Sermons from St. Mary Church

On the Sunday of Forgiveness

February 18, 2018 - by Fr. Antony Hughes
It is not our choice whether to be saved or not. It is done. It is finished. However, it is our choice whether or not we will choose to come to a knowledge of the truth. In other words, whether or not we will dive deliberately into the experience of what it means to be loved, forgiven, and saved and that comes only through an internal pilgrimage. Lent is a quiet time, a much slower time than is normal for most people. If we choose to acknowledge it, everything that happens directs us to look deeper and to live more deliberately and consciously.

Living in the Present: An Orthodox Perspective

February 10, 2018 - by Fr. Antony Hughes
We are in the midst of a kind of awakening. The sciences, including neuroscience and the quantum sciences, have discovered that there is mystery at the core of the universe. Psychology is being revolutionized by the discovery of the benefits of mindfulness practice in religious people, including prayer and meditation. Even the Orthodox practice called hesychasm is being studied. Classically, our words for the now ubiquitous term 'mindfulness' are 'watchfulness and vigilance,' and nepsis. They mean the same thing and I tend to use them interchangeably. It is wonderful that religion, science, and psychology suddenly are no longer always at war. Metropolitan Zizioulas, I believe, said that religion and science are not at odds with each other at all, they 'coinhere.' I think he is right. This has been an object of interest and research for me for over 20 years.

Welcome to the New World

January 21, 2018 - by Fr. Antony Hughes
Zaccheus lived in a world of his own dominated by fear and greed, by hatred and suspicion. He lied and cheated to survive and to prosper at the expense of others. He was hated and despised by his neighbors and he returned the favor. He must have despised himself as well, for only those who do mistreat others. If we do not love ourselves, our true, godly, beautiful self, then we cannot love God or neighbor.

Believing is Seeing

January 14, 2018 - by Sarah Byrne-Martelli
When our eyes are closed, we miss what is right in front of us. When we look elsewhere, with envy or greed or mindless distraction, we miss what is right in front of us. We stare into space, we are scattered, we suffer and blindly fall into sin. Is this how God calls us to live?

The Beginning of the Gospel

December 31, 2017 - by Fr. Antony Hughes
The whole life, death, and resurrection was a revelation of Grace. God has filled all things with himself, even death, even the grave. He has baptized all things in the fire of his Compassion. God has taken our burdens on himself. He has set us free from sin, death, and the Evil One. The ringing and eloquent last words of Jesus in John’s Gospel was a resounding and final, 'It is finished.'

The Consciousness of Christ

December 10, 2017 - by Fr. Antony Hughes
It is very important that we begin to consider the two aspects of our faith: one, faith IN Jesus, who he is; and the faith OF Jesus, what moved and motivated him. The Ecumenical Councils were concerned mostly with the first. The Church’s belief in the full divinity and humanity of Jesus was so controversial that it demanded a response. The Seven Councils responded well: he is both fully God and fully man. That is what I mean when I speak of 'faith in Jesus.'

A Place Both Strange and Wonderful

November 26, 2017 - by Fr. Antony Hughes
So, today, the Lord invites the lawyer to experience the nearness of God and of his kingdom and, as we know from our reading, he grew very sad when he heard that in order to experience what Jesus was talking about, he would have to leave behind his attachment to his wealth.

Two Dimensions

November 19, 2017 - by Fr. Antony Hughes
The Rich Fool is unaware of this spiritual dimension trapped as he is in his futile search for security. His prime motivation is fear and fear does not exist in the spiritual dimension. He knows only one dimension – that of this fallen world - and thus is a man without faith which is why he puts all his hopes in his earthly possessions.

A Life of Luminous Actions

October 29, 2017 - by Fr. Antony Hughes
Professor Jaroslav Pelikan said that the problem with modern theology is that it has lost sight of the Cosmic Christ. True Christianity always rests in the revelation that Christ is Forever and All-Encompassing. The reason we have forgotten him, I believe, is encapsulated in this comment by St. Seraphim of Sarov, 'The other person is my joy.' We do not see. We do not see each other and so we do not see Christ. If we looked deeply with mindful awareness, we would see that he is the One who stares back at us through the eyes of our neighbors.

