Begotten of the Father

No revelation is more central to the Christian faith than God as Father. Some might immediately respond that the Trinity should be seen as the central revelation. But, in Orthodox understanding, the Trinity has its source (πηγή) in the Father.  We should understand this not only as a matter of Trinitarian thought, but as the … Read More →

The Voice of the Natural Will

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2Co 3:17) Though many speak of the “free will” of human beings, this is largely a misnomer, or misapplication of the phrase. The choosing that we experience is not the same thing as the will. It is the … Read More →

Through the Prayers of Our Holy Fathers

It is a phrase that is heard frequently in Orthodox services: “Through the prayers of our holy fathers, have mercy on us and save us!” The meaning of that phrase is enlarged and enlightened in the writings of the Elder Sophrony. The following excerpt is from his book, St. Silouan the Athonite. Prayer for the … Read More →

Have You Lost Your Soul?

When was the last time you heard someone express concern for their soul? When was the last time you listened earnestly as a friend lamented a psychological or emotional struggle? The reason for the difference is simple: we have become a “soul-less” psychologized society. The classical concern for the soul has been replaced by an overwhelming … Read More →

Dostoevsky and the Sins of the Nation

For many, the idea that we are somehow responsible for the sins of others, or can repent on their behalf is counter-intuitive and deeply troubling. It is distinctly non individualistic. However, it is a cornerstone of Orthodox devotion. Dostoevsky presented a very popular version of this teaching in the words of the fictitious character, the … Read More →

The Sins of a Nation

Can a nation ever sin? If so, how can it be forgiven? The stories and prophetic writings of the Old Testament are replete with examples of national sin. There are certainly stories of God dealing with individuals, but, on the whole, His attention seems to be directed to Israel and other nations as a whole. … Read More →

The Right Choice

“If you come to a fork in the road – take it.” – Yogi Berra Nothing is more common in our day than making choices. Our culture celebrates the freedom we have in our choices and points to this as a hallmark of its greatness. Contemporary Christianity echoes the same theme and urges us to … Read More →

Things You Can’t Invent

Most of the things in our lives are not of our own making – they were given to us. Our language, our culture, the whole of our biology and the very gift of life itself is something that has been “handed down” to us. In that sense, we are all creatures of “tradition” (traditio=“to hand … Read More →

Getting Back Up

One of the fathers was asked, “What do you do all day in the monastery?” He replied, “We fall down and get up; fall down and get up; fall down and get up again.” This, I think, may be the most accurate and faithful description of the Christian life that I know. We fall, and … Read More →

Grace and the Frog

When David completed the Book of Psalms he was uplifted with satisfaction. He said to God, “Does there exist any creature which You created anywhere in the entire universe which sings songs and praises which surpass mine?” At that moment a frog passed and said, “David, do not be uplifted with pride, for I sing … Read More →

The Last Banquet

Since we’re thinking about heaven and hell… Once a week I teach a class at a local alcohol and drug treatment program. It is on the “spirituality of recovery.” Recently I shared Marmaladov’s speech from Crime and Punishment (at the end of this article). There were tears in the room. For many, the version of the gospel … Read More →