An Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree

We’ve all heard the phrase “a nut doesn’t fall far from the tree” or “an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”! I guess you chose which cliché you want depending on if you are dealing with fruits or nuts! This truism means that we often see the fallen-apples-in-grass-112940814212gpsame behaviors and choices in our children as in choices we have made in the past. We have all heard; you’re just like your Father or your Mother because in some way, we remind folks of our parents. Although some fruits and nuts to tend to roll downhill from the tree!
We humans tend to also mimic behaviors of those folks we spend time with. As we socialize, we try to fit in with family, friends and coworkers by our choices and our demeanor. We hear in the Gospel reading today: “All things were delivered to Me by My Father. And no one doth fully know the Son, except the Father; nor doth anyone fully know the Father, except the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son is willing to reveal Him. [Mt. 11:27] Through Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit, we come to know the Father.

 
Coming into the Orthodox Church way to far west of reality, it has been a struggle to reprogram my understanding of God, the Father. We all know the scriptures about the suffering Job was allowed to endure. And let us not forget about Noah and the flood and then the purging of Sodom and Gomorrah. So, is God a parallel to us all being in basic training with God being a punishing Marine Sergeant wanting to kick us out of boot camp?

 
In today’s Gospel reading we hear a contradiction to that western image of God: “And no one doth fully know the Son, except the Father; nor doth anyone fully know the Father, except the Son.” The Father had delivered into Christ’s hands all power, authority, and judgment. God took the form of man to show us how to love each other and how to love our Father. By His actions and His demeanor, mankind with their very own eyes could witness the fruit of God the Father.

 
By this example, we all can become more like our heavenly Father! And Orthodoxy has made for us all a formula with tools to help us become more like Christ. Just as an infant must develop into an adult, we Christians must also mature in our life struggle to choose Him instead of the death the world has to offer.

 
I pray that one day folks will see in us a likeness of God by our choices and actions. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful statement for us if we heard someone comparing us to the examples of Jesus? So, at the foot of the cross, the tree of ever-lasting life, which one are you, a fruit or a nut?

 
Fr. Gabriel Weller 12-6-15

Cheese Quest

CheeseAssortment1When we would come to visit family here in the Valley, we never went home without a trip to the cheese shop. My Mom is a huge lover of cheese and she would sample all the different flavors that were for sale. She could identify the different types of cheese from across the room by its color and appearance and then confirm the identity by its aroma. Sampling for taste was unnecessary but she would indulge herself anyway, after all, my Mom loves cheese. 
Cheese is a food derived from milk that is produced in a wide range of flavors and textures. It contains proteins and fat, and is usually made from the milk of cows, buffalo, goats, or sheep. Cheese contains: Vitamin A, Calcium, Iron, Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, and Magnesium which are necessary vitamins and nutrients for our health.

We Orthodox enjoy cheese as well, but maybe not as much as my mother. However during our fasting times, we abstain from consuming this animal by-product. We fast in order to gain control of those things that we have allowed to get out of control. This practice is a discipline of the body. Any time something is limited in its freedoms, it becomes subject to whatever force is limiting it. So, when I make my body do what I need instead of what it wants, I become its master. In other words, if I tell my feet to walk and where to go, or if I tell my hands to work and what to do, or if I tell my brain to solve a problem and which one—I gain control over this incredible gift of God called my body. Our fasting must be undertaken willingly and not by compulsion. After all, God doesn’t need our fasting. And as the Apostle Matthew wrote: “And whenever ye are fasting, cease being as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance; for they artificially disfigure their faces”. [Mt. 6:16]

Earlier this week, we heard at bible study: “For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy” (Lev 11:44). We, whom love God, should want to imitate Him! There is a process to be holy, we call this discipline Theosis. It is man’s union with God, wherein we take part in the uncreated energies of the Trinity. We do not become what God is in his essence, but we are invited to participate in his energies. This is the purpose and goal for which we were created. Theosis can only be attained in Christ, through the working of the Holy Spirit, as we freely cooperate with the Father’s unmerited grace. The nutritional path to Theosis involves participation in the sacraments, involvement in the ascetic struggle, and concludes in the vision of the uncreated light of God.

