We at Light & Life Publishing
hope that you and your family had a blessed Nativity and a blessed
Theophany. But even as family and loved ones depart and the last
Christmas decoration is packed away, we begin our preparations
for the upcoming Lenten season. With the Nativity we celebrate
the birth of our faith. During Lent we are called to live it.
There is no greater New Year’s resolution than to live
more fully and completely in Christ. We pray that Lent provides
you with an incredible opportunity to do just that. As always,
we invite you to continue sharing your questions or comments
on any issue facing us as Orthodox Christians by e-mailing: email@example.com.
The Staff at Light & Life Publishing
By Anthony M. Coniaris
A person decided to get rid of an old bamboo plant growing in
his driveway. He cut the plant down, dug out its roots with an
ax and poured plant poison on what remained. Then he filled the
hole with several feet of gravel. He pressed down hard on the
gravel and paved it over with cement.
years later the driveway heaved as the bamboo plant began to
slowly break through the pavement. The pressure to grow was not
stopped by axe, plant poison, gravel and cement.
greatest power in the world is the power to grow.
us Orthodox Christians to grow means to grow as Jesus grew: “in
wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.” It means
to grow physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. It
means to grow by God’s grace from the image of God, in
which we have been created, into the likeness of God as reflected
in the life of Jesus; to grow toward becoming “partakers
of God’s nature” (theosis) and to keep growing endlessly
through all eternity which the Church Fathers call epectasis.
We will never cease to grow in knowledge, love and glory. This
is what St. John Climacus called the “unfinished perfection.”
Through baptism we were born into the life of God. Now that we
are born, we must grow – and keep growing – in that
new life. How? Through greater faith, greater knowledge of God
that comes from hearing and reading the word of God regular participation
in the liturgy, and deeper praying. And we grow in knowing God
in order that we may go out into the world to celebrate the “liturgy
after the liturgy.” Having received Christ in the Eucharist,
we go out to be a Christ to all those we encounter during the
The power to grow
has been directed to many areas. There has been an explosion
of scientific knowledge in the past 100 years. Yet the marvel
of it all is that man can not only know what is in the universe
– the stars and the planets. We can also come to know Him
who stands behind the universe. The Creator of all – our
Lord and God!
John wrote, “And this is eternal life, that they may know
Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.”
(John 17:3). The supreme blessing of the human soul is that it
can know God. The supreme tragedy is that we place knowing other
things above knowing God. To know God is not just another
kind of knowledge. It is a matter of life or death, heaven or
hell. Francis Bacon, the philosopher said, “knowledge is
power.” Knowledge of God is more than power; it is eternal
life. It is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness,
faithfulness, and self-control.
highest form of knowledge is not to know about God,
but to know Him personally. Such knowledge is intimate, personal
and based on love.
of us know about God, but have we grown in our relationship
with Christ to the point where we know Him and relate to Him
personally? If we have the same level of knowledge of God as
we had in grade school, we have not grown. “There is only
one form of education,” said Eldress Gabriella, “to
know and love God.”
in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”
(2 Peter 3:18). No other knowledge saves. No other knowledge
leads to eternal life. “Grow up in every way to Christ,
who is the head” (Eph. 4:12). The result of this growth
is described in 2 Cor. 3:18, “And we all with unveiled
face, beholding the glory of God, are being changed into His
likeness from one degree of glory to another: for this comes
from the Lord.”
the coming season of Lent, which for Orthodox Christians begins
on March 6, Light and life will be offering several excellent
spiritual classics, both new and old, to help you grow in your
personal knowledge of Him “in whom are concealed all treasures
of wisdom and knowledge” (St. Paul). We pray you will take
advantage of them.