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My Mountain

August 21, 2022

My Mountain

I have been blessed to travel a little bit in my life and my wife is pushing for much, much more! Well, hopefully one day!! We have seen vast bodies of water and miles and miles of steep mountain ranges. We have traveled through hours of sandy desserts and lush green valleys, like the one we live in. If we wanted to see these things or travel through them or over them, we have found a suitable way, whether by boat, plane, bicycle, horse, camel, donkey or on foot. We conquered them all!!

 

There are some other mountains that I have not yet conquered! The mountains in life that I struggle to conquer are the mounds I have built separating me from others. Maybe because of my woundedness and lack of forgiveness I hide behind my fortress wall. And then of course there is my deeply rooted weed of pride that poisons my relationships and even my marriage. I often forget that Christ has called me to martyrdom, and at times I am a poor prideful and selfish example of Christianity. How big is your mountain? 
Our Lord speaks about mountain moving faith in the Gospel reading this morning. (Matt 17:20) And just how tiny an amount is necessary to move such an enormous obstacle. So I ask what mountains have you built in your life and are you now able and determined to conquer them? There has to be repentance! There has to be forgiveness! All it takes is a mustard seed of hope, faith and a lot of humility! In Christ, there is always hope, there is always a mustard seed! Don’t you know you are battling the evil one? The voice screaming in your ear and handing you more rocks to add to your mountain is not the One of peace, but the one of death. Saint John Chrysostom directs us: “Pay attention carefully. After the sin comes the shame; courage follows repentance. Did you pay attention to what I said? Satan upsets the order; he gives the courage to sin and the shame to repentance.” (St. John Chrystotom, Homily 8)
Our legal system tell us we all innocent until proven guilty, but I believe we are all guilty, working on becoming innocent. We are living a fallen life, aren’t you tired of building those mountains? There is no easy way to conquer them. It takes work. It takes sacrifice. It takes a longing for something much better, something not of this fallen world! It takes a means or set of disciplines, that is if we faithfully submit ourselves and our precious time, we can start moving those mountains inch by inch, into the sea of eternal life. 
There is no mountain high enough that can’t be conquered if the cross we wear around our necks is buried firmly in our heart and soul. Saint John of Kronstadt writes” only the Orthodox Faith purifies and sanctifies human nature which has been defiled by sin...Do you wish to be assured of this? Read the history of the lives of the saints, the history of the Church, and you will see this for yourselves. You will see wolves transformed into lambs, fornicators into angelic righteous men and women, misers into paragons of charity, lovers of pleasure into ascetics; you will see people of power and earthly grandeur and luxury in humble monastic garb...These were true Christians indeed; these were angels in the flesh, citizens of heaven while still on earth... This is what our Orthodox Faith can do with those who sincerely hold to it and follow its direction! But why does it not produce such a salvific change within us? Because of disbelief and lack of faith, flippancy, depravity and un-repentance of heart, because of the passions which have intensified and gained dominion over us, because we have withdrawn from the Church, and because many are not in the least imbued with the spirit and life of the Church, and many are only weakly, only formally, insincerely, attached to it. Because all the modern lusts have been engendered within us...For us to be genuine Orthodox Christians, we must first of all have living, constant fellowship with the Orthodox Church, i.e., participation in its prayers, teachings, mysteries, we must earnestly study our Faith and become imbued with it, live in its spirit, be guided by its rules, commandments, precepts; and most important, we must restore within us by true and profound repentance the image of the true Orthodox Christian, according to the image of the saints, ancient and recent, according to the model of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, Who says: "I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you" (Jn. 13: 15), that the Lord may also say to us, as He once said of Nathanael, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" (All, False Ecumenism, Heterodoxy, Holy Fathers, St. John of Kronstadt 1829-1908) 
Fr. Gabriel Weller 8-21-2022

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