23. The Story of the Holy Prophet Elijah – Part Two

So, now began the great confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal, between truth and falsehood, between God and paganism. Elijah said, Take two bulls, one for the prophets of Baal and one for me, cut them in pieces and lay them on wood. Put no fire under them. You call on the name of your gods. I will call on the name of my God. The true God is the…

22. The Story of the Holy Prophet Elijah – Part One

July 20 is the feast of the Prophet Elijah. This is a wonderful story – of how God’s faithful prophet stood up alone to paganism and to power, and paid the price and triumphed. In order to tell the story and comment about it in this short space, I’ve had to leave out a great deal. The full text is found in I Kings chapters 17-20 and II Kings chapter 2. The usual…

21. Patriotism?

Now that US Independence Day is past (sorry, you Brits) and also Canada Day (their 150th anniversary!), and the fireworks and flag waving are over… What do we Orthodox think of patriotism? We’re all for it! Patriotism is a good thing: loving, treasuring one’s homeland and people, a sense of belonging, our own way of doing things, our particular gifts from God. Americans have much to be patriotic about. (We’re certainly not…

20. 2005: the Big Trip, Part 4- the Falling Away from Christianity in the West, “Family Values” and the Value of Travel

I had been in Europe for four weeks. It was my fourth trip to western Europe and my fifth trip to Greece. As I flew home I pondered what I had seen and heard, and I’ve been speculating about it ever since. The Decline of Christianity in the West I hear there are places in western Europe where Christianity is alive and well. All I can say is that I haven’t seen many. Western…

19. The Big Trip: 2005, Part 3 – Saint Nektarios, England

Did Saint Nektarios do it again? It was time to head to London, and on the way I naturally stopped by to visit Saint Nektarios again. I’ve told you (Blog posts  7 and 12) that on my first two visits the saint seemed to arrange my transportation. Surely this great holy man must have better things to do than that. Nevertheless… (With modern saints we have actual photographs.) I took a ferryboat back…

18. 2005: The Big Trip, Part 2 – Italy and Greece

A Visit to Saint Nicholas When Clement Clarke Moore (an Episcopalian clergyman who should have known better) wrote his charming and bizarre poem, “A Visit from Saint Nicholas”, he never explained why he turned our holy saint into a Norse myth. When we draw near to Saint Nicholas day, I’ll write an article or three about the real Saint Nicholas and my parish’s relationship with him. But the best way to be sure that…

17. 2005: The Big Trip, Part 1 – Spain, Switzerland

It’s time for another travelog. This was my longest trip since 1985. Then I left as an an unhappy Anglican and came back from Greece nearly ready to be Orthodox. (See Blog Post 2.) This time I left as a happy Orthodox and returned as a happy Orthodox. It was a wonderful trip. All the people we met were enormously friendly and helpful and kind. In four weeks the first rude person I…

16. “Outside the Camp”: What we can learn from Saint Athanasios the Great

The Early Life of Saint Athanasios Athanasios was born in the last decade of the third century in Alexandria Egypt, then the cultural and intellectual center of the empire. Raised as a Christian, as a boy he lived through the Great Persecution. When he was a young adult, Constantine became emperor, and Christianity became the favored religion of the empire. Athanasios was a short man. When he was young he had red hair…

15. The Story of the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council: Part 2

Let me say again that throughout this four-part series I draw often on the book The Fathers of the Eastern Church by Robert Payne. The Council begins. This First Ecumenical Council, the First Council of Nicaea, was not held in secret. We have five accounts of it. The Council was held in a great marble hall above the beautiful Lake Askanios. In the center was a throne on which a Gospel book was placed.…

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…