The Blessed Virgin Mary Compared to the Air We Breathe – Gerard Manley Hopkins

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) was a Jesuit priest (a convert from Anglicanism) and perhaps the greatest modern (?) poet of the English Language (ok, he’s my favorite). My second daughter, Khouria Kathryn, made me aware of this poem. Hopkins is wonderfully sacramental in his poetry – God permeates his words and the world his words come from. Thank you Kathryn. Wild air, world-mothering air, Nestling me everywhere, That each eyelash or hair Girdles;…

Speaking of Christianity – Part 4 of the Meaning of Words

Some years back, the Evangelical-convert-to-Rome, Thomas Howard, wrote a book, Splendor in the Ordinary. In it he argued for a sacramental world view and spoke of how that might effect the local home. I recall the book because it came out while I was in seminary and caused a minor stir. Some of us were interested in a more sacramental life – but we as yet had no idea either of the…

Finding the Problems at Home – Its All in Your Mind

If you like history (as I do) then there is always a temptation to look to history for answers. It is certainly the case that the present has much of its situation from the givens it inherited in its history. But we are none us completely explained by our forebears. I certainly have aspects inherited from my parents, but my personal world is still not the sole result of long historical forces…

Theology, the Slavophiles, and the Parish Church

Ivan Kireevsky was born on April 3, 1806, and became in the course of his lifetime one of the leading intellectual forces in the group who would later be called the Slavophiles. They were interested in a revival in Russian thought, particularly along lines they considered distinctly Russian – in comparison to Western thought. Many have noted their errors: sometimes they went too far in making distinctions with the West; sometimes they…

Christ Crucified

Writing to the Corinthians, St. Paul makes one his most famous statements: “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1Cor. 2:2). It is among the clearest definitions of the apostolic preaching to be found anywhere in the New Testament, or perhaps I should say, “everywhere in the New Testament.” For this is not a statement of the peculiar doctrine of St. Paul, but a plain…

Godly Counsel from a Holy Elder

I am sharing here a few sayings from the Elder Amphilochios of Patmos, someone whose life and teachings I have heard spoken of before by Metropolitian Kallistos of Diocleia (Kallistos Ware). They are worth savoring. The quotes come from the volume Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit. I am especially fond of his attitude to trees. +++ My children, I don’t want Paradise without you. Whoever plants a tree, plants hope, peace,…

The Spirit, the Modern World, Pentecostalism and Orthodoxy

Part of the larger Christian context in which Orthodoxy lives today includes not only Catholics (of various sorts), Protestants (of even more sorts), but Pentecostals as well (of which there are quite a few sorts). Indeed, having come splashing onto the modern religious scene around 1900, Pentecostals have been by far the fastest growing of all Christian groups, and have had huge influences everywhere, with only the possible exception of the Orthodox.…

The Wonder of Communion

Despite the title, this post is not directly, or at least not yet about the Mystery of Holy Communion. Instead it begins first with the mystery of communion that can only take place when other persons are about. For yet the third time in my family’s life, a child is soon to marry, though this time it is a manchild (to use the Biblical expression). On Sunday week my son will marry…

The Struggle for Communion

For many Protestants whose Church experience was largely shaped in the past few decades, one of the most disconcerting aspects of a first visit to an Orthodox Church is the fact that not everybody, not all Baptized Christians, are permitted to receive communion. Indeed, communion is restricted to Orthodox Christians who have made preparation to receive (that’s another topic). For some this is a surprise, for others, not, and for still some…

Fools for Christ – Remembering What Matters

I have been viewing the movie, Ostrov, which I reviewed here, simply because watching it feeds me where watching something else would not. I think I have been particularly fed by mediatating on the actions of the character of Fr. Anatoly, who is something of a “fool for Christ.” He is not the most learned (not learned at all particularly) but he knows what a man must know: God. In that, he…