The Orthodox faith exists to help us find our way to holiness. Just as Swiss cheese can be identified by its holes, may we too be identified as holy by our choices in life, our aroma of love and in our taste of humbleness!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 11-8 15

FISH BAIT

Do you like to go fishing? Have you ever been fishing all day without catching anything? Everybody knows the old slogan “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work!” When I was a boy, during the summer break from school, Mom would gather up us kids and take us to Grandma’s and Granddad’s for the summer. They had a farm with plenty of fresh air. Now Grandma struggled trying to keep me occupied with something to do. I enjoyed taking things apart and trying to put them back together again, usually with fewer working parts, so she found it best to keep me within eyesight! Grandma Hazel loved the outdoors. She had a garden as big as this church’s parking lot. I am not exaggerating because I knew it well. You see, us kids didn’t have Sponge Bob, text-messaging or Nintendo games to occupy our time with. We snapped beans, shucked corn and pulled weeds. So I knew the garden well!

 
About once a week, after all the farm-hands had been fed their lunch, Grandma Hazel would take us kids fishing. She would put on her wide-brimmed gardening hat, and cut some willow branches from the old tree. She would take a thick black piece of thread and tie it to the willow pole and attach a hook. Grandma kept her hooks in an old baby food jar in a drawer in the kitchen. She would then get a can and a shovel and take us kids out to the compost pile to collect the bait. Fish aren’t stupid; you have got to have good bait! So we only gathered the wiggly worms with a lot of life in them!

 
Young-Boy-Fishing_artOnce we gathered all the necessary items, down to the pond we went, making our way through the gates and barnyard to the big pond. We always caught fish. Grandma had stocked sun perch in her pond and they were thick as flies at a picnic. I always liked to see how many fish I could catch using the same piece of live bait! I discovered that the worms that wiggled more caught more fish! We would release the fish we caught back into the pond except for the ones that were injured; we would feed them to the cats. Farm cats aren’t fancy and they knew a good meal when they saw one!

 
Grandma was wise. She knew she needed a pole, some line, a hook and some bait to catch fish. But she also knew that she had to go to where the fish were. There were no fish in the creek or the small pond. And so it is with Orthodoxy, we need to be amongst the people! “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. “ [Mt. 28:19]

 
The Church has given us the tools we need to catch fish! Our fishing pole is the wisdom of the Holy Scriptures and the guidance of the Holy Fathers. Our fishing line is the lives of the Saints, the order of our church services and the life that we practice in Orthodoxy! Everybody probably can guess what we use for a hook. It is the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ! Now that just leaves the bait, everyone look in the mirror; you are the bait!

 
How do we become good bait? Saint Maximos the Confessor said: “The one who loves Christ thoroughly imitates Him as much as he can.” We must embrace the Orthodox Church fully in all that it has to offer. After all, after 2000 years, Orthodoxy is still vibrant and its teachings are unending and relevant. We just need to make our faith our number one priority in our lives. God first!

 
We need to become the bait that Christ would want dangling from his hook in the waters of life. Quit hiding behind excuses! Jesus said to Simon, “Cease being afraid; from henceforth thou shalt be taking men alive.” [Luke 5:10] Don’t you know that you belong to the team THAT CAN!! Grasp a hold of all that Orthodoxy has to offer, Cling onto Jesus, and jump into the water and be vibrant. We have all been called and we are all needed! Don’t become a piece of dried up smelly bait left behind in the compost pile of life, CATCH FISH!
Glory to Thee, O Lord; Glory to Thee!

