Letter to Bonnie Henry and Hon. Adrian Dix

Dr. Bonnie Henry                                                                                                         Dec 2, 2020

BC Provincial Health Officer

P.O.Box 9648

STN PROV GOVT

Victoria, BC;  V8W 9P4

Dear Honourable Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry,                             

I am the priest in charge of St. Aidan’s Orthodox Church in Cranbrook B.C. in the East Kootenay. First I would like to thank you for the challenging and tireless work you have been doing and continue to do for the people of BC during the COVID 19 pandemic. We appreciate you are doing your best in a challenging situation! As a Church, we pray daily for our government leaders and health authorities. We feel, however, that this latest closure of places of worship is unfair, particularly in regions of BC such as the East Kootenays with very low transmission rates of COVID 19 in comparison with the more troubled areas of the province. 

At St. Aidan Orthodox Church, we have from the start implemented proper hand sanitizing and masks be required upon entry. We checked with Work Safe BC and have followed the spacing formula given to us so that there are only 8 spots in the entire church where individuals or family groups can stand. This resulted in only allowing a maximum of 20 people in our church building, including serving priests, deacons and altar servers, making us likely the safest public spot in Cranbrook to gather, far safer and at less risk than any of the malls, sport events, larger stores, grocery stores, government liquor stores etc. St. Aidan’s also provides breakfast for the vulnerable population twice a week outside of our church in a large well vented tent following COVID safety protocol.

Many businesses are suffering. It is this financial suffering, Covid fatigue and depression that I see amongst my congregation and in the community that concerns me. Virtual services do not meet the spiritual and mental needs of the participants. Being together physically, even at a safe distance, and worshipping together as a community is a basic human spiritual need. As famously noted, ‘the whole is greater, than the sum of the parts.’ Churches and places of worship are ‘spiritual hospitals’ where people come to be healed spiritually and mentally. Worship services are an integral means of healing people’s spiritual and mental wounds. Please consider them an essential service, most especially in this time of fear and social isolation.  

I am writing this as a small voice from the East Kootenay, asking you to reconsider the COVID 19 response plan for churches and other places of worship. Rather than assessing all geographic areas as hot zones, please consider regional and community differences. BC is a very geographically and regionally diverse province. We are hoping for an approach that takes in these differences after the December 7th deadline. As we enter into the great Christian celebration of the Nativity of Christ and other faith’s religious celebrations, may God grant you wisdom. Consider the prayerful support the faith communities of BC have given to you and please support them at this critical time of the year.

As citizens of BC, we thank you again for all your hard work and good intentions on our behalf.

Respectfully and with great concern;

Fr Andrew Applegate

Fr. Andrew Applegate

Rector: St. Aidan Orthodox Church

201 7th Ave. S.

Cranbrook, BC

250-420-1582

COVID-19 INFO

As of the last BC govt. health directive, all churches services in BC . are cancelled. This order will be reviewed on Jan. 8, 2121. Click on the link below for current information. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support/restrictions

St. Aidan Orthodox Church is complying with this order and has written a letter of protest regarding the blanket closing of all BC churches. Here is a link to our letter to the Health authorities. Letter to Bonnie Henry and Hon. Adrian Dix We have not received any reply from them, but remain hopeful that they will modify their blanket church closure order on Jan. 8.

If you would like to light a candle and pray in the church individually or with your family group, receive confession, or just arrange to meet with Fr. Andrew through zoom, phone, or in person (with proper Covid masking and distancing protocols in place) contact him at 250-420-1582 or frandrewapplegate@gmail.com. Orthodox Christian education and book studies are also available either in groups or individual zoom sessions.

Orthodoxy 101 (An Introduction to Ancient Christianity)

Orthodoxy 101 jpeg

We will be using Fr. Barnabas Powell’s 16 session Video series “Journey to Fullness” as a teaching and discussion starter each Wednesday. They are 20 minutes long so the format will be to show a 20-minute video, have 20 minutes of discussion, show another 20-minute video and finish off with a 1/2 hour of discussion and tea and cookies. This way we will be able to complete the series in an 8-week period. Please call or e-mail me to sign up so I can make sure I have enough work books for everyone who comes. If you are interested in supplying some cookies for a session or two please let me know as well!

Check out a short 5 min. Video on the course here: https://youtu.be/a6J390hbMqI

Love in Christ……..fr andrew…………. 250-420-1582

 

Journey to Fullness (Fr. Barnabas Powell) 16 lesson Outline (20 min. each)

Wed. Oct. 4: Lesson 1: “Is this trip really Necessary?  Lesson 2: What is the Orthodox Church?

