What Is the Truth?

In the Gospel record of Christ’s trial before Pontius Pilate, we are told that Christ said He had come to bear witness to the Truth. Pilate, in what he must have thought was a clever response, says, “And what is Truth?” We know from elsewhere in the Gospel that Christ explained, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” It is a statement that is easily tossed about – to settle…

Faces in the Dark

  One of the finest short contemporary classics of Orthodox spiritual writing is Tito Colliander’s Way of the Ascetics. The following excerpt is from his “Chapter Thirteen: On Progress in Depth.” THE external rudiments lead us now to the welfare that goes on in the depths. As when one peels an onion, one layer after another is removed, and the innermost core, out of which growth reaches up toward the light, lies…

From Khomiakov’s The Church Is One

Alexei Khomiakov (1804-1860) was a Russian lay theologian. One of his most important essays was The Church Is One. In a private conversation with Met. Kallistos Ware, I asked questions about the story of his conversion to Orthodoxy. There were few Orthodox writings available in English at the time (Met. Kallistos’ The Orthodox Church [1962] was probably the first major work in English on the Orthodox Church). He said to me that…

When Creation Speaks

An interesting theme within the holy Scriptures is the “voice of Creation.” The famous Old Testament Canticle, Song of the Three Young Men, in English traditionally known as the Benedicite, omnia opera Domini, and which in Orthodoxy forms the basis of the Seventh and Eighth odes of the Canon, very famously calls on creation to offer praise to God: O let the earth bless the Lord; O ye mountains and hills, bless…

Cultures of Remembrance

I grew up in a “culture of remembrance.” By that, I mean that the history of the place in which I lived was far more a matter of discussion and meaning than the present or the future. That culture was the American South. Much of the remembrance we discussed was not true – just a left-over from the sentimentality of the 19th century. My childhood was spent in the 1950’s, which may…

Remembrance

St. Macarius said, “If we remember the evil that others have done to us, we shut down our ability to remember God.” From the Desert Fathers Memory is a very powerful thing. The older I get, and the more of my earthly life lies behind me instead of before me, memory becomes indeed powerful. I have lived in my present home for almost 20 years, which, for a priest, can be quite…

Can This Really Be the End? – Musing about the Eschaton

This is one of the earliest articles I wrote. In view of our current crises (plural) it seemed worth reprinting. O, Mama, can this really be the end? To be stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues again. Bob Dylan Ok. I’ll confess it right up front – I’m a Dylan fan. It shows my age and generation. My children have had to learn to put up with his voice, but…

John Chrysostom on Romans 9

Many puzzle about Romans 9 and what some claim to see as a teaching of “double-edged” predestination, that is, that God predestines some for hell. It is useful to see what the Fathers do with such a passage. Here is an excerpt from John Chrysostom’s sermon on Romans 9 that addresses the subject well and demonstrates that God does not predestine anyone to damnation. The question was raised in a recent comment…

Reading Scripture in an Orthodox Manner

Recently my site has been visited with questions about Scripture, in particular (to start with) the Orthodox use of the title “Father” when Christ said, “Call no man on earth your father.” Actually I thought the response posted by William amply demonstrated how this verse should be understood. But there is a larger question – that of the use of Scripture and how it may be interpreted. The questioner claimed only be…

The Most Holy Mother of God

On August 15, the Orthodox Church (new calendar) commemorates the Dormition (falling asleep) of the Most Holy Mother of God. The feast is considered to be one of the 12 Great Feasts of the year and thus an integral part of the proclamation of gospel of Jesus Christ. Many who are not familiar with Orthodoxy, or its manner of understanding saints, easily see feast days and the veneration of saints as distractions…