November 2018

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Orthodox spirituality centers on relationship. Beginning with the doctrine of the Holy Trinity our faith is imbued with an emphasis on personal connection with God and with one another. In a very real sense they are one and the same. St. John the Divine speaks of this in his first universal letter saying, "If anyone says, 'I love God,' but hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen." (I John 4:20)

What has interested me over the years is how to speak about the intimate union with God that ultimately results in a union referred to with the metaphor of the bridal chamber and the sensuous poetry of the Song ofSongs and St. Simeon the New Theologian's ecstatic hymns all of which at times seem to blur the distinction between the Uncreated God and the creation.

I found a wonderful quote in Martin Lord's book A SUNLIT ABSENCE: SILENCE, AWARENESS, AND CONTEMPLATION that helps describe this union.

"By the grace of creation and redemption, there is a grounding union between God and the human person. In the depths of this ground, the 'between' cannot be perceived, for it is completely porous to the Divine Presence."

Like the glowing coal in which the distinction between the coal and the fire cannot be distinguished.

Our vocation is to become aware that this union already exists with God (the Incarnation is the greatest confirmation of this truth) and thus also with all of humanity and the whole of creation by grace. "Let us love one another that with one mind we may confess."

With deep affection,
Fr. Antony