Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Light Divine by Bishop John

J.M.J. + O.B.T. + M.G.R.*


by Most Rev. John J. Lehman, S.S.B.

Visiting a Navy Chaplain was enthralling. He had just returned from a retreat in the Holy Land with a group of priests. When the retreat was over he boarded a bus for a tour of the Holy places. He sat beside a younger person, who told him he worked at NASA as a biochemist, and he had a story to tell. It was he who designed and perfected food for the astronauts. He was interested in the aura emanating from all life. So he set up his sophisticated instruments in a hospital room to check the aura of patients.

The nurses wheeled in a man flat on a gurney who was near death. The biochemist's instruments showed a slight narrow aura surrounding the patient's body. A priest came in to give him Absolution and the Sacrament of the Sick. When he said the words "I absolve you from your sins," the aura surrounding the man began to expand. As the priest blessed him with the Holy Oils for the Sick his aura expanded remarkably. All this recorded by the wealth of instrumentation in the room. The priest then brought out Holy Communion. So powerful and strong was the light coming from the Eucharist, that the instruments could not record it all. It was too powerful even for his sophisticated equipment!

So moved was the biochemist—and this leads to a "the rest of the story," as Paul Harvey often says—that he gave up his life as a NASA biochemist, entered the seminary and became a priest. Prior to this experience the former NASA biochemist stated he was "just a lukewarm Catholic!"

The Aura Demonstrated

If you have ever watched a late night show, you probably have seen or heard of the energy living matter gives off. The scientist cuts a leaf in half and the life energy of the rest of the leaf leaves an aura of Measurable light still, over the missing part. Or, perhaps you have seen plants hooked up to sophisticated electronic devices that can change radial energy (as the late Anthropologist-Archaeologist Teilhard de Chardin of the Society of Jesus describes it) into sound. As water is poured onto the plant it gives off a symphony of soothing sound.

Let a person roughly strip off the plants buds and when he returns again into the room the plant gives off an alarm sound that can be recorded.

A Derelict's Halo
The Light that Enlightens

As a priest the Air Force sent me to Catholic University for an advanced degree. While there I met a man named Llwellyn Scott. This Afro-American, seventy-three years old at the time, ran St. Martin de Porres Hospice for black derelicts, that he founded thirty-three years before. The priest who said Sunday Mass for the men had died, and Mr. Scott was looking for another priest to take his place. I volunteered, but I told Llwellyn it was going to cost him. He said, "I don't have any money." I told him it would cost two pieces of toast and a cup of coffee, and as much conversation after Mass as I wanted. He said, "I can afford all that."

You must realize this was the holiest man I have ever met. One Sunday after mass he told me this true story. The fellows told him the priest who said Sunday Liturgy "never personally talked to them." The priest said, "Look Llwellyn, you've been talking to them for thirty-three years, what can I tell them you haven't." Llwellyn replied, "I don't know, they just want to talk to you."

The priest had been praying to God for a long time wondering what the Saint authors' meant when they wrote "you must see God in everyone."

So after Divine Liturgy that Sunday they all lined up on the stairs leading to Mr. Scott's quarters on the second floor. The first derelict came in and asked the priest for fifty cents so he could "go up on capitol hill to talk to his senator." So the priest gave him fifty cents. Mr. Scott came running in and asked, "What did he want?" The priest answered, "fifty cents." "Why didn't he ask me?" said Mr. Scott. "How should I know?" answered the priest. "He asked for fifty cents so I gave it to him."

The fifth fellow they pushed in sitting on a wheelchair. His right leg was jumping up and down. The priest asked him what was wrong. "Oh," the fellow said, "I walked on it three days after I broke it, before Llwellyn found me on the street and took me to the hospital." There they put it in a cast. "But why is it twitching that way," said the priest. The man replied, "I shattered some of the nerves while walking on the broken bones. That's why it twitches and jumps that way."

Seeing God in Everyone

The priest looked him over. He was a healthy, muscular, well proportioned, handsome black fellow. "He had a mustache and beard that looked just like the ones pictured on Jesus," said the priest. He asked the husky black man how it happened and this is the story he told. "I was in a bar. It was freezing cold outside. The bartender told me I could stay inside where it was nice and warm. He knew I couldn't afford a drink. He also warned me not to do anything wrong or held have to throw out in the cold. Later, one of the men at the bar went to the bathroom and I immediately downed his drink. The bartender told me he did not see me 'swipe that man's drink' but if I did that again something bad would happen to me."

