A Sacrifice of Emptiness – the Fullness of Life in Christ

Conversation this past week on this site has centered around mercy and justice and the understanding of the sacrifice of Christ. I began with an article on a quote by St. Isaac of Syria, who famously questions the human concept of justice and its relation to God. The Christian treatment of the atonement – what does it mean to say that “Christ died for us” – has found expression in a variety…

We Have Seen

St. John, in the prologue of his gospel, says the following: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father (John 1:14). In his first Epistle he says the following: That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and…

Babylon and the Trees of Pentecost

From the Feast of Pentecost The arrogance of building the tower in the days of old led to the confusion of tongues. Now the glory of the knowledge of God brings them wisdom. There God condemned the impious for their transgression. Here Christ has enlightened the fishermen by the Spirit. There disharmony was brought about for punishment.// Now harmony is renewed for the salvation of our souls. The first time I saw…

Heaven On Their Minds

Years ago, I recall hearing someone complain about zealous Christians, “They are so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good.” The truth of the statement depends entirely on the understanding of heaven and earth. It is possible to pursue a version of “heaven” such that the spiritual life is undermined. It is also possible to pursue heaven in such a way that the world around us is transformed. It is…

Self-Emptying

I offer a brief apology to Buddhists – forgive me if I have mischaracterized your religious practices. We are enjoined by St. Paul to have within us the mind that was in Christ – specifically in His self-emptying love in going to the Cross (Philippians 2:5-11). It is the very heart of humility. Of course there are difficulties when we seek to practice such a thing – difficulties for which I have already…

Engaging Creation-Praise Him and Highly Exalt Him Forever

Writing on beauty can seem an abstract approach to the created order – except that it draws our attention to see the world in a particular way. It is important, it seems to me, to at least see the world. So much of theology and what passes for religion can be mere intellectual exercise that religion and abstraction become synonymous. This is foreign to the true life of Orthodoxy and the true…

The Nature of Things – And Our Salvation

Reflecting on yesterday’s post, I thought it worthwhile to share these thoughts again on the nature of our salvation. It offers a short summary of the difference between a moral and an existential understanding of the Christian faith and why the difference matters. Indeed, as I look through my writings I know this is a recurring theme. It recurs because it is so fundamental to the Christian faith and is at the…

The Price of the Liturgy

We celebrate the Liturgy together. But we must pay what this costs: each one must be concerned for the salvation of all. Our life is an endless martyrdom. The Elder Sophrony +++ The Divine Liturgy (the Holy Eucharist) is not a ritual action of the Church which we attend, as though it were some sort of program. It is one of the greatest manifestations of the Divine Life that God has given…

What Is My Life?

I have written often on the subject of “personhood,” drawing to a large extent on the writings of the Elder Sophrony, and to a lesser extent on the theology of Met. John Zizioulas. The heart of their thought is to direct us to the reality that to exist as “persons” is precisely the same thing (or similar) when we speak of the “persons” of the Holy Trinity. And further, that this is…

The Unplanned Life

The following article was first written and posted in March of 2007. I have added a few additional thoughts to the end. One of the geniuses of modern life is the plan. It is certainly the case that if you have a company and a product, or whatever passes for those in these days, there is probably a plan to go with them. Occasionally you hear from Christians, “God has a plan for…