He Burst the Yawning Gates of Hell

Whom have we, Lord, like you – The Great One who became small, the Wakeful who slept, The Pure One who was baptized, the Living One who died, The King who abased himself to ensure honor for all. Blessed is your honor! St. Ephrem the Syrian For the West, today is Holy Saturday. Thus I offer these words for that great and awesome day. I cannot fathom the smallness of God. Things…

Forgiveness and the Kingdom

I am grateful for the patience of my readers – I have written less in the past few weeks – instead mostly posting quotes from the Fathers. It’s not a laziness on my part but an opportunity to go to a well that is far deeper than myself and a great help when I am in a very busy season in the parish. This Sunday we draw to the edge of Great…

Further Notes on a Common Faith – Newman

In my recent post on a Common Faith, I offered a concatenation of quotes from the Fathers, East and West, on the doctrine of salvation as union with God (divinization or theosis). It included as well, both Luther and Calvin. I commented at the time that with some little research surely we could add Newman to that number. Considering that he was one of the 19th century’s greatest scholars on St. Athanasius,…

The Grace Given To Us

From the writings of the Elder Sophrony: At Vespers during Lent at the Monastery of Old Russikon-on-the-Hill the Lord allowed a certain monk to see Father Abraham, a priest-monk of the strict rule, in the image of Christ. The old confessor, weaing his priestly stole, was standing hearing confessions. When the monk entered the confessional he saw that the grey-haired confessor’s face looked young like the face of a boy, and his…

Friday – the Day of the Cross

From an earlier post on the Cross. In writing about our union with Christ I offered the following as the response to a question. It seemed to me, worth a posting of its own, though it be short. I have, however, added a few thoughts to it. There are many ways of which to speak of Christ’s work on the Cross, all of them, of course, seeing it as central. In some ways,…

Knowledge that Saves

It is perhaps unfortunate that our English language (as well as the Greek and many other Indo-European variations) do not make a clear distinction between knowing something as a fact, and a different kind of knowing which requires participation in the actual life and reality of that which we know. Thus it is possible for me to know a great deal about the history of bread-making in 16th century France, even though…

Do We Want to Know God?

It was remarked briefly in a recent comment that “we cannot know God completely,” and that we should be satisfied with the mysteries of the faith and trust the teaching of the Church (I apologize for using the writer’s honest statement as the point of departure for this post). However, this short quote from St. Silouan: It is given to our Orthodox Church through the Holy Spirit to fathom the mysteries of God,…

Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room

Well known to almost everyone is the Christmas carol that bids: “Let every heart, prepare Him room.” It is an excellent piece of theology – drawing a comparison between the coldness and lack of hospitality found in Bethlehem so long ago and the inner landscape of our own hearts. We should prepare our hearts so that there is room for God. I had some experience with this in a different way earlier…

Solidarity and Salvation

Who is God? And what is man? What is wrong with man such that he needs to be “saved?” Is there more than one way of explaining this? The issue of salvation, of how man is brought back into a proper relationship with God, has been the primary concern of Christianity since its very inception. Christ himself begins His ministry with the proclamation, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”…

Zizioulas and the Church that is Communion

One of the more profound writers and thinkers in the Orthodox Church today has to be Metropolitan John Zizioulas – who has taught for years in Scotland and England – and is known to be one of the closest theologians to His Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. Zizioulas [as he is commonly referred to without meaning any disrespect] is also famously difficult to read – he can pack a paragraph with insights…