Thursday, December 17, 2009


OUR MOTHER APPEARED to our brethren in Egypt just a few short days ago. Link. In the same week, an article was published about the harassment of women in Egypt. Link. Where does one find the audacity to commit such horrid crimes? Our Mother pleads with us; there is only so much she can ward off the anger of our Father. Is it entitlement? Insecurity? Lack of faith? An assertion of power?

Or maybe I am the exception. Treating a woman with respect; a gift bestowed upon us. Nothing is weaker than using force with a woman. A strong man knows patience, long-suffering, composure. Yeah, perverse men find sexual gratification in dominance, but the underlying cause of this is that exact perversion. It's not a perversion in the sense of mental handicap, but an emptiness. Let us all not lose sight of what is important and fill that void, lest we fall into similar hardships.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fr Daniil Sysoyev - Martyred

This story is copied from here: Click me

From the New York Times, November 19th -

The Rev. Daniil Sysoyev, a priest in the Russian Orthodox Church who was known for promoting missionary work among Muslims, was shot and killed in his parish church late Thursday night ...

From Archpriest Peter Perekrestov of Holy Virgin Cathedral, San Francisco:

On Thursday, November 19, 2009 35 year old Fr Daniel Sisoev, a very active and straightforward missionary priest in Moscow, was gunned down by a masked gunman inside the St. Thomas Church. Below is a statement his wife issued.

Fr. Peter is the priest at Holy Virgin Cathedral, where St. John Maximovitch relics' rest.

The Good Fight

ON THIS DAY, we commemorate the martyrdom of St. Philopater Mercurius. Raised by converted Christian parents, he was given the name "Philopater" which means "Lover of the Father." When he reached adulthood, he joined the Roman army and quickly became known as a good swordsman and tactician in battle.

The Roman army, led by Emperor Decius, was attacked by the Berbers. The Berbers were great in number and the Emperor was fearful. Mercurius assured him not to worry saying that God would bring them to victory. When he left the Emperor, an angel appeared to him in the figure of a human dressed in white. The angel gave him a sword saying, "When you overcome your enemies, remember the Lord your God." (That is why he is called, 'of the two swords,' Abu-Saifain; one is the military sword and the other is the sword of the Divine power.) When the battle was over and they conquered the Berbers, Mercurius was given the title 'Supreme Commander of all the Roman Armies' (in 250 A.D., at the age of 25). Mercurius was martyred that same year for refusing to worship idols saying "I do not worship anyone except my Lord and my God Jesus Christ." Mercurius became worthy of the crown of martyrs after being beheaded on December 4th 250AD.

St. Mercurius has performed many miracles in the lives of Christians. His life shows us the power of faith in life's dealings, even the military. We pray for his intercessions in our own lives.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

All that saw me mocked me: they spoke with their lips, they shook the head, saying, He hoped in the Lord: let him deliver him, let him save him, because he takes pleasure in him.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Do Not Despair

LIFE IS A DRAG. Anyone who tells you otherwise, is lying to you. It isn't meant to be easy, an easy life would be boring; the goal is to not become discouraged for despair is simply a lack of hope. As His Holiness tells us: "The strong spirit does not worry, or get troubled, or fear, or break down, or hesitate. But the weak one imagines scary things and is troubled by them." The strong spirit is one who understands God's hand in our lives. The strong spirit is one who knows God.

An example of a strong spirit is the widow in Zarepath in which Elijah visited. With only a small amount of food, Elijah asked her to make him food first, and give whatever is left to her family. She did just that and her small portion of flour became endless. The symbolism in our lives is obvious. Give first to God, and He will Bless your efforts. A strong spirit will rejoice in tribulation, because in overcoming it, God is glorified. For we are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of God

I'VE ALWAYS LAUGHED at the idea of people not knowing what they want. I have known of this since a fairly young age. Sure, people want to be happy, but what is it that will make them happy? Henry Thoreau likened happiness to a butterfly saying "the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder." What Thoreau did not know is that he was almost two thousand years behind on this concept. Thoreau simply summed up our Lord's emphasis on whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

C.S. Lewis commenting on happiness said that "God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing." God knows we are unable to be happy without Him, which is precisely why He emphasized seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

It's simple really, and it is actually about patience. Gone for now, is a lot like gone for good. It is our own stubborn and impatient ways that make us unhappy. Are we willing to accept delayed gratification? I mean that in both the micro and the macro sense. Would we rather accept a little happy now, or the better plan God has for us for when He deems us ready? Are we unwilling to sacrifice this temporal life for the sake of eternal paradise? The choice is obvious, but unfortunately it is a tough one.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Greenhouse

AS A YOUTH, I had the most difficult time understanding that plants were alive. As a young adult, I now understand that not only are they alive, but they are very similar to us as human beings. Aside from the obvious biological similarities, which is such that plants need food, water, and air just as we humans do, I was reminded this week of an amazing analogy by His Grace Bishop Angelos. His Grace analogized our intimate relationships with a plant that is grown out of season. It is well understood that a plant cannot grow out of season, it will simply wither and die. But if a plant is out of season, it can safeguarded and sustained in a greenhouse until it is ready to grow and bear fruits.

Plants are beautiful, but are very delicate. In the ignorance of my youth, I would wonder why people put so much time in effort into something so volatile, something that, on paper, held no constructive value (referring to plants of course). But I realized, that some things simply cannot be quantified. They just are. The reward is always worth the struggle. "There is a time and a place for everything" my mother would always say, but now the old adage doesn't only refer to me playing basketball to avoid homework.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


IN AN INTERVIEW, Thomas Merton was once asked what he believed to be the leading spiritual disease of our time, and his response was efficiency. According to Merton, “from the monastery to the Pentagon the plant has to run…and there is little time or energy left over after that for anything else.” It is partly a sign of the times, but we are slowly depleting time for what is most important, and that is contemplation.

One thing that is counteracting this idea of contemplation is achievement. I can almost imagine the argument against it, saying "imagine all that you could accomplish in your time spent doing nothing!" It stems from society's value of self-worth as opposed to who we are; such as our morals and integrity. Monetary worth has trumped moral values and this has affected the way we organize our lives.