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 10-11-15

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Sometime before the wooden cross was erected, by the deceit of the devil, man was exiled from the garden. It was in the garden that man dared to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge. Through the fruit of the wood, the Devil subjected us to exile, and through the wood of the cross we were nourished and the Most-High King declared us heirs to his kingdom and freed us from the bondage of sin.
And in ancient times, it was on a piece of wood that Moses lifted up the serpent of bronze when the Lord commanded the people to look upon it and be healed (Numbers 21:4-9). In doing so, Moses gave us a sign to remember when the one true cross would come and heal us of our brokenness; it is a sign that the Lord has promised never to abandon us if we place our trust in Him.
Moses also recounts in Genesis the instructions to Noah: “Make thee an ark of gopher wood.” By following our Lord’s instructions very vigilantly, wood was used to build an ark and sustain mankind from the deep turbulent waters of sin and death.
I have always had a fascination with wood. I have watched since my eyes were opened the use of wood in the construction of furniture, homes, fences, and barns. At an earlbent-naily age, I was given a hammer and some nails and instructed to practice hitting the nail on the head with only the head of the hammer. Of course granddad gave me 10 penny spiral nails to practice with that were hard to bend. And he was wise enough to give me a hammer with a fiberglass handle which was resistant to splitting when I missed the nail head and struck the nail with the hammers’ handle.
I have also spent time in the old barns studying how the huge wooden beams were joined together and attached with wooden pegs. They look strong and more than able to carry the enormous amount of weight from the lofts full of hay and the dead weight of the snow as it gathers in the winter months!
However, those huge beams holding the barn and its’ heavy load are merely toothpicks when compared to the wood of the ancient cross. Of course, the barn beams are more massive in girth and length but you see, the wood of the Holy Cross sustains an enormous amount of weight! Upon our wooden cross rests the weight of all humanities sins.
Just as my Grandfather knew I would on occasion miss the mark and jamb the hammer handle onto the nail head, our Father knows that we too will miss the mark of perfection and through His bountiful love, we can be renewed by means of the Holy Cross. “O taste and see that the Lord is good.”(Psalm 34:8)

Fr. Gabriel Weller 9-27-15

I OWE, I OWE, IT”S OFF TO WORK I GO!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAInto this world I was born free from debt and when I leave this scorched earth, my debt will cease or in other words, you can’t get blood from a turnip! Now rest assured, as long as I continue to pay my life insurance policies my estate should be settled and my financial debt will be put to rest. But there sure seems to be a lot of “ifs” in life!

I am sure that when I left the hospital in a swaddling diaper there was money owed for my entrance into this world but this was not my debt but that of my parents. But after sometime on this earth I have accumulated debt and the amount owed is increasing every day and with every breath I take. After all, there is a tax burden and a cost to exist, so is death the only thing that will free me from servitude?

There was time in my life when I was overwhelmed with debt. But this particular debt was not the normal monetary type of liability but an even heavier burden that reached far beyond the tomb. I am indebted to others for my sinfulness and I am indebted to God for paying my debt at the cross with love. This debt I preserve in my heart and it makes my heart like an Oreo cookie, it is hard on the outside and soft and yummy in the middle! The outer layer is hardened and frightened and yet by the mercy of God, the inside is soft and slowly moistening the outer calloused layers. It takes a little work to get to the soft center but there is a great reward waiting there.

To be free from debt or blessed by a debt means that we must fully free those whom have harmed us and embrace the image of God that at times is hidden in them and at times is hidden in each and every one of us! Our blessing from God is achieved when we realize that we must forgive in order to be forgiven. The hard layer of our heart must subside and allow the soft creamy yummy part, oozing with love, to embrace others.

If we do not forgive our neighbors and family, our debt builds and increases with every breath we take and the outer shell of our heart grows hard and callus. Carrying this bad-debt is an emotional burden and sin and it only separates us from the loving embrace of Christ. “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not everyone his brother their trespasses.”(Matt 23:35)

Yes, we have all been hurt and mistreated and there is only one excuse for this abuse, it is called sin! And each and every one of us has this sinful ingredient within and each and every one of us must combat these temptations and not allow ourselves to seek comfort on the island of seclusion, where there is no one else to love. We must die to our selfishness to eliminate our debt.

