THE RECIPE

Some of my fondest childhood memories were made by Follywood, I mean Hollywood, yep, believe it or not. Back in the day, quality television programs that taught morals and values were plentiful. Some of my early formation came from Ben Cartwright of the Bonanza,  Sheriff Taylor from The Andy Griffith Show, and Grandpa and Grandma Walton from the show entitled The Waltons, just to name a few.

 

One evening as I was watching an episode of The Waltons, Grandpa Walton was going over to visit the Baldwin sisters and hoped to sample some of their secret recipe. I wasn’t quite sure what the recipe was at that age but the characters on the show were convincing that there was something really special about this secret recipe. In today’s times, it might be compared to the secret recipe that the Irish-Setter knows about those delicious Bush Beans that we see advertised.

 

My childhood experiences created in me a longing to uncover hidden treasures and made me eager to find the secret recipe, the one right mixture of just the exact amounts of “this and that.” And to seek in life a mixture that is not lacking in anything, the blue-ribbon holder of recipes, the one recipe people yearn for.

 

Being molded into a bible thumping Pro-test-ant in my formable years, Orthodoxy was quite a pill to swallow. It was not the normal flavor I had become use to. I was trained to discount Holy Tradition because of the heresies of some of the faithful. I was equipped with the Bible with over two thousand translations and interpretations of truth to pick from, which would give me the answers to all my questions and struggles in life. I was taught that the Inspired Word was living and adapting or changing with the current social and economic conditions. These defenses and so many more made me very cautious when I peeped in the window of Orthodoxy.

 

Rest assured that the lessons I had been taught came from people that truly love the Lord. But when it comes to religion, I like my faith as thick as gravy! Finding Orthodoxy has convinced me that I had been settling for a watered down recipe of what Christ offers His faithful, one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. I am no longer a seeker. I am not hungering for the latest translation or the most recent buzz word or desert unearthing stirring up this Protestant nation. I have found true satisfaction with ancient interpretations and I do not worry if the path I am on is leading me down twisted roads that misdirect me away from the Father.

 

Saint Ambrose says that the woman that touched Christ in the Gospel reading today: “Heard the people of the Jews were sick, and began to hope for the remedy of her own salvation.” [Ib., Bk. VI, §57.] [Lk. 8:46a.] I know the church I belong to is built on a solid foundation and it will continue to stand strong against the storms of time. You and I have found the blue ribbon awarded recipe. It is truly something we need to share. Saint Symeon the New Theologian said: “that all the nations from east to west are invited…. So shall the two become one, one body with Christ, His co-participants, brothers, and co-heirs with Him.” [“The Church and the Last Things,” On the Mystical Life: The Ethical Discourses, Vol. I, Second Discourse,  II:95.]

 

You see, the recipe for our salvation is not a secret; it is by the sharing of the recipe that we may obtain unity. “Until we all might come to the unity of the faith, and of the full knowledge of the Son of God.” [Eph. 4:13]  Saint Chrysostom wrote: “Until we shall be shown to have all one faith. For this is unity of faith…. Till then thou must labor to this end. If for this thou hast received a gift, that thou mightest build up others….For tell me not of the difference of the spiritual gifts, but that all had one work. Now when we shall all believe alike then shall there be unity; for that this is what he calls perfect knowledge.” [Hom. 11, P.G. 62:83, 84 (col. 83).]  The gifts you have been given are the necessary ingredients or the “this and that” Christ needs to complete His recipe, the perfect recipe. All brothers and sisters hand in hand. Theosis of the faithful, thick as gravy!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 11/19/17

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 color. Scientist believe 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 brilliant colors will become drab and the now deadened leafs will fall to the ground and blow into my yard. But it wasn’t that long ago that the days began to get longer and the brown and gray vegetation became green with life. Cultivators went to work preparing and planting. Warmth came with insects and pollination and gentle rain for nourishment. And now with the season of growth nearing its end, we look for nature’s lifeless period in its’ next season.

 
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 love. And His mercy rains down on us quenching our Godless drought of self-love and self-pity. And in this time of spiritual harvest, we move closer to the Divine and our healthy colors are brilliant and vibrant.

 
Forgetting to put God first in all things brings darkness over our souls and we begin our decent into the drab colorless season 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. This redness occurs if I am hustling about doing tasks or if I am experiencing anger with my fellow man. As far as my health is concerned, I am getting older but I do not make time to stay in shape and I do not always take into consideration the nutritional foods that I eat. 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 me! I fail to exercise my soul as I forget my salvation. 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 than wasting my life away on electronic entertainment I would be better prepared for the next life and the judgment in which all my deeds will 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 growth springing our souls to be more like God, finding our salvific nutrients in the deep fertile soil of Orthodoxy and becoming more vibrant in the Holy Sacraments of the church. Less of me, More of Him!

 
Fr. Gabriel Weller 11-5-17