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Growth in Grace

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Our salvation is our object. We move toward this goal through the increasing indwelling of the Holy Spirit through our acquirements of God’s grace. We do this, not alone, but together, as witnessed to by the organized life of the Church into parishes. It has been so since the Church was first spoken of in the New Testament. Of course, THE manifestation of such unity is within the Divine Liturgy where Christ, our Chief Cornerstone, is together with His living stones, us and the Saints, in the Mystery of the Body and Blood. Other manifestations of unity suggest themselves as by-products of this primary unity. We eagerly seek other ways for showing and developing our oneness so that our lives together and apart may shine more and more with the brightness of His grace and move us, each and all, toward the final goal of salvation, and in so doing, move us away from the corruption of the things of this world. Such ways suggest themselves to us now. This month, we begin two activities through which we have a good hope that God may move in us and use us.

For some time, we have seen among us a growing number of young, unattached people. The spirit of the age ever preys upon us to draw us away from concern for our place in the Church and salvation. This is most clear among those emerging from their families to assume and lead their own lives. Especially in this day of general falling away from any type of Christian influence, let alone belief, the newly independent person can fall into confusion through the omni-directional assault of influences unknown under the family roof. For this reason, we are forming a group within the parish, known as St. Joseph’s Young Singles, to welcome unmarried Orthodox Christians from college age through the early thirties. St. Joseph is the eleventh son of patriarch Jacob who, as we know from Scripture, resisted seduction by Potiphar’s wife, enduring false accusation and imprisonment rather than succumb to illicit allurements and offend God. God preserved Him to be mighty in Egypt so that he could save not only Egypt, but his own family and promised nation. Our desire is that those in St. Joseph’s Young Singles may encourage each other to keep a holy witness arising out of growing familial love – the love within the family of Christ.

Recently, desires were expressed that our Wednesday night class be conducted with an eye to a focused study. We have decided that one of the books written by Father Michael Pomazansky, “Orthodox Dogmatic Theology,” provide the basis for such a study. Father Michael was one of the last surviving clergy educated in the pre-Revolutionary period when Russian Orthodox Theological training was at its peak. In his introduction to the book, Father Seraphim Rose speaks of the rarified spiritual atmosphere of such writers as Father Michael, and at the same time in their writing the down-to-earth, “salt-of-the-earth” quality that reaches out and touches the heart of the serious student. Therefore, while the title of the work, from our experience with non-Orthodox books with similar titles, may at first be daunting and off-putting, my own experience of this book entirely matches what Father Seraphim says about it. The book is a garden of the Lord, rich for us toward growth in understanding, toward the building up of the foundation of our spiritual house.

Let us all pray that these additional efforts will be means to grow in knowledge and love of the Lord and toward mutual encouragement, understanding and love and growth in the gifts of God.

In Christ, Father George

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