111. The Icon, Part One – Judaism, Early Church

Did you ever watch a classic iconographer paint (“write”} an icon? This requires many layers of egg tempura paint, each properly prayed over. The iconographer begins with a plain board, correctly shaped and prepared. (I’m omitting much of the process here.) Along the way a layer of clay earth tone is used, then later white on which the outline of the person is sketched. After this come layer after layer after layer…

110. The Triumph of Orthodoxy

The Triumph of Orthodoxy? That sounds brash and prideful, as if we think we Orthodox have beat everybody else out in this “religious game”, that we have all the truth and others have none because we’re so smart and everybody else is so stupid (sounds like modern politics), or that we’ve taken over the world or something. That is not at all what we mean. Let me explain. But first let’s go back…

109. Pre-Lent: Fourth Sunday – Fasting, Forgiveness, Final Instructions

In the Sunday Epistle: Romans 13:11-14,14:1-4 Saint Paul makes creative use of night/day, winter/spring imagery. “Brethren, salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is gone; day is at hand.” That’s the truth. Time is passing. We don’t have forever to wake up and shape up. How much time any of us have left on earth we don’t know. I knew an older couple who had a spat,…

108. Pre-Lent: Third Sunday – Fasting, The Last Judgment

MEATFARE SUNDAY It’s time to talk about Fasting. This coming Sunday is popularly called “Meatfare Sunday”, the last day for meat till Pascha. Beginning next Monday we get serious about fasting. Why does meat go off before Lent begins? Because the Orthodox Church leads us into all things gently. No instant salvation here. Likewise, there’s no instant Lent, as you see.  In the same way we also ease out of the Paschal feast.…

107. The Church prepares us for Lent: First Sunday – the Publican and the Pharisee, Second Sunday – the Prodigal Son

“Oh, it’s Christmas Eve! I wonder – what presents should I give to everybody this year?” You know how well that would not work. It’s the same with Lent. That’s why the Church gives us the season of Pre-Lent – so we won’t get to Clean Monday (March 11 this year) and say “Already? What shall I do for Lent this year?” No. Get yourself ready for Lent. Now! Pre-Lent – which…

106. Abortion, Part Two

This time we’re going to look at 1 How the Orthodox Church deals with Abortions, 2 How should we try to apply Orthodox principles to Society? 3 Being consistently Pro-Life, 4 the Spirit of Judgment. How the Orthodox Church deals with Abortions As I understand it, from ancient times the Orthodox Church has handled sin pastorally, not juridically – less concerned with culpability and punishment and being legally acquitted, more concerned with helping people overcome sin, getting them back “on…

105. Abortion, Part One

In this Part, we’ll cover 1 What is a Person? 2 The Scriptures on Abortion, 3 The Church Fathers on Abortion, 4 What Science tells us about the Unborn Child This is a difficult issue (especially for those of us who tend not to be politically conservative *) and a difficult article to write, so I’ve tried to choose my words carefully. Please read carefully. As they define it these days. Once we had different choices, but…

104. The Return of Saint John Chrysostom

On January 27, 438, the incorrupt body of Our Holy Father John Chrysostom arrived in Constantinople – “translated” (moved) from Armenia where he had been banished and where he had died 31 years earlier. His relics were received with honor into the imperial city where once he had been Patriarch. The story of John Chrysostom I am no historian, so please correct me if I have anything wrong, and of course in…

103. Seven Deadly Sins #5 – Lust, Part Two: Some commentary by C.S. Lewis and “How to Fight Lust”

Sexual Lust (continued) Please remember from last week that sexual lust is only one form of lust. I’m about to quote from C.S. Lewis again. Why do I turn to him so often? Because I think he says things better, more simply, more understandably than most other writers. Because his teaching was aimed at ordinary folks while much Orthodox writing, especially on this subject, is by monastics for monastics. I think Lewis was…

102. The Seven Deadly Sins #5 – Lust, Part One

  Ah… I thought this might catch your attention. But you may be a bit disappointed in what follows. Earlier Posts on the “Seven Deadly” were #85, #86, #93, #94, and the previous two, #100, #101. Passions and “Besetting Sins” Lust is defined in our Antiochian Pocket Prayer Book as “impure and unworthy desire for something evil”. So sexual lust is only one kind of lust.  It is often said, for example, that…