What’s Beneath the Water? Crushed Dragons.

This coming Sunday (New Calendar) marks one of the greatest feasts of the Orthodox year, the Feast of Theophany, Christ’s Baptism in the Jordan river. Across the world Orthodox Christians will gather after the Liturgy to bless the waters: the ocean, a river, a spring, etc.   Every feast day in Orthodoxy is connected to the Feast of Pascha, because Pascha is God’s great act of salvation. However, some feasts show this…

St. John Chrysostom on the Jesus Prayer

 St. John on the Jesus Prayer: The remembrance of the name of Jesus rouses the enemy to battle. For a soul that forces itself to pray the Prayer of Jesus can find anything by this prayer, both good and evil. First it can see evil in the recesses of its own heart, and afterwards good. This prayer can stir the snake to action, and this prayer can lay it low. This prayer…

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 Nature of Things and our Salvation

The nature of things is an important question to ask – or should I say an a priori question. For once we are able to state what is the nature of things then the answers to many questions framed by the nature of things will also begin to be apparent. All of this is another way of saying that questions have a way of determining answers. So what is the nature of…

Being Formed in the Tradition

I watched a group of linguistic-psychologists (of varying sorts) in a panel discussion the other night (CSPAN). All of them are involved in advising political campaigns. What they know about the science of language and how people actually make decisions versus how we would like to think we make decisions was staggering. Among the most staggering of agreed pieces of data was that 98% of the process of so-called rational decisions are…

Reading the Nativity Story

I was right. I said in a sermon several days ago that my congregation should expect the usual presentations on various parts of the Christmas story, the thrust of the articles (and letters to the editor) being about how either they did not occur on a literal level or how they did occur. This goes on every year. Some scientist throws around the latest Christmas theory about the star, (comet, supernova, etc.),…

The Pontificator Posts Again – And It’s Worth the Read

Many of you know of my long friendship with Roman Catholic priest and blogger, Fr. Al Kimel, a.k.a. The Pontificator. I would not be writing today except through his generosity and encouragement. Earlier this year he ceased writing. But he posted an article today that I heartily commend. It makes me long for more such thoughtful and careful work from the heart on Pontifications. A quote: I do not believe God to…

The Forefathers of Christ

Among the greatest blasphemies ever constructed by humankind was that of Nazi Germany. Not satisfied with their political dominance, they also sought a religious dominance as well. The notion of an “Aryan Christ” was perhaps the depths of their theological blasphemies mirrored in their dehumanization and murder of the Jews. At many points in the past two millennia, the relationship between Christians and Jews has hit low points – with the Jews…

Keeping It Real

I have mentioned in earlier posts the new work by Aristotle Papanikolaou Being with God. It is not an easy read but brings its rewards. Papanikolaou offers the first comprehensive study of the works of Met. John Zizioulas and Vladimir Lossky, two of the 20th century’s most important Orthodox theologians, and offers a very helpful analysis and comparison. I was struck by his initial summary of the common assumption of both Zizioulas…

If We Walk in the Light…

Some further thoughts beyond nature… In my previous post I quoted: “For the Fathers, indeed, personhood is freedom in relation to nature: it eludes all conditioning.” Perhaps my favorite and most reliable theological “buddy” is my wife. No one has the same shared history (we’ve known each other since I was 19 – we met in prayer group) and I can think of no one with whom I’ve shared more of my…