God’s Revelation

This week we review the understanding of revelation and I suggest two reasons for God’s revealing. The first is to save us from sin and to end the enmity between God/Man and Man/Man. The second to lead us into the unapproachable light of the Father. This the Abyss of the Father, as the Fathers call it, is the place that we find not only the creator of all the universe, but we are able to find the fullness of our own self.

Let Us Sin No More

Preparation: Take a few minutes and begin with the typical prayers found here.

Scripture: 1 Jn 1:8-2:6

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

Now by this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey his commandments. Whoever says, “I have come to know him,” but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says, “I abide in him,” ought to walk just as he walked.

Reflection:

How can we understand these things that St. John urges for us? If we go to many different churches, they may have a specific understanding, but for us as Eastern Catholic Christians, we have been given the voice of the very high God through His Church. Let’s first turn to the Catechism to understand sin.

In Passage 757 of the Ukrainian Catechism we are given the light of understanding that Sin is “a distortion of the divine image in the human person.” It goes on to lay out that we are in need of healing and that Christ is the divine physician to our soul. Furthermore, in passage 756 it states that two effects take place from sin: Alienation from neighbor and more importantly separation from God. Furthermore, because of the weakening of the participation in authentic human freedom caused by sin, man has gained for himself a tendency towards sin that must be overcome and healed effectively.

In order to do this, we must find ourselves at the mercy of Christ Jesus and the picking up of the cross of Christ. St. Symeon the New Theologian provides us with effective teaching on the subject. The ultimate goal of our human life is to overcome the logismoi, the tempting thoughts which lead us to sin against God. In order to do this, we must attend the Mystery of Repentance avidly and with great joy. It is here that we will find the medicine to our sin, just as we go to the doctor, the divine physician meets us in the confessional to become for us the healer of our souls. The blessed theologian tells us that we must have obedience to a spiritual father, or abbot, that we may learn from and receive the healing of the physician through the confessional. Many of us have a primary care physician in our secular lives, but do you have a primary confessing priest in your daily life? St. John urges us to understand that we have this tendency towards sin, but that should we confess our sins and ask for God’s forgiveness, he will heal our souls. This is important to understand in the spiritual life, for if we hope to be saved and healed of our iniquities, we must constantly participate within the medicine of Christ that we call the sacraments.

Challenge: For many of us it is difficult to find other Eastern priests, but as Catholics we can go to any priest. Find a priest that you life and have a good relationship with. Set up an appointment and ask him to help you overcome the tempting thoughts that lead you to sin.

The God who Didn’t Care

That title sounds scandalous… that’s what you might think if you were to read that title outside of the context of today’s reading. In the Epistle today, St. James urges us to show no partiality. Why should we do this? Primarily because God shows no partiality. For our Lord, it does not matter if a man is rich, or poor, but we must remember that it is the poor who are the heirs of the kingdom of God. When we see the poor enter into our churches, we should give him the finest of clothes, feed him, wash his feet and welcome him because he is an heir of heaven. How much do we do this for our poor and homeless? The answer is not much. Yet, St. James likes to show us that the man who seeks the rich man’s money and partiality, will find that he will be judged to the fullest extent of the law.

In this St. James points towards the royal law and in particular the law of liberty which is the second commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (see James 2:8). St. James points out that showing partiality is against God and neighbor because you have belittled the dignity of the person, who is in the image and likeness of God. This partiality gives rise that judgement is one that can be done without consequence, but the royal law forbids this. St. James reminds us that we are to treat all persons as equal, the poor and the rich. They are all poor sinners called to conversion of heart. We therefore must enter into the life of Christ so that we may ask God our forgiveness, because we do this all the time without knowing, or realizing. How many times have you looked upon a homeless person and refused to look at him, or to give him attention, but rather return to your office and make small talk with your boss for that nice promotion? Have you greeted one customer as a worthy patron, but greeted another with no interest at all? These are all partiality and are against the royal law and the law of liberty.

Let our challenge then be that we turn our hearts to Christ and beg his forgiveness. The final verses remind us “Mercy triumphs over Judgement” and Christ’s words “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy” (Mt. 5:7) ring true in our ears. So let us pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us” and show mercy and non-partiality to all people, that we may obtain the mercy of Christ our savior.

Support our Seminarian Program

Dear Brothers and Sisters of Jesus Christ,

I implore you today to ask the question of if seminarians, and their priestly discernment, are important to you in your everyday life and your spiritual life? With married men having the availability to become priests, it is even more important to discern your call in helping men discern without the problems that may arise. I implore you to think about making a donation to help these seminarians who face many obstacles in their priestly discernment because they are married and hearing the call of God.