"After a while another man left his drink unattended, and I got to thinkin' how nice another belt would be. I was just about to down it when a club wielded by the bartender came across the bone of my forearm. Boy, did that hurt! 'Now,' said the bartender, 'if that happens again I'm going to throw you out of here!'"

"Still later, that first drink was giving me a warm, lovely glow, so I took a chance and quickly downed another man's drink. The bartender grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and the seat of the pants and booted me in the butt as he tossed me out the door of the bar. I slipped on the icy curb, falling over it into the gutter, breaking my leg. I looked up at the bartender glaring at me and thought, 'I don't deserve this. But, I remembered Jesus on the cross and as I gazed at the angry bartender, I said, 'Heavenly Father forgive him!'"

"Boy when he said this, his face lighted up with a white, heavenly light. It suffused itself out from his face. His visage was perfectly clear and in focus but the light from his face made everything else a blur." "I thought," said the priest, "I might have been speaking to Jesus himself!" Anyway, from that time on the priest knew what it meant in the sacred traditions that we must "see God in everyone." He saw the Divine Light!

The Taboric Light

Remember reading about the Light in Luke Chapter 8: Verses 28 to 37 and Matthew Chapter 17: Verses 1-8, as well as Mark Chapter 9: Verses 2-8. Matthew calls it a vision Luke recounts: "Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes became dazzling white . . . (The Apostles) saw his glory . . . a (bright) cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice . . . This is my Son. My chosen (the beloved); listen to him." St. Matthew says his face shone like the Sun. So dazzling was his raiment that no one (no fuller) on earth could bleach them that way says St. Mark.

The not natural brilliance, say the Eastern Fathers of the Church, was his Divinity shining through his humanity. This Divine Shining is, as are all things in God, uncreated. St. Gregory Palamas, the Holy Archbishop of Thessalonica, calls this Light of Mt. Tabor, Uncreated Divine, Deifying Grace. St. Symeon, the new Theologian, could see this Deifying Grace in all the members of his body, as well as in those with whom he came in contact who had this light giving Grace. The Latin Fathers speak only of created Sanctifying Grace that makes us holy and pleasing to God or created Actual Grace by which our minds are enlightened and our wills moved in a manner pleasing to God. Father Teilhard de Chardin found this Divine Light in St. Ireneus, apparently, he also experienced it.

He states that he was before the Blessed Sacrament exposed in a Monstrance on a church altar. Suddenly a Divine Light came from the Blessed Sacrament and blazed as it extended into all surrounding creation. From this vision, he speaks of the Resurrected Christ's presence is all created material substance. Thus he experienced the same Divine Light as did the Apostles on Mt. Tabor, the biochemist with his instruments or the priest talking to a black drunkard.

A Theological Explanation

The uncreated energies God infuses us with as a gift from Himself, whether in the Fruits or Gifts from the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, the Grace of our Lord Jesus, the Son of God, or the Father communicating to us his beloved ones is truly Divine, deifying and illuminating Grace from God's own Divine Nature. Some experimentally know this because they actually lived through this vision that may or may not remain visible on other people or other creations.

These Divine Overshadowings or Graces certainly do not have to be seen to possess them. "Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet believe," are the Lord Jesus' own words. We believe in things seen or unseen as the Creeds tell us. These Graces, visible or invisible, though uncreated do not come from the essence of God but only from the Divine energies emanating from His Divine Nature, His Aura if you will.

That many have seen this aura is certainly exemplified in every Icon of the Saints. Each has a halo or aura of the Divine externally shining in a welling Grace circling his or her head. Some artists must have seen this Divine glory or energy shining brilliantly, as did the aforementioned people, to be able to make it a universal symbol of sanctity for those "who partake of the Divine Nature." (2 Peter: Chapter 1 Verse 4)

Other Christians

Light manifestations come also to those who are not Latin or Orthodox Catholics. As a college professor, I was speaking about the Divine Light one day with the President's wife of the college where I taught. A truly lovely lady, she is Methodist Episcopal. Toward the end of the conversation, she suddenly remembered this incident: "My mother in her upstairs bedroom was dying. Her last words were to me, her daughter. She said you have never given m a moments worry or sorrow in my life. You have been a perfect daughter. As she was saying these words, someone was shining a light in her face. I told my brothers to go outside and tell that person to stop shining that light. They reported that no one was outside. When I pulled the shade down, the light was still on my mother's face. It must have been the Divine Light!"