We owe God a debt of love and we owe everyone else that same debt. Since we too have not reached perfection, we must pray that God will forgive them for they know not what they do, and to work daily on freeing ourselves from the enormous yoke of our own sinfulness and pride. And as we remember the love that Christ demonstrated in His short time here on the sands of the earth, we need to chip away at our outer harsh shell and share the soft delicious center with others! I owe, I owe, it’s off to work I go!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 8/16/15

Pentecost

white water raftingI have always had a great respect for water. It started at an early age for me at the Boys Club in Norfolk where I was abandoned in the indoor pool in an effort to teach me how to swim. And then about that same time I witnessed Hurricane Camille and Agnes as they swept ashore in Tidewater with their flooding waters and fierce winds, and then even more recently I experienced the great forces of water as I helplessly tumbled around in a hydraulic on a white water rafting trip on the gorge on the New River in West Virginia. Water is a mighty and powerful creation!
We here today on the feast of Pentecost many references to water, “If anyone thirst, let him come to Me and drink” [Jn. 7:37] and “rivers of living water shall flow out of his belly” [Jn. 7:38]. Water is a very universal part of our faith! We are all baptized in water; we consume water with the Blood of Christ, and throughout the year we are sprinkled with water and our homes are even blessed with water. Water is a very important element not only in our worship of a loving God but also in our very earthly existence.
Water is such an important necessity of our lives. Our body is made up of 60% water and our body uses it to regulate our temperature, cushion our brain, spinal cord and fetuses from shock trauma and water helps keep our joints moving. Water is vital to our existence and scientist say that we can only live 3 days without it.
But we cannot live without Living Water as well. The Holy Spirit is our living water. “But whosoever drinketh of the water which I shall give him in no wise shall ever thirst. But the water which I shall give him shall become in him a fountain of water springing into eternal life.” [Jn. 4:14] Our Lord chose to use water as an image because we cannot exist without it. And you see, without the Holy Spirit, we can exist on this earth but not in eternity! We will not live a life in abundance without the outpouring of love flowing from a heart that is full of the Holy Spirit and a life without God is not truly living but merely temporarily existing.
We receive the gift of the Holy Spirit after our Baptism after we put on Christ at our Chrismation. Our forehead is marked signifying the sanctification of the mind and thoughts. The anointing of our chest signifies the sanctification of the heart, or desires. The anointing of our eyes, ears, and lips signifies the sanctification of the senses. The anointing of our hands and feet seals their sanctification to good works and walking in the way of His commandments. We were given all that is necessary to conquer the demon!
May mighty and powerful rivers of living water gush forth from your belly like a white water rapid helplessly entangling everyone you meet in the apostolic fishing net of Divine love!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 5-31-15

The Invisible Man

We recount the story today of Christ healing the blind man. I can only imagine that once the man’s vision was restored, the explosion of beauty must have overwhelmed him, adding another dimension to everything he encountered!
Having lived my life with vision, I struggle trying to fully comprehend what living with blindness is really like. All of my senses work together in everything I stumble upon and if my eyes fail me, I will have to learn how to adapt. Things would now be invisible to me, although I may here a noise or inhale a fragrance that could help me identify who or what I am cautiously approaching!

 
But there are some ways I am already practicing blindness. For instance, I choose to turn my head and ignore my own sinful habits. I choose to rot in the world and all it has to offer instead of sharpening my eyesight in the depths of spiritual fruit. I choose to be invisible to someone in need and focus straight ahead on my own greed. I choose to hide my sins instead of exposing them to the Healers touch.

 

invisible-manAt times in life, I have wished I could be invisible, just like the invisible man. Everybody would not be able to see me and I could hide from a situation or avoid a reprimand for my actions. Of course, I would never choose to be invisible around dinner time!

