fishing, there was a sure-fire thing for catching trout, it was a new bait called PowerBait®. Powerbait is made from a combination of an oil-based resin and PVC. In 1988, a young chemical engineer changed the face of trout fishing forever. Combining a formal education in chemistry and a lifelong interest in angling, research scientist John Prochnow created a national fishing phenomenon we all came to know as PowerBait. In addition to the two main ingredients, a range of scents and smells were added to give the bait its signature fish-catching smell. 

Fish have a keen sense of smell that helps them determine where food is located and if it is eatable. This new fangled bait resembled what was being fed to the trout at the fish farm before they were transplanted into their new wild fish habitat. The basic theory behind these baits is to float and attract the fish to bite. Or in other words, it smells eatable and you catch more fish! Bon appétit!

Well, I am not a chemical engineer nor am I made of PVC and resin but the good Lord can use you and me as power bait as well! Let me explain. Fish have an intense sense of smell. The dark water fish are even more attracted to strong smelling bait! Now, you see, that is where I come in to being bait, sometimes, I am fragrant and sometimes I stink! The Good Lord has called us all to be fishers of men and He needs us to be fragrant! We need to ooze the love of Christ and not the rot of the world!

When I first discovered the Lord, I was ashamed and kept my failures inward, buried deep and rotting. I did not realize that every one of us struggles with sin. I felt enormously unworthy of His love! Along the course time, His grace continued to nurture me and draw me closer. I was then cleansed in the Holy Water of baptism but since that day, continue to occasionally fall short. When I go to confession and communion I release a peaceful fragrance. This aroma is something that needs to be shared. It is something that attracts the hungry humans that are in search to fill their empty souls.  

There is however a stinky odor we ooze if we can’t be used as bait and if we are not right with the Lord. As St. Augustine stated, we have been created in such a way that we only know and experience true fulfillment when we, by grace, faithfulness and love, dwell in God’s presence, and He in our midst. So in other words, if we chose to fill this empty hole with other things, we will spend our lives chasing our tail around in circles searching in vain for fulfillment and yet never ever satisfying the unreachable itch. So then, how can you catch fish?

As St. Luke records: “Cease being afraid; from henceforth thou shalt be taking men alive.” [Lk. 5:10]  St. Augustine instructs us: “Do what you can, and then pray that God will give you the power to do what you cannot.” We need to intentionally make a daily effort to move closer to God. We as Christians do not want to be stinky bait but power bait! Because the power of His life-cleansing blood can even save a sinner like me! And through His love for me, I can give love to those hurting and not yet in His bountiful net of salvation. Be fragrant and not a stinker, be a Myrrhbearer! Glory to Thee!!!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 10-11-2020

EMPTY WoRdS

Have you been crucified with Christ? [Gal. 2:20] What exactly does that mean for us here in 2020? St. Theophan tells us: “True, one may know man’s final goal: communion with God. And one may describe the path to it: faith, and walking in the commandments, with the aid of divine grace. One need only say in addition: here is the path-start walking!” St. Theophan The Recluse, The Path to Salvation: A Manual of Spiritual Transformation

Many folks today say they are Christian and yet they fail to regularly attend church (there is usually something more important preventing them from attending), they fail to set aside their first fruit as their tithe (bills, bills, and more bills), they allow their selfishness to navigate their lives (excuses, excuses, excuses), and they always promise to make great strides next week, month or year and get back on the narrow path (tic-tock, tic-tock). They waste their breath slobbering out empty words while lying through their teeth! Simply put, you are either here or you’re not.

I wish I knew what I could do to help people commit to a more righteous path for their salvation. I wish I had an evident cure for anything and everything that is keeping people away from living the true faith! I wish my poor, poor prayers could heal everyone and give them a bountiful life, but it takes cooperation. Unlike many folks in the West, the true teaching of our salvation is faith and works! You need to attend the meetings; it is a step process as we ascend the Divine Ladder! There are no shortcuts! You are either here, or you’re not!

That towering ant hill we are building in all of our busyness is going to be flattened by the big footprint of life, it just won’t matter! Our existence here is temporary! What really matters is our soul! Where will it reside when it leaves our body? Will you be prepared for Judgment Day? We are not God, He is! We need to wipe that slobbering excuse off our face and get busy, our afterlife depends on it!

Our combination of faith and action helps mold us into being myrrhbearers. Salivation would be extremely hard existing in this world without the supportive structure of the church. There are too many temptations and heartaches in life to be separated from the support of the church. She needs you and you need her. This is a place where broken wounded people come for healing. Which path are you on? You are either here, or you’re not!

“I have been crucified with Christ; and I no longer live, but Christ liveth in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh I live in faith, in that of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.   [Gal. 2:20]

Fr. Gabriel Weller 10-4-2020

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