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Praying in the Rain
8 minutes | Oct 6, 2021
Isn’t it strange how much easier it is to thank God when you have almost nothing, than it is when you have much more than you need? I have noticed this in myself. I am very thankful to God when I have a little bread (when I might not have any), but when I have bread going mouldy because I have so many other things to eat, I forget to give thanks. When we have abundance, we have to force ourselves give thanks, otherwise we won’t.
9 minutes | Oct 1, 2021
Love in a World of Uncertainty
Today we live in a time of uncertainty; but really, today is no more uncertain than yesterday nor the day or year or century before. Certainty is a kind of delusion. It is a delusion that conveniently forgets that there is much, much more going on in the world than we know and can see. How, then, can we live in peace when our life is enveloped in uncertainty? How do we escape the fear of uncertainty?
11 minutes | Sep 18, 2021
Peace in Chaos
There are many kinds of waves in the chaotic world we live in. Sometimes the waves are pushing to the left. Sometimes the waves push to the right. Really, there is no rhyme or reason to it. In fact, part of what can drive you crazy is how unreasonable life in this world is. Like the waves on the ocean, it all depends which way the wind is blowing. And the wind that influences the political and social realities of this fallen world is the spirit of the age, the spirits of wickedness that dwell in the air (Ephesians 6:12).
10 minutes | Sep 9, 2021
Hiding in the Midst of Strife
I write a weekly letter for our community and this week I thought I would share this letter with a broader audience. We celebrated the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos this week. Mary the Mother of God was born into a world full of oppression and confusion, yet she was able to become the Holy dwelling place of God. We too, especially at this time of government restrictions and all of the heightened rhetoric of political campaigns—all too radicalized and spun by social media, news outlets, social prophets, and advertising—we too may feel that we are living in an increasingly oppressive and confusing world. While we are not suffering under the occupation of a foreign army, as was Israel during the lifetime of the Mother of God, still many of us are angry and stressed out by the restrictions being imposed on us, whether we agree with them or not.
11 minutes | Jul 26, 2021
After my last blog post, John commented that the burning of Churches in Canada calls for “Christian outrage” now, while love and forgiveness can wait until after the crimes have been investigated and resolved. I can honestly say that I know how John feels. In fact, I will go so far as to say that until one feels outrage, one can’t honestly love and forgive. Outrage is a natural human response to outrageous acts—like burning down a Church. If one does not begin by feeling a certain amount of outrage, then I would wonder if that person is actually in touch with reality. Outrage is a natural, merely human emotion.
7 minutes | Jul 22, 2021
Breaking the Cycle of Sin and Pain
Last night I attended a prayer service in the street in front of the Coptic Orthodox Church that was burned down early Monday morning. Although some evidence points toward arson, arson has not been proven and no motive has yet been identified. However, there has been a recent spike in violence against churches (vandalism, arson and threats), some sources report over 200 significant incidents in Canada since June. Many of us may be wondering what we should do. Well, I think we should do what our Coptic Orthodox brothers and sisters are doing. We should pray and love.
18 minutes | May 11, 2021
What Does Success in Bodily Warfare Look Like?
Even as we strive to please God by disciplining ourselves and obeying His commands, we know that God loves us. We know that God will accept our striving for righteousness, even if we don’t do it very well, even if we fail. God is able to fix our mistakes. Therefore, like children striving to please a parent whom we know loves us completely, we offer what we have, what we can do, in a carefree way, knowing that 100% will never be enough to succeed completely all of the time, but it is enough to please God.
10 minutes | Mar 29, 2021
Just Waiting on God
Waiting involves attention. We have to pay attention to our thoughts. We have to notice what is happening in our minds and thoughts and feelings leading up to and when and after we sin. And learning to pay attention to our thoughts takes time. It’s something that we have to practice. It is, the Fathers tell us, an important part of prayer. When we practice prayer with attention (attention to what we are praying, to being present and not allowing our mind to wander), then we develop this ability to pay attention to our thoughts at other times too.
11 minutes | Mar 3, 2021
The Wrath of God According to St. John Chrysostom
All suffering, however, regardless of its apparent immediate source, can be understood as the wrath of God. But we must never forget that we call it God’s wrath because of how we feel and how we experience it, not because God is at all angry or vengeful. Rather, God both allows and brings about suffering in our lives as a doctor treating a patient. What patient after major surgery has not experienced the wrath of the physical therapist? Healing the body is often painful.
12 minutes | Feb 3, 2021
Beginning As A Sojourner
Fr. Michael Gillis builds off of last week's talk about the Great Reset on not getting attached to the comforts of this world. Someone asked about how to balance living in this world without getting attached to it. Fr. Michael talks about three things we can do to help us live as sojourners in this world, waiting for a City whose foundation and builder is God.
