92. Scandals in the Church

Why are we talking about this distressing subject? Because often the secular press wants chiefly to make headlines out of it, and the religious press either wants to score points or finds it too hot to handle. Can we deal with this in a balanced, positive Christian way? You judge whether I’m successful. If you’re hoping we’ll dig up some new dirt here… think again. That is for the hierarchs (and sadly sometimes…

91. Saint Nektarios – his life, death and what happened after that

His Death On November 8 in 1920, Saint Nektarios the Wonderworker died. The miracles began immediately. Today he is the most revered Orthodox saint of the 20th century. Bishop Nektarios had been ill, so he was taken from the monastery on Aegina to a hospital in Athens. The intern at first could not believe that such a simply dressed man was really a bishop. He was diagnosed with incurable cystitis and placed…

90. Keeping up your Daily Prayer Life

Why is it so hard to pray? I had decided that each evening during Lent I would spend 15 minutes in church saying the Jesus Prayer. Instead there I stood outside the church door reorganizing the bulletin board which didn’t need it, or walking over to my office to straighten up my desk which didn’t need it – well, no more than usual. Or I’d check how the climbing vine in the narthex…

89. Demons

  Demons! Terrifying Destructive Evil Spirits! Now that we have your attention… let’s begin more gently and work up (down) to demons, the devil and the dark side. Hallowe’en Modern Hallowe’en has Christian origins. November 1 in Western Christianity is the feast of All Saints (“All Hallows” in old English), probably intended to counter a pagan day the dead, which took place at this time of year. Here in the mid-latitudes of the…

88. “How do we teach traditional Christianity so it is accessible to culture without selling out to culture?” – Part 2

As I said last week, this was the heavy topic assigned to me at an Anglican-Orthodox conference in 2009. If you haven’t read Part 1, please do or you won’t make much sense of Part 2. Last week I described (humbly, I hope) Orthodoxy’s multi-cultural unity in “traditional Christianity”. This week is trickier: How does the Orthodox Church remain faithful in all cultures? even in 1! When I first became Orthodox I…

87. “How do we teach traditional Christianity so it is accessible to culture without selling out to culture?”- Part 1

How’s that for a kicky title for a Blog Post? I hope you’re still reading. That was the ponderous topic I was given to speak on at an Anglican-Orthodox conference at Nashotah House Episcopal Seminary here in Wisconsin, on October 9, 2009. Prologue for Orthodox Readers… …since, for the most part, I don’t know who all reads this blog. Have you ever wondered exactly how our Orthodox Church manages to remain steady in…

86. The Seven Deadly Sins: #1 – Pride

A Description of Pride “There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people except Christians ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. I have heard people admit they are bad-tempered, or that they cannot keep their heads about girls or drink, or even that they are cowards. I do…

85. The Seven Deadly Sins – Introduction

Sin I think we Orthodox don’t talk enough about sin. Really – how many of our people actually go to Confession? And when we do speak of morality, we seem to focus mostly on sex. Our hierarchs often (and properly) criticize disordered sexuality and its effects: adultery, gay marriage, abortion and the like. As a priest, I have often warned people against watching trash on television and pornography on the internet. I’ve warned our…

84. The Elevation of the Cross, Part 2 – Hard Power vs. Soft Power

Pontius Pilate didn’t understand. “So you are a king, then?”, said Governor Pontius Pilate. Pilate understood none of this. He knew the Jews were expecting a new king of some sort. This could be dangerous. The Jews * had got rid of fake Messiahs before, but somehow they hadn’t stopped this one. Now here he was in Jerusalem, and a crowd had gathered wanting Pilate to take care of it. If this…

83. The Elevation of the Holy Cross, Part 1 – “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.”

“On earth”? During the first centuries of Christian history, there was little visible evidence that this – Christ’s final declaration before his Ascension – was being fulfilled on earth. Jewish persecution had scattered Christians in all directions. Then in the year 70 Jerusalem was leveled by the Romans. The remaining Christians apparently fled, taking heed of the Lord’s warning about the destruction of Jerusalem. Matthew 24:15ff During the next 2 centuries Christians remained…