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Seeking Holiness in Diverse Ways

   Christians through the centuries have sought to connect with God in many different ways. Early on, even from the time of St. Paul, we know of people who dedicated their lives to a more secluded and prayerful state. Others, called by the Holy Spirit, went out to preach the Gospel and spread the news of salvation in Christ. Yet, others, felt God’s call to feed and clothe the poor. Each one of these ways are expressions of the human desire to fulfill God’s call to holiness. Each one does not exclude the others, but should, rather complement them.

   Today, we are faced with the same challenges. Prayer has to rise up to heaven to counteract evil and sin. The Gospel has to be preached, because people around us are ignorant of the Christian Faith. They are especially ignorant of the treasures of spiritual wisdom and guidance they can receive from the Orthodox Church. But, we also have an obligation to help those in need. Helping the needy begins with those immediately close to us. We can be of help as we show compassion, caring, kindness and love to everyone we encounter. Then we may seek to comfort others through material things.

   At Holy Transfiguration we have tried over the years to accomplish this call of the Lord through our own sacrifices in time, treasure and talent, offering back to God’s work from His Gifts to us. We call this Stewardship! In fact, this is another aspect of our worship of God. The Church has always been “Eucharistic”, meaning that we worship God by offering “Thanksgiving” for all He has done and is doing for us.

   In the Divine Liturgy, through the prayers of the priest, “you are the Offerer and the Offering, the one who receives and the one who distributes“, we recognize that all things belong to God and we accept them as His Gifts to us.

   At the point of the Consecration of the Holy Gifts the priest says: “We offer unto you these Gifts from Your own Gifts in all and for all,” acknowledging once again on behalf of the people that our offering (our sacrifice) is a Gift from Him that we are merely offering back to Him in worship. This is the moment, however, that we need to offer up, along with the bread and the wine, our own hearts. We need to surrender our whole life to Him asking for His “holiness” in return.

   It is this attitude of trust and surrender that God wants from us. His Grace and mercy may come in small ways, but His presence in our lives will be experienced in a special way by each one of us. God is love and will be experienced as love as we open up our hearts to love Him.

God Bless and Sanctify you,

Fr. Panayiotis

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