12 minutes | Feb 1, 2021
What Should We Do
Fr. Michael Gillis talks about what we should do about the Great Reset. About once a week Fr. Michael gets a message from one or another of my parishioners with a link to a video that he “has to see.” Many of these videos are of a monk on Mt. Athos (or a monk from some other place reputed for holiness), or it is a video by a conservative religious or political commentator decrying the loss of religious freedom that is or will be brought about by the secular powers that be. The not usually spoken but very strongly felt subtext of these messages is that if we are true Orthodox Christians we should do something to stop it. What that something is, is generally left for us to decide. This is probably why parishioners want to know what a priest thinks after watching the video they sent, a video decrying the Great Reset, and the terrible loss of religious freedom that is taking place and will certainly get worse.
14 minutes | Jan 19, 2021
Fleeing to the Desert
Is it possible to flee to the desert a little bit? No and yes. No, you can’t flee a little bit, for fleeing a little bit is not fleeing at all. But yes, you can flee a little bit, if that little bit is complete. Here’s what I mean. We are all called to flee the world, in the sense of fleeing the sinful ways of the world. But we are not all called to flee in the same way. St. Isaac the Syrian, also known as St. Isaac the Solitary, wrote letters and homilies for hermits, those who had fled the world in the most complete and literal way. Much of the wisdom of these letters and homilies can help anyone flee to the desert completely, even if they only flee completely a little bit.
15 minutes | Jan 13, 2021
Marriage and Baptism
If we do not work on that relationship, if we do not nurture longing for God, if we do not take the time to nurture our inner life, then we also grow apart from God. We are still baptized, still joined to Christ, but growing apart we become bored with God, our longing wanders to more exciting possibilities; and if we are not careful, God become a stranger, even an enemy to us. And this, perhaps, is what hell is like: to be joined to God, yet be bored with Him; to go to your own wedding, despising your fiance; to spend eternity knowing that you ignored for a lifetime the God who loves you so much that he allows you even to ignore His love.
10 minutes | Jan 5, 2021
Going to Hell
Fr. Michael suggests that going to hell, or going to heaven, for that matter, will not be new or unfamiliar for most people.
12 minutes | Dec 29, 2020
Choices and God’s Will
Fr. Michael presents the first of a series of blog posts that have not yet been shared as podcasts. Here he deconstructs the notion that choice translates into freedom.
17 minutes | Dec 19, 2020
How (Not) To Change the Corrupt World
Fr. Michael Gillis has us look at the world we find ourselves in. We are mentored by media that exploits and seduces us for its own profit, political leaders whom we know are lying, businesses that we know are cheating us and an educational system piloted by women, men and “others” who want to obliterate basic human nature. It seems we find ourselves, like young prophet Samuel, being raised in a corrupt and predatory culture. Yet nevertheless, like the prophet Samuel, we too can grow into very holy people, people who can learn to listen for God even as we are surrounded by innumerable sins and evil influences.
15 minutes | Dec 12, 2020
Fr. Michael Gillis talks about how part of our problem with overcoming temptation is that we don’t understand what temptations are for, what they are meant to accomplish in our lives. We wrongly think that temptations exist to test us to see if we will be “good.” We still haven’t believed the words of Jesus who said: “There is no one good but God.” Temptations come not to test us to see if we will be good; rather, temptations come to show us that we are not good and that we need to flee in humility to God for refuge. Temptations come because we think we can make it through the day without God’s constant help. Temptations come because we think a comfortable life is normal, rather than a gift from God. This is what the saints call self-esteem.
18 minutes | Oct 8, 2020
The Two Saints Pelagia of Antioch
On October 8, we commemorate two Sts. Pelagia of Antioch. The first is a virgin martyr, and the second is a repentant harlot, sometimes referred to as St. Pelagia the former courtesan of Antioch.
13 minutes | Sep 30, 2020
Fighting Against Sin
Most of the time, caring for our inner garden is more a matter of attention than of effort. The weeds of sinful and passionate thoughts can be pulled out pretty easily by merely recognizing them as sinful and turning your attention to Christ in prayer. The Jesus Prayer is probably the most common, or at least the most famous, form of prayer used by Orthodox Christians to turn their attention to Christ and away from sinful thoughts. However, sometimes the weeds get out of control. Sometimes weeds grow in the back corners of our garden where we don’t pay a lot of attention—until it is too late. Suddenly we realize that a pattern of thought that we had not looked at very carefully turns out to be harboring some pretty nasty sinful passions.
13 minutes | Sep 21, 2020
The Mark of the Beast
It seems whenever there is a crisis, people begin to see possible predictions and warnings about such times in the scripture. And certainly Christ does warn us to be prepared for the End, and to recognize that various tribulations and “wars and rumours of wars” would be the ongoing signs that the End is near. However, the scriptures themselves also tell us that we are already in the Last Days. That is, from the time of the Apostles we have been in the “last hour,” and already “many antichrists have come” (1John 2: 18). For just as the Kingdom of Heaven is near (at hand) at all times, so too, the End is always near.
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