Wed. Oct. 11: Lesson 3: When did Orthodoxy Begin? Lesson 4: Characteristics of Orthodox Christianity.

Wed. Oct. 18: Lesson 5: Mindset Matters, Lesson 6: A Healing Purpose.

Wed. Oct. 25: Lesson 7: Truth and Tradition, Lesson 8: How do I understand the Bible?

Wed. Nov. 1: Lesson 9: When we say God Part 1; Lesson 10: When we say God Part 2

Wed. Nov. 8: Lesson 11: God with us, Lesson 12: Our Ultimate Purpose

Wed. Nov. 15: Lesson 13: Salvation as Participation, Lesson 14: Orthodox Worship

Wed. Nov. 22: Lesson 15: A Beautiful Rhythm, Lesson 16: The Journey Continues

 

 

 

 

2nd Sunday before Great Lent “The Last Judgement”

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The Last judgement (2nd Sunday before Lent) Matt. 25: 31-46 Feb. 19, 2017          Fr. Andrew

Today is the Sunday of the Last Judgement. In a week, we will have arrived at Forgiveness Sunday and the start of Great Lent. If you are a practicing carnivore like me, we have one last afternoon to hit our favorite hamburger stand, as this is also Meatfare Sunday.

Continue reading “2nd Sunday before Great Lent “The Last Judgement””

2016 Rector’s Report

Reflecting back on our first full year as resident Cranbrookian’s, we are thankful to God for bringing us to serve here with all of you very warm and open hearted St. Aidan parishioners! It has been a rather full year for us having purchased a rather large renovation project at the end of January and moving in to the rubble in March. Needless to say, this tuned into a pretty big project which took much of our focus until August or so. Preparing for the “Healing Earth” conference in October then took on a life of its own, not just for us but for many of you faithful St. Aidanites, as we hosted a successful and blessed event, bringing in 3 excellent speakers and having many people from outside of our parish come out. Thankfully we broke even financially, and more importantly, generated much good will for our little parish and had a blessed time of fellowship with the speakers and visitors. Other outreach activities also included hosting the film “Hellbound” to many non-St. Aidan people and finishing off our Thursday evening study “The Way.” The Thursday evening studies were a great blessing and one of my great disappointments this year was not being able to have the time to continue them. This is very high up on my 2017 list to re-start.

Immediately after the Healing Earth conference Matushka Sonia and I received word that our daughter in law Katherine had a very aggressive breast cancer and immediately had surgery and started strong Chemo treatments. She is presently about ½ way through her course of treatment and we remain optimistic, but covet your prayers for Katherine, Michael, John and Eliza. My Mother Dorothy at 89 was separated from her 93-year-old husband Art in November so we have been very occupied travelling and spending time in Calgary, helping her move into a senior’s facility and get her house ready for sale etc. Thank you for your prayers and patience with us as we have not been as available as we would like for the last few months.

Bringing Jason Gauthier into the Church through Charismation, baptizing little Elenora Pasivirta and having Jesse Weibe and Carole, Katrina, and Alec Damnjanovic join Donald Kirk and Cameron Pukas as catechumens has been a great blessing this last year. We are looking forward to having our dear Vladyks Irénée join us this coming year on bright Wednesday or Thursday (April 19, 20) to become little Ronan’s godfather when he is baptized. Little Ronan stole Archbishop Irénée’s heart when they met in Calgary for Deacon Paul’s ordination. Mark your calendars! Another personal highlight for me was being able to travel with my dear friend Dn. Kevin to re-establish my relationship with Fr. Gregory Papazian, Fr. Samuel and Brother Moses, and help them put a steel roof on their new hermitage. This year I am planning on spending some regular time taking 3-day retreats during the week at the hermitage.

