Love Archive


A Message From Father Lou – Repentance is the daughter of hope and the denial of despair…


“Repentance is the daughter of hope and the denial of despair. It is not despondency but eager expectation. It is not self-hatred but the affirmation of my true self as made in God’s image. To repent is to look, not downward at my own shortcomings, but upward at God’s love; not backward with self-reproach, but forward with trustfulness. It is to see, not what I have failed to be, but what by the grace of Christ I can yet become.” (Saint John Climacus)
Our God is an awesome God full of grace, compassion mercy and love. We have once again come to that annual special time of repentance and the journey of Great Lent. The above quotation articulates so clearly the Orthodox perspective of repentance which is all too often misunderstood or misinterpreted. Repentance is hopeful and positive, focusing on God’s grace and love rather than despondent and negative focusing on our limitations and shortcomings. Repentance (metanoia) is about redirecting our attitude in life away from self sufficiency to God-dependency. It is about acknowledging our limitations and sins in honesty but looking upward with hope at God’s grace and love. Simply put, repentance (metanoia) helps us to redirect our focus of life to the one who gives us life – our Loving Lord.
Please join with Father Paul, Father Jimi, Deacon John and me in taking advantage of the tools afforded us by our Lord and His Church to assist us in redirecting our focus away from ourselves and to God. Let’s utilize the “Three Legged Table” of Great Lent” FASTING, PRAYER and ALMSGIVING. Fasting helps us to discipline ourselves and say “NO” to ourselves. Through Prayer we say “YES” to God through private and corporate worship in love. Through “ALMSGIVING we say “Yes” to God by loving “the least of His brothers and sisters” In short we redirect our focus from ourselves through fasting and to God and others through prayer and almsgiving.
Finally, take advantage of the Sacrament of Repentance (Confession). This Sacrament is central to our Orthodox life in Christ. It involves humility, honesty and a willful desire to submit more to God. It is a sacrament of healing with a confessor called a “physician of soul”. Sin is the ailment. Forgiveness is the care. Why not make a “spiritual” doctor appointment for confession this Great Lent? You and I need it. We need healing from the Great Physician of our souls and bodies through the ancient sacrament of His Church. May our Good and Merciful Lord be with you the reminder of this Lenten period. May we all have a blessed Holy Week and a glorious life-giving Paschal celebration.
With our Lord’s Blessings,
Fr. Lou


A Message From Father Lou – Orthopraxia “Love In Action”


On the eve of this past Theophany following the Blessing of Waters, I had an opportunity to fly to New Orleans, LA to participate in an IOCC Build in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity. I met my brother, Dan Christopulos, IOCC United States Country Representative and IOCC Senior Program Manager, Greg Manzuk, along with six seminarians from: Holy Cross Seminary (GOC); Saint Vladimir Seminary (OCA); Saint Herman Seminary (OCA); and Christ Our Savior Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Seminary. We proceeded to our build site near Slidell, LA, about 35 miles north of New Orleans near the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Habitat was building four small homes in a lower income area. Our team, along with two college building teams, were hosted by a local Lutheran congregation who, following Hurricane Katrina 10 years ago, have converted building space into sleeping quarters for Habitat building teams. IOCC has teamed up with Habitat for Humanity in dozens of these volunteer projects over the years, 11 of which have been in New Orleans and two near Loveland, CO, last summer following the floods in the Fall of 2013 (that many of our parishioners participated in). Habitat for Humanity depends on volunteer labor to build new or repair damaged homes. Lower income new home owners can qualify for 30 year no interest loans by fulfilling certain criteria including hundred of hours of sweat equity on their own house or another Habitat house and attending budgeting and finance classes. After working 3 ½ days on the houses, we visited the Ninth Ward in New Orleans where some 600 people lost their lives during Hurricane Katrina. Many of the houses destroyed have been repaired or rebuilt, however the devastation was still evident and many other homes or areas remain virtually untouched ten years later.
This experience was but one more example of “love in action” in fulfillment of the mission of International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). The annual IOCC Denver Metropolis Committee Fund raising dinner is just around the corner – Saturday, February 21 at the Assumption Cathedral. The event flier is included in this Kandili.
With Great Lent beginning this year on Clean Monday, February 23, and the three focuses of this beautiful period – Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving, please consider giving to IOCC as one of your almsgiving offerings’ of “love in action” – Ortho – praxia.
For more information about IOCC please visit Note: There are some summer internship slots available for young adults. If you are interested please visit:
With our Lord’s Blessings, Fr. Lou


