Saint Sophia Cathedral
Online Resources for our Religious Edification
Topic of the Week – If We Want to See God, Where Do We Begin?
“…the basic human problem is that we do not see God. In fact, most people cannot see God but can only seek Him. This is because our eyes (both physical and the eyes of our souls) are earthly, they are trained to see, to think about and to contemplate only physical things and what can be deduced from physically perceptible things or what directly affects how we feel, that is, the emotional realities that are at work within us – although some people work hard to ignore even these.
If, however, we want to see God, where do we begin?…”
“… if you want to see God, you have to want to see God more than just about anything else…. the word “see” is a metaphor. Archimandrite Aimilianos is not talking about physical sight, neither is he talking about some sort of inner vision or soul sight within our imagination. Rather, by seeing God, he is referring to a knowing of and encounter with God that is so real that it is like seeing.
…And yet seeking God is not like seeking things that I can physically or logically see because in seeking for God, we cannot find God. God is not to be found. But you might ask, if God is not to be found by seeking, why seek Him? Actually, the answer is quite simple. God cannot be found, regardless of how diligently we seek Him, God cannot be found, but God does reveal Himself. But when God reveals Himself, if we are not seeking Him, we will not see Him or know him….
Someone once explained it this way, “You can do absolutely nothing to make the sun rise, but you can be awake when it rises….”Similarly, we can be awake, we can be watching, looking, seeking God so that when God reveals Himself we can perceive it. However… God is continually revealing Himself to us, speaking to us and making Himself known to us in ways that can only be perceived as we allow our minds to be changed—or to use the biblical word—as we learn to repent. To repent means to change your mind, to think and perceive differently. In other words, God is only perceived by us as we change, or rather, as we allow ourselves to be changed. And the very seeking of God changes us because wanting one thing more than anything changes everything….”
Read the entire article “If We Want to See God Where Do We Begin?”
How Do We Know About God?
“Some people think that everything in the universe was formed by itself. But is that believable? For example, is it really believable to think that a beautiful painting painted itself? Or to look at a palace and think that it built itself? Just like a painting is made by an artist, a book by an author, a house by an architect and construction workers and a car by engineers and skilled workers, the same thing is true about nature. The universe has to have a Maker, a Creator. In English, we call Him “God”….
“But has anyone ever seen Him?,” you might ask.
“No, it’s impossible to see Him with our eyes. He is invisible.”
“But things that are invisible only exist in fairy tales!”
“Not only in fairy tales. The invisible exists. And what is invisible is most amazing and most important in our life.”
Imagine for a moment that you’re thinking about last summer and dreaming that next year you’ll also be able to go swimming in the sea or hiking in the woods. You may have happy thoughts or sad thoughts. But none of them can be seen. You can only see the expression on your face or hear the words that you say when you have those thoughts. But your mind, your thoughts, and your feelings are what makes you a human being. That means that the invisible does exist. Without it, we wouldn’t be people.
The creator of the world is unseen, just like your thoughts, but we do see before our eyes His numberless creations. And we should give Him thanks for everything: for the bright morning, for the rain and sunshine, for the joy of being alive…. And if we love God and live according to His laws, then many things in the world that we don’t understand will become clear and understandable to us. If we love God and live with everyone else in friendship, love and joy, then that joy will never end and nobody will be able to take it away from us, because God Himself will be with us…”
Purchase and read the book The Law of God for Children here. [This book introduces children to the foundations of the Orthodox faith in a simple and accessible format and to help them understand the most important truths of the Gospel: love for God and our neighbor, mercy, compassion, and hope. Children who grow up in this modern world often have serious and pressing questions that adults sometimes find difficult to answer and this book helps answer those questions.]
Read the story Talking With a Barber About God.
After reading consider these things: Have you ever had the same thought as the barber? In what ways have you not been calling on God in your life? In what ways can you start to call on God in your life on a daily basis? The man getting the haircut brought the barber closer to God. In what ways can you talk with the people you meet or already know in order to introduce them to or bring them closer to God?
Read the testimony offered by Hieromonk Synesios.
After reading consider these things: Have you ever had the same thoughts and questions as the young man who was the atheist? What do you usually do when there is pain or suffering in your life? How does God use suffering to prepare our souls for the Kingdom of Heaven? What if the next time there was tribulation, you remembered to glorify God for it instead of asking ‘why me’ or wishing the circumstances away? In what ways can we witness to others like the old man dying from illness?
A Message from Maria Spanos
I am passionate about our Orthodox Christian faith and seek to help others learn as much as they can about it. My purpose here is to share online resources that help strengthen our relationship with Christ and bind us closer to His Church. I believe they are invaluable in learning about our precious Orthodox Tradition, and are a great aid for teaching family members, friends and others about Orthodoxy. ~Maria
Two of my favorite quotes:
“A true Christian behaves in this life so that it may be a preparation for the future one and not only a life here below. In his actions, he does not think what will be said of him here but of what will be said there in heaven; he represents to himself that he is always in the presence of God, of the angels and all the saints, and remembers that someday they will bear witness of his thoughts, words, and deeds.” — Saint John of Kronstadt
“Of all the holy works, the education of children is the most holy.”
— St. Theophan the Recluse