Lenten Meditations: Week Two

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. 


“Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’” (Gen. 2:23).

Adam’s words about his wife, “This at last is bone of my bones” are the first recorded human words in history. Adam is astounded by the spectacular and radiant gift he has received from God. In Eve, he sees a loving reflection of himself. He no longer walks about in the garden as a lost and solitary being. Eve is the fulfillment of his humanity, the “jewel in the crown” of all God’s creation. In Eve, the human race becomes a generational, historical reality.

At the right time, a second Eve will appear. 
To which Eve do you belong?


“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).

At first it appears Adam is blaming Eve for his sin. A closer look shows he is actually blaming the Lord. “It’s not my fault.” But the first step to salvation is owning up to sin. David the King accepted Nathan’s condemnation after having committed murder and adultery. David humbled himself through repentance. “Have mercy on me, O God!” This was David’s greatest moment. It changed the course of human history by paving the way for the Messiah.

Blaming is the easy way out.
Do you own your sin?


“Sin is crouching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (Gen. 4:7).

Sin lies outside the door of the human heart. It is “outside” because it is a thief that seeks to pilfer everything good. In its pristine state, the heart was made marvelously pure and could share in the  glory of God. But sin found its way in through the door of the mind. Eve turned her mind from God to Satan. This was the original sin. Where the mind goes, the heart follows.

A serpent lies close waiting to strike.
Do you strive against evil thoughts? 


“And it came to pass, that when they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.” (Gen. 4:8).

Of all living creatures, we human beings are the most violent and destructive. Animals kill for food or perhaps to protect their young. But Cain murdered his brother because envy poisoned his heart, thus making blood-guiltiness the unique mark of fallen humanity. Christians begin their journey back to paradise by overcoming every angry thought, knowing how easily anger turns to hate, and hate to bloodshed.

In this age the demons carry on their rage.
Are you aware of your angry thoughts?



“Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, east of Eden.”  (Gen. 4:16).

Nod is not a place on a map. It is instead the “land” of a double exile. Adam and Eve knew they were exiled from Eden. They wept outside its gates. But Cain exiles himself one step further by dwelling in Nod. Nod is a place of a “double exile” – exile from the exile – “away from the presence of the Lord.” The inhabitants of Nod forget about Eden, about God, about the soul. They live in the darkness of unbelief. Nod is spiritual death.

Eden lies hidden within every human heart.
Do you weep over what you have lost?


“And in the morning, a great while before day, He rose and went out to a lonely place, and there He prayed.” (Mark 1:35.)

Jesus is fully divine and fully human. Because He was human, he prayed. Prayer is vital to the life of the soul. So Christ often prayed alone, in solitude, showing us that the soul needs its own time to breathe. We often think we can do our praying “on the fly.” But this kind of ancillary prayer soon dissipates. Some things need our total attention, our deliberate concentration. The Lord is a jealous lover. He wants us all to Himself.

Prayer should be as natural to us as breathing.
Do you make time for God?


“And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic carried by four men.” (Mark 2:3)

The paralytic had four faithful friends. They carried him to the Lord, believing that the Lord would heal him. At first, the crowds prevented them entrance to the house. But they refused to give up. They persisted and found another way. They climbed onto the roof, made an opening, and lowered their paralytic friend into the presence of Christ. Not giving up was the first miracle. Not giving up paved the way for Christ’s healing.

No one returns to God without the guidance of others.
Are you being carried closer to, or further away from, Christ?


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