A Message From Father Lou


The NFL season is nearing its end with playoffs and the Super Bowl just around the corner. The Broncos, God-willing will be in the mix again this year. Whether we are talking about the Super Bowl, the NBA finals, the Stanley Cup, the World Cup, the Olympics, or the World Series, athletics and athletes are a part of the fiber of our country, our society and the world.
Steroid scandals notwithstanding, athletes are heroes to millions of people worldwide. Their incredible physical feats are what legends are made of. We have to understand that a 430 ft. homerun in the bottom of the ninth inning, of the seventh game of the World Series is only part physical. The attitude of the player and his mental focus plays more of a role. I once had a coach that believed that a successful athlete had 10 percent talent and 90 percent fortitude. It is more what is inside a person that enables him or her to actualize heroic events in the extreme pressure of the moment.
Our lives are a contest of sorts, with the prize not being a Super Bowl ring, and Olympic gold medal or a multi-million dollar contract. Rather the prize is dwelling within God’s presence now and for all eternity. St. Clement of Alexandria addresses this topic:
“This is the true athlete – one who is crowned for having victory over all passions in the great stadium, the world. For he who directs the contest is the Almighty God, and He who awards the prize is the Only-begotten Son of God. Angels and demons are spectators. And the contest, containing all the different exercises, is ‘not against flesh and blood,’ but against the spiritual powers of unregulated passions that work through the flesh. Those who master these struggles and overthrow the tempter win eternal life.”
Eternal life — is that not our goal? Most athletes are at the top of their game or can expect to play their game for a decade or two. The real question is, how do they live their life off the playing field? Or, how do you or I live our lives in the “Great Stadium” of our home, our work, our school, our play, our life? Do we live now with the ‘fruit of the Spirit’, which is “… love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control?” (Galatians 5:22). St. Paul reminds us in these very verses; “… those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit, let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:24-26). How do we relate to others? Are we kind, forgiving, patient and loving? To do so is often a great challenge, a battle, a contest. To do so consistently is a great feat indeed, worthy of legend.
This new year of 2015, as the NFL Playoffs begin and as Super Bowl Sunday approaches with the best two teams and multi-million dollar T.V. commercial spots secured, make a commitment of your life to Christ. Commit to an ascetic and athletic struggle against the passions that challenge you. Remember that this is a contest of spiritual dimensions – not against people but against the powers of darkness. It is only by and with God’s Grace that we can be victors. Have a blessed New Year filled with God’s grace, strength and Divine Presence.
With His Blessings,
Father Lou


A Message From Father Lou – Humility and Childlikeness

Humility and Childlikeness

What does it mean to be a devout and committed Christian? What is at the very core of our approach to and relationship with God? Allow me to answer these questions with a quotation from our Lord. “At that time the disciples came to Jesus saying, ‘Who then is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?’ Then Jesus called a child to Him, set him in the midst of them and said, ‘Assuredly I say to you unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’”(Mt.18:1-5).
Who do we honor in this life? Typically we honor entertainers, athletes, the wealthy, politicians, CEO’s of corporations, successful, accomplished men and women. They are often motivated, hard working, self-sufficient, and articulate.
Who do we honor in our Orthodox faith? We hold up as examples and honor after our Lord, the saints. Without a doubt, many of the saints were gifted with similar qualities as those possessed by the “idols” of our times. However, the saints accomplished something that few have. They were “converted” and became as little children. Now, that does not mean that they were childish, with the immaturities of childhood. What it does mean is that they were childlike, with a purity of faith, trust and love for God. It means that they were humble and always ready to learn, never looking at themselves as better than another, seeing that anything good that they did was as a result of God’s Grace and not their own. This childlikeness was something that they, through humility had to re-learn. They were “converted” to this attitude of life. Since after the Fall of humankind our tendency is to rely on our self and not God. Most of the “great ones” honored in our world, with our fallen tendencies focus on their accomplishments and possessions. A “converted one” learns to direct any good away from self and towards God. The truth is that in my experience, even within the Church this is not easily accomplished. More times than not our attitudes are not “converted”. This is the main reason why petty differences and power struggles occur everywhere. Our own egos keep us from this childlikeness and humility. In our circles, this applies to clergy and laity a like.
Our Lord tells us, “…it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 19:24). This reference specifically is towards wealthy people. However in principle “wealth” can refer to anyone who thinks of him or herself as great or at least greater than another, when essentially we are nothing without God. Tito Colliander in his book, Way of the Ascetics, says, “The holy Fathers say with one voice: the first thing to keep in mind is never in any respect to rely on yourself…This decision not to rely on self is for most people a severe obstacle at the very outset…For how can a human being receive advice, instruction and help if he believes that he knows and can do anything and needs no directions?” (pg. 4).
How then can we “convert” to this childlikeness? Step I is to, in humility, recognize in our heart’s depths God’s incredible love for us. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). He loved and loves us even though we are not perfect. Step II is to strive to love God as first and foremost in our lives — above self, parents, spouse, children — everyone. We have a challenge in our maturation process to learn to depend on God attitudinally as a child depends upon a parent. I emphasize maturation because this assumes adult responsibility to do things that we ourselves can do and to not wait on our parent (God) to do them for us. When we do them, however we do them for His Glory and not for our own satisfaction and glory. Step III is to love others and learn to not focus on their limitations but rather to focus on God’s grace within them. After all, if God loves us in our imperfection, it stands to reason He loves others as well. Step IV is to be ever vigilant and not let one’s guard down. Our fallen tendency is always there until our final breath with temptation lurking in the shadows wanting us to rely on self, thus judging others and even God as inadequate to direct or guide us.
In Humility and like a little child, let us submit to our Lord and God and Savior Jesus our whole life so that through God’s Grace and Strength we may live in His Presence and enter into the kingdom of heaven.
In Christ,
Fr. Lou


