The journey to God begins with the first step
The spiritual struggle that is required of us can not depend on our priest. The average parish priest carries the load as rector, preacher, councilor, confessor, teacher, CEO, and liturgical celebrant, and is often overwhelmed. Added to the above duties is the obligation a priest has to his wife and family, and he can often struggle with the potential for burnout. Is it any wonder so many priests get that glazed look on their faces when someone approaches with spiritual questions that would require more time than the average priest is able to give.
We want to dedicate our lives to God on a full-time basis, and the Church provides us with plenty of. opportunities for service, whether by serving in the altar, singing in the choir, teaching Sunday school, or serving on the parish council. These activities can often be the best way we can commit more of our time to living Orthodoxy in a way that is not limited to Sunday services. Orthodoxy is by nature a faith that demands full participation and deep commitment, for otherwise it would simply be just another religion, devoid of salvific, transformational power.
If Orthodoxy is to be something other than mere magic, with the priest as some sort of wizard who performs the right formulas, allowing us to feel we’ve done all that is needed, our Orthodoxy will have failed us. Do we read the daily prescribed scripture readings? Do the lives of the saints impact our lives, because we read about them? Are we holding up the Orthodox standard in our public life, or do we allow ourselves to be lost in the crowd, dismissing our obligations to God during the week? Are we holding up the Orthodox standard in our public life, or do we allow ourselves to be lost in the crowd, dismissing our obligations to God during the week? Our faith demands our personal commitment, and we will be on the losing end if we expect our priest to do all the work.
We need to prepare ourselves for the Saturday night confession by taking note of our sins during the week, and being ready to be accountable before God, with the priest as our witness. We dare not allow our pride to keep us from disclosing our sins in confession, or we doom ourselves to mediocrity, and will see no spiritual growth whatsoever. If we feel we need not challenge ourselves to a deeper walk with Christ, we cheat both God and ourselves.
The spiritual life is an adventure, one full of pitfalls AND great heights. If we make this journey the prime reason for living, the reward will be great. If we operate with the faith placed in a secondary roll, we will end our lives as losers, having lost the battle and the reward. The road to paradise must begin with a commitment to make this journey our main priority. This journey begins with that first step. Christ stands with us, ready to lift us up when we fall, and even pull us along when we grow fainthearted.
With love in Christ,
Wednesday February 4, 2015 / January 22, 2015
Week of the Publican and the Pharisee. Tone one.
Fast-free Week. Fast-free
Apostle Timothy of the Seventy (ca. 96).
Monk-martyr Anastasius the Persian (628).
Venerable Macarius, abbot of Zhabyn (1623).
New Hieromartyrs John, Nicholas, Jacob, Peter, John, John, John and Euthymius priest (1938).
Martyr Anastasius the Deacon of the Kiev Caves (12th c.).
Martyrs Manuel, George, Peter, Leontius, bishops; Sionius, Gabriel, John, Leontus, Parodus, presbyters; and 377 companions in Bulgaria (814).
St. Joseph Samakus the Sanctified of Crete (1511) (Greek).
St. Brithwald of Wilton (1045) (Celtic & British).
St. Wendreda, virgin of March.
Scripture Readings for the Day:
2 Peter 3:1-18
God’s Promise Is Not Slack
3 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
The Day of the Lord
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
The Coming of the Son of Man
24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; 25 the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.
The Parable of the Fig Tree
28 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near—at the doors! 30 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.