A very big and blessed highlight for this year is the starting up of our St. Aidan’s bookstore by Sophia and Jessie! They are getting excellent prices on books, icon’s, cards, and Orthodox gift items and passing along these savings to us. The Orthodox culture is very much supported through Orthodox parish bookstores and a good barometer of any Orthodox parish is the health of its bookstore. You can’t find Orthodox books and gift items at any typical “Christian” store, and so you need to do on-line ordering – which many people just aren’t in the habit of, and which is much more expensive than the prices you get from our local St. Aidan bookstore. Sophia and Jessie have ordered some excellent books which will help you grow in your faith, and can order anything you would like including icons for your prayer corner or for gifts (or to donate to St. Aidan’s so your favorite saint is represented here with us when we worship)! You will get a better price than you ever could on-line with shipping factored in, and you will be helping support your church as well. A section of our website will eventually feature the bookstore, so you will be able to see what’s immediately available and shoot the Bookstore a request if you have a particular book, icon or other item you would like priced out and/or ordered. Thank you so much ladies! After several attempts to improve our web-site, all of them petering out mostly due to my lack of talent, time and ability, even when working with quite gifted IT types, we now have a decent start and I’m hoping that 2017 will be the year where we develop a first-rate web site for St. Aidan. Thanks to Peter Mielke from St. Peter’s and of course Andrew Feltham for getting us this far. Check it out and please send me your suggestions and help. www.saintaidan.ca

We have made good progress in getting our business affairs organized this year as well. Much thanks to Matushka Sonia and St. Peter’s treasurer Azmira who spent many days and hours getting our books set up on QuickBooks as well as our Treasurer Ellen. Thanks also to our newly charismated accountant Jason Gauthier, who Audited our books and help set up some of the trickier categories in QuickBooks as well. In preparation to purchase our church building from our landlord’s, Bishop Ken and the Ukrainian Catholics, we were also able to complete becoming incorporated this year, one of the first provincial incorporations under the new non-profit incorporation act which came into law in December 2016. Of course the big news of the year is the decision to proceed with the purchase of our building for $250,000 under the very favorable terms offered to us by Bishop Ken. They had a rough year in terms of paying for unexpected repairs such as the new underground water-line, the badly needed electrical service upgrade into the house and the new eavestroughs on the church. We are purchasing the building aware that we too will need to spend a fair bit of repair and maintenance money fixing it up. Next year we will have to do some upgrading to the roof structure and put a new roof on the church, replace the furnace and the galvanized plumbing lines in the house, and consider what else will need work in a priority sequence. It will be a joy however to know we are beautifying and upgrading our own building! We have been doing this all along of course. This year we built the children’s outside play center, added the beautiful icons of Archangel Michael and Gabriel, done by Priestmonk Vladiymir Lysak, to our deacon doors, added new icons to our Holy Doors and around the church, replaced the Altar and other covers, added a Holy Door curtain, etc. Thanks to all the volunteers for these projects.

One of the highlights of the year was of course the ordination of our dear Subdeacon Paul Bartlett to the Diaconate. We had more than 20 parishioners come to Calgary to add their “AXIOS” to the celebration. Deacon Paul and “Matka” Anastasia have been very faithful members of St. Aidan’s since the beginning. We have been double blessed to also welcome Deacon Kurt Jordan and Matushka Victoria into our parish family this year as well. This will be quite a wonderful liturgical change, going from one lonely priest to having two Deacon’s as well at many Liturgies! We will be working out some serving details over the next couple months, and I am greatly looking forward to being blessed to serve with two wonderful deacons. Kind of makes you wonder what God has in mind for St. Aidan’s. Great thanks is also due to Matushka Sonia and Leesha as they faithfully lay out the rubrics for every service. And to our music leaders Jessie and David Pasivirta and their unofficial fill-in who also leads many of the services by default, Matushka Sonia!

On the charity side of parish life, Denys and Sharon Scully headed up our efforts to help a little with the Syrian Refugee’s and we were able to throw in some support to the First Baptist group who sponsored a family. Locally we once again supported the Salvation Army in their homeless drive through helping with kettles and with a small donation as well as supporting the local food bank. We were able to really get a bang for our dollar by helping support Fr. Jonah in Kenya with his school children support program, as a dollar there does as much as a $20 over here. We also supported the 3 main OCA drives for Missions, Seminarians, and Charities; and have been faithful in our 10% tithe requirement to the Archdiocese.

As we start into 2017, please be sure to arrange for me to come and bless your house. From Theophany until the start of the Lenten Triodian (Feb. 5 this year) is the traditional house blessing time, although it can be done at other times of the year. There is a sign-up sheet at the back of the church or just give me a call or an e-mail request. This is one of the strongest traditions in the Orthodox Church and lets me (and Matushka Sonia if you wish) come and spend some one on one time with you and your family. I would like to do this at least once a year and preferably much more than this. It is good to give your home a spiritual cleansing and have a bunch of questions answered as well. Please have a list of your family members both living and reposed for us to pray for.

I’m always available for coffee to meet with you or your friends and family.

