September 2010

Fr. Antony Portrait
Photo Courtesy of Photographer Eric Limon

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Glory to Jesus Christ!

We are about to embark on a new year. September 1 is the beginning of the Liturgical year in the Orthodox Church. In a way it marks "the end of the summer" with everyone back at school and vacation over. I love this time of year for a variety of reasons, one of which is that we experience a reunion at St. Mary's. I am looking forward to seeing everyone again.

As we begin the New Year I would like to offer a word about repentance since it too is about new beginnings. Repentance is far more than a recitation of past sins. Far more. It is a detoxification process like cleansing the body from sugar or gluten. It takes effort and time to let go of what ails us especially when we think we can't live without it!

We also make a mistake when we try to limit repentance to just those obvious ways we break God's commandments. Sin is much more than breaking laws. Sin is a broad concept that includes all things that harm us. Sin, in the Orthodox understanding, is more like a disease. Repentance (or even better, purification) is the healing of the disease and the cure includes the release of tension and conflict, distraction and anxiety.

The spiritual life is about complete healing. Healing of body, mind, and spirit, of every level of consciousness of which we are oblivious. Repentance begins with what we know about ourselves and proceeds in a mysterious process led by the Holy Spirit to what we do not know. Everything we are must be converted and transformed. It is an adventure without parallel, an ascent "from glory to glory."

How sad it is if we are unwilling to make the journey! At this the beginning of the Orthodox New Year I hope we all make a commitment to this divine pilgrimage.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Antony