The prologue of St. John's Gospel bespeaks the wonder of this "theosis," our becoming Godlike: In the beginning it was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. In him was life and this life was the Light of all people He (John the Baptist) came as a witness to testify to the Light . . . He himself was not the light but he came to testify to the Light. The true Light that enlightens everyone . . . And the word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his Glory, the Glory of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth . . . From his fullness we have all received grace upon Grace. (John: Chapter 1 Verses 1-16.) Grace, Glory, Light three little words with big meaning, signifying we partake of the Divine Nature of God himself through the life, passion, death and glorification of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ. Not only in his life as ran but we partake of His Divinity as Son of God!

Deification in the West

The Venerable Bede in one of his histories of the English people speaks frequently of the Divine Light. He recounts any peoples' souls going to Heaven in a white blaze of Glory. People, he states, see the holy souls of the newly deceased, bright with divine light as they are drawn to their heavenly reward. Western theologians hardly comment on these souls infused and filled with the divine light of uncreated Grace, this deifying illumination.

The outpourings of the divine energy are seen by some as like candlelight on heads or shoulders of others graced by God. Some see it as halo like as one lady told me. After watching Tlinglit Indians in Alaska to the drum beat dancing, she saw a halo or light surrounding one of the dancers. She regularly sees this on people. I know two priests who have this ability to see this indwelling Light Divine. They even feel the heat of the Uncreated Energies of God.

Together another priest and I went to see a Jesuit friend, who was a retired college professor, filling in for the summer at an island Indian Church South of the Canadian border. Although of an advanced age, the delightful Jesuit priest has a clear, sharp friendly mind and tender, warm heart. As we left his really holy presence, the priest accompanying me said, "Did you see the aura on that Jesuit Priest? Its the biggest and most glorious one I have ever seen."

It Will Never End

A young airman came into an active duty, Air Force Chaplain's office one day. He was on the verge of tears. The Chaplain sat him down immediately and asked what was troubling the airman. He, a Catholic, said he was dancing at a Christian get-together with a little Protestant girl. They were talking together about Jesus when suddenly her face lit up with a bubble of light. As he told of this he began to blubber. When the priest Chaplain asked him why in the name of all that is holy he was crying, that if he had come to any other priest he probably would not have had the expertise to tell him of the Uncreated, deifying, energizing, illuminating, light giving Divine Grace by which we participate in the emanations of the Divine Nature! This exclamation for the moment stopped the tears. Then the Chaplain recounted scan of the true stories you have been reading.

When he finished the Airman started tearfully emoting, even more strenuously blubbering, "But I didn't see the Divine Light on me!" The Chaplain said, "Well you dummy you have to have it, to be able to see it!" That's what happened to the priest who saw the Divine Light on the black derelict. The Airman went away pleased as punch at what he saw.

I suppose there's a moral or two here for all of us. Even derelicts can have the Divine Aura. It might be Christ himself talking to us. Men have even entertained angels without knowing it. So, we might possibly get kinks in our necks in eternity looking up at derelicts on their heavenly throne whom we looked smugly down on when we were here on earth. Our other brothers and sisters in Christ who are not Orthodox Catholics are graced with Light Divine. It’s time we began to recognize them as members of the Body of Christ. To become proficient Christians we must recognize at least the potential for the indwelling God in everyone; even though we have no experiential knowledge of or any outward or external display of the Divine indwelling presence of God in the image and likeness of Him in each person we meet. The foregoing should convince us or confirm us in our belief that we are made in the Image of God, even though visibly there may be no manifestation of it in another's life. In Heaven we shall see it, so a deep belief and love of the Life of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit in ourselves as well as in others, is essential for our own growth in the likeness of God. Habbakkuk, the prophet, said it well in the Old Testament ... "the righteous will shine forth like the sun." (Habakkuk 3:3-4) All creation is now groaning in trevail awaiting the revelation of the sons of God. (St. Paul, Romans Chapter 8: verses 19-23) Matthew quoting Jesus (Chapter 13 Verse 43) says it even better. "Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!"

