Gladsome Light Dialogues – An Orthodox Blog

A journey through our Orthodox faith as we live it every day

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Like through a mirror dimmly

March 31st, 2017 by Fr. Vasile

mirrorLent is upon us and as we start cleaning our fridges of the food that we feasted upon until this point we also start a much deeper interior cleaning of our inner being to prepare our souls for the joy of the Resurrection of our Lord.

Every year though Lent looms over as a big and scary thing mostly because it is something that stretches us to our limits. How much should I fast? How long can I resist standing? How many prostrations I should do? How many services are there to attend? Is it Pascha already? As thoughts like this pass through our minds we boldly move ahead with the discipline of fasting and the heightened rhythm of prayer and just as a long-distance runner we start getting into a steady pace that alongside the grace of the Lord will take us all the way to our desired destination…

Sigh…Don’t you wish it was that easy? In real fasting-life things are generally messier. In our house we have 5 kids and amongst them two teenage boys that are constantly hungry. My wife sets up a nice meal that took her half a day to cook and after five minutes is gone while the boys are in the pantry foraging for ramen noodles. Then the packed lunches to replace the non-vegetarian meals at the cafeteria and the constant grocery shopping of fruits and veggies that disappear like into a black hole. Yes it is messy.

So why are we putting ourselves through this every year only to fall and to fumble like novices learning a new skill?

One thought I would like to share with you is that for me at least fasting is like a truthful mirror of my own weaknesses. Every year confronted with giving up the comfort of my pampered life I have a hard time letting it go. The discipline of fasting underlines my faults and awakens my awareness of the true state of my becoming in Christ.

We are called to grow “unto a perfect man unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:1) but how can I grow if I do not know my current stature if I am not made aware of where I stand and what I need to grow into? The discipline of Great Lent heightens our spiritual mindfulness and allows us as we struggle with its different aspects to learn through imperfect experiences and failings what we need to work on to achieve the perfection we are called to attain: “Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

From failing to follow the eating discipline of fasting we learn how much we are surrounded by food everywhere: at home at work in our cars in front of our TVs even in bed. Through fasting hopefully we’ll be able to start replacing this constant material snacking with spiritual bits that nourish our souls with a much more filling and sustainable food. We can learn to “munch” on a few minutes of the Jesus prayer to get “filled” by the lives of the Saints and “feast” by partaking in the Body of Christ during a Presanctified Divine Liturgy.

The heavy schedule of Lenten services puts pressure on our busy schedules and could potentially highlight that we consciously or unconsciously waste a lot of time on frivolous activities. Learning to be better stewards of the time we received from God is a great Lesson of Lent as we become aware that “all things are lawful for me but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me but all things edify not”( 1 Corinthians 10:2) and that we should walk circumspectly not as fools but as wise redeeming the time because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:16-17). We can redeem the time that God has provided for us by participating in the timeless experience of the beautiful opportunities of prayer that are set in front of us during Lent.

The heightened work of almsgiving we are called to achieve is yet another eye-opener as we try to be more generous with our treasure and often we find out that looking for the smallest bill in our wallet to hand out to a homeless person May not be what Christ would want us to do. Caring for our fellow man reveals a camaraderie in life and in its unavoidable pain that strengthens our relationship in Christ and brings together His Body by realizing that “whether one member suffer all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured all the members rejoice with it.” (! Corinthians 1:26)

Fasting prayer and almsgiving the three pillars of Lent are great opportunities for self-reflection and action for every Christian that is engaged in his personal growth in Christ. Yes we will stumble and fall through Lent many a time yet by suffering the pain of failing we May learn that every fall is an opportunity to rise “for though the righteous fall seven times they rise again but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.” (Proverbs 24:16)

We persevere through fasting every year we put ourselves through the ringer during each Lenten season because we want to say as the Apostle did “I have fought a good fight I have finished my course I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me at that day: and not to me only but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Resurrection is our destination and the journey through Great Lent exposes ourselves in a mirror that is made less and less dim (1 Corinthians 1:1) by its discipline.  “Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves” (2 Corinthians 1:5) and the Kingdom will open its arms to receive you.

Have a Great Lent and a glorious Resurrection!

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Both Now and Ever…

January 5th, 2017 by Fr. Vasile

JanusThe first of January is the beginning of the New Year, and in the same time the end of the old one.  The Romans named this month January based on Janus, one of their pagan deities, the god of all beginning and all ends. He was represented with two heads, one old, one young, looking in opposite directions. Of course, this is a false god, he does not exist, yet his symbolism persists in our calendar and, every year, when we celebrate the New Year, we look in these two direction: the past and the future.

For us Christians, the only acceptable beginning and the end, the only alpha and omega, is the One True God, One in… Continue reading

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The Narthex as a Dynamic Place of Transformation

August 8th, 2016 by Fr. Vasile

narthexThe icon of the Fest of Transfiguration, which we celebrate on August 6th, is a beautiful metaphor for the union and the reconciliation that Christ brings between the Old and the New Testament. In this icon we see Christ in the Uncreated Light, flanked on each side by Moses and Elijah, prophetic figures of the Old Testament while, prostrated in front of the transfigured Christ, we find three of His disciples Peter, John and James.