Don't get me wrong, it is important to apply yourself and excel in whatever it is you wish to do, but there must always be time for you. Don't give up what makes you the person you are. If you find peace and contemplation in reading, in running, in yoga, or even just sitting outdoors and enjoying God's creation, make that a priority along with your spiritual life. There is always time for what you make a priority.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Late Fr. Rewis Magar

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Today marks the one year commemoration of the passing of the late Fr. Rewis Magar. He is survived by his wife and three kids. Abouna Rewis served the altar of St. George Coptic Church of Astoria, New York and is credited for establishing the congregation there. His services are innumerable and a little over two years ago, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III consecrated the church, quite a feat for a small congregation. We pray that God continues to Bless the congregation of St. George Church and grants comfort and healing to his family.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Father James Coles

I AM BEHIND on my reading. There were many books and articles I wished to read over the summer and got to only a fraction of them. I was reminded of this when I looked at my bookmarks and saw the link for Father James Coles' blog. His blog is a must-read for those interested in Orthodoxy. Father Coles' series on the sources of Orthodox Tradition which he wrote in July 2009 (look it up!) is crucial knowledge for us Orthodox Christians. Enjoy!


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Relentless Enemy

"WITH EVERY SPIRITUAL SUCCESS, the enemy gets agitated, and makes war, if not openly, he would do it secretly; and if not through strangers, he would do it through relatives, and even through the body itself, and sometimes through those who call themselves ministers in the Church..." I am blown away by the wisdom of Father Tadros Malaty time after time. It is often asked why bad things happen to good people, or why demon possessions are not often seen in the West. The enemy focuses his targets on those who are spiritually succeeding when he becomes envious. In prosperous times, praise God. In tough times, praise God. Humility is our single best weapon against the enemy.

A good friend of mine told a group of us a story about a priest with the ability to exorcise demons. He had known about a monk who was younger in age and far better at exorcising demons than the priest. When word was out about the priest's abilities, he was brought a bus full of demon possessed people. The priest, knowing about the monk, took this bus full of possessed people over to the monastery. The monk was startled when he saw this bus full of possessed people and got annoyed with the priest for bringing them. The priest began to feel bad for what he had done and prostrated in front of the monk pleading for his forgiveness. The monk then realizing he had made his elder priest feel bad and prostrated in front of the priest. The two of them repeated this a few times and before they knew it, the demons had fled the people in the bus in horror from the humility shown by the priest and the monk.

In short, humility is the name of the game. Becoming arrogant and not continuing the struggle is a sure way to fail. Father Tadros Malaty continues to say "That is why the Lord advises us that 'A man's foes will be those of his own household.'" What is meant by this is to be constantly on guard, for the enemy can come in all forms.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Straight and Narrow

A RIVER WITHOUT BANKS is not a river, it is a flood. The life of a Christian is no different, it is a wild, fast-paced run and is difficult to stay on course. Therefore, it is important for a Christian to set boundaries for oneself. The boundaries are our banks and are often put to the test. It is important that we remain on the straight and narrow. Again, this is done only by setting boundaries for oneself. It is important to be careful and not "just try" something once, or experiment if you will. It's a slippery slope (if I may add just one more cliche to this post) and before you know it, you will be wondering what happened; and getting back on track can prove to be quite difficult. It is a long and difficult struggle, but the reward is sweet.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Monasticism in Christianity

I AM CURRENTLY READING a book about one man's search for Orthodox Spirituality, and found this gem of a quote about monasticism:

"Shutting down the monasteries [Father Maximos] explained in regard to developments in the West after the Reformation, "was like snatching the heart out of Christianity." He meant that it was in monasteries that the religious experience was systematically cultivated, providing a living witness to the reality of God. By closing down monasteries, the West came to rely exclusively on the intellect in its quest for God. But the way to know God, Father Maximos would say repeatedly, is neither through philosophy nor through experimental science but through systematic methods of spiritual practice that could open us up to the Grace of the Holy Spirit. Only then can we have a taste of the Divine, a firsthand, experiential knowledge of the Creator. Otherwise, he continued, "we remain stuck on the level of mere beliefs and ideologies."*

This reminds me of an older post I made in which I recalled a Reverend Father explain that God dwells in our hearts, while Satan dwells in our mind. This couldn't be more true, for how many times does our Lord ask for our hearts? The heart, and yielding to it, and giving it in love is the true essence of Christianity.

Monasticism is precisely this, a complete devotion to God. There is no demand for study (although most, if not all, are very well read in Scripture and other text), but a call for one's own heart. I liken this to the Internet. A person can research a website with photos of the gorgeous scenery nature has to offer, or the most stunning of artwork, but until you witness it, and stand in awe at it's beauty, you haven't come remotely close to experiencing the real thing. Until you completely experience the surrender to God and know what it's like to be at peace with God, you have not fully experienced what Christianity has to offer. Another example is (and we all know what I'm talking about) the armchair quarterbacks who claim to know everything about the game of football, and claim to be the next Joe Montana, but couldn't hurl a football more than ten yards. Talk is cheap, but experiencing the game and all the emotions engaged in playing the game is beyond comparison.

I also understand that the West has seen a recent resurgence of monasticism. This is completely against its own tradition and is not as prominent or influential as Orthodox monasticism. Some from the Western Churches have accused the Orthodox Church of being antiquated and behind the times. By relying strictly on intellect for the quest for God, I stand here accusing the West of completely losing the essence of Christianity. And to be honest, I don't like change for the sake of change, I'd rather keep what works.

* The Mountain of Silence: A Search for Orthodox Spirituality by Kyriacos C. Markides

Sunday, June 7, 2009


I NEVER QUITE understood evangelism to its fullest extent.  It actually dawned on me this morning in the shower after contemplating a recent turn of events that have unfolded in my life recently.  I very rarely delve this far into my personal life, and it seems slightly ridiculous to do so on my blog, but I feel compelled to do it, so here goes:

I was recently speaking with a friend of whom is dear to my heart.  In her experience, she shared wisdom with me in regards to relationships.  To paraphrase, some things are simply not to be compromised in relationships.  What this means is, there are some things in which you care so much about, and a relationship (namely one involving the opposite sex) should not require you to sacrifice this.  Well, in my life, there are a few things that I care that much about, and the first one that comes to mind is my Church, for this is the most important thing to me.  

Well, this is what I was pondering in the shower.  How can I sacrifice the one thing I love most in life for a relationship?  How can God Bless a relationship that requires you to further yourself from Him?  I think it is bogus, it would never happen.  This is where evangelism comes in.  We aren't talking about salvation dating, that is stupid.  We are talking about the beauty of having your spouse on your team.  It is as if you love God so much, you want nothing more than for someone else you love to be experiencing the same bliss.  It simply doesn't work any other way, for how can someone who loves God sacrifice what is most important for someone else?  Unfortunately, you cannot expect a person to eventually become faithful.  It is beautiful when it happens, but it is few and far between.

