On Spiritual Brothers – In Memoriam


Fr. Matthew Baker, beatae memoriae, was fond of speaking about the need for spiritual brothers. This brief word from St. Ambrose of Milan on the loss of his own brother also sums up the loss of such a spiritual brother. If you are able, please consider a gift to support his widow and their six children. We have brought hither, dearest brethren, my sacrifice, a sacrifice undefiled, a sacrifice well pleasing to God, my lord and brother … To this must be added that I cannot be ungrateful to God; for I must rather rejoice that I had such a brother than grieve that I had lost a brother, for the former is a gift, the latter a debt to be paid. … Keep Reading ›

Did the Father Abandon Christ on the Cross?


Of all of the seven last sayings of Christ on the cross, perhaps the most puzzling is the Cry of Dereliction. Recorded only in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34, both in Aramaic and in Greek translation, this phrase was even somewhat confusing to its first hearers who pondered that he was calling Elijah. Matthew 27:46-47 NKJV Mark 15:34-35 NKJV And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, “This Man is calling for Elijah!” And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which … Keep Reading ›

ROCOR Says Overlapping Dioceses are Canonical: An Ecclesiological Analysis

The Manhattan Headquarters of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia

Editorial Note: O&H doesn’t usually post about ecclesiastical politics per se, but in this case there were some interesting ecclesiological doctrinal issues touched upon, which is what this post is about. As with all posts on O&H, the views expressed here represent the poster and not necessarily the editors or any other writers for the site. The only comments that will be published are those which deal with the substance of this post, i.e., with the ecclesiological/canonical questions. This isn’t a place to hash out church politics in general. —The Editors On January 15, 2014, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) clarified its vision for the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America. This came in the form … Keep Reading ›

Original Sin and Ephesus: Carthage’s Influence on the East

Ruins of Carthage

In my last post, I argued that the doctrine of original sin as defined at the Council of Carthage in 418 is just as authoritative in the East as it is in the West because of the inclusion of the canons from Carthage in Canon 2 of the Council in Trullo (692, also known as the Quinisext or Penthekti Council). At first glance, this case may appear significantly overstated; yet another wooden canonical reading by an Internet pedagogue. After all, Trullo has long been understood in the East to be merely administrative in function: a standardization of various canonical norms. Surely, one might propose, Trullo did not intend to take on so weighty a theological matter as original sin! This objection is … Keep Reading ›

Original Sin and Orthodoxy: Reflections on Carthage

Augustine and Pelagius

Anyone who has been around Orthodoxy for a while has heard an argument like the following: Orthodox don’t believe Original Sin but rather Ancestral Sin. At least one book has been written on the topic. Numerous essays of semi-scholarly quality and lay appeals, have been proffered. Podcasts were recorded. Even this blog has written an article on the topic. The content of this position is generally a distilled version of Fr John Romanides’ book, The Ancestral Sin, containing some or all of the following features: Orthodoxy doesn’t believe in inherited guilt like the West does. Orthodoxy teaches that only the effects of the first sin were inherited (death not sin). There was an important translation issue from the Greek into early Latin texts of Romans … Keep Reading ›

A Tale of Two Bishops: St. Cyprian and the Novatianists

For the previous post in this series, see A Tale of Two Bishops: An Introduction Via Ravenna. The history of early Christianity is replete with persecutions, and the time of St. Cyprian was no different. After thirty-eight years of tolerance, AD 250 began another persecution of Christians at the hand of the emperor Decius. At his command, all imperial inhabitants must sacrifice to the Roman deities. After they had done so, they were provided with a certificate (libellus) stating that they have fulfilled the requirement. Those who refused were tortured and eventually killed. The harsh persecution also prevented the election of a new bishop of Rome after the martyrdom of Pope St. Fabian. Filling the leadership gap during the period of sede vacante, is Novatian, one … Keep Reading ›

A Tale of Two Bishops: An Introduction Via Ravenna

Only minutes from the sandy beaches of the Adriatic, Ravenna is a tourist city for those “in the know.” Its local cuisine and small shops are a delight for those looking to escape the long lines of crowded Venice, Florence, and Rome. Ravenna is famous for its classical music, hosting numerous events by the world’s most accomplished musicians. However, Ravenna’s main attraction is its ancient churches. Constructed between the 5th and 6th centuries, a turbulent time marked by Roman, Ostrogothic and finally Byzantine rule, the churches of Ravenna are a true East meets West architectural experience hosting one of the world’s greatest collections of mosaics. Ravenna contains eight attractions of historical prominence (dates below from Wikipedia; comments from ICOMOS evaluation): Neonian Baptistery … Keep Reading ›