OrthoAnalytika

Homily: The Demoniac at Gardenes

Introduction – the context of the story

Our Lord had just come across the water with his disciples.  They had faced one kind of fear when they were on the water: a fear of the chaos of a storm.  A great wind had come up while Jesus slept, and the disciples panicked.  They woke Jesus up and he calmed the wind and rebuked them for their lack of faith. 

When they got to the other side, they faced a new kind of fear: the fear of ghosts.  The demons in this man at Gardenese had driven him into the graveyard to play on men’s superstitions about ghosts.  In different parts of the Gospels, the disciples had shown themselves to be subject to this superstition.  But the Lord identified the demoniac for what he was: not a ghost haunting the cemetery, but a man possessed by a legion of demons.

There are three main points I would have us learn here. 

The first has to do with fear. 

Fear is a strong instinct, and it is one that the powers of the air and marketers of this world like to use to manipulate us.  Fear is a strong instinct, but for we who have given our lives to Christ and to His peace and to His power, it is not a rational one.  Do we fear for our bodies?  Why, when Our Lord Himself said that we should be more concerned with the state of our souls?  When He has given us proof of the resurrection of His sons and daughters into new bodies in the world to come?  Do we fear for the health of others?  Why?  Do we believe that we love them more than God does?  There are dangers in this world and we need to be aware of them; but fear does not help us see and react to these dangers more effectively.  Quite the opposite.  The only laudable fear that Scripture speaks of is the fear of God – and this is the fear that brings His peace and power to bear in the most difficult of times.  We should not fear the storms.  God can bring calm to us even when they blow around us.  We should not fear the ghosts.  They are the illusions of the world created to scare and control us.  We should not even fear the demons.  They have no hold over the righteous and God has granted His Church His power over them.  We should only fear the Lord and trust in His power and love.   

The second has to do with how this man got there in the first place.

[How did that man end up running through the graveyard naked?]  Temptations.  Fascination.  Obsession.  Possession.  Both good and bad thoughts can lead us down this sorrowful road.  Example of a bad thought: remembrance of wrongs.   Example of a good thought: the protection of children.  Even the latter can become perverted so that the parent becomes a curse to himself, to his children, and to everyone around him (other examples: health, work, church/religion).  In these times, it is important to realize that even thoughts that begin from a good place – a desire for another’s safety or a desire for justice – can lead us down this road if we lose perspective and grounding.  The media is designed to feed this obsession.  The real danger for us as Christians is that we are trained by our faith to care for the good and to hate all that is evil; without discernment and peace, our feelings can open us to the kind of manipulation that can lead to the kind of madness that will have us all running crazy through the graveyards.

The third and concluding point is to remind you that this is place where miracles happen. 

This is where God works to bring peace to our souls, to our families, to our community, and to our world.  This is where God roots out the demons and obsessions that have all but ruined our lives.  This is where God brings joy to those who have oppressed by the wickedness of a fallen world.  We have all seen it happen.  We are here because we know this to be a place of peace and power.

Conclusion:  Give your life to Christ

God will not force His miracles on us.  Remember in the story that the demoniacs were not the only ones possessed: there was a whole town nearby that loved their swine and the money those pigs made them so much that they could neither rejoice in the healing of their brothers nor embrace the one God who brought him healing; much less see the demons in their own hearts and seek his mercy themselves.  Instead, they ran Christ out of town. 

We all need healing.  We are all obsessed.  We need to let go of [and renounce] “the devil and all his works, and all his worship, and all his angels, and all his pomp.” 

We must unite ourselves completely to Christ; as St. Paul put it this morning, we need to confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead.  This is the way out of fear, this is the way out of madness, this is the only Way to perfect peace and joy.

 

Direct download: 20200712-H-ModernDemonography.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 7:24pm EDT

This is a recording of Fr. Anthony Perkins' YouTube Livestream from 7/6/2020.  After talking about the (Liturgical) Summer Solstice, he talks about identity politics and the greatest patriotic sf movie ever.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20200706-YT-HappySummerSolstace.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

This is a recording of Fr. Anthony Perkins' Livestream from his back porch in Hartwell, Georgia on 30 June 2020.  He talks about how the modern troubles play on the lowest part of our minds and why "Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future" is incomplete and misleading.