The same goes for the complete stranger that needs Christ.  I think of it as experiencing a new food or a new song, and turning to a friend saying "you HAVE to try this, it is phenomenal."  There is a certain joy in sharing something you enjoy with a friend.  There is more to it than a self-less giving, it is an almost selfish (selfish in the sense that is done for your own gratification, yet out love for the other) giving of oneself.  Salvation, I always thought, was simply to guide a person to a life with Christ so they may see Christ in Heaven.  There is more to it than that.  It is loving your neighbor to the extent that you want to see them as joyful as you.  It is wanting them to taste Christ and believe.  That is why loving your neighbor is insufficient without bringing them closer to the Church.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

What's the 411?

DOES IT SCARE you that we will be judged based on every idle word we speak?  It should.  I am guilty of this more than anyone but a friend has given me help to concur this.  Next time you find yourself curious for the 411, remember 1 Thessalonians 4:11 which says (and I begin the quote including part of verse 10): "But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quite life, to mind your business, and to work with your hands, as we commanded you..."  Remember that it is commanded to watch your words carefully and begin with me a trek to end idle talk.  Again, we will be held accountable for every idle word we speak, so choose wisely!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Put on the New Man

I VERY RARELY feel discouraged.  As a man of faith, what is there to possibly be discouraged about?  Lately this has been the case though.  I wouldn't so much call it discouragement so much as disappointment, but you get the idea.  What got me back in line was words of wisdom from friends and an unlikely Bible study on a trampoline (seriously!) which reminded me exactly what it is that comforts, and that is prayer.  I like to give prayer, reading the Bible, and any time spent focused on God the blanket term of meditation.  As my priest reminded me two weeks ago, we should be dedicating at least 30 minutes daily to God.  Sound like too much time?  Well, it equates to only about 2% of our day.

Don't be discouraged, for in Christ all things are made new.  No one is worthy, is it worth arguing over who is less unworthy?  It isn't, and "therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."  This is our encouragement, we have no reason to look back, but only to look forward.  What upset me was that I spent years and years building a relationship with God, only to feel like a stranger in His own house.  All we needed was a good talk, and we are good again.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Morning Praises

Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Love is an Action

AFTER MUCH DISCUSSION of the topic, a conclusion was reached.  The following is from a good friend (and fellow New Yorker) of mine, Ashlie, who (for once) was able to find common ground on a topic of discussion with me. Enjoy!

“Love is an action, not a feeling.”

For once, I am not too proud to admit that this statement, by Jacob at quite a pivotal moment, shook me.   This is not what Walt Disney taught me.  So I decided to find out where this idea came from and why I wasn’t familiar with it.

After a quick Google search, I found that M. Scott Peck, an American psychiatrist and author said:

“Love is not a feeling.  Love is an action, an activity … Genuine love implies commitment and the exercise of wisdom … love as the will to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth… True love is an act of will that often transcends ephemeral feelings of love cathexis.  It is correct to say, ‘Love is as love does.’”

Looking through the rest of my search queries, I found this idea is cited from the Bible.  This helps explain why I wasn’t familiar with it. 

I read:

"Charity (love) suffereth long and is kind; charity envieth not, charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth."

This finding reminded me of another little poem I recognized, a translation of this Bible passage.

“Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous, love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offense, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes. Love does not come to an end.”

I guess I never understood, up until now.  To me, the above phrase describes that love is… a wonderful thing.  I explained my point-of-view to Jacob.  He replied, “Charity!  Self-less giving!  How is that not love as an action?”

Yes, Jacob.  You are right.  Love is an action.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009


"WHAT CHANGED?" asked my friend last night.  I simply responded, "I did."  I would be hard-pressed to fully explain the extent to which I have been thinking about changes in people lately.  As I strolled through the bookstore, I passed a section of books explaining strategies to help you alter a person's decisions or feelings.  I chuckled to myself knowing that it is more difficult to move a person than it is to move a mountain.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it is all a waste.  There is a way to change people indeed, but that is only through a personal change.  Christ was incarnated and walked the Earth so that we might learn from His example.  We learned, and our free will was not threatened.  I believe change is inevitable as we grow older and wiser, but it something that will reflect upon others so change wisely.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wisdom in Diligence

LIFE CAN COME at you fast. For a student, it seems like every moment at the end of the semester is required for study. If you are like me, this could have been prevented with proper preparation. The Bible warns us of being idle and slothful, this is because when this happens, we forget our obligations as Christians. It has been said that "much study is wearisome to the flesh," so after burying ourselves in books we are often too tired to pick up our Bible to read.

What then should a diligent Christian do? It is important to always be prepared and to never be lazy. "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise!" Be always prepared, for a Christian delights in work. Our examples from the Old Testament such as Daniel and Joseph show us that hard work can be used to glorify God. God will reward your work with prosperity, especially when it is done in a righteous manner. This is no different for our spiritual life. Christ instructed us to always be ready, for the end is at hand.

I now look back at the past few weeks and realize the effect procrastination has had on my spiritual life. There is a certain wisdom involved in being diligent and I think it is worth considering the value in good, honest work which is done early for God's sake.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

God is Dwelling in Our Hearts

I'VE BEEN THINKING a lot lately.  Crazy isn't it?  Surely God gave us our minds to think rationally and I don't think anybody would argue that they would rather be without a mind.  The problem is, our mind can get us into trouble if we are not careful.  I am the kind of person that likes to think things over man as much as possible; I tend to dwell on things.  I thank God for this, I believe it makes me a smarter person because my mind is always working.  Unfortunately, a constantly mindful person can also lose focus and begin thinking about lustful desires, or even just overthinking life's decisions.  Also, I tend to begin thinking things over excessively and begin to either doubt my original understanding or try to rationalize a wrong one.  This is often the devil laboring to mess with you.  Be wary. 

The fact is, God resides in our hearts.  Therefore, where does the devil reside?  Well, we know it isn't in our hearts, God is there.  Satan is working through our minds.  Our doubts come from Satan, our desires come from Satan, our rationalizations can even come from Satan.  Our church fathers warn us about the dangers of an unfocused mind, and their solution is prayer.  A prayer that comes from within is without any impure thought and because God is in our hearts, comes from Him.  

