Our laziness and misplaced priorities regarding the Sunday and holy day services, keep us from our obligations to God, and endanger the soul, for in keeping ourselves away from God’s temple, we remain afar from the cure that comes from participating in the Divine Mysteries. Saint Gregory Palamas tells us that we “may remain uncured, suffering from unbelief in your soul because of deeds or words, and failing to approach Christ’s surgery to receive… holy healing”.
The Old Testament God was revealed to us by Christ Jesus. Prior to the incarnation of the Logos, God’s people were forbidden to make any image of Him, for no one had seen His face. Yet when Christ said to His disciples, “he who has seen Me has seen the Father”, the fullness of this loving God was revealed to His creation.
Some time ago I was listening to one of the last songs recorded by Johnny Cash, probably the best country western singer of all time. The line in his song, “put me in my box on the 309”, is coming from a man who was facing his own imminent death. With the loss of his beloved wife, June Carter Cash still heavy on his heart, Johnny was ready to go to God.
It is good to remember that in Orthodox teaching, heaven and hell are not about places, but about relationships. God is everywhere, and He did not create a heaven for some, and a hell for others. We choose how we will experience the presence of God in the afterlife. God can not be absent from anywhere, and those who have chosen, in this life, to ignore God, will, nevertheless, be in His presence for all of eternity.
How easy it is to worship with all piety and correctness while standing in a service within an Orthodox temple, yet make no effort to live Orthodoxy during the rest of our week. If we are abusive towards our spouse, abrasive with a coworker, and short tempered with a neighbor, all the piety and liturgical correctness of our Sunday morning is of no value.
A way to understand carrying the Cross is ‘maturity.’ When we are young, existence throws many burdens on our shoulders: our minds, our bodies, our families, our societies, etc. The world is mystifying and hard, yet as we get older we look back at the ‘stress’ of youth and laugh. Why? It is because we see the pettiness of youthful worries, and realize that there were much bigger causes for concern that we were blissfully unaware of.
– O Lord, I am no one. Just a blind beggar in the outer court. I have no eyes to see, I have no wealth by which to live. I am forgotten and despised by men. Have mercy on me. Illumine my eyes, O never setting Light of the world.
Restore in me the inner eye of the soul, which I have lost through sin and death.
And the hand of God took earth and mixed it with His saliva and made clay. He breathed into it His Life and anointed me with earth and the moisture of His Grace. Go and wash in the waters of Life, the waters of the Him who was sent into the world by the Father, the Light of the world, the Living Water, the Great Siloam.
This video is based off of Fr. George Dragas’ article “The 8th Ecumenical Council: Constantinople IV (879/880) and the Condemnation of the Filioque Addition and Doctrine”
When we feel estranged from God it is a true sign we are in need of working more diligently on building up our faith. Faith is a gift from God that requires our cooperation and when we are feeling dry we must quickly turn our eyes to Christ, asking him to fill the void and quicken our belief. Our cooperative response begins when we commit to increasing our time in prayer, both corporate and in private. The corporate prayer of the Church brings us into contact with the Holy Mysteries, which in turn feeds our souls.
Foundational to Christian living is the remembrance of God. Remembrance while waking. Remembrance while at work. Remembrance while fulfilling the duties of life. Remembrance while going to sleep. The Christian must be cultivating the remembrance of God in all things. It need not be elaborate, the believer may offer this service in the inner chamber of the heart. He may offer it in solitude or while in the midst of a multitude.