Much love in Christ…………fr. andrew 250-420-1582

Iconoclasm and the Seventh Ecumenical Council: The Council of Councils

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The seventh and last Ecumenical council held in Nicaea in 787, upheld the veneration of icon’s and instituted that relics be placed in the antimins cloth. This is the final Ecumenical Council recognized by the Orthodox Church, and has an honoured place among the seven councils. Its uniqueness is shown in that it is not included in the commemoration of the first six councils which are grouped together and commemorated in the Orthodox Church calendar on the Sunday between July 13 and 19,  but has its own date (Oct. 11) in the Church calendar. While there were many issues at play leading up to the calling of this council and continuing afterwards until the establishment of the “Triumph of Orthodoxy” in 843, the Christological significance of this council is the key to understanding its’ importance.

Some historians would state that the cause for the iconoclastic battle and ensuing bloodbath was simply political ambition, and a huge political struggle it certainly was. However, in this short essay I will attempt to show that while a bloody 117 year long battle (726-843 with relative peace between 787 and 814) was occurring, the theological issues at stake were the true cause of the battle. The Church’s’ understanding of our very salvation and eternal citizenship in the kingdom of heaven was at stake, as the nature of Christ and of what this understanding means to mankind was confirmed during this iconoclastic period. Foundational theology regarding man’s destiny in Christ (Theosis) was being defined. This understanding would be critical to works on this issue in later centuries by saints such as St. Symeon the New Theologian (who three centuries later would have his formation in St. Theodore’s Monastery of Studios in Constantinople) and St. Gregory Palamas. A couple of representative quotes from St John of Damascus illustrate this “By union with His person, that flesh participates in the divine nature and by this communion becomes unchangeably God”  and “For I have seen God in human form, and my soul has been saved.”  The lingering errors of subtle Origenian thinking, as well as many of the more obvious heresies were being dealt a final blow through the development of the theology of icons.

Complete article

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The “Filioque” Clause: Cause of the Great Schism Weapon of Power and Politics? Or Theological Heresy?

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Most faithful Orthodox Church members can rattle off 1054 as the date, and “the insertion of the Filioque (and the Son) clause to the Nicene Creed by Rome” as the reason for the Great Schism. The problem is usually understood – reasonably accurately but somewhat simplistically – as the Pope of Rome tampering with something he had no right to change, and attempting to usurp authority that was never granted to him by the rest of the Church. Considerably less common is a historical understanding of what led to this act, and what attempts were made to reconcile this tragic split between the two apostolic bodies of the Church. Was this event actually the cause of the Great Schism? This brief paper will attempt to assess whether the insertion of the Filioque was largely about power and politics, or if the theological implications are really the main issue; and if it warrants the reputation often accorded it as the cause of the Great Schism.

The earliest known use of the Filioque was in a regional Persian council in 410. The earliest commonly cited inclusion of the Filioque was in Spain at the 3rd Council of Toledo in 589, where it was used ill-advisedly but for good intentions, to combat Arianism, by attempting to highlight Christ’s Divinity. It would be another 200 years before it again surfaced as a political weapon, used in the hands of Charlemagne, the powerful ruler of the Frankish Kingdom (Germany, France, Italy) against his political adversaries in the Byzantine world. As early as 808, Pope Leo III had written a letter to Charlemagne, who was vigorously promoting the use of the Filioque. Pope Leo’s letter suggested that he had no theological issue with its use, but thought it unwise to change the wording of the ancient and universally accepted Creed. Leo even went so far as to have the original creed without the Filioque inscribed upon silver plaques and mounted on the walls of St. Peter’s in Rome.  In the middle of the 9th century, Rome had allowed the use of the Filioque in confrontations between Germanic missionaries under Rome and missionaries under Constantinople, when both were attempting to establish the Church in Bulgaria and competing to have the ruler, Khan Boris, side with them. This fuelled the divisive Photius Schism where St. Photius attacked the Roman Pope Nicolas for allowing the Filioque to be used in Bulgaria and exceeding his Bishop of Rome authority. Pope Nicolas tried to depose Photius, and Photius excommunicated Pope Nicolas in 867. The Emperor removed St. Photius as the Patriarch in the same year although he was later reinstated and canonized in the Eastern Church. However, the Fillioque clause had never been used in Rome itself before the coronation of the new German emperor Henry II in 1014. It is obvious that the events up to the fateful 1054 confrontation in Constantinople were highly charged with political intrigue.