The Transparent World

October 15, 2017 - by Fr. Antony Hughes
The soil of an open heart is ready to receive the seeds of God’s word at all times, for they are always being sown as Jesus says, 'My Father and I are always working.' An open heart is a pure heart, unburdened by attachments to this world, to its anxieties and expectations. An open heart is a mystical heart that longs for union with God that looks for him with expectation and trust, ready to learn, eager to grow.

Compassion Compels Us

October 02, 2017 - by Fr. Antony Hughes
That seems such a huge thing to ask of us: to be as merciful, kind, and compassionate as God himself. Notice that Jesus does not mention being obedient to any law or religion or even a code of morality. He asks only that we be merciful. Why? Because it is not about religion or law or morality, it is about a new way of life governed only by love.

Ego and Humility

September 03, 2017 - by Fr. Antony Hughes
There is always a danger that we will try and use Jesus for our personal gain. You see it all the time on television – Christianity as a way to make money or gain power and notoriety. It is shameful of course and frightening the way so many people fall for it. We must be careful that we do not fall ourselves into such obvious corruption. Those who practice the way of using Christianity for egoic self-interest clearly do not know the Jesus they claim to represent.

The Ultimate Letting Go

August 27, 2017 - by Fr. Antony Hughes
The Rich Man could not yet let of his riches. The question is, what 'riches' are we holding onto so tightly that we too could not pass through the eye of a needle and into the kingdom of heaven? I’m not going to try and make a list of all the passages that speak of this. One of them that comes to mind is that we must love God more than father, mother, sister, brother, etc. If you think a little, I’m sure you could come up with several more.

Prayer and Fasting

August 13, 2017 - by Fr. Antony Hughes
The eternal truth, so ignored by so many these days, is that faith does not lead to power but to humility. The Lord said it this way, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' In our humility, our weakness, our powerlessness, our emptiness, the power of God moves mountains.

The Transfiguration of All Things

August 06, 2017 - by Fr. Antony Hughes
So, Trinitarian spirituality begins where we do not like to begin: shrouded in impenetrable mystery and luminous awe. Every Theophany has this effect on the human mind. Through them God breaks down all the barriers that the mind loves to create. Every Theophany has the purpose of helping us begin to obey the first commandment of Jesus in his first sermon in Mark’s Gospel: change your mind, repent.

The Law is One

July 16, 2017 - by Fr. Antony Hughes
The spiritual life is all about removing anything that hides the divine light within us. Another way Jesus put this is that we must 'die to ourselves.' This 'self' to which we must 'die' is not the true Self, the image of God, the 'light' that defines us as human beings. It is the little, protective false self, the ego, we have cobbled together out of our conditioning, traumas, disappointments, and attachments to this world.

The Vocation of Lovers of God

July 09, 2017 - by Fr. Antony Hughes
Those who truly love God are easy to find because they are full of love. Love is the one unmistakable sign of a disciple of Christ. Corinthians 13, “if I have not love, I am nothing.” Hatred may cross their minds, but, like a passing cloud, they have learned to let it come and let it go. And if we read the Gospels we discover something else surprising, it is often not the religious and the pious who get it, it is the ones who know they are nothing.

Fishing in the 21st Century

June 19, 2017 - by Fr. Antony Hughes
The search is on for deeper forms of connection both internal and external, for wisdom, for transcendence and for ways to embody the sacred in daily life; not painting a veneer of piety over a dysregulated life, but for true inner healing, for peace of mind, for an authentic and unshakable connection with God and others. Piety too often is play acting. The desire is for real transformation.

Knowing and Acknowledging

June 11, 2017 - by Fr. Antony Hughes
The eternal Word of God that is Jesus, the Christ, can only be known and therefore acknowledged when we enter into a direct, personal and intimate communion with him. And then we discover that what we came to know cannot be communicated in words, but only through being.

The Beauty of the Christ's Prayer

May 28, 2017 - by Fr. Antony Hughes
The Lord seems grounded and focused as he prays this long discourse-like prayer on the eve of his passion. When you might expect that fear and anxiety would distract him and overwhelm him, they don't. He seems to be utterly non-resistant to the fear he must have been feeling and to the fate that waited for him. That doesn’t mean that he didn’t feel it. The picture John paints is of prayer in the midst of almost unspeakable anguish.