St. Ephraim the Syrian makes a point of this “reunion” of old and new to say:
“The Prophets and the Apostles gathered on the mount were filled with joy; the Prophets rejoiced for they have beheld here His humanity which they did not… Continue reading

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Child Versus Gorilla – How To Live Together For The Kingdom

June 7th, 2016 by Fr. Vasile


The recent child versus gorilla controversy has brought up an older moral question about the status of human life versus animal life. When one is faced with the decision of saving a human life endangered by an animal life, what should one do? In our story the zookeeper clearly stated that their choice was easy because a human life is more valuable than an animal life.[Round of applause from all parents of toddlers] But what does a poor zookeeper know?  A recent tweet that condemned the gorilla killing went as far as blaming the entire humanity for the gorilla death saying:  “Humans imprison gorilla. Human enters gorilla prison. Gorilla gets shot dead for being near human. Humanity… Continue reading

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‚ Mystery and Divine Magnetism: a Conversion Story">Beauty Mystery and Divine Magnetism: a Conversion Story

April 15th, 2016 by Fr. Vasile

Come and Seeby Daniel Bishop

I often hear stories from people I’ve met along the way about the path that lead them to Orthodoxy. More often than not, these stories involve books by particular authors or saints whose writings made an influence on their perspective and opened them up to the wealth of the teachings of the Church. These are stories of beautiful and brilliant minds seeking truth amidst the pages of history, leaving no stone unturned until they found the true path. I sincerely wish I could give you such a brave story of my conversion. The thing is, I can’t manage to retrace my steps through books or knowledge, though I did read a lot while… Continue reading

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The Christian Family Suspended Between Tradition and Temptation*

March 4th, 2016 by Fr. Vasile

Root of JeseeBeloved Brothers and Sister in Christ,

As you can see, even from my short greeting, this talk about family is actually a talk in the family. I am not here to preach to strangers, but to converse with people familiar to us who will be able to better understand what I have to say, because you are hearing it from within. You hear a lot from the outside as well; there is a lot of talk about family these days, with everyone trying to define, or rather re-define, what family is, many times based on personal thoughts and feelings or ideologies of various groups of interests, creating a lot of confusion. In the midst of all… Continue reading

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An Icon of the Christian Family

January 12th, 2016 by Fr. Vasile

Everyone’s favorite time of the year is the period before Christmas, when the air is filled with joy, peace and expectation. We are blessed to live in a country that looks forward to Christmas although we might seem to have lost some of its meaning along the way.  We have radio stations that air carols without ceasing, exalting the season, although many of them speak about snow, jolly figures carrying gifts, family time and other things that are all fine, but missing maybe the point of all this festival. It is wonderful that everyone celebrates Christmas, in their own way, and even people that don’t believe in God enjoy the season and try to be “good for goodness’ sake”, as a recent billboard from our atheistic friends reads recently (we… Continue reading

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Giving Thanks to God for All Things

November 10th, 2015 by Fr. Vasile

Holy 40 martyrsEvery year on Thanksgiving Day, we give thanks to God for our wonderful life. We rejoice in the fruits of the earth (with or without feathers) gathered around a table of abundance. A good thing indeed! Saint Basil the Great advised us to do this as early as the 4th century:
”When you sit down to eat, pray. When you eat bread, do so thanking Him for being so generous to you. If you drink wine, be mindful of Him who has given it to you for your pleasure and as a relief in sickness. When you dress, thank Him for His kindness in providing you with clothes. When you look at the sky and the beauty of the… Continue reading

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A Union for the Kingdom

June 26th, 2015 by Fr. Vasile

Greek-Orthodox-WeddingIn case you haven’t been following the news, the Supreme Court has recently ruled in favor of the recognition of same-sex unions throughout United States. Does this come as a surprise? Absolutely not! We knew it was just a matter of time. But how did we get here? How come that we need a court of law to decide what marriage is?

Before we start pointing fingers at the state for changing our understanding of marriage, we have to admit first that even in Christianity, there are different views of what actually marriage is. Most Christians would agree that marriage is a union between a man and a woman that mutually agree to spend their lives together, but looking deeper… Continue reading

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Equal to the Apostles

May 21st, 2015 by Fr. Vasile

Constantine-signBlessed be the providence of God that makes all things evolve towards the order that best suits our progression in the Kingdom of heavens. All that God chooses to happen is for our edification in Him and for our development into His divine mold. This year for instance we celebrate the Holy Ascension (a moving feast) in the same day with the celebration of the Sts. Constantine and Helen (a fixed feast). One may say it is just random, at the end of the day even a broken clock shows the right time twice a day, but I don’t believe in coincidences.

Let me explain my train of thoughts in this particular instance. The Ascension of our Lord commemorates the… Continue reading

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