217. The Lukan Jump

Next Sunday is often called the “Lukan Jump”. I can almost imagine the Evangelist Luke interviewing the Theotokos and writing the first icon of her, and then as he headed for home jumping for joy at this extraordinary privilege and at all the wonderful, beautiful, exciting, first-hand stories she had just told him. Left above: This is not him. But no, actually it’s we who do the jumping here. This is the Sunday when we jump…

216. How to handle Politics

Well, if this won’t get me into hot water, nothing will. But, things being what they are this year in the USA, I think it needs to be talked about. So right here at the beginning, let me be clear: I am giving pastoral advice. I am not trying to score political points. I will try to avoid most of my usual attempts at humor, since I know how easy it is…

215. Four Days on the Holy Mountain – Part Two

If you haven’t read last Friday’s Post, please do. Day Three: Friday September 20 already, 75, sunny There are no mirrors in this place, not even in the bathrooms. (We get the point?) Today – up for Orthros at 3 – couldn’t see anything in church, finally Fr B spotted me & we sat in outer church through Liturgy. He found me a new prayer rope. Did Jesus Prayer. Thought service would…

214. Four Days on the Holy Mountain – Part One

My Travel Journal Though it is now September 2020, we are about to go to Mount Athos in September 2002. As you may know, I kept daily journals on my travels, mostly to Greece, so that when I got too old to do it any more, I could read them and experience it all again – as now I do From time to time I like to share my journeys with you. I…

213. Happy New Year!

Next Tuesday is September 1. Get your party hats out! Get ready to pop open the champagne, and stay up till midnight, and see the New Year in! Or not. For any who haven’t the faintest idea what I’m talking about: Eastern Orthodox ecclesiastical New Year is September 1. But even Orthodox will think I’m out of my mind, because: 1  Orthodox have never paid much attention to September 1. Why not? Here’s…

212. The Trip to Greece that wasn’t and the Miracle that was

Saint Nektarios the Mischievous Beginning in 2002, Saint Nektarios of Silivria, the Wonderworker of Aegina, started doing mischievous things for me – some startling, some subtle. At first I might have attributed them to coincidence, but as they continued, I felt sure they were not. What in the world was he up to? I couldn’t figure it out. Ever since his death in 1920, he has been busy healing people, especially of…

211. Do we know what Jesus looked like?

Submit this question to the internet, and almost everybody will say: No, of course not. How could we possibly know that? All we know is that (if He existed, a few will say…) He was a First Century Jew. I think they’re wrong. I think the answer is: Yes, we do know what Christ looked like. Of course it can’t be proved. (What can?) But I think the evidence is all for it. I…

210. The Dry Humor of Jesus – dry except for one time when it was very wet

Humor When I first went to college, a church of my denomination sponsored a supper for us newcomers. As we ate, one guy made a cute remark. We laughed. The pastor looked at us severely and said: “Life is a serious matter. We should not make jokes about it.” We never went back. I love humor, as long as it’s clean and not mean. I’ve found it the best way to deal…

209. Saint Panteleimon: The story of a Physician who didn’t charge his Patients

Let’s jump back to July 27, his feast day. Panteleimon, the Great Martyr and Unmercenary Healer How to pronounce Παντελεήμων? Not easy unless you’re Greek. Say “Pahn teh LEH-EE mohn” a few times slowly, and you’ll probably have it. It means “all merciful”. A “Great Martyr” (Μεγαλομάρτυς) is a martyr who has undergone dreadul tortures, has performed many miracles and is now venerated throughout the Church. (I had to look this up. I…

208. A Western Twentieth Century Orthodox Martyr: Maria of Paris

July 20 is the feast day of Mother Maria who died in 1945, seventy five years ago, in a Nazi gas chamber. On February 10, 1943, she was arrested by the Gestapo at her “monastic” house in Paris. While she had been traveling, the Nazis had  arrested Yura (son of Maria and her second husband) who was carrying a letter giving evidence they had been giving refuge to Jews, and in order to…