September 2020

Fr. Antony reading the GospelDear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

"Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (1 Pet 5:5)

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a confused seminary student sat in his first class at a non-denominational seminary in a school headed by the object of a personality cult referred to by one of the deans as "the prophet Elijah." The class was Systematic Theology I. The experience was shocking.

The professor started with a prayer to the Virgin Mary (the long one from the Akathist Hymn), read the life of St. Pelagia the Harlot, assigned Vladimir Lossky's THE MYSTICAL THEOLOGY OF THE EASTERN CHURCH as supplementary reading, and then, wrote nine words on the board I have never forgotten. "There are divisions in God that do not divide." What in the world is this," I asked myself? It was theology! That got the ball rolling and it has never stopped. Of course that student was me.

From that day on my view of God and the world began to unravel. Slowly I began to detach from much of what I had been taught. My mind was thoroughly, but not completely, Protestantized, and now I was presented with an alternative view I did not know even existed. Meister Eckhart reflects this alternative vision beautifully:

"If I were to say 'God exists,' this would not be true. He is beyond being. He is a nothingness beyond being. This is why St. Augustine says 'The best thing to be said about God is silence.'"

Growth never ceases unless we attempt to stop it. St. Gregory of Nyssa said it like this, "Sin is the refusal to grow." Growth means change, change of mind and change of heart and we must not fear it. God is infinite. We cannot come to the end of Him nor the end of truth. The creation is filled with mysteries. There is so much we do not know and we must never delude ourselves into thinking we have mastered everything there is to master.

The Rev. Dr. Barbara Brown Taylor wrote this to enlighten and warn us, "Jesus was not killed by atheism and anarchy. He was brought down by law and order allied with religion - which is always a deadly mix. Beware of those who claim to know the will of God and are prepared to use force, if necessary, to make others conform. Beware those who cannot tell God's will from their own.

Let us never be among them. Without humility it is impossible to please God.

With deepest affection,
   Fr. Antony