Direct download: 20200630-YT-EmotionsandAliens.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Homily for the third Sunday after Pentecost (Romans 5:1-10; Matthew 6:22-33).  Do we have anxiety or peace?  Are our tribulations bringing us anger and despondency or hope?  In this homily, Fr. Anthony makes the case that we are suffering from the chaos around us because we skipped a step: we went straight to virtue without first seeking God and His righteousness.  This was Fr. Anthony's audible homily; it's not polished, but there you go.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily-WeAreDoingItWrong.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

This talk was recorded and streamed at 10AM EST on 22 June 2020 on Fr. Anthony Perkins' Youtube Channel.  In it, Fr. Anthony talks about what St. Paul’s letter to the Romans teaches us about the utility of feelings and science for discerning and healing the world’s pain.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Talk-WeCANNOTTrustourFeelings.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Fr. Anthony preaches on the epistle reading (Romans 2:10-16), explaining St. Paul's take on the utility of The Law (for the Jews) vs. the Conscience (for the Gentiles) and what it means for us now.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily-AllLocalSaints.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 7:38pm EDT

Homily for All Saints 2020
Continuing on the theme of Division

Call to unity.  But we experience division.  The devil loves to divide us [and to solve that division with hedonism and tyranny]. 

[Review the three parts of the mind]

Rather than taking the unity of God into our minds (through the heart), and spreading it through our families, friendships, communities and the world; we do the opposite: we take the divisions and tyrannies of the devil in the world, bring them into our minds (through our emotions; justified by our brains), and spread them through our families and friendships and communities and the world [giving it back with usury].

We have entire industries devoted to sowing this division through our emotions, under the guise of entertainment and news.

 Everything is turned upside down (in the theater). Who is it that plots against our marriages? Is it not the theater?  Don’t you see how this makes it impossible for women to love their husbands?  Don’t you see how this leads husbands to disdain their wives?  Don’t you see how this encourages insatiability, adultery, and divorce?  This is how it is not just with the theater itself; the theater-goers themselves are subversive of our families and community; they bring a grievous tyranny among themselves and into our midst.  St. John Chrysostom, “Homily 37”.

[Restate that in terms of race.  It also works for politics, sex, etc.]

The media make money by playing up our divisions [and then offering hedonism and tyranny as a solution].  They know how to use the emotions that the images and stories they craft generate to manipulate us to watch more news.  That’s their model for making money.  They devil rejoices in this because it takes people who have SO MUCH in common to distrust and even hate one another.  This is true of the entire news and media system.  We can’t think that we have opted out because we have found an unbiased source or balanced one set against another.  They are still manipulating us and dividing us for market share.

So what is the solution?

God gave us our psychology for our salvation.  The evil one uses it to manipulate and divide us; the Church works with our psychology to save and unite us.

  • First. Cut way back on our screen time, to include news and social media.  Don’t let them feed the emotions.
  • Second.  Pray.  Read pious and useful literature.  Watch pious and useful entertainment.
  • Third.  Love.  Don’t judge.  Be charitable.

It is easier for Christians who actually pray the prayers of the Church in their daily prayer rules, surrounds themselves with icons, and avoid the excesses of the media to live well because they know from the depths of their heart that they live in a beautiful world among the saints.  Such people have has set themselves up for success.

One final thought [drawing on the parallel between marriage and the Church]:

What would you think of a married man who spent more time hanging out at the bar with his bachelor and adulterous friends than with his wife?

What would you think of a wife who spent more time complaining about men with her friends than nurturing her marriage?

How long would you expect their marriages to last?  And if they lasted, how happy would you expect that marriages to be?

[Restate this with regard to our nation and community.]

We have to be intentional about our relationships with one another in order to find peace and joy within them.  It is the same for our relationship with Christ.  We cannot live healthy Christian lives without nurturing our relationship with Him.  He is Incarnate in His Church.  That means that we must devote ourselves to the life of Christ here in this God-protected parish.

Direct download: Homily-AllSaints2020.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 1:58pm EDT

At Pentecost we celebrate the Holy Trinity and the restoration of unity from the division of Babel.  How are we to understand the present division within that frame?  Fr. Anthony provides some context and gives three pieces of advice for these difficult times:  1) cultivate peace in the heart and in relations 2) be charitable towards the intentions of others and 3) trust God's plan on redemption for all of us.  

Direct download: Homily-Pentecost.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 4:03pm EDT

This homily was given on the Sunday after the Ascension (St. John 17:1-13; Acts 20:16-18, 28-36) and after a week of our shared outrage over police brutality and a growing concern about the rioting that has occurred in response to that brutality.  God wants us to be one; how are we doing with that?!

