14. The Story of the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council: Part 1

Why have I titled this post “The Fathers” of the First Ecumenical Council? Because the Orthodox Church, in her personal approach to everything, titles her commemorations not after events but after the people in them. I like that. The Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council dealt with many matters: the date of Pascha (why does this keep coming up generation after generation?), the Meletian schism, regulations for the clergy and much more. But…

13. The Story of Saint Constantine the Great

Let’s take another break from our travels and hear the story of events and people of the fourth century, mostly in Greek-speaking lands, which determined the future of Christianity and the world. All these are commemorations on the Orthodox calendar at this time of year, and all relate directly to the First Ecumenical Council. Today, we’ll hear about the Emperor Constantine, commemorated on May 21 along with his mother Helen. Then in…

12. My Travels: 2004 – Did St. Nektarios do it again? plus some comments on Religion on TV, Radio & the Internet

Another series of “coincidences”? My 2004 trip to Greece was mostly vacation, but I did visit Saint Nektarios again. (See Blog Post 7, March 31.) After that first experience with him, I just couldn’t stay away. Once again being at Saint Nektarios was a powerful experience. I wish I could take you all there. The women’s monastery he founded in the early 20th century and where most of his relics lie is a…

11. The Resurrection: The Whole Story, Part 2

Christ is risen! Truly he is risen! Here are some powerful, mysterious Resurrection stories, most of which are not heard by Orthodox people in church. (See Part 1.) Since they are rarely preached on, I’ll add a bit of commentary. Pascha Night Here is Luke’s account: That evening two disciples, Cleopas (husband of Joanna, one of the Myrrhbearers) and Luke himself were walking to the village of Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, discussing the…

10. The Resurrection: The Whole Story, Part 1

Christ is risen!  Truly he is risen! The Resurrection Accounts Which Most Orthodox Never Hear I hate to tell you this, but most Orthodox don’t know much about Jesus’ Resurrection. Well, “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death”, of course. But for years I had the nagging feeling that something was missing about our Resurrection experience in the Orthodox  Church, and finally I’ve figured out what it is:…

9. Great and Holy Friday: The Icon of the Crucifixion

Depictions of Christ’s crucifixion are not ancient, by Orthodox standards. So far as I can find (correct me if I’m wrong), Crosses with the figure of Jesus on them were not sanctioned till the end of the seventh century at the Trullan Council in A.D. 692. After that, East and West gradually took different directions. Orthodox have never focused on the sufferings of Christ. Of course he suffered. Crucifixion, the ordinary Roman…

8. Holy Week: Some Practical Advice

Let’s take a break from traveling. If I tell you all my stories at once we’ll run out before long, and after all the title of this Blog promises not only Travels but also “a lot more”. During Holy Week we will hear again the greatest of all stories, the Story that fulfills the ancient myths, the Story that in one way or another is the pattern for almost every significant human story…

7. My Travels: 2002 Part 4 – Saint Nektarios

The Life of Saint Nektarios (before and after he died) After Bishop Nektarios died, his sweater was inadvertently laid on the bed of the man in the infirmary next to him. The man who had been crippled for years immediately stood up and began to walk, and a sweet fragrance filled the room. This was the beginning of his miracles. The infirmary has since been turned into a chapel. I had heard…

6. My Travels: 2002 Part 3 – Mount Athos.

Daily (but it’s mostly nightly) Life on Mount Athos Why was I so impressed by how beautiful things were at night? Because on Athos one spends a lot of the night awake. My most distressing memory is of the Finnish guestmaster knocking on my door every morning at 3 a.m. saying, “Pater, Pater, the services are beginning. Wake up.” Actually he was being kind. The services had begun at 2 a.m. Orthros…

5. My Travels: 2002 Part 2: Mount Athos

At Last: To the Holy Mountain! If you’d like to prepare a bit more before we leave for Mount Athos in the morning, here is the second part of the CBS  program on the Holy Mountain. On Wednesday morning, after a restless night’s sleep fearing I wouldn’t wake up at 4 a.m., it was off very early to Mount Athos. The Holy Mountain. Where to begin? For one thing, it’s hard to get there,…