Letter from Butyrskaya Prison – Pascha 1928

Serge Schmemann, son of Fr. Alexander Schmemann, in his wonderful little book, Echoes of a Native Land, records a letter written from one of his family members of an earlier generation, who spent several years in the prisons of the Soviets and died there. The letter, written on the night of Pascha in 1928 is to … Read More ›

Paradise in a Single Moment

The Exapostelarian for the Matins of Good Friday is the hymn, “The Wise Thief.” It draws our attention to the mercy of God – who promised paradise to the wise thief, “This day.” Thoughts on the nearness of paradise are also a theme in the writings of Dostoevsky. If paradise is so near – why … Read More ›

Take, Eat

The simple words of Christ to His disciples at the Last Supper were profound on many levels: the commandment was short and straight-forward; it reversed an ancient prohibition; it set the primary manner for human beings to receive grace and thus teaches us much about how it is we receive grace in a normative manner … Read More ›

For the Sake of Envy

In the Praises for Matins of Holy Wednesday, we read: Oh, the wretchedness of Judas! He saw the harlot kiss the footsteps of Christ, but deceitfully he contemplated the kiss of betrayal. She loosed her hair while he bound himself with wrath. He offered the stench of wickedness instead of myrrh, for envy cannot distinguish … Read More ›

Riding on a Donkey

As far back as Genesis, in the prophecy of Jacob over his sons, we hear the association of the Messiah with a donkey: Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise; Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; Your father’s children shall bow down before you.       Judah is a … Read More ›

In the Tomb of Lazarus

Largely ignored by much of Christendom, the Orthodox today celebrate “Lazarus Saturday” in something of a prequel to next weekend’s Pascha. It is, indeed a little Pascha just before the greater one. And this, of course, was arranged by Christ Himself, who raised His friend Lazarus from the dead as something of a last action … Read More ›

From Friday to Friday

Orthodox and Western calendars rarely coincide on the question of the date of Pascha (Easter). They work with different numbers and come up with different answers. Thus it is that the common pattern obtains this year: Pascha one week apart. It is possible as an Orthodox Christian to ignore the world around you and pretend … Read More ›

It Is But a Small Thing

  I have noticed in my daily struggle that most of the things that are of importance turn on very “small things.” The decisions that set me on the course of prayer or kindness are made not with fanfare or even large efforts, but on a moment’s turn. By the same token, the decisions that … Read More ›

Where He Leads

The journey to Pascha is nearly complete. This weekend the Orthodox celebrate Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday, marking the beginning of Holy Week. I sat in the tomb of Lazarus last year, located in Bethany. It is not a very long journey from there to Jerusalem. Perhaps one of the most striking features of Holy … Read More ›

Living Knowledge of God

From Fr. Nicholas Sakharov’s I Love Therefore I Am… As far as spiritual knowledge is concered, it has a unique basis: “Our knowledge is a result of the revelation from above.” Spiritual knoweldge is understood as “con-joined existence,” or “co-existence” (sobytie), as “uniting fusion” (spaika) of very being. In Felicite, Fr. Sophrony writes: “Knowledge is … Read More ›

To Remember God

Abba Macarius said, “If we remember the evil that others have done to us, we shut down our ability to remember God.” There are many ways to misunderstand the Christian faith – certainly far more ways to get it wrong than to get it right. One of the deepest misunderstandings of our culture is the … Read More ›