Many times we say, “well if God calls them he will provide a way”, but we must remember that he provides a way by placing the desire on the Church’s heart to support these seminarians with their time, talent and treasure. This is what I implore of you today. Not only do we have married seminarians, but we also have married seminarians with debt from previous degree programs. This year, please consider giving back to our seminarians as they seek to answer Christ’s call on their lives.

Thank you for your attention and time, may God give you the grace to freely give your heart to this matter in Christ’s holy name.

In Christ,

Mr. Adam Cook
President
Adam Cook Ministries

Listen First, then Speak

Today’s epistle is very important in following the path of Christ. It teaches us the three fold path: “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” In our modern society, we seem to dismiss this type of teaching. Yet, I find that it is one of the most important things we can do. When we approach an issue, we must be slow to speak about how to address the issue. The concept of sacred silence is very important within our Christian lives, and even more so amongst the native spirituality. As a lay dominican, this has even more profound meaning. Silence is necessary in our study and is integral to the spirituality of learning. It teaches me that we must be silent to understand, to grasp, and to debate.

Yet, we need to ask the question of how is silence addressed within the confines of this subject? While it is impossible to limit the thoughts that we receive, it is enough to suppress thoughts that come at us. The catechism Christ our Pascha art. 753 states, “Being attentive to the heart is first and foremost dismissing evil thoughts and guarding the heart with sensitivity.” This means that we must protect ourselves by keeping the shield of faith active at all times. This shield that we have in our tradition is the Jesus Prayer. In this our activity is to silence all thoughts by focusing on the prayer itself and our breathing of the prayer. Through this we become the fertile ground in meekness to receive the word of God in our hearts. Yet, this silence is not just to brindle the tongue of our mouth, but rather to also brindle the tongue of our minds so that we may enter into the divine silence and learn to be “hearers of the word” and then doers by visiting, “orphans and widows in their trouble and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27).

Through this we are able to enter into the paschal mystery and become more and more like the icon of Christ himself. May the prayers of our holy fathers protect us and save us!

Beauty: The true measurement of Truth

Truth, Beauty and Goodness are three philosophical principles which stand as the greatest measuring tool to understanding. In times past, philosophers , and even scientists, have tried to define these three in different ways, yet nothing can quite explain their phenomenon but by their own internal unity. Beauty is seen in that which is Good, and that which is Good is found to be the Truth, which in turn reveals objective Beauty.

We see something similar in our Christian faith, we see Christ. Our Savior teaches us that “Only God is Good” (Mt 19:17). This is very important to understand because when we consider this measuring tool we are able to come to some deep conclusions. If God is Good then he must be Truth and he must be Beauty. At which point we can only look to creation to see how beautiful God must be, how awesome the incomprehensible God. For we see the mountain ranges of the Blue Ridge, the lakes of the Midwest and the great mountains and trees of the West and we can clearly see, that the hand that painted this picture must truly be awesome and beautiful.

When we come to Truth, people all want to have their own truth. Yet, a subjective truth is not truth but perception. Truth by its very nature has no contraries and is in harmony with all things. Here we speak of objective truth, this is the truth of Christ. Christ says “I am the way, the truth, the life” (John 14:6). Here he is not talking of a subjective truth of himself, but he declares for us that he is the objective truth of reality. Therefore, wherever we find beauty, and goodness, objective truth is there and he is as well.

In my Catholic faith, such beauty is found in so many places, but it is found only in one place in its objective form, the Eucharist. Only the Catholic faith has the teaching that the substance of the bread and wine becomes Jesus Christ. This is not a relative or subjective truth, it is not opinion. Even if you do not believe it does not stop the reality of what is, that the bread and wine ARE Jesus Christ on the altar, here to bring to us eternal life. We can read this from St Paul in the first letter to the Corinthians. The beauty of the mass, the traditions around the Eucharist, the prayers, the people who gather daily to partake and adore, are witnesses to this reality, that this is Jesus Christ, whole and entire.

If you struggle with this teaching, ask God for his grace to understand. Do not be the disciple who walked away after Jesus’s discourse in John 6, but rather be like unto Peter who said, “where would we go, Lord?You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68). I challenge you to find a Deacon or Priest of the Church and speak to him about these things and seek understanding through the beauty of Christ in the Eucharist.