The Mount of Transfiguration and the Bridal Chamber of Christ

There is a propensity in our modern world to break things down – to analyze. We have gained a certain mastery over many things by analyzing the various components of their structure and manipulating what we find. It has become the default position for modern thought. This power of analysis, however, is weakened by its very success. Frequently the truth of something lies not in the summary of its parts but in…

Living on the First Floor

I am currently working on a small book that gathers many of my thoughts on the metaphor of the “one-storey universe.” Readers of this blog should be well familiar with the image. I cannot claim to be its originator – I can think of several sources that first suggested this way of explaining things. It is a verbal effort to share a visual and kinesthetic experience. I think that much of my…

The Strange Land of Liturgical Knowledge

I have been involved in Christian liturgical life for most of my adult experience. The first part of that experience was as an Anglican – a liturgical experience that is both Western and reformed. I have been involved in the liturgical life of Orthodox Christianity on one level or another for the past 16 years or so – and as an Orthodox priest since 1999. The two experiences are difficult to compare.…

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…

Take, Eat

The simple words of Christ to His disciples at the Last Supper were profound on many levels: the commandment was short and straight-forward; it reversed an ancient prohibition; it set the primary manner for human beings to receive grace and thus teaches us much about how it is we receive grace in a normative manner (and were always meant to). The Orthodox are somewhat fond of quoting this simple commandment, only if…

The Forty Days of Christmas

My title is slightly misleading. There are not “forty days of Christmas” in the Orthodox Church – but there is a major feast that marks the fortieth after Christmas: the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, sometimes called the Feast of the Meeting (February 2). It occurs forty days after Christmas in accordance to the requirements of the Jewish Law. Tradition holds that Joseph and Mary brought the child to Jerusalem before…

The Longest Liturgy

It is not uncommon for visitors and members alike to comment on the length of an Orthodox liturgy. Sunday liturgies are often an hour-and-a-half or more (longer still in monastic communities).  Many of the services surrounding feast days such as vigils and the like take more than two hours (the version used in local parishes are extremely shortened in comparison to the literal “all-night” vigils for which some of the great monasteries…

Crushing Dragons in the Waters Across the World

I must add to this post from last year, my memory of standing by Met. Kallistos Ware and other pilgrims for the Great Blessing of the Waters at the Jordan River this past September. As the Metropolitan’s voice rang out, a school of fish gathered in the water as an audience. The scene was surreal, as though standing within an icon, which indeed we were. The weather was hot – but the…

The Beginning of the End

Living year in and year out with a liturgical calendar – worship which moves from feast to feast – there is a freedom of sorts from the tyranny of your own one-sidedness. The liturgical calendar of the Church inevitably takes you through the whole story of salvation – in a manner that simply requires a year to be unfolded. On the other hand, this same liturgical calendar, particularly as it is manifest…

The Meaning of Scripture

What is the meaning of Scripture? Where do we look for it and how is it found? It is interesting to listen to the disarray of voices on this subject. My early training, in college and later in a liberal protestant seminary, was to look, first, to “authorial intent” (to use a constitutional interpretive phrase), and to the “Sitz im Leben” (the “life situation” or “context”) and through a host of various…