What Is at Stake?

In the struggle to come to the wholeness of Personhood – to become the “true self” rather than to sink into the “false self” our very existence as spiritual beings is at stake. If you read across Orthodox books that center on the issue of Personhood – a common theme becomes visible. Our fall and our brokenness leave us vulnerable, even in our religious efforts, to the development of a “false self”…

The Struggle of the Person

I have begun to touch on issues of the “false self” and the “true self” for which we could find other language, a number of different metaphors. Theologically all this is grounded in the proper understanding of what it means to exist as a person. Of course, it means to exist in a completely unrepeatable, unique existence. There will never be another you. It also does not mean to exist in isolation…

How Do We Know One Another?

One of the more curious aspects of Christ’s resurrection appearances are the stories told of Him not being recognized at first. I have heard what seem to me to be silly explanations – that “the disciples were grief stricken and therefore did not recognize Him” – is one that seems completely implausible to me. It seems implausible primarily because grief does not work in such a manner. Indeed, my own acquaintance with…

If You Would Celebrate Pentecost – Love Your Enemies

From the Elder Sophrony’s St. Silouan the Athonite. This commandment of Christ’s, ‘Love your enemies,’ is the reflection in our world of the Triune God’s all-perfect love, and constitutes the corner-stone of our whole teaching. It is the ultimate synthesis of all our theology. It is the ‘power from on high’ and the ‘abundance of life’ that Christ gave us. It is the ‘baptism of the Holy Ghost, and with fire’ that…

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…

His Life Is Mine

The following is an excerpt from Rosemary Edmond’s introduction to Archimandrite Sophrony’s His Life is Mine. In these paragraph’s she describes the great monk’s journey from Paris, where he had been an artist and a seminarian, to Mt. Athos, where he would take up his vocation as a monk. He speaks of despair and the knowledge of God. The lives of saints are not a rational argument, per se, for the Christian…

“Do You Know Jesus?”

I have written in numerous posts about various aspects of conversion to the Orthodox Christian faith. Oftentimes there is an unspoken agreement between myself as writer and those who read in which we assume that we understand each other – that when I say “conversion” we all know what I mean. On reflection there are several very distinct kinds of conversions – though each has a relationship to the other. There is…

Life from within our Death

The following is taken from Archimandrite Sophrony’s His Life is Mine. It is a deep word of encouragement to us all that in Christ healing is truly possible.  It is usual for the Christian to be aware concurrently of the prsence of the never-fading celestial glory and of the brooding cloud of death hanging over the world. Though the feeling of death torments the soul, it cannot extinguish the fire of faith. The…

Solidarity and the Christian Life

I commend the collection The Inner Kingdom, volume 1 of Bishop Kallistos Ware’s collected works. Writing in essay on martyrdom, Bishop Kallistos, offers the following observation and stories: This notion of exchange, of solidarity in suffering, forms one of the master-themes of Martin Buber’s Tales of the Hasidim. It is said of one of the most attractive of the Hasidic teachers, Rabbi Zusya, “He felt the sins of the people he met…

The Struggle for Prayer

Fr. Sophrony relates part of his struggle for prayer and the grace he received to help others. The passage is from On Prayer. …On more than one occasion I felt as if I were crucified on an invisible cross. This would happen on Mt. Athos when I got angry with those who vexed me. My wickedness would destroy prayer and fill me with horror. At times it seemed impossible to struggle against…