Bishop John

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The Society of Clerks Secular of Saint Basil
(The Basilian Fathers - The Society of Saint Basil)
(of The Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church)
At Holy Innocents Orthodox Church (HOC-AJ, OCCA, AOC)
311 Hickory Avenue Harahan, Louisiana 70123 U. S. A. 
April 16, 2002

We are Most Rev. Lee S. Mc Colloster, S.S.B., known within The Society of Clerks Secular of Saint Basil (the Order) as Metropolitan Archbishop Paul, and Most Rev. John J. Lehman, S.S.B., known within the Order as Archbishop John, and Most Rev. John A. Corcoran, S.S.B., known within the Order as Archbishop Augustinus. Together we comprise three-fourths of the Synod of The Society of Clerks Secular of Saint Basil, more commonly known as The Basilian Fathers, and here often referred to as the Order.

The Order is the remains of the American Orthodox Church formed under the direction and order of the Patriarch and Synod of Moscow in the early 1900's, with Metropolitan Archbishop Aftimios as head of the American Orthodox Church. The Order was formed under the direction of Metropolitan Archbishop Aftimios, to serve those who wished to worship using the Gregorian or Western (Latin/Roman) form of the Divine Liturgy This first attempt to form an American Orthodox Church eventually failed, and the American Orthodox Church was received into the Antiochian Orthodox Church. However, the Antiochian Orthodox Church intentionally did not receive The Society of Clerks Secular of Saint Basil, leaving the Order autocephalic or self governing, as explained by the then Archbishop Athenagoras in correspondence to Roman Catholic Cardinal McIntyre, during the year 1957.

We three firmly believe all the Jurisdictions of the Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church, and the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church and its related Eastern Rite Churches, must reunite, must be in communion one with each other, and with those other Churches with Apostolic Succession such as the Coptic and Armenian Churches. That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them: that, they may be one, as we also are one. I in them, and thou in me: that they may be made perfect in one: and the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them, as thou hast also loved me. (John 17:21-23)

In our consideration of these and other factors, we conclude it is best for the Orthodox Church that the numerous small Orthodox Jurisdictions in North America, including our Order, cease to function independently and unite with one of the larger Jurisdictions. In our own situation, our Order was formed for the purpose of providing Gregorian Divine Liturgy within the Orthodox Church. We also realize the Western Rite has never been well received amongst most Orthodox clergy.

We have also carefully considered the differences between the Orthodox and Roman Churches. We do not find the Filioque Clause to have been proclaimed as dogma by Rome, and note it is not used by many of the Byzantine Churches in communion with Rome. We also note that the proclamation by Rome, of Papal infallibility, has been practiced in a manner of consultation with the Bishops and consideration of the tradition, history, and dogma of the Church, and that such is basically the form by-which Rome traditionally proclaimed matters as dogma after determination in true Counsel. Though many American Orthodox would disagree, we find ample support in the tradition of the Orthodox Church, for the Doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption.

These factors, considered in conjunction with our fervent belief the Church must reunite, and our belief that there is no dogmatic barrier which prevents reunification of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, lead us to seek reunification with the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church, on behalf of The Society of Clerks Secular of Saint Basil, and each of us collectively and individually. We hereby transmit this heartfelt desire to officials of the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church.

If members of the Order are not inclined to the Roman Catholic Church, then such members should feel free to enter another Jurisdiction, and we urge such individuals to immediately join one of the major Orthodox Jurisdictions.

We also fully realize the action we here initiate will place each of us in uncertain circumstances. We do this placing our trust in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, this 16th day of April, 2002 A.D.

Sincerely yours in Jesus and Mary,
Mike Rizzio

Imitate Mary
Become like Jesus
Live for the Triune God

Seek the Light of Our Lord Jesus Christ
See you on the High Ground!

* - J.M.J. + O.B.T. + M.G.R. stands for:
Jesus, Mary and Joseph;
O Beata Trinitas;
St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael

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