“What is this blessing?  Freedom, courage, indescribable joy, power, strength, clarity of thought, peace of conscience, hope in God, hymnody to God, love for one’s neighbors, and meaning to one’s life!” – St. Nicholas the Serb

Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord,

When one encounters the various prescriptions for life which our Church offers us – fasting, prayer, attending church, abstaining from behaviors that are unhealthy – at first glance, they might seem very restrictive. As a child, I certainly felt this way when I was first told about such things, and indeed, many in our world today may run the risk of feeling the same way.

The reality is, however, that life in the Church is anything but restrictive. When one makes an effort to live a life in Christ, and to follow the Church’s teachings for oneself, the result is something that is more liberating than anything we could imagine. A tree is at its healthiest when it is growing one direction – upward, toward the sun. In a similar fashion, this might sound to some that the tree is being restricted, growing “only” one direction. Yet if the tree were to try to grow in every direction, how healthy would the tree actually be?  Would it be healthy, or collapse under its weight, and the pressures of its surroundings? 

The result of following our appetites and impulses as we please is much like a tree growing in several directions. In a similar fashion, human beings are at our most healthy when we follow the path that He has laid before us. It is pure, amazing freedom to follow the prescriptions given to us by the Church, and we experience this when we take a leap of faith and try to live by them! As we reflect this month on our freedoms as citizens of this country, let us also remember that in His love for us, the Lord gave us the highest freedom any created being can have – life with Him!

Καλο καλοκαιρι!  Have a wonderful summer!

With love in Christ,

Father Niko Bekris
Parish Priest