A Message from Fr. Lou – “I lift up my eyes to the hills…” Psalm 121:1

In 1999, Presbytera Marsha and I, had the incredible opportunity to accompany a group of St. Catherine parishioners, friends and family members, in a visit to the Holy Land and Mt. Sinai. There are so many amazing memories from this experience as we walked where Jesus, His Disciples and Prophets walked. For most of this trip, we had the good fortune to have as our guide, His Grace, Bishop Nikeforos of the Jerusalem Patriarchate. He took us to a number of Orthodox sites that most would not have the opportunity to visit and arranged, among many other events, a participation for us in a midnight Divine Liturgy in the Holy Sepulcher and the veneration of St. Catherine’s relics at the monastery bearing her name at the foot of Mt. Sinai.
There were a couple of days, however, that His Grace could not be with us so we had then, as our guide, a Jewish man called Shlomo, who was the friend of our Palestinian driver. That opportunity was special as well as we witnessed many Jewish sites introduced to us by Shlomo, as his Palestinian Arab friend drove us from one site to another. As I fondly recall these events a beautiful psalm in song comes to mind: “As the mountains are around Jerusalem, the Lord is all around His people.” (Psalm 125:2). Shlomo led all fifty of us in song as we drove in the countryside of Israel, observing the mountains near and around Jerusalem. We contemplated the thousands of years of love and faithful relationship between God and His people, Israelite and Gentile alike.
As we celebrate the 30th Anniversary this year of our St. Catherine Parish, one generation passes the torch to the next. In honoring the Founders of our Parish, we connect with them – those living here and those living on in that next realm with our Lord. We also connect through them with hundreds of generations of faithful stewards of God’s grace, family members, Saints, Disciples and Prophets, Gentile and Jew alike.
The second generation of our St. Catherine Parish now begins as one more generation of love in faithful relationship between God and His people.
“I lift up my eyes to the hills…” As you gaze to the beautiful Rockies in the West may your minds’ eye take you to the East – to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – “The Sun of Righteousness.” And remember “As the mountains are all around Jerusalem, The Lord is all around His people,” from this generation and forever more.
With our Lord’s blessings,
Fr. Lou


A Message From Fr. Lou – Freedom!!