Therefore, when we begin overthinking things, we must learn to stop and wonder where these thoughts are coming from.  Are they genuine Godly urges from our hearts, or are they impure thoughts from Satan?  This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from the Bible: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding."

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Sacrifice of Love

LOVE IS FULL OF PARADOXES.  Yeah, it is "longsuffering and is kind;" but it most importantly "endures all things" for "Love never fails."  I believe love can be summarized in a word: sacrifice. A loving sacrifice is tough, especially when it is your "only begotten Son," but sometimes, it is simply inevitable.

It can be very tough willingly enduring a hardship to do what you know is best.  I take solace in Him, knowing He felt the same when He prayed in the garden.  We can pray for the cup to pass, but if He wills it, we must drink it.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Reflections on Monday of the Holy Pascha

HAVING JUST CONCLUDED Monday of the Holy week of Pascha, I realized there was a certain underlying tone in the readings; God was simply unhappy.  We started the day with readings from Genesis, continued with Gospels concerning our Lord driving people out of the temple again, and Jesus cursing a fig tree.  Then in the evening we read a great deal about the end of times and the difficult path to Heaven.  None of which was very happy stuff, but where is the God of love?  The God of mercy?  The God of compassion?  

I recall a sermon in which the lecturer likens our relationship to God to that of a father and son.  The lecturer, being the father of a toddler talks about disciplining when the child does not obey.  Surely, God does not take pleasure in disciplining us, but it is out of love that He chooses to do so.  He prepares us for the trials that lay ahead for entering Heaven, just as a father disciplines a son so that he may learn and grow.  I am not yet a parent, but I'm sure disciplining a child is more difficult for a parent than it is for the child.  But it certainly done out of love and in the best interest of the child.  It is no different with God.  We are His children.  He wants to shower us with Blessings, but instead disciplines us in Love.  What did we do wrong to warrant this discipline?  For Adam and Eve, it was the original sin, for the vendors at the temple, it was turning His house into a "den of thieves," and for us, it was for having leaves but not bearing fruit.  

Let us not forget that as children of God, we have an obligation to make Him proud.  Use this week, the week of the Holy Pascha, to reflect on how to yield fruit and how to make our Father proud.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Pro-Life, Pro-Choice, or Pro-Reason?

DURING A HEATED debate in class today on the subject of abortion, I started to think about my own opinions.  Obviously there are many extenuating circumstances having to do with abortion, but I have come to believe that with the options available to us, the issue of abortion has become moot.  Medicine has advanced to allow for contraceptive and block fertilization immediately following intercourse (of course the latter is to be used in extreme circumstances only).*  The justification behind allowing these medicines and condemning abortion is the intent; medicines prevent, and abortion ends what has already begun (this is a euphemism of the termination of a fetus' development if that is at all possible).  This is the stance the Coptic Church has taken, but in the wisdom of the Church, every case is handled individually by the woman's father of confession.

Concerning the debate on when a fetus can be considered a human, I don't buy into the viability argument.  Many of the elderly aren't viable in the sense that they cannot live without life support; are they not human?  Many are also without a functioning heart; I assume they are not human as well?  A sound argument should be without exception, so it must be that those arguments are simply justification to meet a person's personal agenda.  A human is a human, even if he/she/it is composed of only one cell.  

God has a hand in everything.  If He wills a child to be born, it will happen.  This is why He said "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you."  To me, it is arrogant to say a mother has authority over the life of her child, for only God has that authority to determine which lives should begin and end.  It is not part of a woman's body either; this seems silly to me because how can a part of a body become its own body?  A woman cannot regenerate as other simple organisms do (duh);  therefore a woman begets a child, a women doesn't simply break off a fetus.  Besides, a man contributes to the child's cell development, so the child doesn't completely belong to the woman.  The baby is God's child before it is any woman's, therefore we must use reason before allowing such a travesty to become commonplace.


Monday, April 6, 2009

God Saves

SOMETIMES WE TRY to do too much.  We forget that we were told only to love our neighbor, and not the entire world.  I've been giving this much thought lately; servants being overburdened and friends inheriting drama.  As if life isn't strenuous enough, certain gracious people take on the burdens of others in an attempt to do good.  I'd like to share an excerpt from an article I stumbled across by Father Charles M. Mangan:
Selfless service is not always easy. We become tired. We may feel as though we are unprepared to perform the specific task that God desires of us. We may be inclined to become agitated at those who don’t cooperate or who even oppose our endeavors. We may find ourselves burdened servants while our neighbors seem oblivious to all that remains to be accomplished for the glory and honor of God and the salvation of souls. 
It is undeniable that service is strenuous, but that is no reason to be discouraged.  The path of the righteous is never an easy road, but there lies its beauty.  I don't think any reasonable person would try to argue that service is a bad thing, but it is important to set a limit.  Service can be emotionally draining, which makes all the more appreciative of Christ's stay on Earth.  I propose that God does not want us to burden ourselves.  No where does He say to fix the entire world, but rather to do good to those around you.  I admire the zeal of the servant, but wish that their service doesn't become destructive.  Probably the biggest lesson I had to learn as a Christian is that Christ saves, not us.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

THE JOB MARKET is awful right now.  People are worried about losing their source of income, and we are reminded about how bad it is wherever we turn.  But it is written: "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things."  God provides, so you need not worry.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


EVERYONE IS WAITING for a miracle, but what is easier to say, "Your sins are forgiven you" or "Arise, take up your bed and walk?"  Non-believers are always looking for miracles, but He said "Blessed are those who believe without seeing."  I heard a sermon recently in which the speaker asked why Christ would want someone to find Him on their own?  The speaker likened it to ruining the plot of a movie for someone (admittedly not the greatest example, but just to better understand the idea), it is something that is best experienced first hand to grasp the full effect.

The truth is, miracles, in the common understanding, really aren't all that miraculous to a Christian.  The sacraments are miraculous, salvation is miraculous, love and forgiveness are miraculous; appearances of Saints aren't nearly as glorious.  I really like how Jesus emphasized this point in the story of the four men bringing the paralyzed man to Him for healing.  The paralyzed man's sins were forgiven before he was healed, again asserting that salvation is more important than health or any other worldly matter.  So I conclude, if you want to see a miracle, witness the change Christ can have in a person, for that is a real miracle.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Use Your Noggin'

WHEN DID DISCRETION die?  I am currently reading a book about law in the United States and how it no longer allows for the courts to use any type of discretion.  The author states that law is now devoid of "the one indispensable ingredient of any successful human endeavor... judgment."  In an idiot-proof world, we are taught that things are to be done by the book, and we are never taught to exercise our judgment.  Instead of children learning on their own, warning signs and directions abound.  Nothing will ever replace experience, nor will laws ever be all-encompassing.