Direct download: 2200531-HomilyonUnity.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 2:36pm EDT

Join Fr. Anthony on his back porch in Hartwell, Georgia, as he talks with author, priest, professor, and canonist, Fr. Harry Linsinbigler about Orthodox Ecclesiology and Ukraine.  There's at least a little in here for everyone to be challenged by.

Direct download: 2200527-EcclesiologyandUkraine.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Join Fr. Anthony Perkins on his back porch in Hartwell, GA as he talks with author, canonist, and professor, Fr. Harry Linsinbigler about his new book on ecclesiology, "In Every Church" (also "Orthodox Ecclesiology") and how it helps us understand today's ecclesial challenges.  They also talk about how ecclesiology expresses itself in the responses to the coronavirus.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 2200526-EcclesiologyII.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

In this homily on the woman at the well (St. Luke 4:1-42), Fr. Anthony describes how Jesus Christ taught us to do evangelism by leading with love.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20200517-HomilyonLeadingwithLove.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Join Fr. Anthony on his back porch in Hartwell, Georgia, as talks with priest, professor, and canonist, Fr. Harry, about his new books ("In Every Church" and "Orthodox Ecclesiology") and why it’s important to get ecclesiology right.  This is a recording from https://www.youtube.com/user/74snipe/videos.

Direct download: 2200512-EcclesiologyI.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Christ healed the paralytic.  St. Peter healed Ananias and raised Tabitha from the dead.  We sure could use some of that kind of power now, right?  Enjoy the show.

Direct download: 20200510-HomilyonHealingPeopleNow.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 7:47pm EDT

In this homily on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers (St. Mark 15:43-16:8), Fr. Anthony compares our reactions to deaths caused by COVID-19 to the reactions of various groups at the time of Christ's death.  He finishes by encouraging us to imitate the witness of the Myrrhbearers who reacted in the noblest way possible: love.

Direct download: 20200503-HomilyonAttitudestowardsDeath.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 6:18pm EDT

Join Fr. Anthony on his back porch in Hartwell, Georgia as he talks with his mentor and friend, Fr. Robert Holet (UOC-USA) about how we can take this opportunity to meet the evangelical challenges of today and prepare for those of tomorrow.  This is the audio from Fr. Anthony's daily YouTube livestream (Fr. Anthony Perkins).  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20200428-HoletandEvangelization.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 5:22pm EDT

Join me on my back porch in Hartwell, Georgia as I make a case for optimism, boundaries, and the virtue of having a generous spirit.  The last bit ends up being pretty profound (through no fault of my own, I assure you!).  From my daily livestream on YouTube (Fr. Anthony Perkins).  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20200427-AGentleSpirit.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 2:30pm EDT

This is the audio from my daily YouTube livestream (https://www.youtube.com/user/74snipe/)  In it, I talk about the value of diversity in risk-adversity and areas of expertise and describe how our culture's willingness to tolerate diversity will allow us to make it through this crisis better than if we only had people who thought correctly.  I also talk about the value of optimism and use the example of a recent MP article on aliens to describe how NOT to evangelize people who know how to think critically.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20200424-OptimismandAliens.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Join Fr. Anthony on his back porch in Hartwell, GA, as he talks with Fr. Gabriel Rochelle (UOC-USA) about breadmaking, cycling, Celtic spirituality, and the Old Testament.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20200408-FrGabriel.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 10:21pm EDT

Join Fr. Anthony Perkins on his back porch in Hartwell, Georgia, as he talks with Julianna Golas (Human Development and Family Studies, University of Rhode Island) about parenting during these hard times. Themes addressed will include finding your family rhythm in chaos, the power of routines, and recognizing the signs of mental health distress.

Direct download: 20200407-Golas.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 8:45pm EDT

Join Fr. Anthony on his back porch in Hartwell, GA as he talks about connection, story, and a simple way to find comfort and joy even in the midst of a trial.  This is the audio from Fr. Anthony Perkins' YouTube livestream (YouTube channel: Fr. Anthony Perkins).  Check it out!

Direct download: 20200406-FindingComfortNow.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Fr. Anthony shares a lesson that both the Apostles Luke and John and St. Mary of Egypt learned: that our default setting may make us feel right and good, but our feelings are a poor indicator of truth.  Our experience with the Coronavirus helps us understand this and why the world groans in agony as a result.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: CoronavirusandthePsychologyofMisingtheMark.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 8:43pm EDT

Listen as Dn Tim Kelleher, author, actor, director, and deacon talks about story, liturgy, and how we can deepen our faith in difficult times.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20200403-DnTimKelleher-audio.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Check out our daily livestream on YouTube at "Fr. Anthony Perkins"!

