A Story of Repentance

One of my favorite books comes from the last years of the Soviet Union. It is the story of Tatiana Goricheva, a member of the “intelligentsia” and a Soviet-era dissident. Her book, Talking About God Is Dangerous, offers fascinating insights into both a period of time and the period of a human soul’s conversion by grace. The little volume is out of print but can be found on the internet for as little…

Fasting – Prayers by the Lake – XLI

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich XLI With fasting I gladden my hope in You, my Lord, Who are to come again. Fasting hastens my preparation for Your coming, the sole expectation of my days and nights. Fasting makes my body thinner, so that what remains can more easily shine with the spirit. While waiting for You, I wish neither to nourish myself with blood nor to take life–so that the animals may sense the…

St. John of the Ladder on Anger

I continue with some thoughts on this important subject. This is taken from the great spiritual classic, The Ladder of Divine Ascent (chapter 8). There are a number of very worthy insights – quite similar to those found in Met. Jonah article referenced earlier. As the gradual pouring of water on a fire puts out the flame completely, so the tears of genuine mourning can extinguish every flame of anger and irascibility.…

Crushing Dragons in the Waters Across the World

I must add to this post from last year, my memory of standing by Met. Kallistos Ware and other pilgrims for the Great Blessing of the Waters at the Jordan River this past September. As the Metropolitan’s voice rang out, a school of fish gathered in the water as an audience. The scene was surreal, as though standing within an icon, which indeed we were. The weather was hot – but the…

The Beginning of the End

Living year in and year out with a liturgical calendar – worship which moves from feast to feast – there is a freedom of sorts from the tyranny of your own one-sidedness. The liturgical calendar of the Church inevitably takes you through the whole story of salvation – in a manner that simply requires a year to be unfolded. On the other hand, this same liturgical calendar, particularly as it is manifest…

St. John Chrysostom’s Christmas Homily

BEHOLD a new and wondrous mystery. My ears resound to the Shepherd’s song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn. The Angels sing. The Archangels blend their voice in harmony. The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise. The Seraphim exalt His glory. All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells here…

What Shall This Man Do?

From the Desert Fathers: A brother asked the abba Poemen, saying, “If I should see my brother’s fault, is it good to hide it? The old man said to him, “In what hour we do cover up our brother’s sins, God shall cover ours: and in what hour we do betray our brother’s shames, in like manner God shall betray our own.” Recent comments have raised the perennial question of our responsibility…

Don’t Do That

A dear friend, who is a Russian monk, was among the earliest Orthodox clergy to visit in our mission in its first two years. Most of my parish had never met a monk, much less one who was as serious in demeanor. My son (now an adult) was then 11 years old and served in the altar. The monk had a simple way of correcting the altar servers (and occasionally parishioners who…