From the desk of Fr. Andrew

March 2018

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On the second Sunday of Great and Holy Lent the Church remembers St. Gregory Palamas. St. Gregory was a monk of Mount Athos. He became bishop of Salonica in Greece in 1350. He was an ascetic, someone who participates in a strict life of prayer through self-denial and self-discipline. St. Gregory is remembered on the second Sunday of Great and Holy Lent because he became the leader of a prayer movement known as the hesychasm. Hesychasm is considered by many to be the highest form of prayer and requires much from the participant.

For Hesychasts, the goal is to attain vision of the uncreated light. Fr. George Papademetriou, professor at Holy Cross School of Theology, writes the following about St. Gregory's viewpoint: The true life and purpose of the human person is participation or communion with the divine light. Gregory Palamas says "We know that the commandments of God grant knowledge and not only knowledge but also theosis. Simply put, theosis is the attempt to become like God.

The divine commandments are the perfect medicine of the soul and the only means to attain the vision of the divine light. The assimilation with God's energies is perfected only in the loving practice of the divine commandments. The light that shines in the heart of the human person sees clearly and knows sensible things. St Gregory writes those who partake of this illumination and have a portion of it have also proportionately the knowledge of all created beings.

For St. Gregory Palamas, the vision of the divine reality is the ultimate gift from the Holy Spirit. It is in this life, which makes it possible for the saint to acquire the presence of God and participate in the divine glory. This is beyond all human virtue or knowledge and reason. For St. Gregory, knowledge is the illumination of the heart and intellect making it possible for the human person to attain union with the divine uncreated light. All other knowledge is secondary, though not useless.

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ, whether we are striving for the uncreated light that St. Gregory experienced or simple communion with God through our personal and/or communal prayer lives, the lesson from the second Sunday of Lent is we make God real in our lives through a committed life of prayer. Prayer is the connection and bond between God and man. It is our way to open and cultivate an ongoing dialogue with Him. The more we pray, the greater the dialogue; the greater the dialogue the greater the growth in our relationship with Jesus Christ. Therefore, it would be spiritually fruitful if one immediate goal of our Lenten Journey would be the fostering and/or deepening of our prayer life, both personal (at home, etc.) and communal (the Divine Liturgy on Sunday mornings). May you continue to have a fruitful Lent.

God's continued blessing, +Fr. Andrew