113. The Seven Deadly Sins #6 – Sloth, Part One: Bodily Sloth, Intellectual Sloth, Moral Sloth

Well…  …  I’ve intended to finish this Blog Post for the longest time. I really meant to, but I’ve been putting it off and putting it off and putting it off… till now… today… at last… finally… “I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; its surface was covered with nettles; its stone wall was broken…

112. The Icon, Part Two – Iconoclasm, the Seventh Council, and after that

In the year 767 Stephen of Constantinople saw soldiers trampling an icon. He objected and was told it was ok – it was only a picture. So he took a coin with the image of the Emperor and trampled it, explaining it was only a picture. We celebrate the feast of Saint Stephen the New Martyr every November 26. The Emperor didn’t forbid images of himself, only of Christ and the saints. You get…

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…