Autopilot OFFFr. Barnabas Powell
Christ is risen!
A life of faith never grows and matures on “automatic pilot.” The constant call of the liturgy, the fathers, and the faith to “give attention” is no accident, but the well travelled path of experience in how easy it is for a man to forget himself if he doesn’t pay attention to his internal journey. “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:23-25
Since the season of Holy Pascha, we have been led by the Holy Spirit through the wisdom of the Church calendar through five (5) Sundays emphasizing the power of the resurrection to transfigure our lives and how to prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
The Sundays were – The Sunday of Thomas the Believer, The Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women, The Sunday of the Paralytic, The Sunday of the the Samaritan Woman, and The Sunday of the Man born Blind. Each Sunday a progressive move toward the Feast of the Ascension this week, and a preparation of our hearts to renew our chrismations at the Feast of Pentecost.
This ever-renewing rhythm of catechetical and baptized time is, for those awake, a constant invitation to spiritual progress.
This ever-renewing path can only be sustained by the basic practice of the faith. Today through the Feast of the Ascension we will discuss these basic practices.
The first basic practice is Repentance. This is a word you have heard most of your life, and probably one of the most misunderstood words in all of Christianity. The root of an authentic Christian understanding of repentance is the iron clad and unmoveable reality that it has NOTHING to do with “feeling” guilt or shame.
To be sure, both feelings of guilt and shame can lead us to repentance, but without a proper view of God’s love and the Person of God Himself, these emotions are just as likely to lead one to run away from repentance and hide from God.
Christian repentance flows from both a loving relationship with God in Christ and a heart-felt desire to be with God in Christ. Christian repentance begins in the way we think, and confesses that our pattern of thinking produces our behaviors and priorities. As we use the spiritual disciplines to “re-wire” our thinking about God and the life of faith, we discover the “broken places” of our lives and run to present them to the Lord Who will never reject us. EVER.
So, Christian repentance begins in understanding that I must allow God’s love to change my mind. It is the reason that St. Isaac the Syrian says ” This life has been given to you for repentance; do not waste it in vain pursuits.”
Today, my dearest, let us move away from that which corrupts our minds with “vain pursuits” and let us joyfully embrace the life of repentance and fall into the loving arms of the Uncreated Who means us no harm, but will also not allow that which is unworthy to exist in the “fire” of eternal love. Today, you get to repent! Rejoice!