Complete article in Word format

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The Orthodox Church Process of Canonization/Glorification, and the Life of Blessed Archbishop Arseny

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Introduction

The legacy of Blessed Arseny (Chahovtsov or Chagovstov) is very impressive. Fr. Matthew Francis, an OCA Priest who has done a great deal of research on him stated, “wherever he went things came to life, and the Church just came alive wherever he was.”1 As there is some controversy regarding his possible glorification, this paper starts by trying to clarify the rather indefinable process of glorification in the Orthodox Church. Hopefully, this essay will shed light on some undocumented aspects of Archbishop Arseny’s life and work. This paper by no means represents a finished product, as human holiness and saintliness is just too complex and varied to be defined in a neat package. I hope that this paper can perhaps help kindle a bit of renewed research and interest into the life of Blessed Archbishop Arseny, as there is still much that should be done and much more information that should be catalogued and/or translated if his life is to be understood and shared properly, especially as we consider his possible official glorification as saint and a proper inclusion in the Orthodox Church calendar. My gratitude is due to many people who allowed me to record their thoughts on Blessed Archbishop Arseny, and who clarified some aspects in the process of glorification in the Orthodox Church. Summaries of these interviews will be published under a separate cover.

Complete paper presented in Winnepeg

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9th Sunday after Pentecost: Building Materials and Principles

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Scripture Reading

Gospel: Matthew 14:22-34  Epistle: 1 Corinthians 3:9-17

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In today’s epistle we hear Paul describing our short journey here on planet earth as a building project. This is something I can relate to fairly well as most of my life I have been involved in one or another aspect of house building. He also describes us as God’s field so perhaps some of the farmer types here may relate better to this image. We are God’s crop. However, the very first verse in today’s epistle says “you are God’s building” and explains that the building being built – the main project we are to be involved with building on our visit to this little planet – is the building of our very body and souls to conform to God’s blueprint.

I spent several years as a home inspector, and one thing I found when inspecting was that all well built homes started with a good blueprint. The initial process in building a high quality home always starts with a good understanding of what good building practise is, and a very carefully drawn up set of plans based on these principles. These plans need to be followed if the end result is to be a solid well built home that will give decades of trouble free living. Pretty much every problem you encounter when doing a home inspection is the result of someone taking a short cut or simply not understanding the proper method for building a home and instead doing their own thing. A home built by someone who doesn’t have the experience to really understand the proper building principles, and hasn’t taken the time to educate themselves, will be a home that is well worth passing up, although we often say that any home can be repaired given enough time and money.

When architects and engineers set out to build a set of blueprints, they follow carefully the boundaries set down in the national and provincial building codes. However, before they are permitted to stamp their first set of blueprints and working drawings, they have spent at least 7 years in school learning how to interpret the building codes, reading hundreds of books and taking dozens of courses. Then when they first graduate, they are considered to be a very special menace as they have much head knowledge but little practical experience. I would recommend a home built by a builder who has 30 years of actual field experience far before a home built by a freshly graduated architect. However, all of us builder types and architects need the whole team to complete the building successfully. One trade that doesn’t care can really mess up the building so ideally the fresh graduates are all helped along by the experienced builders in the homebuilding company. This is also how the body of Christ works, we all need each other and we all have different but essential skill sets within this body. If one member doesn’t come through, the whole body suffers.

The blueprint for our lives and the essential textbook from which to learn the proper principles is of course the scriptures. They are the building code for Christian construction. Contained in the scriptures, in the word of God, are the essentials we need to first create a proper blueprint, and then once this is in place to begin construction according to these instructions. However, it is Church Tradition that teaches us how to correctly understand and interpret the scriptures, and correctly apply them to the unique building that is our lives, so we will be able to withstand the severe storms and foul weather that crashes against us. That which has been faithfully discovered from trial and error over the centuries and lovingly passed down to the next generation of builders, and catalogued carefully so we could all benefit from this immense and saving experience, is precious, of priceless value. We continually apply the time honoured and tested principles given to us in the ecumenical councils and from our venerable elders – the saints gone before us – in interpreting the scriptures and building a solid God-pleasing life. Perhaps we may find ways to apply these principles to our present modern situations and the culture in which we live that are not covered verbatim by past situations. In a similar manner, an experienced roofer takes the rather simple but unchangeable principles of roofing. – water flows downhill and blockages create dams which leak, and applies them to both old and new roofing products, or rot will set in and someone will be getting wet.