We have all heard the expression: "the spirit of the law."  This is to say that more important than the actual wording of the law, is the intent of it.  Unfortunately this was lost in much of America's laws (which is Phillip Howard's argument), and for society as well.  Howard continues by saying "human activity can't be regulated without judgment by humans."  This is because within human beings is our God-given morality.  Although some are trying to suppress this little voice, it is still within us pressing us to be loving and compassionate.  

So important is this idea of using discretion and understanding the spirit of the law, that Christ sought to correct the understanding of the almost law-worshipping Jews of the time.  So when the Pharisees "saw some of His disciples eat bread with undefiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault."  What good is holding tradition if you do not remember why you are holding this tradition?  If you aren't asking yourself why, then you are doing it wrong; and if the answer to that "why" isn't "my salvation," then you fail again.

It has also been said that the best law is one that is complete and brief in wording.  Love the Lord God and Love your neighbor; I'd say that fits the description.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Defying Death

IMAGINE BEING TOLD this by Christ:"You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God..."  More reason for us begin studying our Bible more.  An good example for us is Father Zakaria Botros, World Magazine's 2008 "Daniel of the Year."  Father Zakaria, famous for challenging Islam on his television program "Truth Talk," has caused quite a stir in the Muslim world.  

Father Zakaria's arsenal is his knowledge in not only Christian Scripture, but also the works of Islam.  By knowing this, he is able to point out the inconsistencies in the religion and question many of their commonly held beliefs.

Father Zakaria's story can be found in his biography Defying Death: Zakaria Botross: Apostle to Islam.  Although I am yet to read this book (I just found out about it before writing this), I am sure it will be a great read and his story an example to all of us.  Let us not worry whether we will be asked if we know the Scriptures, but rather be like Father Zakaria and know not only our own Scripture but the opposing viewpoint.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Do I Want to be Made Well?

IN THE MIDST of Great Lent, we must remember to be walking always in the way of Christ.  Today's reading from the Coptic Lectionary is the story of Jesus healing the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda. This is my favorite story in the Gospels for the reading is very profound and also very relevant to the life of a Christian.

What strikes me most about this passage is when Christ asks the man: “Do you want to be made well?” I imagine in this instance, a doctor looking at a patient while holding the potential cure for the patient and then asking “Do you want to be made well?” I can't imagine being in his position and not looking at Him and saying sarcastically, "well what do you think?!"  I mean, it is a really ridiculous question.  I can't help but ask myself, why did Christ ask such an obvious question when, being God, already knew the answer?  The truth is, this is really a question of our faith and our willingness to accept the process involved in actually being made better.  Christ knew this man was willing to believe and therefore asked him so that we may have an example.

In our daily lives, we should be asking ourselves, do we want to be made well?  Not well in the sense of being healed from an infirmity, but rather healing of our souls.  Anyone in their right mind would answer yes, but do our actions reflect this?  What if being made well required us to stop our destructive habits?  Or be up early for liturgy, or up late for midnight praises?  Or read the Bible and pray many times daily?  We should then be asking ourselves if we are really want to be made well.  I am all too guilty of this myself, but remembering my salvation and the words of our Lord Jesus Christ to the paralytic man really pushes me when I am tempted to be lazy.

When we are struck with an illness or deficiency of any sort, we tend to feel as if it is of the utmost importance and we would be willing to do anything to let it pass.  This man was living homeless and paralyzed for 38 years.  Now, before the advent of modern medicine, God provided humanity with certain technologies such as an angel coming down and stirring a body of water giving it the power to heal the first to reach it.  Well, this man sat by this pool and watched as other beat him to the pool, because he had no one to push him in.  He had also endured people passing him by and spitting at him, because at that time people believed that deformities were caused by sin.  It made sense to them, for how else could a random person be struck with such an awful deformity?  This person had to be the cause of sin and the appropriate action was to disgrace him as people passed.  Thankfully, Christ came and corrected us.

After healing this mystery paralytic man, Christ instructed him to "Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you."  There is an important message in this.  Christ reminded us that there is something more important than our worldly well-being, and that is our spiritual well-being.  This man was paralyzed, homeless, and disgraced for many years, yet he was told that there was something worse, and that "something" is eternal damnation.  We should remember this after our repentance, for there is no reason to repent if you are just going back to committing the same sin repeatedly.  "Sin no more" Christ says, and that is what He asks of us to receive salvation.  So this is essentially the cliff notes of the passage; if you really do wish to be made well, do something about it, because something worse than you could possibly imagine is the consequence.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fairness is Fair

WHAT IS FAIR? From where did this preposterous notion come from? Since when do people think they are deserving of anything? It comes as no surprise to me that the world is filled with greed and sorrow. These people are ungrateful and searching for happiness in a sense of false justice. These people searching for fairness in the world will be coming up very short. I am not a cynic, nor am I what people refer to as a "realist" (which, in my opinion, is simply a boastful claim that everyone else is wrong and that the "realist" is the only one with a perception of "reality"). I am simply a Christian. I believe in a Higher Law, and a divine justice that will punish the proud yet reward the meek.

Life is not fair; nor is it arbitrary. God's plan is for us to withstand trial so that we may prove ourselves worthy unto Him. Unfortunately, people have decided that life should be a simple walk in the park and have accused the Lord God of being too cruel and, shockingly, unfair. In essence, these people are claiming to be able to do God's job better than Him. This is why I enjoyed the movie Bruce Almighty. The premise of the movie (for those who wisely stay away from television) is of a person being given God's power and responsibility, failing miserably, and then finally realizing God's plan is perfect. Life is better than fair, it is how God Himself intended it. Our free will allows us to live freely and our circumstance is dictated by God. To conclude, it is written that:
I returned and saw under the sun that—

The race is not to the swift,
Nor the battle to the strong,
Nor bread to the wise,
Nor riches to men of understanding,
Nor favor to men of skill;
But time and chance happen to them all.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Destructive Words

MY FRIENDS AND I like to poke fun at one another. It has come to be a force of habit at this point, and it is quite a destructive habit. Sometimes, a joke can be misconstrued and really get under a person's skin. Here is a great post regarding this topic: Click me!

