November 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Christ is in our midst!

"If, as St. Paul says, Christ dwells in our hearts through faith, and all the treasures of wisdom and spiritual knowledge are hidden in him, then all of them are also hidden in our hearts. They are revealed to the heart in proportion to our purification…"  St. Maximos the Confessor

This is an amazing teaching!  We have a matchless treasure hidden within us and yet we seek everywhere else for happiness and fulfillment.  Finding no lasting joy in the things that pass away you might think we would have learned by now that we must look someplace else.  Unfortunately, this is too often not so.

Perhaps it is because we are not aware there is an alternative or think it is for "religious" people or just some fantasy cooked up by fanatical minds.  Or perhaps knowing what it is we do not think ourselves capable of doing what is necessary to take that different path.  Perhaps we do not think ourselves worthy of such a thing or would rather not embark on something that seems so foreign and thus so difficult. Whatever the reason is it is paltry compared to the glorious abundant life God promises to all who seek him with heart, soul, mind, and strength.

"Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness…"

What stands in our way is this thing we call our "self".  We spend years propping up an image we want to appear to be and we call it "ourselves".  It is fragile, easily hurt, damaged by the slightest glance or unkind word, always in competition, always afraid, and utterly false.  Olivier Clement calls it "a shadow theatre of neurotic characters and it is they who are pulling our strings instead of the other way about."  (ON HUMAN BEING, p. 9)

That is what we are called to deny when Jesus says, "Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me."  The spiritual path is nothing less than a return to authenticity, to reality, and to sanity.  We must be purified of this false "self".

What we get in return is the infinite treasure that God has placed in our hearts.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Antony Hughes