The essential principles are both simple and must be followed or disaster will soon appear in both building practises and in building our spiritual houses. Paul says “No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid which is Jesus Christ.” You can put a beautiful looking building with the very best of materials and workmanship on a bad foundation and all of the wonderful work and effort put into the building will end up in a rubble pile when the foundation fails. This will be the end result of many beautiful looking new age spirituality practices built on human potential hopes, or even worse on a counterfeit “Christ” who is not the only begotten Son of God, of one essence with the Father, begotten before all ages, fully human and fully God and one of the Holy Trinity. If we build the building of our life on any other foundation than the true Christ, we will resemble the leaning tower of Pisa, with 15,000 tones of surface material on a shallow 10-foot foundation on marshy ground.

Hopefully this is not a problem for us here within the Orthodox Church. We certainly have all of the teaching and tools possible available to us, with the writings and prayers and encouragement of all the millions of saints who have run this race before us, and that are interceding for us constantly that we finish the race and come and join them in the glories that have been prepared for us! Christ is our rock and firm foundation.

Paul then goes on to talk about the materials we use to build upon the solid foundation of Christ, which each of us then get to build on. He says some will build with gold, silver and precious stones a wonderful and skilful work, whereas others of us will choose to build with easier to access materials, those materials that are perhaps more readily available and not so costly in terms of time spent in obtaining them; wood, hay and straw. God will work with us and be by our side as we work, but in the end, this building will be examined and tested for what we in the home inspection world call “service life” – that is, just how durable and long lasting will this building be? Service life is largely determined by the quality of the building materials you use. If you just want to get by for the next few years and have a rather short sighted approach, a cheap asphalt shingle roof should be fine. Of course, in 15 years if you are still in the same home and you once again need to put on a new roof, you may wish you had dug a little deeper and put on a more durable material. If you had selected say a concrete roof tile roof the first time, you would be feeling like you had made a pretty wise decision 15 years ago as you watched your neighbours’ fork out for another new roof. And at year 30 when they are again doing the same thing you might be really glad that you made all that extra effort and paid the extra cost to put on a roof that lasted 60 years or more way back when.

We were just visiting Bartlett’s in Creston a couple days ago and I was really impressed by the house Mr. Archibald built which is on their property. He imported the highest quality asbestos filled fibre cement roof tiles from Europe and they are still completely functional. The house is more than 90 years old still with this original roof. When you make a really long term great decision, even those who you never met and generations who lived well after your time sing your praises, this is why we honour the saints through the ages; they wisely focused their lives on what truly matters, on eternal construction. Too late too smart it is sometimes said, but no matter what our age, we can start afresh today.

The same applies to the spiritual work we choose to do while here. When we are young, we have so many demands on our lives, new families, careers to build, places to see, things to do, how do you ever find the time for reading the scriptures and the Fathers, for prayer, almsgiving, works of charity and for building that spiritual building, someday when we have a little saner lifestyle we’ll get to more of that. When we get older however, our habits seem to work against starting new things, it takes a great effort and discipline and there is still plenty to keep us occupied in other ways.

But we are told in today’s epistle very clearly that there will come a day when our building, the building of our lives, will be inspected very thoroughly. It will be tested with fire. Similar to the story of the 3 little pigs who built their houses of hay, straw and bricks, the big bad wolf blows instead of burns the houses down, but that which is true and eternally solid always remains. The image of fire is used very often in the scriptures and in the writings of the Fathers. It is a great destructive force, but also a great cleansing and renewing force. It only destroys that which is of no real value, leaving room to shine forth with great light that which is of true and everlasting worth. Similar to the uncreated light of God we just witnessed on Wednesday in the Feast of Transfiguration, so bright the apostles could not look upon it yet full of God’s cleansing and energy.

Paul gives us great news regarding the outcome of the testing of fire for each of our work. We will be greatly rejoicing for the times when we dug down a little deeper and sacrificed some of our temporal benefits, to spend time and energy accumulating the things of lasting value in the kingdom of God. These are the gold and silver and precious stones which are not touched by the fire, but rather become gloriously visible when all the dross and overburdening material surrounding them has been burnt away. Paul says we will receive our reward. Bur we have a loving and saving God, Paul tells us that even if we have not been the wisest and have taken the easy way much of the time, we will still be saved. Our works of wood, hay and straw will be burned up and we ourselves will suffer great regret that we did not make better decisions and dedicate more of our time towards the things of the kingdom of God.  Yes, we will certainly suffer loss, but we will still be saved, for He is a good God, He loves us and all of mankind.

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