What is keeping me from EXPERIENCING God? by Fr. Gabriel Wissa

September 20, 2022

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.


Today, I would like to address one of the main issues that plague Christians in this rapidly changing society. Because of this issue so many Christians remain unchanged by the Truth of God and by the reality of a real personal relationship with Him. Christianity, instead of being something so joyful, fulfilling and life-changing, remains, for those Christians, a heavy burden and an empty attempt to fulfill what seems to be random laws given by this Law Giver. For many, this issue has become increasingly difficult to manage because truly the love of many has grown cold but he who endures to the end shall be saved. 


Let me first start by giving some background to this video by quoting an incredibly spiritual man who was deemed worthy of many graces from God because of his humility and life of prayer. This man is St. Macarius the Great. In one of his homilies, he describes what happens to the soul when someone departs from this world. He says the following in Homily 22: “When the soul of a man departs from the body, a certain great mystery is there enacted. If a person is under the guilt of sin, bands of demons and fallen angels approach along with the powers of darkness which capture that soul and drag it as a captive to their place. No one should be surprised by this fact. For if, while a man lived in this life, he was subject to them and was their obedient slave, how much more, when he leaves this world, is he captured and controlled by them? You can understand this, however, from what happens to those on the better side. Indeed, angels even now stand alongside God’s holy servants and holy spirits surround and protect them. And when they leave their bodies, the bands of angels receive their souls and carry them to their side into the pure eternity. And so they lead them to the Lord.” So he says that the soul of the person leaving its body is essentially already subject to the light or to the darkness and his or her fate is only a continuation of what the person submitted to while in this life on earth. This is a great, and scary, reminder for all of us. And if we pay close attention, we will notice that he says that giving ourselves to the light or darkness is not necessarily a consequence of some sort of a big decision we make in our lives but it is the summation of the little daily decisions we take. Building on this, St. Macarius says the following: “Unless, as I said above, [the Christian] struggles to go against the world  and frees himself from the earthly passions with all his heart and desires to become attached completely and totally to the Lord, he will not know about the deception of the hidden, evil spirits and about the hidden evil passions. He remains a stranger to himself, as one who is unaware of his wounds. He has hidden passions and yet he is not aware of them. He is still given over to exterior things and willingly consents to being tied to the preoccupations of this world.” In other words, unless we struggle against the earthly temptations and to give our minds totally to God, we are incapable of perceiving the hidden dark passions within. We remain strangers to ourselves and to God.  


Today’s biggest temptation for adults and youth alike is the mixing of both heaven and earth, light and darkness, purity and impurity. It is the lack of our soul’s consecration and giving ourselves excuses for it. It is reducing God’s commands to our own standards. I want to have one foot in heaven while the other in the world. I believe it is evident that I am not speaking about working or studying and the like. We all live in the world and have to engage with it. I am speaking about where my heart is. I can make my work a holy place, a place of worship, a place where I bring the good news daily. Or I can focus on the same things the world focuses on, slowly but surely allowing the world to creep in into my heart. But what we fail to understand is by doing so our love for Christ grows cold and the sinful passions slowly take over. And again we find ourselves in a state where Christianity becomes a burden rather than a source of true joy. And as a result, we sometimes attempt to fix ourselves from our emptiness on our own. We eat more of the world because we feel that we are lacking something. It is indeed easier to attempt to turn to what we can see and touch rather than the slow process of being internally converted by God. It is easier. It is faster. Maybe even fun. But at the end, it remains empty and unfulfilling. Again, St. Macarius says the following: “For no earthly medicines, that is, mankind’s own justifying actions, had any power to cure the human race of so great an interior plague. But this could be done only by the heavenly and divine nature of the so great gift of the Holy Spirit. Man could be healed only by the help of this medicine and thus could attain life by a cleansing of his heart by the Holy Spirit.” Nothing earthly can really fulfill us or bring true joy. Only the True Life Giver can provide true meaning to our lives. 


The danger, here, is the continual seeking after earthly things. This habit builds in us and it becomes increasingly more difficult to get rid of as time passes. Again, this is not a call for us to physically abandon the world but more about the state of our hearts? What do I think about the most? Would I be willing to give up this thing or that project or this work or that car for the sake of Christ? Is my hand holding on to this thing with a strong grip and I cannot let go or my hand remains open, meaning, my heart is not attached to it. My treasure and heart are somewhere else—in heaven. Christ Himself is my treasure. My heart is attracted to Him and every decision taken is founded on Him. This could be reflected, for example, in giving to the poor rather than to elevate my standard of living. Again, St. Macarius warns us clearly and sets us on the right path, he says: “Unless a person who is swayed by passions approach God by denying the world, and believe with hope and patience that he will receive something good, yet different from his own nature (namely, what is the power of the Holy Spirit), and unless the Lord drop down from above upon him divine life, such a one will never experience true life. He will never recover from the intoxication of materialism. The illumination of the Spirit will never shine brightly upon his soul nor will it illumine him with a “holy day.” He will never be aroused from the deepest sleep of ignorance in order in this way truly to know God through God’s power and the efficacy of grace… Indeed, a person’s free choice is tested by progress and growth in time and according to opportunity to see whether a person is always united with grace and found pleasing. He gradually comes to be totally one with the Spirit and thus is rendered holy and pure by the Spirit, made fit for the Kingdom.” The fountain of evil passions within us is transformed into a fountain of pure life-giving water once God resides within and life takes on a totally different meaning. For the first time, we taste what real life is about. Our struggle to live that kind of life makes us known to God and his angels and, therefore, they are present to receive our souls as they leave our bodies. <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”” title=”YouTube video player” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>

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