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…

To Know God

I have had some correspondence recently on the subject of knowing God. The knowledge of God, generally spoken of in a very experiential manner, is an absolute foundation in Orthodox theology. Nothing replaces it – no dogmatic formula – no Creed – not even Scripture – though Orthodoxy would see none of these things as separate from the knowledge of God. But the questions I have received are very apt. In a…

The Faith of the Apostles

We have learned from no others the plan of our salvation than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and at a later period, by the will of God, handed down (tradiderunt) to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith… Matthew issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while…

I Really Wasn’t Kidding – There’s Another Gospel Out There

I generally enjoy our comments and also following the links when others share some portion of Glory to God for All Things with others. Last week I posted on the necessity for the whole gospel – that is – the gospel received by the Apostles and taught to the Church. I noted that in many areas of modern Christianity, very essential elements of that gospel are in danger. I was struck when…

How Much Is Too Little? How Much Is Enough?

One of the most pervasive rules in Christian believing is the Latin phrase, “Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi,” usually rendered, “The Law of Praying is the Law of Believing.” It is a simple way of saying both that we believe what we pray (praying will inevitably bring about a conformity in believing), and that if something is to be preserved it must become part of the liturgical life. Time and history have largely…

Truth and the Icon

Icons are very peculiar things as art goes. Those who do not understand them often find their “flat,” and almost “stylized” presentation of human beings and events rather stitled or off-putting. The non-Orthodox, I believe, realize that there’s more to an icon than meets the eye, but are not sure where to begin or how to frame the question. Not all Orthodox know the correct answers. We have many visitors to St.…

Cleansing the Temple in John

A rather oddly placed story – always a problem for those who need to harmonize the gospels (and many of the Fathers tended to desire this themselves) – is the story of the “cleansing of the temple” found in the second chapter. In other gospel accounts it is always part of the story of Holy Week. But here in John it follows immediately after the miracle at the wedding in Cana (another…

He Who Has Ears to Hear

I am convinced after years of preaching and listening to preaching that the bulk of Scripture has become lost to our ears. We hear it, but fail to “hear” it. And I do not mean this merely in the moral sense (doubtless we fail to be “doers” of the word). Rather, I am aware of a kind of dullness, of seeing a very narrow set of things that become the lens through…

A Closing Word Tonight from St. Silouan

A few paragraph’s from Fr. Sophrony’s St. Silouan the Athonite. It was a great moment in the history of human thought and spiritual experience when Descartes pronounced the words, ‘Cogito, ergo sum’ (‘I think, therefore I am’). Another philosopher, one of our day, understood life rather differently, putting it, ‘I love, therefore I am, for I esteem love a more profound motive for searching out the reality of our existence.’ Others might…