Asceticism and Normalcy

It always seems to me that I run into two kind of people when it comes to ascetical labors. One person tries to do too much too soon, and quickly becomes disgusted with themself and thereafter does little. Another person does very little, out of fear, and again remains in the same position. Oddly, the end of both is the same. We would do better to add humility to our fasting, to…

Finding Faith

Two of my favorite modern Orthodox authors, Metropolitan Anthony Bloom and Fr. Sophrony Sakharov have a peculiarity in common that make them “work” for me. Both include in their personal stories their own search for God, including the confession of dealing with modern Atheism.  I never personally became an Atheist – that was a faith journey that I never needed to make. I well understand that someone could come to the point…

Conversion and the Return of our Humanity

My wife and I returned last night for Detroit, Michigan, having attended and been part of a Colloquium on the Orthodox Faith, aimed primarily at Episcopalians and Anglicans. We met a wonderful group of people and were struck by the quality of the conversation that took place. I thought I would share a thought or two of my own from the conference (in the next weeks I’ll have links set up so…

I Can’t Make It Without God

I introduced some of Tito Colliander’s Way of the Ascetics. I offer here the second chapter as well. I have been in Detroit, Michigan attending a conference and will return to the website on Tuesday evening if I’m not able to do any work in Detroit. May God bless. Chapter Two: ON THE INSUFFICIENCY OF HUMAN STRENGTH THE holy Fathers say with one voice: The first thing to keep in mind is never…

Learning to Sin

As strange as it sounds – human beings have to “learn to sin.” Not that we need any help doing the things that sinners do – all of that comes quite easily to us. But we have to learn that we are sinners – and this does not come easily to us. Oddly, I first heard this when listening to one of Stanley Hauerwas’ lectures at Duke. “You have to teach someone…

Back to the Cross

I feel a need to tie a few loose ends together – or at the very least to make a few connections. It’s possible as in this last week to drink rather deeply at one of the many wells of living Orthodoxy such as the writings of Fr. Sophrony. It’s also possible in doing so to almost need to come up for air. The waters are truly deep. His teaching on “dogmatic…

A Closing Word Tonight from St. Silouan

A few paragraph’s from Fr. Sophrony’s St. Silouan the Athonite. It was a great moment in the history of human thought and spiritual experience when Descartes pronounced the words, ‘Cogito, ergo sum’ (‘I think, therefore I am’). Another philosopher, one of our day, understood life rather differently, putting it, ‘I love, therefore I am, for I esteem love a more profound motive for searching out the reality of our existence.’ Others might…

Icons And Coming Home Again

A recent news story reported the return of icons to Cypress from the United States, where they had apparently surfaced after being missing for a fair number of years. The museum in whose possession they had come worked with the Church in Cypress to see them restored to their rightful place. This is not the first time such an event has occurred, even in recent times. Back in mid-December I wrote about…

Getting Started

Tito Colliander wrote a small spiritual classic, The Way of the Ascetics. I heartily commend it to all. Asceticism is not simply the domain of monks, or something foreign to Christianity, much less is it opposed to salvation by grace. Asceticism is not an earning of grace, but a “doing of the Word.” It is obeying the commandments of Christ and not just talking about them. I am offering here the short…

The Triodion Comes (and I Can’t Wait)

Preparing bulletin and sermon for tomorrow, the realization that we begin the Lenten Triodion tomorrow brings with it the “crashing down around you” realization that Great Lent will be upon us shortly. For the non Orthodox, the Lenten Triodion is the book that contains all of the specific material needed for the Lenten season. We are now entering the “pre-Lenten” season. If your memory goes back to 1928 Prayer Book (or earlier)…