Love Has No History

St. Nikolai Velimirovich’s Prayers by the Lake are a theological feast. St. Gregory the Theologian wrote wonderful theological poems – it is a form deeply suited to theology but too little used. I first heard this poem on a broadcast from Ancient Faith Radio – it came at a very timely moment and allowed me to see and pray. Images such as “wandering through my soul like a wayfarer in the night,”…

To Guard One’s Heart

The heart is a precious thing. The term can sometimes be confusing for people reading Orthodox writings. On occasion it almost sounds synonomous with the soul. At other times, it is identified with the nous, that organ of perception by which we know God. The Scriptures use the term (especially in the Old Testament) but never clearly define what it means. Some number of the Fathers make a literal identification with the…

Only Love Knows Anything

  Only Love Knows Anything There’s a part of us that is wired to be careful. It senses danger and hunkers down. It looks for danger. It can easily become the dominant mode of our life. Anxiety and depression, are among the most common noises of this internal warning system. When it comes to dominate, we see the world through fear-colored glasses. In the classical language of the Church, we describe such…

The Mother of Us All

  A young friend recently lost his mother. It has been an occasion of reflection for me, thinking about the emptiness created by such a loss. Despite all of the confusion and conundrums in our contemporary culture surrounding gender issues – they only serve to underscore the fact that male-and-female, on the most fundamental level of the human psyche, are core realities – subject to debate, but not subject to dismissal. We…

The Scandal of the Transfiguration

My Archbishop (Alexander Golitzin) shares the story of a young man whom he taught some years ago. He was Orthodox from Estonia. He grew up in the Soviet era and had come to hate all things Russian, including the Orthodox Church. Nevertheless, he saw an Orthodox procession in the streets of his city one year, a procession that included the Russian bishop (whom he also hated and believed to be a KGB…

Asking the Right Questions

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7) I believe that among the most central things in our life are the questions we ask – or even the question we ask. This is far removed from our passions…

The God Who Sees Us

Recent days and thoughts have brought me to the conclusion that what we require is not so much to see God, as to be seen by God. The most frightful words in all of Scripture are, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” To not be known, it seems to me, is tantamount to having never existed. The Christian quest to see God would be bizarre if it were removed from this…

The Royal Priesthood in a Secular World

St. Peter describes us as a “royal priesthood.” “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…” (1 Peter 2:9) We live in a world metaphor and simile. That is to say, we might call someone a “king” or “priest,” but really only mean that they remind us…

To Serve God

In a therapeutic culture in which our goal is to be our very best, it is almost impossible to serve God. The reason is quite simple: when my goal is to be my very best, the goal is my God. “Serving God” thus becomes a euphemism for a Christianity that we take to be therapeutic – and that its value lies in its therapeutic virtues. All of this is a stranger to…