Sunday, March 29, 2009

Costa's Monthly Newsletter- On the purification of the heart and our senses

My brother Costa has had the privilege for some time now to be the caretaker of the bookstore at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church.

He supplies a monthly article for The Desert Messenger, that parish's newsletter.

This is his most recent entry.

Hello from the Bookstore

On the purification of the heart and our senses.

Jesus said that those who have a pure heart are blessed because they will see God. This sounds like such a far out concept. Can we really purify our hearts? Of course we can, and we have the testimony of countless of our Saints who have done so and have told us how wonderful it is to see God in everything. This is peace and rest and fearlessness; to know in your heart that the will of God governs all, and that this all-powerful God loves and cares for each one of us and desires for us to share in His Divine Life.

So, how do I acquire this purity of heart? To begin with, in addition to all the other things that the Church is, we must understand that it is also a therapeutic method. The Holy Mysteries of the Church are given to us by God for the healing of the soul. The prayers, iconography, lives of Saints, chants, etc. are medicines for our souls. How does this work? It has to do with what we feed our minds and souls. Everything that we perceive has the ability to draw us either towards God or away from God. So if I attend a rock concert, for example, it is very difficult for my mind NOT to be drawn away from God. Or when I watch the evening news, most likely my mind is being pulled from therapeutic thoughts of God, and instead my soul has more of a chance to be damaged and hurt by what is perceived. Now on the other side, when I attend the Divine Liturgy, it is very difficult for me NOT to think about God. Or when I spend a few minutes just looking at a Byzantine icon, my soul is being soothed. The Church provides us with alternative sources of stimulation for our senses. What starts with our senses, works its way into the heart.

Until next month, (GW), ICXC NIKA, Costa

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