Losing my Religion
Shrugging off Religion and Replacing it with NothingAccording to Professor Mark Silk of Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., "The real dirty little secret of religiosity in America is that there are so many people for whom spiritual interest, thinking about ultimate questions, is minimal,"
Increasing numbers of people are concerned only with new cars, mortgages, entertainment, or their favorite rock band or football team, unconcerned about spiritual matters. Even people who were raised in the Church, and who regularly participated in the life of the Church, have shrugged off their obligations to God, preferring sleeping in on Sundays, or spending their leisure time in the pursuit of social engagements, or sporting events, to the fulfilling of their obligations to God. They even begin to question their faith, having withdrawn themselves from the abounding grace that had previously sustained them. They begin to question if the Church is relevant to them, or even if God really exists.
Having become their own gods, they've surrendered to a secular world view, where self fulfillment is everything, and where pride rules supreme. "When a fall has overtaken us, there pride has already pitched its tent; because a fall is an indication of pride (St. John Climacus)."
Having become minimalists in the area of religion, they slowly sink in the quagmire of secularism, and the ultimate atheism that follows. Surrendered to the hazardous behavior of absenting from the grace filled Mysteries of Christ's Church, they sink into the mud of a life devoid of meaning, surrendering themselves to material pursuits. Ultimately they find that life hasn't been very fulfilling, and they wonder why.
In the ongoing pursuit of material and carnal pleasures, they spend countless hours in health clubs, toning their bodies in an attempt to stave off the aging process, while seeing no need to prioritizing the very pursuits that have eternal value. Finding themselves asking the question, "is that all there is", is it any wonder shrugging off religion has led to an empty feeling within, an inner nothingness?
When I was a young man I regularly went to the gym for weight lifting. A few years ago after having had a hip replaced, I decided I needed to strengthen my body in order to give support to the other hip, and fight off the arthritis that was starting to weaken my knee joints. Since I had access to the fire department's weight room (I'm their chaplain) I decided to resume weight lifting. I was surprised at how quickly my muscle tone returned, and remembered the truism that muscles have memory.
The soul is like that. Just as muscles rebuild themselves when we make the effort to exercise, so too the soul is quickly restored to health when we avail ourselves to the healing grace that abounds within the Church.
As we are about to enter a new year, why not make a resolution to commit yourself to a reformation of your life? Commit yourself to regular church attendance, and recommit yourself to keeping the fast periods, spiritual reading, and prayer. Don't worry that you've not been attentive to your spiritual life during this past year, but focus on 2012 as the year of spiritual revival. Seek out a parish that is on the Old (Church) Calendar, and plan to attend the Nativity celebration on the 7th of January. I'm not suggesting you switch allegiance to a church that was not in your past, but use Orthodox Christmas as a way to let Christ be reborn in your heart, and usher in a new year of enlightenment, where the Son of Righteousness reigns in your life, anew!
With love in Christ,
Saturday December 31, 2011 / December 18, 2011
29th Week after Pentecost. Tone three.
Nativity Fast. Fish Allowed.
Nativity Fast. Fish Allowed.
Martyr Sebastian at Rome and his companions: Martyrs Nicostratus, Zoe, Castorius, Tranquillinus, Marcellinus, Mark, Claudius, Symphorian, Victorinus, Tiburtius, and Castulus (287).
Martyr Victor (1936).
New Hieromartyr Thaddeus (Uspensky), archbishop of Tver (1937).
New Hieromartyrs Nicholas archbishop of Velikoustiuzh, James, John, Vladimir, and Nicholas priests (1937).
New Hieromartyr Sergius deacon and Virgin-martyr Vera (1942).
Venerable Sebastian, abbot of Poshekhonye Monastery (Vologda) (1500).
Glorification (1694) of Righteous Simeon, wonderworker of Verkhoturye (1642).
St. Modestus I, archbishop of Jerusalem (4th c.).
Venerable Florus, bishop of Amisus (7th c.).
Venerable Michael the Confessor at Constantinople (845).
Martyr Eubotius at Cyzicus (318).
Venerable Winnibald, abbot and missionary of England and Heidenheim (Germany) (761) (Celtic & British).
Hieromartyr Zaccheus the Deacon and St. Alpheus the Reader of Caesarea (Greek).
St. Gatianus, first bishop of Tours (3rd c.).
St. Sophia the Wonderworker (Greek).
I wish to thank those of you who have been contributing towards the principle of our mortgage ($250,000.00). For those of you who can't donate due to the depressed economy, please remember to pray for the monastery. It would be such a great blessing if we were able to retire the mortgage debt altogether.
Donations can be made directly to the monastery through PayPal, or you may send donations to:
All-Merciful Saviour Monastery
PO Box 2420
Vashon Island, WA 98070-2420 USA
Brought Near by His Blood11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
A Man with Dropsy Healed on the Sabbath1 Now it happened, as He went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath, that they watched Him closely. 2 And behold, there was a certain man before Him who had dropsy. 3 And Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”
4 But they kept silent. And He took him and healed him, and let him go. 5 Then He answered them, saying, “Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” 6 And they could not answer Him regarding these things.