Monday, March 23, 2009

King Hezekiah

IN MY LAST post, I wrote briefly about King Hezekiah being healed by the Lord. I left out a good portion of the story, the juicy part if you will, and I would be doing a disservice to not continue the story. The Lord had spoken to King Hezekiah saying:
Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: 'I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you, and on the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. And I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for My own sake, and for the sake of My servant David.'

King Hezekiah then asked Isaiah what the sign would be that God would do what He said. Isaiah replied that either the "shadow of the sundial will move forward ten degrees, or should it go backward ten degrees?" Hezekiah asked that the sundial be moved back ten degrees so Isaiah cried out, and it was done as the Lord said.

Last year I heard an excellent sermon on this story in which I will reference. In this story, King Hezekiah represents humanity; he was near death, scared and suffering, and pleading to God for deliverance. Hezekiah had fallen to pride and was stricken with an infirmity to which he was pleading with the Lord only after he realized his days were numbered. God was merciful to Hezekiah, even though mercy was probably undeserved. This represents Christ's coming to Earth and dying for our sins. God then turned back the sun ten degrees. Why ten? The ten degrees represents the ten commandments humanity failed to uphold. Thus, Christ's atonement of our sins is our second chance to make it right.

Hezekiah's story is overflowing with symbolism, prophecy, and examples of God's might and power. Think about it, God moved the entire universe backwards, just to prove that He was good for His word. But as a Christian, this doesn't impress me. I already know this is within God's power; the impressive part is God's mercy and patience. Hezekiah was disobedient and forgot about the Lord, and then remembered Him only in his last days. This is sufficient for God, but he wants so much more from us. This story should be an example for us. Yeah, God wants us to keep His commandments, but He is also abundant in mercy and will do so much to have us back. Even after He has done more than we are deserving of, He will give us signs to show us His glory. May we set the bar high though and not resort to falling into King Hezekiah's position by withholding God's commandments.

Raised Bill 1098 Tabled

EVEN AFTER THE bill was tabled for the time being, a rally of protesters congregated before the State Capitol to be heard regarding Connecticut's Raised Bill 1098 which I had written about earlier. Details on the rally can be seen here: Click me!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tears of Hope

JEREMIAH CRIED OUT: " I am the man that sees poverty, through the rod of His wrath upon me." Affliction is tough to bear, especially when you look around and feel the world is unjust and simply too difficult to endure. I believe this is something many people struggle with, for how can a just God show favor to some and forsake others? It is easy in times of distress to look upon others and feel that you are worse off, but a discerning man understands God's mercies are perfect for us.

Jeremiah lamented, but never lost focus on his hope in the Lord's mercies. This is the difference between a complaint and Jeremiah's lamenting, and that difference is the presence of hope. Knowing the Lord has His plan and that He will never place us in a situation we are not equipped to handle is what helps us triumph above our tribulation.

This reminds me of the story of King Hezekiah. King Hezekiah was sick and near death, and pleaded saying: "O Lord, remember how I walked before You in truth, and with a full heart, and did what was good in Your eyes." Hezekiah then "wept with a great wailing." The Lord then appeared to Isaiah instructing him to pass on the following message to Hezekiah:
Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: 'I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you, and on the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. And I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for My own sake, and for the sake of My servant David.'

The Lord heard Hezekiah's cries and because he did not lose faith, the Lord answered his prayers. This is where we fall short, when we ask God for comfort, are we asking with a genuinely caring and hopeful heart?

There must also be a willingness to accept God's will. St. Paul suffered some sort of infirmity (obviously the specifics are not important whether it was a physical ailment or a spiritual weakness), and pleaded repeatedly with God for mercy. The Lord simply affirmed: "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." God may not fulfill your request, that does mean He is not listening or is dissatisfied with the request. The Lord knows what is best for us, and we must be willing to surrender to His will.

Therefore we must be hopeful in the Lord and learn to submit to His wisdom. Even when it seems the world is unjust, we must hope in the Lord that He will deliver us. Do not be boastful in tears during prayer either, pray with a humble heart. Simply pray with thanksgiving and know that He has a plan and His mercies are infinite. Also, don't be duped with false promises of hope, for the only true hope is in the Lord.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Feast of the Cross

TODAY THE CHURCH celebrates the feast of the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ. A great analysis of this celebration written by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III can be found here. The cross is such a simple shape, yet symbolizes so much for us as Christians. St. Paul stated: "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

To me, the cross is the intersection of Christianity's stark contrasts. It extends up from the Earth to the heavens, and then stretches throughout the land. It is where humans are saved through God's suffering. It is how we find peace in hardships. It is how we wash away sins with blood. It is how grace and love overcame justice and reciprocity. The cross is where God died so that we might live

The cross is the key that opened heaven for us. Through bearing our cross, we will be saved. Life is difficult, "be we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope." Therefore, the cross symbolizes hope. Hope in the Lord and the power of the cross, and "and all these things shall be added unto you."

Thursday, March 19, 2009


WE HAVE ALL heard the old adage "love the sinner, hate the sin." This is something most of us take for granted, but because of this, a Christian is allowed to love all men regardless of their actions. As I was slowly dissecting Chesterton's Orthodoxy, I came across this great summary of Christian charity:

[Christianity] came in startling with a sword, and clove one thing from another. It divided the crime from the criminal. The criminal we must forgive unto seventy times seven. The crime we must not forgive at all. It was not enough that slaves who stole wine inspired partly anger and partly kindness. We must be much more angry with theft than before, and yet much kinder to thieves than before. There was room for wrath and love to run wild.

This is bold and unique unto Christianity. Separate a person's actions from the person and you will be hard-pressed to hold a grudge. You will also find yourself a better person for having learned to hate an action to the point that you avoid it yourself. The devil is in the details, and that is what makes a person great. A great person who will go the extra mile. This is what Christianity is about.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Beautiful Day

THE WEATHER WAS absolutely beautiful today. The sunshine simply beckoned for outdoor activity. It reminded me that there once existed a time that the beauty and goodness of nature was simply enough for people to believe in our Creator. Everything on the Earth that God created is good. How do we know this? It is written plain as day: "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse."

