The Cross Within the Church

The Church is the Cross through history. St. Paul wrote that he had determined to restrict his preaching to the Cross. (1 Cor. 2:2) This was not an effort to diminish the gospel. Rather, it was an effort to rightly understand the gospel. One of the great temptations of Christianity is to allow itself to become a “religion,” that is, to serve whatever role that religions of any sort play within a…

The Frightful Path of Judas

I recall the first time the phrase, “On the night in which He was betrayed,” struck my heart. I was attending the evening service of Maundy Thursday at my Episcopal parish when I was a student in college. There was communion, followed by the “stripping of the altar” that symbolized the arrest and scourging of Christ. But the phrase, “On the night in which He was betrayed,” haunted me through the rest…

Conformed to His Image

One of the most distinctive doctrines in Orthodox theology is that of theosis – divinization – becoming “like God.” Those who inquire into the faith likely stumble across this teaching fairly early, and, no doubt, some are drawn to it. Of course, there are those who run away from it and fear that it is saying something that it isn’t. Perhaps the most attractive aspect of theosis is the unabashedly positive note…

It’s a Lying Shame

The story of the first sin begins not with a choice, but with a lie. As much as we tend to emphasize “free-will” as the origin and dominant factor of human sin, we do well to remember the true nature of our lives. Things are much more complicated than freedom can account for. Rather, we act in the context of lies and deception, some from outside and some from within. It is…

How Powerless Are You Willing to Be?

“My spiritual efforts don’t do anything, they merely bring me to the place where I know I can’t do anything, to the place where I am utterly naked before God!” -Fr. Silviu Bunta Sometimes I run across a quote that strikes my heart so deeply that I’m surprised it wasn’t me who said it. The quote above is from Fr. Silviu Bunta, Associate Professor of Old Testament at St. Vladimir’s Seminary, in…

Repentance for the World – Prayers by the Lake XXIX

This XXIX prayer of St. Nicholai of Zicha from Prayers by the Lake, echoes the prayers of Pentecost. It teaches us a profound way of praying for the world. In our days, such a prayer is deeply needed. For all the sins of men I repent before You, Most Merciful Lord. Indeed, the seed of all sins flows in my blood! With my effort and Your mercy I choke this wicked crop…

The Collapse into Chaos – Where Only God Makes Sense

Nothing is more traumatic than the onset of chaos. Predictability breaks down, goodness seems to disappear, and the madness of sheer survival takes over. In chaos, everything seems plausible since reason itself has become unreachable. A recent spate of reading took me down the rabbit hole into the madness of the 14th century. For all of the “structure” and stability of the Middle Ages, a society where everyone seemed to have a…

The Cross of Christ and God’s Love

God is love; and the Holy Cross is nothing other than God’s love. Love has the character of the cross. The power, fire, and nature of love consist in the fact that love has the character of the cross; and there is no love that does not have the character of the cross. The cross is the sacrificial character ter of love, for love is sacrifice, self-surrender, self-renunciation, voluntary self-depletion for the…

The Despised God

In On the Orthodox Faith, St. John of Damascus declares: ‘The Son is the image of the Father, and the Spirit the image of the Son’. Such statements are easily read and passed over as among the more obvious Trinitarian statements. I add to this statement another from St. Irenaeus: “That which is invisible of the Son is the Father, and that which is visible of the Father is the Son.” Of…

The Despised God

In On the Orthodox Faith, St. John of Damascus declares: ‘The Son is the image of the Father, and the Spirit the image of the Son’. Such statements are easily read and passed over as among the more obvious Trinitarian statements. I add to this statement another from St. Irenaeus: “That which is invisible of the Son is the Father, and that which is visible of the Father is the Son.” Of…