A Meditation on St. John’s “The Ladder of Divine Ascent”

What is Orthodox Tradition? Why is it important for us to immerse ourselves in the worship and rigors of Orthodoxy?

At the visible level, one that can be observed and studied by scientists, tradition is the accumulation of rituals and ideas that are directed towards a purpose. In the case of Orthodox Tradition, that purpose is the formation of good and strong human beings, good and strong families, and good and strong communities.

We know that, left to their own devices, children will go selfish and feral (spoiled, if you will); that family structures will morph into tyranny or disintegrate altogether, and communities will do the same.

On the other hand, good ideas and useful rituals allow humans, families, and societies a way out of this nasty and brutish life. Through Orthodox ritual and belief, the passions are tamed. The child learns self-control, the family finds grounding, and the community naturally brings safety, healing, and guidance to all its members. Beliefs and rituals that do these things are continually reaffirmed through our participation in them and those that prove counter-productive are adjusted. This is done slowly, and with a recognition that there is a wisdom in tradition that is seldom obvious to the impatient.

But there are other forces at play; there is an invisible level. God continually works through His prophets, His Christ, His Holy Spirit, and His Church to grant discernment to individuals, yes, but mostly to the community as a whole. The rituals and ideas of Orthodoxy are not just useful (although they are), they are inspired and strengthen by grace. Even more importantly, Orthodox Tradition is not directed primarily to the perfection of people, families, and communities, but to their salvation. To put it in theological language, we are not just learning to subdue our baser instincts, we are being saved and drawn deeper into infinite perfection through our life in Christ and Holy Orthodoxy.

If we look around, we cannot help but notice that all reasonably healthy, traditional societies have religious systems that have accumulated ideas and rituals that civilize their adherents. Because there is only one human race and we all have the same line between good and evil dividing our hearts, there is a lot of overlap in their ideas and rituals. Virtue is encouraged; vice is shamed and disciplined; and the unity of the good is proclaimed and celebrated. To the extent that we have become lax in our own devotion, we are encouraged by their witness.

We also cannot help but notice that those societies and cultures that have rejected older ways of wisdom in favor of fads and the fulfillment of every flick good idea fairy’s wand find themselves unable to sustain anything but change, leading to a degeneration of the person, the family, the culture, and the world.

This is not to say that all traditions, or even everything that has accumulated around Holy Orthodoxy is good and healthy and should be preserved.  We are all familiar with tradition with a big T – the things that need to be preserved – and tradition with a little t; those things that may be useful for some times and places, but should be replaced with something better as they become counter-productive.

This crisis has forced us to realize how hard that adjustment is.  One of the little t tradition that is hurting us now is that our spirituality has become synonymous with our regular participation in the Holy Eucharist. The big T tradition here is the ontology of the Eucharist and our need for it.  But to the extent that we have missed or neglected other parts of our Faith; the building up of and the experience of the kingdom of God in our hearts and the reality of God’s presence in our homes, then we are less prepared than we should be to face the present temptations and struggles.  The same goes for the mysterious ontology of suffering and the Church’s teaching on how to do it well and in a manner that blesses the people around us

And so, this social distancing becomes an opportunity to broaden our little t traditions; those rituals, ideas, and conversations that flow naturally from our ancient faith and provide wisdom – tested and perfected over time -  to deal with the realities we face right now.  We need not wait until the “good old days” are restored to thrive. 

The wisdom of St. John of the Ladder shares a part of this tradition we need: how to live well alone and how to live well in isolation with others.

  1. Watch your thoughts.  They need not define you (unless you want to be crazy).
  2. Redirect away from unhealthy thoughts; reinforce and intentionally engage thoughts that are patient, kind, and hopeful. Prayer will help with this.
  3. Be the patient pastor of yourself and the people you are living with. NOT the tyrant or passive aggressive rebel.  Build them up and encourage them.
  4. Cultivate peace through silence. Through the slow but kind word, and through every well-considered action.

These will not just allow us to come through this present crisis stronger than we entered as individuals and families; it will bring an important but atrophied part of our ancient and venerable Orthodox tradition back into our daily lives, allowing us and our children to be more prepared for whatever challenges they face.

And when our regular access to the Eucharist is restored to its proper place in the center of our communities, we will allow it to feed rather than atrophy the kingdom of God within us and within our families.

Let us immerse ourselves in that fullness of faithful believers and families, gathered around the celebration of the Eucharist now, as we continue our celebration of God’s love for us, His people, and His world.