What then is the reason for the evils in the world? Simple, it is man's creation. Sure, some people would argue that the world is awful and it should be scorned, but how can God's creation be so bad? And how do we know it is bad? "A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line" This is to say that, unless we have another world we have experienced to compare this one to, we cannot pass any judgments upon it. But what we do know is that this world was created by God and is inhabited by human beings created in His image and likeness. Maybe it is time to stop and enjoy the scenery with good company. God is glorified with something as simple as a beautiful day. So don't let it get away.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day

I would like to forward you to a great blog entry from my good friend Nader Alfie regarding the link between St. Patrick and the Coptic Orthodox Church. Click here

Monday, March 16, 2009

My Abigail

I HAVE A great sister. She is strong-willed like her father, yet selfless and loving like her mother. I always likened her to Abigail, the wife of King David. If you are yet to read the story of Abigail, you are missing out on one of the greatest gems of the Old Testament. Abigail "was a woman of good understanding and beautiful appearance" just like my sister. What makes Abigail so special was that in her humility, she bowed down before David to avoid him from acting on his anger and killing Nabal. I like to think that Abigail is the strong and emotional woman that appeals to a man's rough and painfully logical mind. By nature, men are more logically oriented and women are more emotionally driven. Men can be harsh, and only a woman's gentle nature can keep him grounded. It is a perfect balance. My sister is no different. She is always there to remind me when I am being cold-hearted and unloving. She steps in before I do something horrible and sinful. and then offers what she has in a most humble way. It is a Blessing to have a Christian influence like her at home. Most people would prefer a family member who is more of a yes-man, "but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” And that is done by having an Abigail at home.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Easy Livin'

IT IS BEAUTIFUL to be reminded of God when you least expect it. It is a weakness of human beings to dwell on the bad and struggle to focus on the good. Because of this, people tend to be down and feel the world is on their shoulders. Job, the classic example, was tested (far worse than any of us might I add) and prevailed. I especially like when he said: “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” I was reminded of this when a person of whom I had just met said something along the lines of this verse. Let's not forget our Lord's abundant mercies in times of good fortune. For me, times have been well, but have I been keeping up with my Christian duties? Glorify God when times are well, and seek God when you are in a funk. It is inevitable, it happens, but God's infinite mercies will get us through.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Emptiness

TODAY I VISITED the National Archives and Records Administration with a few friends which houses the Declaration of Independence as well as other important documents instrumental in the development of the United States. Let me go into a little history; Thomas Jefferson who penned the Declaration of Independence included, what he called, the inalienable rights of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is a phrase borrowed from John Locke, but Jefferson of course substituted "property" for "pursuit of happiness" because not everyone was able to own property in America at that time.

Now, every so often you hear something that is so blatantly offensive that you simply do not know what to do. I recently heard a comment that was offensive in this way and it certainly provoked a sense of curiosity within me. Now, I will admit that I have not completely thought this one through, so I assume a follow-up will be in order when I am more familiar with the topic. The comment made was this; religious happiness is one that is "empty" and, to use the person's own wording, "not real."

Firstly, God did not make us to be happy. This is something that angers many non-Christians. I mean, is not happiness an inalienable right? "You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." God made us to glorify Him, and when you know and love Him, the result is joy. I use the word joy for a reason, for joy and happiness are not one in the same. Happiness is something temporary, joy is everlasting. Joy can only be had with God, for everything else is temporary.

St. Paul sums it up perfectly: "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Martyrdom vs. Suicide

THERE EXISTS NOTHING that is more opposed to martyrdom than suicide. It is difficult to imagine this because both involve someone willingly laying down their own life, but Chesterton highlights the stark differences between the two. Here he explains the contrast:

Not only is suicide a sin, it is the sin. It is the ultimate and absolute evil, the refusal to take an interest in existence; the refusal to take the oath of loyalty to life. The man who kills a man, kills a man. The man who kills himself, kills all men; as far he is concerned he wipes out the world. His act is worse (symbolically considered) than any rape or dynamite outrage. For it destroys all buildings; it insults all women. The thief is satisfied with diamonds; but the suicide is not; that is his crime. He cannot be bribed, even by the blazing stones of the Celestial City. The thief compliments the things he steals, if not the owner of them. But the suicide insults everything on earth by not stealing it... A martyr is a man who cares so much for something outside him, that he forgets his own personal life. A suicide is a man who cares so little for anything, outside him, that he wants to see the last of everything. One wants something to begin: the other wants everything to end.*

This post is about more than just death, it is about life and how we live it. The mentality of a martyr is one of a person who knows that there is more to life than living, and that is God. We are all called to the life of a martyr which means to be willing to end your life so that something else may begin. It is a renewal, Christ died so that we could have life. If we are ever called, we must be willing to die, so that our soul may live.


Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton; pg. 64

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Say (Only) What You Need to Say

"TIS BETTER TO remain silent and be thought of as a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt." It seems like in today's world, everyone wants to be noticed. Whether it be via beauty or possessions, people strive for attention. I feel this may be because of life's distractions and chaos, but nevertheless, this directly opposes the Christian ideal of humility. Idle talk has its repercussions, and regarding silence I found these pertinent passages.

"The heart of the wise will discern the things which proceed from his own mouth, and on his lips he will wear knowledge." A wise person knows not only when to speak, but what to say. Godly wisdom reveals the correct words that reflect His will.

"'He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.' When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly." Even Christ, when being led to the slaughter, said nothing to those who ridiculed Him. This really requires no other explanation.

This is really a short post that I felt we have all heard before but needed reiterating. Words are like bullets, they can damage and cannot be taken back once the damage is done. It is important to regularly meditate on the idea of silence while in silence. Clear your mind "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."

Feel free to add your own thoughts.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

So be Good for Goodness' Sake!

A SERIES OF ads sponsored by The American Humanist Association ran on buses in Washington D.C. stating: "“Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake." I was reminded of this recently when overhearing a discussion about a new book which argues that the world would be a better place without religion. The premise of this book is simple, people have innately kind hearts and religion only gives people a new difference to fight over. Unfortunately, this is an oversimplification of the facts and has one major flaw; being good is not good enough.

I am utterly intrigued that people believe random acts of kindness is sufficient. This is not to say that kindness is bad, it is simply insufficient. I see no honor or nobility in being nice to someone who has already won your approval. This is instinctive and quite easy to do. Or more eloquently our Lord asks "if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?" Christ came and broke the mold and said, that's great, but it's not enough. You must "Love your enemies, do good to those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you." If you are a Christian, you have heard this more than you wish to remember, but have you ever stopped to think about how novel this concept is? Here you have Christ, a guy from a religion which preaches atonement and reciprocity, saying forgive your debtors and love your enemies. It's craziness!

