Select Page

One of the biggest struggles I had was adjusting back to life after seminary/St. Clement. My close friends know that I consider the year that I taught there to be an extension of the seminary. I mean, c’mon, I literally lived in the altar of St. Pishoy’s church! The irony was this wasn’t a new struggle. It was one I had before seminary; I just didn’t recognize it as well as I do now. The struggle is: how can I attain salvation through living an ordinary life. I always had this idea that if I wanted to live an authentic Christian life, I had to do something drastic like our fathers, the monks, and our mothers, the nuns. Renounce the world and go live in a cave. Maybe it’s just me, but we continually put the monastics and clergy on this pedestal as a Church. As if the only way your life revolved around Christ 24/7 was if you were a monastic or clergy. But the reality is though that our everyday life should be tied in with Christ. St. John Chrysostom said once, “You certainly deceive yourself and are greatly mistaken if you think that there is one set of requirements for the person in the world and another for the monk. The difference between them is that one is married and the other is not; in all other respects, they will have to render the same account. All people must reach the same point: the full measure of Christ; to become perfect as the Father in heaven is perfect. And this is what throws everything into disorder – the idea that only the monk is required to show a greater perfection while the rest are allowed to live in laxity. But this is not true!” We may put monastics and clergy “above” us because they “see” Christ every day and only focus on Him, but the fact is we see Christ every day. We see Christ on the altar, and we see Him in each person.

I don’t mean this in some symbolic, dramatic way. Rather we literally believe it. Every time we partake of the Eucharist, of communion, we in a sense become a theotokos. Now that might be the most outlandish claims I’ve made, but hear me out. The Greek word is literally translated as God-bearer. If we genuinely believe that the bread & wine change into the Holy Body & the Precious Blood of Emmanuel, then aren’t we bearing God in us as well?

I’m not saying that St. Mary isn’t worthy of the honor and title. She does, but believe me, this concept can grow a closer relationship with her and primarily your relationship with God. The fact of the matter is that we are all partaking of Christ Himself. We pray it every commemoration of St. Mary or any angels. “Behold, Emmanuel Our God, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of all the world, is with us today on this table.” The priest is not trying to be poetic; he’s not some hippie trying to swoon you with magical words; he is stating facts! 

Christianity is not just a set of rules we follow to be a certain way or do certain things. Nor is it “magic” where we do certain rites, rituals, or sacraments to attain God’s favor. Take, for example, a married couple. A husband or wife do things because of their love for that person. Let’s say the husband is into sports, and his wife watches with him. She’s not watching in an attempt to gain brownie points, but she’s doing it because it’s more about how she’s connected with him. She does it because she feels connected with him and wants to connect more. Likewise, partaking in the Church’s mysteries isn’t a checklist we do to gain brownie points with God. But it is because we are connected with Him through the Holy Spirit, and we continue to connect through those mysteries.

However, we also connect with him through our daily living. In his book Becoming a Healing Presence, Albert Rossi spoke about how vocation is not just our career or a specific role in life, such as husband, wife, father, or mother, but to do what Christ has us on this planet to do. Our vocation or calling in life is not static. Our “vocation is fluid and changes with each passing day, each passing moment, in an enthralling adventure.” He then goes on to say all of us have a general vocation and specific vocation. We are all created in the image and likeness of God and have the mission to live out that image and likeness. Each is called to “be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). At the same time, we are all called, in a different way, to love God fully and our neighbor within each singular vocation.

So did Christ appear to me? Yes. You don’t have to be clergy or a monastic to live a life with and for God 24/7. I find Christ in others, and I see Him in what I do as a professional, a worker, as a parent, as a sibling, and as a friend.