Direct download: Homily-EmbraceTradition.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

This is the audio from Fr. Anthony's daily youtube livestream: (https://www.youtube.com/user/74snipe).  Before praying the Moleban for Times of Pestilence and Deathbearing Disease (Book of Needs, Volume 4, St. Tikhons), Fr. Anthony invites us to enter into an attitude of prayer together with three deep breaths and the Jesus Prayer.

Direct download: Moleban-Pestilance.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 11:42am EDT

Listen as Fr. Anthony tries to share three ways that our suffering can become an opportunity for grace.  But listen with patience, because he (I!) didn't do it all that well (God forgives, but perhaps he (I!) needs more sleep?)!  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily-SufferingWell.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

In this homily, given as the devastation and growing risk of the coronavirus is becoming known, Fr. Anthony takes us back to basics, calling us to love (and know) God in peace and to love (and serve) our neighbor in hardship.  The latter includes a willingness to suffer well, in Christ. 

Direct download: Homily_-_Back_to_Basics.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 4:52pm EDT

In this homily given on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, Fr. Anthony makes the point that it is much more difficult to bring people into the Church than it is to drive them out and keep them away.  One easy way we, members of the Royal Priesthood, can keep people out of our pews is by showing how much more seriously we take our tribal politics than the Gospel.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily_-_Sunday_of_Orthodoxy_2020.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 3:26pm EDT

Homily on St. Matthew 6:14-21, in which Fr. Anthony distinguishes between forgiveness that leads to reconciliation, that which allows relations to continue in hopes of reconciliation, and that which leads to an unfortunate but necessary separation.

Direct download: Homily_-_Forgiveness_2020.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

As I told the people at the end of the liturgy, this homily was about two hours of editing away from being worthwhile!  It's great being in a PhD program, etc., but it leaves much time than I'm used to (and need) to prepare.  It's usually okay, but this day I tried out a couple points that weren't quite ready.

Direct download: Homily_-_Last_Judgment_2020.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Dn. Michael Abrahamson talks about the role music (and kindness) has played in his deepening his love of God.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Talk-20200216.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 9:09pm EDT

In this homily on the parable of the Prodigal Son (St. Luke 15:11-32), Fr. Anthony challenges us to move beyond seeing ourselves just as the Prodigal into imitating the Father (while avoiding becoming the Older Son!).  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily-OurStoryintheProdigalSon.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 8:38pm EDT

Arranged by Dn. Michael Abrahamson, sung as part of the Divine Liturgy at Holy Resurrection Mission (UOC-USA) in Waynesville, NC on 2/16/2020.

Direct download: Anaphora-HolyHolyHoly.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 8:21pm EDT

Arranged by Dn. Michael Abrahamson.  Sung as part of the Divine Liturgy at Holy Resurrection Mission (UOC-USA) in Waynesville, NC on 2/16/2020.

Direct download: Trisagion-OdetoJoy.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 8:18pm EDT

Homily – Publican and Pharisee
Fr. Anthony Perkins

All of creation is pregnant with potential – less full of lifeless atoms or particles than of seeds just waiting to be brought forth into fruition.  And here I speak not just of literal seeds (although it is almost time to start working with those and getting them ready for transfer into the garden come Spring), but of everything. 

All of creation is ready to grow, made that way by its Maker, just waiting for our attention – the attention of its stewards – to bring it from possibility into realization.  When sown by stewards of pure heart and understanding, these seeds will be nurtured into beauty, offering the best possible fruit, [and] manifesting the glory of God in very tangible ways.  When sown by stewards of ill will, apathetic spirit, or twisted rationality, these seeds will grow into something much less savory, twisted testimonies to pride and carelessness.  Think of these examples:

  • The relationship of the newly wedded couple contains so much potential. Will they be good stewards of that seed, nurturing it into a marriage that will be a blessing to themselves, their families, and their communities? Or will they warp it with the waters of their own pride, forcing it to grow into a noxious and bitter weed with reeking flowers that foul the air and harm all those who rub against it?  The seed could grow either way – it is up to them; it is their decision.
  • Starting even earlier, take the example of the literal seed within the womb. There is so much potential there.  What will it become?  A child of light or a spreader of darkness?  Or, like a quarter of such perfect seeds, will it be sacrificed to the false gods of irresponsibility and liberation long before it sees the light of day?
  • Take the first interaction between strangers – will this potential relationship manifest itself as an application of love and friendship, or as a selfish transaction between a hustler and his mark? Or will the potential remain just that as the two strangers remain just that – strangers – and the possibility for the incarnation of perfection through what could have been a powerful friendship remains unrealized.

