Reflections on the Inner Life from Canada's Pacific Coast - Fr. Michael Gillis reflects on the inner life of Orthodox Christians. Drawing on the wisdom of both ancient and contemporary Church Fathers, Fr. Michael ponders the struggles, the ironies, and the disciplines of the spiritual life.
12:57Here’s the problem: We so often set ourselves up for failure by thinking our best must mean that we should do what someone else, probably a saint, is doing or has done. And so, without discernment, we force ourselves to complete a rigorous prayer rule or fasting discipline, or to sleep very little, or attend copious church services, or to volunteer at every opportunity—all without discernment, often motivated by a pride that thinks that all we have to do is force ourselves and we will attain the spiritual heights others seem to have attained.
Assurance about the Vaccine?
23:31Our assurance must be in God Himself. Our assurance cannot be in being right, for we are human. Yes, being right is important, and we should strive for orthodoxy (ortho is Greek for ‘right’). We are the Orthodox Church, after all. However, we are also human. We are limited, do not know everything and are easily deceived. Our trust has to be in God, not in man.
8:29Isn’t it strange how much easier it is to thank God when you have almost nothing, than it is when you have much more than you need? I have noticed this in myself. I am very thankful to God when I have a little bread (when I might not have any), but when I have bread going mouldy because I have so many other things to eat, I forget to give thanks. When we have abundance, we have to force ourselves give thanks, otherwise we won’t.
Love in a World of Uncertainty
9:09Today we live in a time of uncertainty; but really, today is no more uncertain than yesterday nor the day or year or century before. Certainty is a kind of delusion. It is a delusion that conveniently forgets that there is much, much more going on in the world than we know and can see. How, then, can we live in peace when our life is enveloped in uncertainty? How do we escape the fear of uncertainty?
Aceticism: Facing The Sun
7:45Keep nurturing the disciplines and activities that tend to produce the fruit of the Spirit, and work to avoid the activities or relationships or situations that stir up your passions. This is what the Church calls asceticism.
Peace in Chaos
11:03There are many kinds of waves in the chaotic world we live in. Sometimes the waves are pushing to the left. Sometimes the waves push to the right. Really, there is no rhyme or reason to it. In fact, part of what can drive you crazy is how unreasonable life in this world is. Like the waves on the ocean, it all depends which way the wind is blowing. And the wind that influences the political and social realities of this fallen world is the spirit of the age, the spirits of wickedness that dwell in the air (Ephesians 6:12).
Hiding in the Midst of Strife
9:45I write a weekly letter for our community and this week I thought I would share this letter with a broader audience. We celebrated the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos this week. Mary the Mother of God was born into a world full of oppression and confusion, yet she was able to become the Holy dwelling place of God. We too, especially at this time of government restrictions and all of the heightened rhetoric of political campaigns—all too radicalized and spun by social media, news outlets, social prophets, and advertising—we too may feel that we are living in an increasingly oppressive and confusing world. While we are not suffering under the occupation of a foreign army, as was Israel during the lifetime of the Mother of God, still many of us are angry and stressed out by the restrictions being imposed on us, whether we agree with them or not.
11:14After my last blog post, John commented that the burning of Churches in Canada calls for “Christian outrage” now, while love and forgiveness can wait until after the crimes have been investigated and resolved. I can honestly say that I know how John feels. In fact, I will go so far as to say that until one feels outrage, one can’t honestly love and forgive. Outrage is a natural human response to outrageous acts—like burning down a Church. If one does not begin by feeling a certain amount of outrage, then I would wonder if that person is actually in touch with reality. Outrage is a natural, merely human emotion.
Breaking the Cycle of Sin and Pain
6:56Last night I attended a prayer service in the street in front of the Coptic Orthodox Church that was burned down early Monday morning. Although some evidence points toward arson, arson has not been proven and no motive has yet been identified. However, there has been a recent spike in violence against churches (vandalism, arson and threats), some sources report over 200 significant incidents in Canada since June. Many of us may be wondering what we should do. Well, I think we should do what our Coptic Orthodox brothers and sisters are doing. We should pray and love.
What Does Success in Bodily Warfare Look Like?
18:20Even as we strive to please God by disciplining ourselves and obeying His commands, we know that God loves us. We know that God will accept our striving for righteousness, even if we don’t do it very well, even if we fail. God is able to fix our mistakes. Therefore, like children striving to please a parent whom we know loves us completely, we offer what we have, what we can do, in a carefree way, knowing that 100% will never be enough to succeed completely all of the time, but it is enough to please God.