137. The Transfiguration – The Other Great Forgotten Feast

The Holy Transfiguration, August 6, is one of the Great Feasts of the Church –  but I’ll bet if you asked Americans, “What is the Transfiguration?”, ninety nine out of a hundred would say “Eh?” Or maybe some might think it was the latest super-hero movie. This is our second forgotten Feast. The first is the Epiphany (I’ve complained about this before – see Post 46), which gets ignored because it comes…

136. Old Testament Saints of August: The Holy Maccabees, the Holy Prophets Micah and Samuel

Old Testament Saints? Yes! God created saints, holy men and women, long before the coming of Christ, and “martyrs before the Martyrs” as our hymn says. We Orthodox commemorate them. Probably you know the Prophet Elias/Elijah from July 20, since many Orthodox men are named after him. But there are many more, whose wonderful stories and teachings once were well known among us. Now, not so much – and that’s sad. Let’s…

135. Last of the Seven Deadly Sins: Envy, Part Two – How to Recover

“What a gnawing worm of the soul it is – to envy someone for his virtue or for his happiness; to make others’ good into our own evil; to be tortured by the prosperity of the famous. To the envious, no food brings joy, no drink is cheerful. They are always sighing, groaning, and weeping. And since the envious never set their envy aside, the heart possessed by envy is ripped apart…

134. Last of the Seven Deadly Sins: Envy, Part One – Beware!

Saint Basil the Great said it well: “There is no other passion engendered in human souls more pernicious than envy. It does less harm to strangers, but is the chief homegrown evil for whomever possesses it. As rust eats away at iron, so envy eats away at the soul in which it lives. Envy is grief over a neighbor’s wellbeing. Therefore the envious man never has a lack of sorrows and afflictions.…

133. A Late-Twentieth-Century Saint: The Holy Elder Paisios

People had known for years that Paisios was a saint. Here is how the Orthodox system works: Veneration of a holy man or woman grows and grows and sometimes there are miracles, till finally somebody at the top says OK, it’s obvious we’ve got a saint here. So finally on January 13, 2015, Elder Paisios of Mount Athos was formally canonized by the Patriarch of Constantinople. Saint Paisios, in his unique way, was…

132. The Holy Apostles Rocky Johnson and Paul

On June 29 we celebrate the feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul. The usual icon for the feast shows them united, embracing in a kiss of peace. But they were not always at peace. In fact, in this icon I think they look as if they could be a bit happier with each other! Peter I’m sure you’ve figured this out already: “Blessed are you, Simon bar Jonah” – Simon, son of John,…

131. 2011 Trip, Part Three: Athens, Saint Nektarios does it again (possibly), and Reflections on Re-entry

This has been a long vacation, folks. I see from the Blog stats that some have headed home already. Understandable. However, I think you who are still hanging in here will enjoy our last week in Greece. Today it’s… Back to the Mainland and Saint Nektarios We wanted to visit Saint Nektarios again, so on Wednesday September 28 we flew into Athens. Ever since that first remarkable visit to him in 2002, Nektarios…

130. 2011 Trip, Part Two – Going to Church on Crete

As you know from last week’s Post, we’ve left the problems of the world behind, and now we’re seeing the world. Which raises another problem: Why is it so hard to get to church while we’re on vacation? It’s because we’re out of our routine which, as I said last week, is good for us – but often by the time we’ve remembered church it’s too late. Besides, in the US or…

129. 2011 Trip, Part One – Getting out of Town, “Givens” and Greece

It’s summer. Enough talk about troublesome issues. Time to put all that behind us and go traveling again. Get out of Town! Brothers and sisters, taking a break from regular life is important. We need to get out of the house, away from the job, and do something different – even if we only go to grandma’s house. This gives us a new perspective on life, on whatever we’ve been doing or…

128. War and Peace, Part Three – The Orthodox Priority of Creating Peace

Christ is risen! Truly he is risen! Here’s what we’ve covered so far: In Part One we looked at New Testament and Patristic teaching, and then at the Western Just War Theory by which wars may be judged to be good or bad. In Part Two we saw the classic Orthodox approach: Father Harakas said Eastern Orthodoxy had no theory for evaluating wars, but instead emphasized making peace. Dr. Steven Runciman on…