Now, we know what it means to be better than good, but why should we? Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." Okay, that's fine and dandy, but logic deduces the question: why do we love Him? The first epistle of John states "We love Him because He first loved us." What comes to mind now is, what incentive do we have to follow Christ? I mean, His requests are pretty tough! Well He said "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." Good enough for me, sign me up!

That sure does sound like good insurance, to be self-less and love our enemies for God's sake and reward. Being good for goodness' sake, what does that even mean? Who cares about goodness' sake? Why should people even bother? The truth is, they shouldn't; and they probably don't. Maybe that explains the current state of the world.

So to recap, Christ loved us, we love Him, He asked us to keep His commandments, and therefore He has a reward waiting for us. Want to be perfect? Christ, the Good Shepherd who "gives His life for the sheep" has given us an example and we are to follow it. Why you ask? For His sake.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Spiritual Bailout

THE SINGLE LARGEST crime on humanity in the world is poverty. It is the result of greed and directly opposes the teachings of Christ, "for God loves a cheerful giver." The current economic crisis is no secret and many people are feeling its wrath. Everyone has heard the facts, so I won't belabor that point. I'd rather discuss a different perspective inspired while reading through a friend's blog.

Many people have been placed in difficult situations that require them to start asking others for handouts. There is no reason to be bashful with God either, for He instructed that "to him who knocks it will be opened." God is always willing to give, we simply have to be willing to take.

Unfortunately, this doesn't always appease us. We must remember that He said to the apostle Paul “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” As Christians, we must remember to bear our cross with delight. He said. "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Let us remember to be grateful for God's abundant mercies. Even if we fall victim to the current economic crisis, take solace in remembering God is waiting for us at the door.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Connecticut Moves to Kill First Amendment

THE DOCTRINE CONCERNING the separation of church and state is often misunderstood. I'll reserve my beliefs concerning that for another time but, I must say, the Connecticut legislature missed it by a long-shot. This is what Jack Fowler from the National Review had to say about the new Raised Bill 1098 (click this to view the actual bill):

The Democrat-controlled Judiciary Committee has introduced Raised Bill 1098, a bill aimed specifically at the Catholic Church, which would remove the authority of the bishop and pastor over individual parishes and put a board of laymen in their place. Yes, we’re asking the same questions you are (Where does the legislature have the authority to do this? Isn’t this a blatant violation of the First Amendment?), but we assure you that this is not a hoax.

I assume the Catholics of Connecticut are up in arms (hopefully only figuratively) over this new legislation and are taking action. The Catholic Church has already answered this with a petition of sort. I am also curious to see where this will go, I will keep an eye on it and see if this (appropriately) gets overturn.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


"ONE MEASURE OF a classic is the multiplicity of persuasive readings we can legitimately make of it."* This was said about one of my favorite books, Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America. The genius of this work is marveled at even to this day. I especially enjoy his thoughts on patriotism. Tocqueville explains that there exists three types of patriotism. One he explains is an "instinctive, disinterested, and undefinable feeling which connects the affections of man with his birthplace... it does not reason, but it acts from the impulse of faith and sentiment."* The second is a people's pride in living under a powerful ruler. The third type of patriotism is one that reasons, which he continues to say more fruitful and more lasting: it springs from knowledge; it is nurtured by the laws, it grows by the exercise of civil rights; and, in the end, it is confounded with the personal interests of the citizen. A man comprehends the influence which the well-being of his country has upon his own; he is aware that the laws permit him to contribute to that prosperity, and he labors to promote it, first because it benefits him, and secondly because it is in part his own work.*

Unfortunately, the first type of patriotism describes all too many Christians. A sense of comfort surrounds a church-goer and they feel no need to educate themselves on their own source of salvation. This is quite a problem, and to quote St. Jerome: "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ."* Some religions have followers that are similar to the second type of patriotism Tocqueville describes, such religions have strict laws and do not allow the common people to question doctrines and are even told what to believe. The third type of patriotism is what we should be striving for as Christians. This type of patriotism is willing to sacrifice for the common good. While there is so much to be analyzed in that quote, it is Tocqueville's attention to knowledge that strikes me. A love that springs from knowledge, which is no different when applied to Christianity, is one which "is more fruitful and more lasting."

Those who attack Christianity are well versed in the Bible and are able to make quite convincing arguments against what we believe, although their logic is usually faulty. Many Christian's aren't versed well enough to counter these arguments. Sure, as a Christian, I exercise discretion and pick my battles, but there will come a time in a Christian's life where you cannot avoid a question. Therefore, it is best to be well prepared.

I would like to note before I finish that there is still no replacement for leading by example. It was how the Triune God taught us how to live our lives, by sending His Only Begotten Son to walk the Earth with us. I leave you with a quote from Ben Sweetland that really wraps things up nicely, "we cannot hold a torch to light another's path without brightening our own."

(1) Tocqueville and Republican Religion: Revisiting the Visitor, Cushing Strout; pg. 9
(2) Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville; pg. 235
(3) Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville; pg. 235
(4) Jerome's Commentary on Isaiah (Nn. 1.2 CCL 73, 1-3), St. Jerome

Saturday, March 7, 2009

De imitatione Christi

"ALL PARENTS DAMAGE their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass absorbs the prints of its handlers."* This is inevitable, for children know not how to act or what to believe; so it is instinctive to imitate someone who does. It is quite a responsibility that intimidates me when I pay it any mind. This is not to say though, that we are left without instruction. We are told to "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." Surely this can be considered an instruction manual for parenting, but it is far more difficult than most are willing to do.

Affection is something that has piqued my curiosity in the past weeks. Often frowned upon in society, I have recently been compelled to embrace it. Beyond the silly pun lies a truth that cannot be hidden behind words. Anyone can utter the words I love you, but not anyone can communicate it without words. Christ was often found associating with those considered unclean or looked upon as sinners. The Son of God was willing to be touched by those needing healing, so it important that we learn from this and extend our healing powers to our loved ones. Before our youth become tainted with prints of neglect and hate, why not shower them with prints of love? Our Heavenly Father being our perfect example, loved us perfectly. It is only natural that we imitate Him.


* The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom; pg. 104