Forgiveness and Paradise – Dostoevsky

This small passage from Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, has always been among my favorites within literature. It is the story of the death of Markel, the brother of Zossima, who will later become a great monastic elder. The words of his brother Markel serve as something of a summary of the elder’s theology and among the most profound thoughts in literature. From the Life of the Elder Zossima …but the doctor arrived and…

Iconoclasm and Ignorance

My expectations for intelligent discussion on television is close to nil. An example, on the subject of icons and statues, can be found on Handmaid Leah’s site. If you want to see the subject handled badly on television take a look. I promise a posting on the doctrine of the holy icons in the near future. My thanks to Leah for her posting this small video. We need to speak in some…

Christianity and the One-Storey Universe – Where Do We Begin?

I read an interesting article today on a blog for those who are “de-converting” or in some sense trying to get over their religious past. For some of my readers it may come as a surprise that I find this interesting – but I find it deeply fascinating. I do not think that those who find themselves in that position are terribly different than myself or many others that I know. I…

‘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…