‘Til My Last Breath

Abba Antony told Abba Poemen, “We have one great work to accomplish. Before God, we must accept responsibility for our sins, expecting to be tempted until our last breath.” For myself, as wells as others that I know, the battle against sin and temptation is, as described by the Fathers, a battle ’til our last breath. Most of the battles we fight are entirely inward – not there for anyone else’s observation.…

Holy Russia

Like the returning exiles of Israel from ancient Babylon, the Russian people have been returning to a Church that was frequently devastated and constantly persecuted under 70 years of Communism. When an Orthodox Church is consecrated it is set aside “until the end of the world.” Thus you do not simply walk away from a Church gutted by the godless, but it is restored.  By the same token, you do not walk…

Renouncing Iconoclasm

I have added a new quote to the sidebar of the blog – it is from an earlier posting: We have to renounce iconoclasm. In so doing, we inherently set ourselves against certain forces within modernity. The truth is eschatological, that is, it lies in the future, but we also believe that this eschatological reality was incarnate in Christ, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega. We do not…

The Grace Given To Us

From the writings of the Elder Sophrony: At Vespers during Lent at the Monastery of Old Russikon-on-the-Hill the Lord allowed a certain monk to see Father Abraham, a priest-monk of the strict rule, in the image of Christ. The old confessor, weaing his priestly stole, was standing hearing confessions. When the monk entered the confessional he saw that the grey-haired confessor’s face looked young like the face of a boy, and his…

The Continuing Problem of Vision

One of the most striking features of the Gospels is the frequent response of the Disciples after the resurrection of Christ: doubt. I have always been sympathetic to the doubts and hesitations that accompanied their ministry during the ministry of Christ. They are almost endearing in their inability to grasp what Christ is all about. However, the same inability to grasp things after the resurrection seems to carry with it all kinds…

Beyond Nature

Doing a little less than light reading today, I came across the following quote: “For the Fathers, indeed, personhood is freedom in relation to nature: it eludes all conditioning.” The true person then is one that is free, not so much to do something, but from the limitations of nature. From Papanikolaou’s Being with God, pgs. 57-58)  Before unpacking those two short sentences, another thought occurred to me. How many Christians, even…

The Fullness of Being

God is not only unity – He is also the fullness of being. When man seeks life’s riches he instinctively seeks for God. Even material riches involuntarily summon forth in the soul of a religious person the idea of Providence. The infinte diversity of being in the universe likewise turns us toward God. In religious life we seek the spiritual strength that will sanctify the whole of our existence and make it…

America and the Church – More Thoughts

Getreligion.org recently drew attention to a New York Times article on modern evangelicalism and the role that various forms of music are playing in their current configuration. The article contained this striking quote and observation from an interview with Tom Mercer, senior pastor of the evangelical church featured in the article: “When you start a church,” said Tom Mercer, 52, the senior pastor, “you don’t decide who you’re going to reach and…

The Fullness of the World to Come

I am fascinated by what the Holy Tradition does with the idea of “fullness” or “fulfillment.” The Church is described as the “fullness of Him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:23). And it is not unusual for Orthodox Christians to express the meaning of Orthodoxy under the rubric of “fullness”: Orthodoxy is the “fullness of the Church.” The Scriptures do much with the concept – speaking of the “fullness of time,”…

Music from Georgia – Ethnos Fulfilled

The subject of Orthodoxy and ethnicity has come up in several recent posts. To limit Orthodoxy to a particular ethnic group is, of course, heretical. But as I have noted earlier, the fullness of Orthodox does not destroy the particularity of who we are – but fulfills it. A man does not become less himself but more truly himself than he could ever have been apart from Christ. Only in Christ are…