Orthodox Mission

Today I have had the pleasure of being in Jacksonville, Fl, for the Diocese of the South’s annual clergy retreat. Our speaker is Fr. Michael Oleska who teaches in Alaska, and is probably the foremost authority of the history of Orthodox missions to America, as well as Orthodox missions in general. Our lecture this afternoon was excellent, particularly connecting the fairly well-known work of early missions in Alaska, with the larger history…

St. Silouan as a Teacher

This is a small excerpt from St. Silouan the Athonite by Archimandrite Sophrony. Throughout my time with Blessed Staretz Silouan I never for an instant doubted that his words were the ‘words of life eternal’ received from on high, and that it was not some sophistry that had taught him the truth which his whole life bore witness to. A great many people talk lightly about love of Christ but their actions…

Apostolic Succession

For the first three days of this week (Mon-Wed) I will be in Jacksonville, FL, along with my brother clergy from the diocese to meet with our hierarch, Archbishop Dmitri. It is always a joy to be with the Bishop. For years as an Anglican, I almost always dreaded such occasions. I rarely got along with other clergy, and I found myself either ill-treated by bishops or simply the butt of jokes.…

We Are Not Able To Do That

From the Wisdom of the Desert Fathers It was said that some philosophers came one day to test the monks. Now one of the monks passed by clothed in beautiful garments, and the philosophers said to him, ‘Come here’, but he, in anger, scorned them. Another monk, a Libyan, passed by, and they said to him, ‘You old scoundrel of a monk, come here’, and they compelled him to come. They gave…

Silence is Enough

From the Wisdom of the Desert Fathers A brother asked an old man, ‘If a brother tells me irrelevant things, do you advise me, abba, to ask him not to do so?’ The old man said he did not. Then the brother asked why, and the old man said, ‘Because we are not able to do this ourselves [refrain from speaking irrelevant things], and for fear lest having asked our neighbor not…

An Orthodox Witness on NPR – Be Kind to Children

I have no idea what you may personally think about spanking children. I was vehemently opposed to it when I was a child, but no one asked my opinion. All of my children are now too large to spank. Indeed, my son is larger than I am and could certainly take me out if the need arose. I am very polite to him. The story I’ve linked to here is from a…

Candlewax and Hedgehogs – Origins of Groundhog Day

This article, from an earlier parish newsletter is posted here by request. Candlewax and Hedgehogs—a peculiar way to entitle an article, I’ll admit. But both have their associations with the second day of February. The first is more important so we’ll begin there. The second day of February is one of the 12 great feasts, and is also celebrated by Christians in the West. The feast is the Presentation of Christ in the…

To Fulfill All Righteousness

On February 2nd, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. The feast is also known as the “Meeting” focusing on the “meeting” with St. Simeon and the Prophetess Anna. Again, the feast is also called the “Purification” remembering that one important aspect of this 40-days after the birth of a first child, a woman makes an offering in the Temple for her “purification.” If we want…

Saving the World Through Beauty

This essay of mine was originally posted on Pontifications. It is reprinted here with some slight changes.    Thus the most persuasive philosophic proof of God’s existence is the one the textbooks never mention, conclusion to which can perhaps best express the whole meaning: There exists the icon of the Holy Trinity by St. Andrei Rublev; therefore, God exists. – from Pavel Florensky’s Iconostasis This short quote from St. Pavel Florensky’s Iconostasis is among…

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…