 

Perhaps these are too abstract – we are not used to thinking about relationships in these terms.  Americans tend to be more practical – so let us turn to the building blocks of this society: money and time. 

  • Each dollar within our wallets, our purses, and our accounts is a seed. It has such potential to change lives – will it grow into a beautiful fruit that feeds and heals, or a stunted sacrifice designed to slate our selfish addictions for a moment longer.  It has such great potential – what kind of stewards of that dollar – that talent, to use Biblical language – will we be?
  • And what will we do with our time? Every moment is so pregnant – what will it become?  How will it be redeemed?  In idleness or action?  In prayer or prelest?  As an offering to love or selfishness?  Today we have a great lesson in the use – and misuse of time.  Will we work the moments we are given in a way that brings us into closer union with perfection, or will we work it in a way that moves us only deeper into our own delusion?

Let’s look at the lesson from the Creator Himself that describes this very dynamic.

  • Let’s start with the Pharisee.  He was praying.  How could he go wrong?  He had tended his garden so well… but then poisoned it with his pride.  The moment wasn’t just wasted, it was polluted.
  • How about the Publican?  He was praying, too.  No matter what a mess he had made with all the previous potentialities, in this moment – he was pure.  And God moved within the seed of that moment, that pure offering, and it became like the mustard seed – growing to crowd out all that had been grown before.

Another way to think of this is that there is a seed of perfection within us all, ready to manifest itself through every moment and action of our lives.  But we can pervert this possibility with our willfulness and pride. 

Let's not do that; that would be bad! 

Instead, let us look at every moment as an opportunity to do something good and to do something beautiful so that we and this world we are meant to care for will become good and beautiful. 

The Gospel lesson today shows us that the way to bless the moment in this way begins not with memorizing the scripture or mastering the rigors of fasting or of tithing everything we have.  The Pharisee did all those things in a way that closed his soul off from grace.  No, we begin as the Publican: with humility. 

On our own, we have nothing to offer the moment that can help it.  We have nothing to share with our neighbor that can benefit them.  We have nothing fitting to offer God that can match His glory.  And so we offer him our humility. 

And this humility becomes an opening through which the grace can flow, and as long as we keep it open – as long as we keep pride at bay and remain attentive to the actual needs of the moment - that grace will transform us and bless everyone around us.  The imagery given to the prophet Isaiah will then be fulfilled: the desert places will become fruitful gardens because we will have watered them with the teats of our repentance and with the Living Water of grace that flows from the open heart of Christ and all His people.       

Direct download: Homily-SanctifytheMomentwiththePublican.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 4:20pm EDT

In this homily, Fr. Anthony draws on the example Zacchaeus to describe the need for repentance and commitment in the life of the Christian.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily-ZachaeusandSalvation.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Tito Coliander's Way of Ascetics.  It's awesome.  We're working our way through it together.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Class_-_The_Way_of_Ascetics_02.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

In this homily given on the celebration of the Trinitarian Epiphany at Christ's Baptism, Fr. Anthony literally goes back to the beginning and then places the celebration of Christ's baptism within the economy of salvation (Lord, I hope the homily was better than that summary of it!).  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily_-_Theophany_and_Orthodox_Sacramental_Theology.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 5:26pm EDT

In this homily on the Sunday after Theophany (Ephesians 4:7-13; St. Matthew 4:12-17), Fr. Anthony talks about the gains made in the spreading of wealth (and the dramatic reduction of poverty) brought about through economic freedom, a freedom that encourages and empowers people to identify needs and contribute to the good of all; and uses that as a metaphor for understanding the St. Paul's call to all to find and exercise their gifts toward the building up of the Kingdom.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily_on_the_Empowerment_of_the_Saints.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 7:31pm EDT

Tito Coliander's Way of Ascetics.  It's awesome.  We're going to work our way through it together.  Today's class was interrupted by a tornado warning.  We're all okay, but the recorder shut off (I guess it got scared?)!

Direct download: Class_-_The_Way_of_Ascetics_01.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

The Sunday before the Nativity is for remembering and celebrating the lives of the "ancestors of God."  In this homily, Fr. Anthony encourages us to learn charity towards our neighbors based on the way Scripture (and thus the Holy Spirit) interprets the lives of the heroes of the Old Testament.

Direct download: Homily-_Sunday_before_Nativity_OC.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 4:51pm EDT

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