True Knowledge of God

The Elder Sophrony made a strong distinction between the knowledge we gain by rational speculation and the knowledge of God that comes as a gift of grace. He used the term “dogmatic consciousness” to express the knowledge of God as found in the lives of the saints and great ascetics. It is not a contradiction … Read More ›

Prayers By the Lake – I

Saint Nicholai Velimirovich, of whom I have written before, is the author of the wonderful, Prayers By the Lake, which he composed on the shores of Lake Ochrid. They are a treasure of modern Orthodox verse. His first poem in the cycle reflects a sense of the creation as God’s own, rather than an inert … Read More ›

Sacraments: The World as Mystery

My recent post on Pentecost and Evangelism occasioned several thoughtful responses. One of the responses seemed to me particularly worth further reflection. I start with an excerpt: Truly it is God we need and want, nothing less. I experienced in my heart, but didn’t realize in my head until I began to study Orthodoxy, that in … Read More ›

Pentecost and Evangelism

We are told that on the Day of Pentecost, about 3,000 souls were added to the Church (Acts 2:41). This simple fact has for many linked the Day of Pentecost and the Gift of the Spirit to the Church to the process of evangelism. For many Christians in our culture, for whom evangelism has come … Read More ›

Blessings on the Feast!

          When He came down and confused the tongues, The Most High divided the nations; but when He distributed the tongues of fire, He called all people to unity. Therefore, with one voice we glorify the most-Holy Spirit. Kontakion of Pentecost Please forgive my absence from the blog for the last … Read More ›

The Emptiness of Christ

St. Paul speaks of Christ “emptying” Himself in His voluntary sacrifice for us all (Philippians 2:5-11). It is the only place in the New Testament that speaks of this particular action of Christ – at least as an “emptying” (kenosis) but the concept has always played a large role in the Church’s understanding of Christ’s … Read More ›

“The Systematic Organization of Hatreds”

I normally do not comment on politics and do not plan to have discussions during this political season. However, I ran across a quote that makes a great deal of sense and certainly has bearing on the spiritual life. It is from Henry Adams’ novel Democracy: Politics, as a practice, whatever its professions, has always … Read More ›

For Want of a Nail

Abba Zosimas would pick up small objects such as a nail, a short thread, and other valueless castoffs. He would ask, “Would you fight or argue over this? That would be insanity. Anyone who is making progress in God can think of the entire world as this nail, no matter how much of the world … Read More ›

St. Silouan on Humility

The Staretz [St. Silouan] used to say that there was no end to the pretensions of pride. In his notes I found [this is written by Elder Sophrony] the following fable: A certain huntsman liked stalking the woods and fields for game. One day after he had been climbing up a steep hill for hours … Read More ›

Concentration in Prayer

Brother John Kilmakos said, “When you pray, forget how you may appear to others. Concentrate entirely on your prayer, withdrawing into your heart. Demons fear spiritual concentration more than thieves fear dogs.”

A Single Moment and Paradise

During Holy Week, one of my favorite hymns in the Church is the Wise Thief (the Exapostelarion of Holy Friday). It recalls the thief, crucified on Christ’s right hand, who repents and finds paradise “in a single moment.” It demonstrates the fullness of God’s love who would take the repentance of a single moment and … Read More ›