The Sweet Smoke of Prayer

Let my prayer arise in Your sight as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.  Psalm 141 My parish has a fairly steady stream of visitors from outside the Orthodox experience. Among their first questions are ones concerning the use of incense. There is virtually no Orthodox service that does not … Read More ›

To Bear Our Sins

From time to time I post an excerpt from other writings – particularly when they seem to resonate with the conversation here on the blog. I saw this recently published on pravmir.com. I’ve corrected the English in a couple of places but otherwise left it as is. It is a small sermon from the late … Read More ›

Grace and the Handbasket

A difficulty arises when making cultural observations – things rarely turn out as expected. The Roman Empire fell once upon a time, although the fall wasn’t nearly as clean and final as Gibbons imagined and it wasn’t really the Roman Empire that fell. But ever since the “Roman Empire fell” people have been rehearsing the lessons … Read More ›

More on the Will of God

The priest, Seraphim, spent 30 years of his life in the Soviet Gulag. During that period he was tortured from time to time and was assigned the duty of cleaning out the contents of the latrines. Other prisoners avoided him because of the stench that hung about him at all times. He was a living … Read More ›

Be Still and Know God

There is a point of stillness within us, though we rarely recognize it. We inhabit the world of our thoughts and feelings and rarely find them to be quiet. Almost nothing challenges the “normalcy” of this noisy world – almost everything we encounter is aimed towards it and markets itself with this reality in mind. … Read More ›

Leaving Mary Out

Decades ago, when I was in seminary (Anglican), a professor told me that he did not believe in angels. I was surprised and asked him why. He responded that he “did not think they were necessary…that anything angels did could be done by the Holy Spirit…” While this is obviously true, I noted that angels … Read More ›

The Moral Disease

Despite what most people think, the modern age is perhaps the most moral of all periods of history. There are competing moralities which creates a sort of moral confusion – but we certainly have no lack of morality. But, as described in this article, morality itself is part of the problem.  Is it possible to … Read More ›

Everything Is In Motion

For years I have been told that the meaning of the word hamartia (translated “sin”) means “to miss the mark.” This is certainly accurate. However, the image I have always had in mind has been an arrow aimed at a target and missing the bull’s eye. Thus I have thought of my life as a moral effort … Read More ›

Saintless Christianity

What would Christianity mean if there were no saints? To rephrase the question: What would be the meaning of the Christian gospel if there were no wonderworkers, no people who had been transfigured with the Divine Light, no clairvoyant prophets, no healers, no people who had raised the dead, no ascetics living alone in the … Read More ›

The Struggle To Be Real

Very few modern Christians who read English are unfamiliar with the writings of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. Lewis’ expositions of Christian thought as well as his popular fiction (The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, Out of the Silent Planet, etc.) have become modern classics. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings … Read More ›

A Generous Repentance

I have learned over time to expect cultural expressions of the Orthodox faith that are mentioned nowhere in books and articles. Many of these surround major life events and their sacraments: Baptism, Marriage, Funerals. And so I was not surprised when the family of a recently deceased Romanian in my community called me for help … Read More ›