“Speak more to God about your children than to your children about God… The soul of the teenager is in a state of an explosion of freedom. For this reason he has a hard time accepting various counsels. So, rather than counselling him continuously and reproaching him again and again, leave the situation to Christ, to the Panayia and to the saints, asking them to bring him to reason.” Elder Epiphanios of Greece
The above quotation is one of my favorites. I offer it now as we prepare to again celebrate Independence Day. Thank God we live in a free country. We have so much for which to be thankful. The connection of the quotation that got my attention was the reference to freedom and in particular the teenage “state of explosion of freedom.” Of course we all long for freedom. God has created us to be free. Whereas anyone who has lived through those teenager years and had children who have lived or are living those years understands the challenges. It occurs to me however, that this is not just a teenage phenomenon. Whether we are children, teenagers or adults – of all ages, all too often our longing for freedom manifests itself in an immature and destructive attitude of self-centeredness and self-indulgence. St. Paul says it in this manner: “For you brethren have been called to freedom; only do not use freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself…I say then: walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust for flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; and there are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (Galatians 5:13-18).
Immature freedom tends to desire first things of this material realm which are temporary and fleeting. Mature freedom focuses on those things which are not limited, such as “… love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22) They are the fruits of the Spirit.
If we care about or love anyone, not just our children – it behooves us to “speak more to God about ‘them’ than to speak to ‘them’ about God.” Mature freedom then involves our love and care in prayer for others. To be free is to be and become a lover of God by loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.
Freedom! As we celebrate yet another 4th of July Independence Day, let’s be thankful for the freedoms that we enjoy. Consider in our own lives if the freedom that we live out is mature or immature. By God’s Grace and our humble acceptance of His Grace may we be mature in our choices – giving and living in love for God and others.
Our Lord’s blessings,
Fr. Lou


A Message From Fr. Lou – All You Need Is Love

If one stops for a moment to consider all of the songs written throughout the ages, without a doubt, a significant percentage would deal with love. One of my favorite Beatle’s song was “All You Need is Love”. In fact, the music and lyrics are going through my head at this very moment. And then there was the song from the musical “Carnival” that I participated in as a high school senior entitled “Love Makes the World go ‘Round”. Each of these songs conjure up romantic feelings of finding that special “someone” to share love and even life with.
If one considers the Gospels of our Lord another love verse or two immediately comes to mind. “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have life everlasting.” (John 3:16). “…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40). Now the “love” in the songs above is romantic or erotic love, while the love in the biblical references is “agape” or unconditional love. All that you or I do need is this love and it is this love that does indeed “make the world go ‘round”. Agape love begins with God and comes to us, then from us to Him and then to one another.
On Sunday, June 15, we celebrate Father’s Day. Why don’t we use it as an opportunity to accept our Father in Heaven’s love for us, love Him and one another with all our heart. Let’s also thank our natural fathers for their great love for us and endeavor to love them and one another with the Divine Agape love. Allow me to share the following parable entitled “The Perfect Heart” with you.
“One day a young man was standing in the middle of the town proclaiming that he had the most beautiful heart in the whole valley. A large crowd gathered and they all admired his heart for it was perfect. There was not a mark or a flaw in it. Yes, they all agreed it truly was the most beautiful heart they had ever seen. The young man was very proud and boasted more loudly about his beautiful heart.
Suddenly, an old man appeared at the front of the crowd and said “Why your heart is not nearly as beautiful as mine.” The crowd and the young man looked at the old man’s heart. It was beating strongly, but full of scars, it had places where pieces had been removed and other pieces put in, but they didn’t fit quite right and there were several jagged edges. In fact, in some places there were deep gouges where whole pieces were missing.
The people stared – how can he say his heart is more beautiful, they thought? The young man looked at the old man’s heart and saw its state and laughed. “You must be joking,” he said. “Compare your heart with mine, mine is perfect and yours is a mess of scars and tears.”
“Yes,” said the old man, “Yours is perfect looking but I would never trade with you. You see, every scar represents a person to whom I have given my love – I tear out a piece of my heart and give it to them, and often they give me a piece of their heart which fits into the empty place in my heart, but because the pieces aren’t exact, I have some rough edges, which I cherish, because they remind me of the love we shared. Sometimes I have given pieces of my heart away, and the other person hasn’t returned a piece of his heart to me. These are the empty gouges — giving love is taking a chance.
Although these gouges are painful, they stay open, reminding me of the love I have for these people too, and I hope someday they may return and fill the space I have waiting. So now do you see what true beauty is?” The young man stood silently with tears running down his cheeks. He walked up to the old man, reached into his perfect young and beautiful heart, and ripped a piece out. He offered it to the old man with trembling hands. The old man took his offering, placed it in his heart and then took a piece from his old scarred heart and placed it in the wound in the young man’s heart. It fit, but not perfectly, as there were some jagged edges. The young man looked at his heart, not perfect anymore but more beautiful than ever, since love from the old man’s heart flowed into his. They embraced and walked away side by side. How sad it must be to go through life with a whole untouched heart. “
Fathers, thank you for passing on the Divine Agape Love– albeit imperfectly to us
Let us too, pass on “love” by offering a piece of our heart.
With our Lord’s blessings,
Fr. Lou








After well over 40 days of preparation, hopefully taking an introspective look at ourselves in relationship with God and one another, re-living the Week of Passion and the Crucifixion of our Lord and then celebrating His glorious and life giving Resurrection, where are we now? What is this time really about for you and me here, today?

