Lenten Meditations: Week One

The Office of Communications of the Diocese of the Midwest is pleased to announce that we will be offering weekly reflections during this holy season by our Diocesan Chancellor, Archpriest Paul Jannakos. These brief meditations can provide an Orthodox Christian with assistance in seeking more time with God in silence and stillness. 


“And God said, ‘Let there be light.’” (Gen. 1:3).

This is the Uncreated Light of God’s Glory that infuses every atom, neutron, and quark ever made. It shines from the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the “Light of the world.” Believe in this light, which is His beauty, goodness, power, love. Open yourself fully to this light. The more it shines in you, the more you will abhor the darkness that is there too, on account of your sins. God can, and will save you from your passions, should you so choose.

The shadow of sin lies within all of us.
Do you know what your passions are?


“And God made the two great lights.” (Gen 1:16).

The Cosmos is extraordinarily vast. So vast that the human mind cannot comprehend its outer limits. Scientists know when the universe began. They know, too, that it is continuously expanding. But they do not know when or how it will end. So our human knowledge is limited. Yet how much greater is the wisdom of the Lord Who made the universe with its 300 billion galaxies, each containing 300 billion stars! The Cosmos points beyond itself to the majesty of its Creator. “The heavens are telling the glory of God and the earth proclaims His handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1).

Every human soul is a vast universe of its own.
Which universe matters to you?


“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Gen. 1:27).

Some look to Hollywood celebrities as exemplaries of beauty and sophistication. Others aspire toward superstar athletes, rock-stars, or successful entrepreneurs, hoping they might attain similar prominence. Yet only by being likened to the Son of God can one ascend the heights of greatness. Riches, fame, power, and status are shadows and illusions. Become one with the God-man, Jesus Christ, and follow Him to the summits. “I lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence does my help come.” (Psalm 121:1).

The measure of our humanity is infinitely high.
Have you accepted a lower standard?


“Then the Lord God formed man of the dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Gen. 2:7)

The Holy Spirit enlivens the soul, illumines the mind, and sanctifies the body. For this reason, Orthodoxy is not simply one religion among many that teaches us how to be moral and decent. Nor is it the imposition of the “supernatural” on to the natural, as Western Christendom has long taught. Orthodox Christianity is the revelation of our life in Christ Who is the “New Adam.” In Him we come to the fullness of life. From Him we receive the Holy Spirit Who reconciles us to the Father. “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28).

The life in Christ is the only life there is.
Are you fully alive?


“But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” (Gen. 3:9).

The Lord knew Adam and Eve would transgress. He knew they would run from Him in the Garden and hide from His glory. So the question “Where are you?”is not taken literally, but rhetorically, for God is all-knowing. Indeed, the Lord wants Adam and Eve to ask the question for themselves: “Do you know where you are?” Many people are too afraid to ask this question. It is easier to pretend than to face reality. Herein lies the greatest delusion of all.

The Lord knows you better than you know yourself.
Why are you still hiding from Him?


“You did not choose me but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear much fruit and that your fruit should abide.” (John 15:16).

Christians are called to bear much fruit. Christ is the vine and we, as His disciples, are the branches. But before the stems can blossom with fragrance and bear fruit, the dead branches must be pruned. But we cannot do this ourselves. So we pray for the Lord to start pruning. This is painful at first. Yet there is no other way. We must uncover all the rot we have hidden away and let Him do His work. Only then will the blossoms appear.

The heart must be cleansed from every dead stem.
Do you confess your sins regularly?


“And he said to them, ‘The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.’” (Mark 2:27).

We cannot live unless we work. But our work soon overwhelms us. It commands us to toil more and more. It claims body, mind and heart. Yet it leaves us with so little – just money, clothing, and bread. The true Sabbath is a gift of inner revitalization. The Sabbath is not simply a “law” – the cessation of labor – as it was for the Pharisees. It is the gift of stillness, quiet, and reintegration. Every Liturgy is our Sabbath rest in God.

Work in this world leaves us exhausted and empty.
Have you found your rest in the Lord?


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