God’s Justice and the Fathers

I am grateful for the responses yesterday that were posted on my article Once and For All, and particularly Ephrem’s passages from the Fathers on justice. I have certainly been among the Orthodox writers, speakers, etc., in America who have given short shrift to forensic (legal) imagery when thinking about God and how we understand Christ’s death on our behalf. I want to offer a short defense (for I think I have…

A Personal Note of Thanks

For a couple of years I was an occasional poster on Pontifications, the Blog created and maintained by my dear friend, Fr. Al Kimel, and it was he who suggested that I create my own. It was a friendly suggestion. Yesterday, after a little more than two months, we passed 50,000 views, which is far more readership than I would ever have imagined. It felt like a milestone, but mostly like encouragement.…

Once and For All?

I have been puzzling some lately about the doctrine of Justification, particularly as understood by some Protestants. I am not the theologian that my good friend, Fr. Al Kimel, over at Pontifications is, nor am I versed in late medieval scholarship, which is what early Protestant doctrine requires. My puzzle is perhaps a bit more existential, and a bit on the Scriptural side (I do try to study from time to time).…

The God of the Waters

I stood in the rain this afternoon, with twenty or thirty of the faithful as we blessed the waters of the Clinch River at Melton Hill Marina. It’s the same place that is pictured in the snow with the blessing of the waters on a few blogs down. Today the water was everywhere. In the lake, coming down from the sky, gradually soaking into us. There was a certain glory in chanting…

Repentance and the Kingdom

…In the words of St. John Climacus, “Repentance is the daughter of hope and the denial of despair.” It is not despondency but eager expectation; it is not to feel that one has reached an impasse, but to take the way out. It is not self-hatred but the affirmation of my true self as made in God’s image. To repent is to look, not downward at my own shortcomings, but upward at…

Crushing the Heads of Dragons

Every feast day in Orthodoxy is connected to the Feast of Pascha, because Pascha is God’s great act of salvation. However, some feasts show this connection more clearly than others. Three feasts in the year share the same pattern of services: Pascha, Nativity, and Theophany. Each has a Vesperal Liturgy on its Eve and a Vigil the night before. The icons of the three feasts are strikingly similar, with Christ descending into…

Resting in God

The Pulley (1633) by George Herbert  When God at first made man, Having a glass of blessings standing by; Let us (said he) pour on him all we can; Let the world’s riches, which dispersed lie, Contract into a span.   So strength first made a way; Then beauty flowed, then wisdom, honour, pleasure: When almost all was out, God made a stay, Perceiving that alone of all his treasure Rest in…

Ignorance and God

I am an ignorant man, despite posting writings on all kinds of things. But make no mistake – I am an ignorant man. Thus, I would always counsel any reader to remember, these are the writings of an ignorant man. Why would I say this? Because it is true. How am I ignorant? I am as most of us are – I do not see the world clearly for what it is.…

Living in Difficult Times

One of the most influential books in my life crossed my path during my college years. It was a collection of essays, edited and contributed to by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. From Under the Rubble offered more insight than the then more popular novels and the Gulag Achipelago that had vaulted the writer into his position of fame. The essays made it clear that this writer – always described as a “Soviet Dissident” in…