Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In the Akathist Hymn to the Twelve Apostles which was composed for us, Reader Isaac refers frequently to the “rays of divine grace” that shine out from the apostles’ path. The same can be said of the actions of their successors, our bishops. When Bishop Gabriel visited us, specific application of this apostolic grace was applied in the ordination of Father Damian and the tonsuring of Christopher and John. Together with recently arrived Reader Joseph, our parish rejoices in the presence of a deacon and three readers. Of course, God’s grace is with every parish where His name is praised, according to our Lord’s promise. However, these men are living symbols, visible carriers, of that grace. Even though this outpouring occurred at a culminating point in our community’s life, our seventh anniversary, we need to understand that, rather than an ending or reward, such a gift is for our strengthening for the path ahead.
Where is that path? Where is God leading us? As a result of the grace granted us, we are starting to see signs of new directions that we might go. Not new, really, just a continuation on the same course, trying to discern and follow God’s will. The life of the Church is full of the mystery built into it from the start; we experience this whenever we gather to consecrate and partake of the Holy Mysteries at the Divine Liturgy. In this mystical life in Christ, our Lord and Father continues to lead us His children into new and unexpected revelations of the “depth and breadth and height” of His love and care for us. One of us dreams a certain dream. Another one of us sees an opportunity as if in a waking vision. Another sees a possible fulfillment of the dream in the opportunity. All these things push us to act.
We must act, yes, especially by intensifying our prayer. But there are times, like now, that, as we act, we should at the same time follow Moses’ instruction to the children of Israel before the parting of the Red Sea: “Stand still and see the salvation of our God.” We are reminded, too, of St. Seraphim of Sarov, whose prayerful presence was sensed in connection to one of the recent mysterious occurrences. He said, “acquire the Spirit of peace and a thousand souls will be saved around you.”
Dear people of God, dear parish family, let us acquire the gifts of stillness and peace of spirit. Let us pray. Let us be vigilant. Let us act, following God’s will. As Holy David says in the psalms: “Ready is my heart, O God, ready is my heart.” (Ps 107:1) Let us be ready to see in quietness of heart God’s working out of His purpose for us.