175. How to make a confession without making a Confession

Next week’s title will be How to make a Confession. Explanations to follow. Let’s lead into this with this Sunday’s saint, Mary of Egypt, who shows us Repentance and what it requires. I’m sure this is why the Fathers placed her here, a week before we go into Holy Week. For she reminds us to repent of our sins before Pascha – to clean up our acts so we will know not only the…

174. How to worship and pray at home: Let’s get focused

But first: Last week I wished that our Hierarchs would at least consider returning to the ancient practice of people receiving the Holy Bread and Holy Wine separately. Now I read that the usually very conservative Moscow Patriarchate has found a new approach. For the duration and where necessary, they are allowing the Eucharist to be received “with individual disposable spoons” – which I’m sure are very carefully cleansed afterwards. The innovative…

173. Coronavirus and the Orthodox Church

I’m interrupting the series on the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil to deal with this subject which, not surprisingly, many people are concerned about. So we will now talk about How to Pray if you’re stuck a home or if your parish church is closed, Holy Communion, Icons, Hugging and Kissing. What follows will not include medical advice. Well, just a little – but only for  “religious” reasons. I’ll have to include some of my…

171. The Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great – The Anaphora, Part One

Our series on the Divine Liturgy resumes. On Lenten Sundays we celebrate the Liturgy of Saint Basil, so I’ve been saving his Anaphora for now. As you’ll remember, “Anaphora” (αναφόρηση) means “offering” –  the final part of the Liturgy when we offer the Holy Gifts, the Bread and Wine. Basil here gave us the most succinct summary I know of our Orthodox understanding of salvation history. It’s also a gorgeous piece of writing. Previous…

170. What does the Orthodox Church teach about the Afterlife? Part Three

Finally we come to the end of this series. I’ve found so much to talk and think about that I began to wonder, at my age, whether I’d live long enough to finish it – and then find out for myself if I had known what I was talking about! But I’m still here. So, we continue. Yesterday I realized that I’ve ignored the most obvious thing we believe about death: In…

169. What does the Orthodox Church teach about the Afterlife? Part Two

Last week we looked at what the Holy Scriptures have to say about the End, and then we looked at Roman Catholic and Protestant teachings about the immediate Afterlife in light of Orthodoxy. Before we proceed, I think something should be made more clear about Heaven and Hell. Do we Orthodox see Hell as God’s punishment? No. No more than Heaven is reward. At least not in the sense that God looks at…

168. For the Saturday of Souls: What does the Orthodox Church teach about the Afterlife? Part One

This is a subject of considerable interest to me, since I am 81 years old and getting older. Fast. The End All traditional Christians agree here. “All the peoples of the earth will …see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.”  Matthew 24:30 Then will be  the Resurrection of the Dead, “those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have…

167. The Last Three Pre-Lenten Sunday Epistles on How to Keep the Fast

Why not the first Pre-Lenten Epistle? Because it says nothing about fasting, since the first week of Pre-Lent omits the Wednesday and Friday Fast. If you’re reading this Post immediately after it’s published, there’s still time for a Friday cheeseburger! Hurry! If you don’t like cheeseburgers, you should come and try one the way my wife makes them: not greasy, crisp on the outside, well done but juicy on the inside. Mmm… (Where…

166. The Divine Liturgy 6 – The True Pro-Anaphora

The intro to last week’s Post tells how to find earlier Posts in this series. Last week we covered the “Pro-Pro-Anaphora”, which leads us to what anciently began the Pro-Anaphora. Namely: The Little Entrance… …so called because it takes a short path, out the North Doors and directly to the Royal Doors. Later the Anaphora will begin with the Great Entrance, which usually takes a longer path out through the midst of…

165. The Divine Liturgy 5 – The Pro-Pro-Anaphora

But before we get started: Two years ago for the feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple (February 2), I wrote an article “The Groundhog Who Stole Candlemas” which I note that many people are reading this year. (We bloggers know many secrets about you…) So I went back and read it again to see why, and if I do say so myself… Well, it’s worth it if only to see the…