 
It is certainly a blessing to be able to use our eyesight but we also must be alert and not let our eyes seek unholy things. “The lamp of the body is the eye. Whenever, therefore, thine eye is sound, thy whole body also is full of light; but whenever it is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.” (Luke 11:34) Since all our shortcomings are visible to our Lord, He holds us accountable! May the One who gives us vision intensify in us the quest for holiness and all its’ splendor!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 5\17\15

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), were obedient to the observance of the Jewish Sabbath and waited until the following sunrise 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. JoannHoly Myrrhbearersa, who was the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza. Yet the Evangelist Mark tells us they purchased large amounts of expensive myrrh, ointments, and perfumes with which to anoint the body of our Lord. These humble servants sacrificed the little they had saved up for their own families for ‘a rainy day’ because they realized they could not put a value on God’s love. Christ’s 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 world were walled for good reason – the territory outside the walls were 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 the women 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 who profess our faith in Christ, do we also possess the fearless, trusting, unhesitating faith of the Holy Myrrhbearers? Too often, despite our initial good intentions, we allow ourselves to be discouraged 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 offer ourselves to others, out of love for Christ. We fear the DANGER of living as Christians – it always seems so much easier to maintain the status quo, and so much safer to keep doing the same old things the same old ways, even if it means passing up the opportunities to make Christ manifest in our little corner of the world. We fear looking FOOLISH by living as Christians, in a world of avoidance and compromise that holds values and priorities that too often are very different from the Gospel. Church, take your Orthodox fragrance out into the world and anoint the living Body of Christ!!!
And Pray to God for us, Holy Myrrhbearers!

“X” MARKS THE SPOT

old treasure map

As a young lad, I had quite the imagination. Being influenced by stories about “Huckleberry Fin”, “Peter Pan” and “Treasure Island”, you might find me looking for treasure maps and digging holes in the back yard. Although, I think our dog was usually blamed for the holes in my empty searches. But I could easily imagine how my life could be so much greater if I could only uncover the hidden treasure buried somewhere beneath the earth in my numerous searches. And I still today occasionally ponder about all the gold and jewels that were hidden by the pirates and has that plunder been accounted for? I have a shovel; does anybody have a treasure map?

Today I want to speak about a different kind of fortune. It is a treasure from God. It is the story about how our Creator loves us so much, that he sent his Son to show us how we should love by his actions, and then showed us how much our Father loves us by his Son’s death! It is so hard to comprehend that kind of love when our love for each other is so corrupted by vainglory, anger and pride.

Since the fall of Adam, mankind has perfected deception, self-love, sexual perversion in many shades of grey, and hate for all God’s creation. How can a vessel that was created by the very hand of God become so worthless? It is simply by our choice, for it is much easier to be carried down-stream by the flooding rivers of this fallen world than to cling to the olive branch of hope and fight the mighty currents of our perverted humanity.    

We must cling to the mighty words of wisdom found in the arsenal of Orthodoxy. When anger and resentment take root in us, we can look to our great Desert Father, Abba Dorotheus, who says that we can be healed of the sickness of resentment “by prayer right from the heart for the one who has annoyed us. We can pray such words as, ‘O God, help my brother, and me through his prayers.’ In this,” says Abba Dorotheus, “we are interceding for our brother, which is a sure sign of sympathy and love, and we are humiliating ourselves by asking help through our brother’s prayers. [7]”

We alone can only make these changes by seeking assistance from above. And we can find help in these times of fasting as we voluntarily make small sacrifices and spend more time seeking God. By removing ourselves a little bit more from the world, we can spend more time in reflection and prayer, asking forgiveness for the many short-comings we have and “bearing with one another, and graciously forgiving one another,” (Eph 4:32) just as Jesus bore our sins on the wood of the Holy Cross.

St. John of Kronstadt wrote:“Glory, O Lord, to the power of Thy Cross, which never fails! When the enemy oppresses me with a sinful thought or feeling, and I, lacking freedom in my heart, make the sign of the Cross several times with faith, suddenly my sin falls away from me, the compulsion vanishes, and I find myself free… For the faithful, the Cross is a mighty power which delivers from all evils.

