Lenten Meditations: Week Three

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. 


“At that time men began to call upon the name of the Lord.” (Gen. 4:26).

Before the fall, Adam and Eve lived in perfect communion with God. Every thought, feeling, word and action was an unceasing prayer directed to Him. After the fall, human beings lost their capacity to pray.  Instead of communing with God, they communed with themselves which was a communion unto death. Yet some began to pray, calling upon the name of the Lord. Salvation history begins with these three words: “At that time.”

Prayer is communion with God.
Is your whole life a living prayer to the Lord?


“The man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.’” (Gen. 3:12).

After the fall, sin engulfed the totality of the human race. “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5). Yet Noah remained faithful to the Lord. The law had not yet been given on Sinai, yet Noah walked righteously. He shunned wickedness and found grace. He knew the difference between right and wrong.

Wickedness lies hidden in the souls of men.
Do you know the difference between good and evil?


“Thus Noah did according to all that God commanded him, so he did.” (Gen. 6:22).

Noah builds the ark according to the Lord’s plan. He looks very foolish in the eyes of his friends and neighbors, but he gives no thought to this. He is obedient to the word of God. He is not concerned about the difficulties involved. He does not tell the Lord that he has a better plan. He does not try to renegotiate the terms of His covenant. He finishes his work and gathers his family and his animals into what will become a new creation. Noah does “all” that he is commanded.

Everyone in this world must plan for their salvation. 
Whose plan are you following?


“Then the LORD said to Noah, ‘Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation.’” (Gen 7:1).

Noah ark is more than a vessel made of wood. It is the Lord’s new creation brought about by a cosmic baptism. It is the Church of the old covenant within which Noah preserves something of Eden with his family and all his paired animals. In the ark, Noah cherishes every living thing. He shelters from harm those whom God has placed under His care. When the rains begin, his family and flock gather closely. The storm rages and kills. But Noah and those in the ark of His Church remain alive.

The Church is the ark of salvation.
Do you come to Church when called?


“So Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives, went into the ark because of the waters of the flood.” (Gen 7:7).

Noah and his family are at peace in their ark. They are safe from the rain and the waters raging about them. This elemental storm will soon subside. But the storm of evil unleashed when Adam sinned will continue in its fury. War will ravage the earth. Oppression and injustice will continue unabated. Men will increase in their hatred for one another. But Noah holds within his bosom the dove of peace.

Those who seek refuge in the ark find peace.
What kind of storms unsettle your heart?


“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17).

We are often deluded into thinking that other people are the problem. “If only my spouse would be less critical.” By doing this, we paint ourselves into a corner. We stay stuck and surrender our freedom. But sin is the only true problem we will have. Sin is a disease that invades  and corrupts every aspect of our being – body, mind, will, and soul. But this disease need not be terminal if we open ourselves wholly to the Lord. The Lord heals each of us according to the manner of our faith.

Sin is the only problem we face.
Do you confess your sins?


“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:34, 35).

Jesus never forces anyone with anything. Instead, He invites and He calls. He summons each to His boundless love. We deny ourselves for this same love, knowing that it is His love that encourages us to renounce the lies. This is what Jesus means by “self-denial,” forsaking the lies that make us shallow and fake. Some of these lies are deeply ingrained. We do not even know they are there. But if we pick up our crosses and follow Him, we soon learn who we are. We “lose” the ego and gain Christ.

Self-denial is liberation from the devil’s lies.
Have you lost yourself in Christ?


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