In order to answer these questions, let’s re-examine the first centuries of our Christian Faith. The Lenten preparation for Pascha was initially about baptism. Adults, some of whom had prepared for as long as three years, went through their final days of preparation for illumination into the Faith in the 40 days prior to Holy Week. Their baptisms were then celebrated on Pascha Sunday in the Divine Liturgy of the Resurrection. Can you imagine how they must have felt, when they heard for the first time, after such a preparation, the words of the deacon or priest, “In the fear of God, with faith and love draw near”, inviting them to receive Holy Communion with the faithful? Their months and years of preparation surely would have brought them to a fear or awe of God. After all, this God—above imagination, All-Powerful—submitted to become a simple and humble man, taking the sins of humans on His shoulders. He died for all and for each person, so that all and each person might live eternally. “What God is so great as our God…” they must have felt.  And surely they believed in Him. No god of the pagans was a god like God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. No God became a man, died and resurrected like Jesus. No god of old was All-Powerful and yet All-Humble, with them yet separated from them, visible yet invisible.

And then, there was love. The fear or awe of God is most about recognition of God’s love for humankind and for each person. When the deacon or priest invited them to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord for the first time, he invited each of them personally, by their new Christian name, as the “servant of God”. The love of God, at that moment must have become for each of them, deeply intimate. Their time of preparation, of study, of commitment in faith, of prayer was realized as the warmth of “the cup of salvation” permeated their very being. The Bread and Wine transformed, now the Body and Blood entered and completed every member of their body so that they became a new member of the Body of Believers, the Body of Christ.

So, where are we now, centuries later? What is this time of Great Lent, Holy Week and Pascha really about for you and me? We are invited to live anew, to renew our own baptism with fear and awe, with faith and commitment, and ultimately with love.  We are invited to accept once again, the eternal love for us of our Lord and God, allowing Him into our lives most intimately and personally so that He may be our Lord and Savior and we His servants. We are invited to allow His love for us to set us free to love Him, by loving one another. This IS what it is all about. “With the fear of God, in faith and in love draw near.”

On behalf of our clergy and Parish Council, I would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to make this year’s holy days and Pascha so beautiful and special – our choir, chanters, acolytes, Philoptochos and Ministry Teams, cookers, bakers, cleaners, decorators, philanthropists, volunteers and staff.  Glory to God for all you do.  May His Resurrection shine brightly in your hearts today and always.  Until next year . . . (Kai tou  chronou!)




With our Lord’s blessings, Fr. Lou


A Message From Fr. Lou – I see Your Bridal Chamber

I see Your Bridal Chamber


“I see Your Bridal Chamber adorned, O my Savior, and I have no wedding garment that I may enter in; O Giver of Light, make radiant the vesture of my soul and save me.”

Exaposteilarion of the Orthros Service of the Bridegroom

Holy Monday – Holy Wednesday


               We have now passed the mid-point of our annual Great Lenten journey. Holy Week is just around the corner. The Exaposteilarion hymn above highlights a central theme of the first days of our Lord’s week of Passion. Our Lord is the Bridegroom and we, the Church, are His bride. The iconographic image utilized in this service portrays our Lord, the Bridegroom “decked out” not in fine linens and clothing usually associated with a wedding feast. Rather, He is clothed in the “purple of mockery”, with a crown of thorns serving to begin the flow of the blood He spilled for His “bride”. It is an Icon of Extreme Humility. It is within this Humility that our Suitor approaches us. His Love is an agape of self-sacrifice radically different than that of typical relationships. To be worthy of His bridal chamber, our love must be a reflection of His. The “vesture of our soul” is made radiant by His Grace in forgiveness. Unworthy though we be, He loves and forgives us. Forgiveness then of others, provides us with the proper “wedding garment”. Please read the following written by Fr. Thomas Hopko, from his book, The Lenten Spring:

