The Fire of Pentecost in Orthodoxy

No one, of course, can describe the fire that fell on the Apostles at Holy Pentecost. At most we are told that the Spirit appeared “like tongues of flame lighting upon the heads of the Apostles.” Not much a description. Other times in Scripture we are told of a Pillar of Fire and of the bush that burned but was not consumed. Again, this is very little information. To this day, there…

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 Life of the Spirit

The following paragraphs are from the chapter on “The Life of the Spirit” in Fr. Sophrony’s We Shall See Him As He Is. St. Silouan’s method is to place us before the general principle and then leave us to work out and diagnose our own case. To give a few examples: ‘One should eat only so much as allows prayer and the feeling of the Divine presence to continue uninterrupted after food’;…

The God Who Is Beautiful

Everything is beautiful in a person when he turns toward God, and everything is ugly when is is turned away from God. Fr. Pavel Florensky I come to the end of a day that has been filled with other activity and little time for writing. But in my reading at bedtime I came across the above quote. It obviously contains a world of truth, indeed, from a certain perspective it contains the…

Where the Heart Resides

One of the questions that surrounds the knowledge of God, as spoken of by the Scriptures and the Fathers of the Eastern Church, is that of where the heart resides. By this, I do not mean where the heart is located (in the chest or wherever), but where the heart itself lives. Though the heart is by no means disconnected from our rationality, it is also resident in many other places of…

Ars Gratia Artis

This is for my daughter – who is a young artist and in the Governor’s School for the Arts this summer. I say this is for her – though I’m not sure she reads the blog everyday – and, of course, I’m letting the rest of you thousand or two people read it, too, so I guess this is for all of us. The question: what is art? I watched a wonderful…

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…

On Hope in God alone and on Confidence in Him

Although, as we have said, it is very important not to rely on our own efforts in this unseen warfare, at the same time, if we merely give up hope of ourselves and despair of ourselves without having found another support, we are certain to flee immediately from the battlefield or to be overcome and taken prisoner by our enemies. Therefore, together with complete renunciation of our selves, we should plant in…

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”…