Love and Freedom in a One-Storey Universe

I offer the first-ever guest article on the blog. My eldest daughter, Matushka Mary Holste, sent me this piece. I loved it and wanted to share with others. Enjoy. St. Augustine said, “Love and do what you will.” This statement describes a way of being that offers us both freedom and joy. We are to love and be transformed by love. We are not able to love fully without the strenuous work…

Depth Perception

One of the great blessings of the human brain can be found in its ability to take two things and make them one. We have two eyes, which means they necessarily see things differently. Look at the world with one eye open and switch to the other eye. Things appear to move. Viewing the world through one eye also makes things appear somewhat “flat.” The wonder of “stereo-scopic vision” (seeing through two…

The Beauty of Truth and the Existence of God

What is the criterion of the rightness of this life? Beauty.  – Fr. Pavel Florensky It is our habit of thought to think of Truth as, more or less, a correct description or a correct statement. As such, Beauty belongs to some other realm of thought. Beauty cannot be “correct” or “incorrect.” In Orthodox thought, Truth is understood as a matter of being (it is ontological). If something is true, then it…

Icons in a Literal World

The Scripture tells us that the “pure in heart shall see God.” I have always assumed that this describes a present event and not a promise about a distant life after death. We do not see God now, because our hearts are not pure. In the same manner, we do not see the reality of the world – because our hearts are darkened. I am increasingly convinced that the “literal” world that…

Keep the Peace

Preserve your inner peace at any cost. Do not trade your inner peace for anything in the world. Make peace with yourself, and heaven and earth will make peace with you. I recall an Anglican abbot once saying that during the Vietnam War his monastery had many visitors and inquirers. He noted many of the young were deeply angry about peace. The irony of his observation is the irony of our predicament.…

The Sacrament of the Heart

Scholars of the New Testament occasionally conjecture about what is termed the ipsissima verba of Christ, the “very words themselves.” It is a term for those sayings that are considered historically authentic beyond question. One saying which in my opinion belongs to such a category are the so-called “words of institution” (“this is my body…this is my blood”). They are certainly the words with the earliest attestation of any spoken by Christ.…

Unshakeable Reality

In his novel, The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis imagines a bus-load of people who travel from “hell” to “heaven.” Their trip takes them from a place described as “gray,” and ghost-like in its not-so-solid existence. Heaven, on the other hand, is quite solid. The day-trippers find the most immediate difficulty of their journey to be the problems of dealing with a solid world while being ghost-like. The grass does not bend (thus…

The Long Journey Home

It’s not getting to the land of the dead that’s the problem. It’s getting back. – Capt. Hector Barbossa, Pirates of the Caribbean at World’s End It is possible to speak in great detail about the origins and problems of the “false-self” (ego). Once the characteristics of the ego, it’s narrative, defenses, aggression, and unrelenting dominance of the mind are identified, it is not only easy to see, it is difficult not…