“Love between sinners is essentially expressed in forgiveness.  There is no other way. It cannot be otherwise. Forgiveness is the singular expression of love in this fallen world. If, therefore, we desire to be loved and forgiven by God – and even more, if we know that as a matter fact we are so loved and forgiven – then we must love and forgive each other. The Lenten Season exists for this purpose; to express the Love of God for one another through mutual forgiveness. This is the teaching of Jesus Himself.” (pg. 36)

It is in the context of the Love lived out in forgiveness that our Lenten Journey annually begins with Great Vespers on Clean Monday eve and a “kiss of forgiveness”. As we, then near the end of Great Lent and the beginning of Holy Week, let us do our very best to live this love out as a reflection of Christ’s great Agape Love in forgiveness, by forgiving one another. Examine your conscious and let go of grudges, hurts and pains caused by others. Seek forgiveness from wrongs intentional or otherwise that you may have caused. Participate in the Holy Sacrament of Repentance (Confession) whereby in humility you acknowledge your imperfections and seek forgiveness. It is then that the original beauty of God’s Grace in our lives is revealed…It is then that we may be properly adorned to enter into His Bridal Chamber of Grace and Love. Have a blessed conclusion of Great Lent, Holy Week and remembrance of our Lord’s Passion and salvific crucifixion and a glorious celebration of His Life Giving Resurrection.

With our Lord’s Blessings,
Fr. Lou




A Message From Fr. Lou A New Year – A New Beginning

A NEW YEAR – A New Beginning

“As sins consist mostly of malice and pride, it is necessary to treat everyone who suffers from the malady of sin with kindness and love. This is an important truth, which we often forget. Very often we act in the opposite manner; we add malice by our anger, we oppose pride to pride. Thus, evil grows within us, and does not decrease; it is not cured – rather it spreads.” (St. John of Kronstadt.)
“If we have true love with sympathy and patient labor, we shall not go about scrutinizing our neighbor’s shortcomings. As it is said, ‘Love shall cover the multitude of sins,’ (I Peter 4:8)…True love screens anything of this kind, as did the saints when they saw the shortcomings of men. Were they blind? Not at all! But they simply would not let their eyes dwell on sins.” (St. Dorotheos of Gaza).
With our entry into another New Year, we prepare for the celebration yet again of the Feast of Theophany or Epiphany, literally, “the manifestation of God,” or simply, “the manifestation.” On January 6th, our focus is upon the baptism of Jesus and the manifestation of God in Trinity, as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, ”…when He had been baptized… behold the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him and suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.’ ” (3:16-17). Historically, immediately following His baptism, our Lord went into the wilderness, fasted for forty days and was tempted there by the devil. Conquering these temptations He returned to Galilee and began His three year public ministry with the words, “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Mt.4:17)
As we begin this New Year in preparation for God’s Manifestation (Theophany) it is in the context of these words from our Lord, that I share with you the quotations from above. We understand “repentance” as a change in mind, a return if you will, to God. The outcome of that re-focus on God, is a different perspective towards our fellow humans. It involves a perspective of humility, compassion and love – emanating from God’s Grace. Humility allows us, when we see another’s sins to recognize that we too, are sinners. We have that malady as well with a constant need for soul healing from our Lord. The temptation to scrutinize another’s shortcomings will, through humility turn back to our own need for forgiveness from God. This leads to compassion. Because of our own sin – by propensity and choice – we are one with other sinners – co-sufferers if you will – “sympathoi” – in need of God. This takes us to a call from the depths of our being upon Him for help, for forgiveness, for love. And then our Lord delivers. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish but have life everlasting.” (Jn 3:16).
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which means, ‘God is with us.’” (Mt.1:23)
It is the Love of God towards us that allows us to abide in the security of it’s comforting embrace – even in the midst of our shortcomings. Then we desire to love God from the depth of our being. As this love goes out from us towards God: it naturally embraces those around us; it naturally casts out the evil one who hates love; it naturally is patient; is kind; is not jealous or boastful; is not envious or rude; it naturally believes all things; hopes all things; endures all things. Love never ends. (I Corinthians 13).
A new beginning. As we begin this year of 2014, may it be a year of our Lord. In His Grace and Love may we in humility and with compassion, love Him and our neighbor as our self.
Have a most blessed and Godly New Year,
Fr. Lou