A MESSAGE FROM FATHER LOU
My sisters, brother and I had the good fortune of growing up in the same town as my paternal grandparents. For the first ten years of my life or so, our maternal grandfather also lived in Cheyenne until his passing. If there is one phrase that I remember, perhaps above all others from my Yiayia and Papous, it was “Proto o Theos”, literally “First God” or “As God Wills”. Sentences would go something like this: “I will see you next summer, Proto O Theos”, or “Proto o Theos we will go fishing Saturday” or “I will fix you macaroni kapama (an incredible Greek tomato and meat sauce), “Proto o Theos”. You see my grandparents really took nothing for granted and realized that everything from the simple and apparently mundane to the complex in life is dependent upon God. From my grandparents to my parents and now to my siblings, the phrase “God willing” is a part of our regular vocabulary.
Indeed this is a part of our Orthodox Cultures. This, however, is not the case in our American – even Western European cultures. Even Christianity has often been negatively influenced to the point where “God-willing” is looked at negatively rather than positively. Please read what Mother Raphaela, the Abbess of Holy Myrrhbearers OCA Monastery in upstate New York recently said in her address to the graduates of Saint Vladimir Seminary: “…But we have a culture, even a Church culture where the phrase “as God wills” signifies a negative, fatalistic approach to life and who in their right mind would try to find that for any future?” She goes on to challenge the seminary graduates to live a life in personal relationship with God, so that His will be slowly but continually intertwined with their will, as they live a life of intimate relationship with Him and through Him with others.
If God’s will is to become our will it requires a commitment to relationship in love to God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God’s will is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega. It is, however, not forced upon us. If God’s will is to become our will we must humbly choose to accept Him and then anything that He wills in our lives. “How we use this incredible portion of created time and space we call life, matters incredibly.” (Mother Raphaela, pg. 7) Our opportunity and responsibility is to use time and space – indeed our lives as opportunities for love, kindness, grace, forgiveness as reflections of the light of God’s glory in an alarmingly dark world.
As we enter the Fast Period of the Dormition of the Blessed Theotokos please join me in reflecting on God’s will in our daily lives. As we approach the end of the summer and the beginning of the New Ecclesiastical Year (September 1) please join me in a commitment of love to our Lord and God in Trinity and to one another. “Seek Ye first the Kingdom of God…” (Religious Ed. Theme for 2009-2010)
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Love of God the Father and the Communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
With our Lord’s blessings,
(Note: Quotations and references to Mother Raphaela are from Essay and Notes, Volume 15, No.1 Summer 2009, Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery, Otego, NY.)