Here, on the Cross of Christ lays your life preserver. When the muddy waters of life are consuming you, reach for the Cross. The Cross bears our life-blood. All our passions can be cleansed away at the Precious and Life-Giving Cross. Saint Irenæos wrote: “He destroyed the handwriting of our debt and fastened it to the Cross, so that as by means of a tree we were made debtors to God, so also by means of a tree we may obtain the remission of our debt.”

Fellow treasure hunters, my youthful exploration for hidden treasure has finally come to fruition.  I have followed all the clues and finally found my riches! The precious fortune that I have discovered will not perish and will not waiver in the plunging markets of life. “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]  I have found my treasure, and the “X” of the Cross marks the spot! Glory to Thee; Oh Lord, Glory to Thee!

Fr. Gabriel Weller 3-15-15

Sin- Smorgishboard

buffetI am overweight. My physical body has ingested too many carbs, too many complex sugars, and too many deserts! The only exercise I am getting is pushing the buttons on the remote control and turning the steering wheel to the right and left! I seem to only find time for my definition of survival in this world. But worse than that, I am suffering from another weight problem that is different than my love-handles! I am weighted down with sin!

It only makes sense if you recognize that my failure to maintain my body as a temple carries over to my failure for my mind to pursue holiness! I am glad that I am an Orthodox in progress! Years ago when I entered the Holy Church, I could not fast! My body convinced me that it could not live without Wendy’s or steak, and eggs, and bacon and…. My sugar level would swing and my grumpy face would overcome my ability to smile and my ability to appreciate God’s creation! Now during the fast, peanut butter and jelly becomes a tiresome norm for lunch and snack and trail-mix packed full of nuts and berries remedies my body’s dips in energy. The fast creates a change in diet but if we prepare, we can be successful. But is also important to recognize that our bodies all have chemical differences and some may need to choose other areas of their lives to fast from. Apostle Paul echoes this in his letter to the church in Rome in chapter 14 verses 1-4: Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.  For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables.  Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him.  Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

I love to unwind by playing computer games. During the fast, I refrain from the computer games. And they’re other areas of your lives that you can make a conscience decision to abstain from. It is important for us to reshape our behaviors during fasting times. Calling on our minds to make conscience decisions to do without, strengthens our ability to consciously say no to sin! Sin is heavy baggage that prevents us from reaping all of God’s rewards!

St Theophan the Recluse says: (The Path to Salvation, pg 129)  “that our soul is covered with layers of habits and inclinations that imprison a person in sin. The first layer is self-deception, insensitivity, and carelessness. This is the layer that blinds a person to the danger of his condition and reduces his will from wanting to change. The outer layer consists of instruments that magnify and support our sinful condition. This layer consists of absent-mindedness and much-caring and worry. The body burdens the soul with scattered thoughts and concerns. So we must apply ascetic practices such as restricting indulgences, decreasing the usual amount of food, or lengthening our time in vigil or prayer”.

Now remember, not all are called to be monastic, I repeat, we are not all called to be monastic, but we are all called to overcome our sinful fallen nature and this requires re-training our mind and body to seek first the Kingdom of Heaven. The saints did not reach sainthood overnight so we too must be patient and yet diligent as we surrender our will and become stronger in the faith.

But know thou this, that in the last days difficult times shall set in; for men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, incontinent, savage, not lovers of the good, traitors, reckless, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of piety, but denying the power of it. Turn thyself away from these. [2 Tim. 3:1-5]

As Oliver Cle’ment wrote in his book titled The Roots of Christian Mysticism: “The purpose of ascesis (effort/exercise) is thus to divest oneself of surplus weight, of spiritual fat. It is to dissolve in the waters of baptism, in the water of tears, all the hardness of the heart, so that it may become an antenna of infinite sensitivity, infinitely vulnerable to the beauty of the world and to its sufferings of human beings, and to God who is love, and who has conquered by the wood of the cross.” Let us take this upcoming fasting time to reshape our priorities and reconnect with the Orthodox weight loss program.

 

Fr. Gabriel Weller 6-2009