St. Mary Orthodox Church

Cambridge, MA

February 2009

Fr. Antony Portrait

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Christ is in our midst!

I believe that most people are tired of words and theories when it comes to the Christian life. What I think most are looking for is a way to live; a deep, intense, meaningful and transformational way to navigate life. Dare we say that people are looking for happiness? Not the kind that comes and goes, but the kind that remains, deepens and grows over time. The Holy Scripture calls it " the peace that passes understanding."

Most of us believe this can be ours if we have the right relationships and own the right stuff, but experience should teach us, if nothing else, that getting what we want does not make us happy for long. Soon the thrill of getting what we want gives way to disappointment and craving all over again and the cycle continues. Actually, any happiness we get from buying that perfect new car or marrying that perfect spouse does not come from the car or the spouse. It comes because for a moment the terrible longing and craving for what we think we must have to be happy stops. Not for long

The Lord Jesus gives a different answer. "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness..." The Lord invites us to look within where the kingdom of heaven lies to find true happiness. "Do not worry about tomorrow, what you shall eat or what you shall wear. Look at the lilies of the field." Happiness is to be found in those things that are not subject to corruption and death, the "most and rust" of life.

A great treasure lies within us. Our true nature. The image of God. It is that place, Merton says, "where neither sin nor desire ... can reach," the definition of what it means to be human. In other words reality. Looking within we discover it, this pearl of great price and we find at last what it means to be human. That is as God is love we are created also to be love, and happiness can be found only in living a life that nurtures all that is good and virtuous, turning aside from all that is not. To do nothing to harm either ourselves or others. This is virtue.

In the liturgical hymns chanted during the week of the College Conference I heard this wonderful phrase, "Lord grant us the power to match our natural inclinations." Our "natural inclinations" are to be like God. We must never think that our sinfulness is natural to us, no matter how typical or pervasive. Our good nature can never be undone by the delusion of sin! The first step in overcoming sin is to recognize the truth about what it really means to be human. The second is in acting on that knowledge.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Antony