The Theophany in Which We Live

The liturgical life of the Church makes a very clear link between the Nativity of Christ, the Theophany at His Baptism, and Pascha. Elements of Pascha run throughout the texts for the services of all three feasts, and even the icons echo one another. There is a recognition that at Nativity, Christ enters the “Winter Pascha,” becoming man, taking on even the weakness of an infant, He has embraced the same weakness…

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…

Being Formed in the Tradition

I watched a group of linguistic-psychologists (of varying sorts) in a panel discussion the other night (CSPAN). All of them are involved in advising political campaigns. What they know about the science of language and how people actually make decisions versus how we would like to think we make decisions was staggering. Among the most staggering of agreed pieces of data was that 98% of the process of so-called rational decisions are…

Reading the Nativity Story

I was right. I said in a sermon several days ago that my congregation should expect the usual presentations on various parts of the Christmas story, the thrust of the articles (and letters to the editor) being about how either they did not occur on a literal level or how they did occur. This goes on every year. Some scientist throws around the latest Christmas theory about the star, (comet, supernova, etc.),…

On the Eve of the Nativity – We Sing the Royal Hours

Come, you faithful, let us arise and behold the divine condescension from above, made manifest for us in Bethlehem; and having cleansed our minds, let us by our lives offer virtues instead of myrrh, as we faithfully prepare the entry of the Nativity with treasures of the soul, crying, ‘In the highest, glory to God in Trinity, through whom his good pleasure has appeared among men to rescue Adam from the ancestral…

What Role Do the Fathers Play in the Reading of Scripture?

It is easy from the outside to form an incorrect picture of the Orthodox interpretation of Scripture. There is actually quite a bit of variety among the Fathers when it comes to reading the Word of God. Even in the earliest centuries there were noted differences in the approach that obtained among those trained in Antioch and those trained in Alexandria, the two great centers of Christian exegesis. To a large extent,…

Mission and Worship – America and the Orthodox

The following post is an expanded version of a comment I wrote in a recent thread. The question to which it responds is the Scriptural mandate of St. Paul (1 Cor. 9:19-23): For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews; to those under the law…

A Little Child Enters the Temple

The story in the gospel of Christ’s visits to the Temple in his childhood – the first at 40 days of age (marked by the Feast of the Presentation and the occasion of prophecy by the Elder Simeon and Hannah the Prophetess) and at age 12 when He is lost and later found giving instruction to the teachers and scribes, is a reminder of the importance of children in the Temple of…

And Now for a Little Meat! Met. John Zizioulas and the Church

If you are not familiar with Met. John Zizioulas’ work, then you have missed some of the best writing by an English-speaking Orthodox writer. Not that having read him you’ll understand what you have just read. But the following small article was sent to my by my dear friend, the Pontificator, whom many of you know from (now-demised) blog. I appreciate the head’s up. The article was publish elsewhere.  John Zizioulas (Being as Communion)…

The Fullness of the Faith

The word “fullness,” is a very Orthodox word, one that is used for theological expression fairly frequently. It is perhaps among my favorites, as any regular reader here can quickly attest. It is a New Testament word, usually applied to Christ or to a sense of the “fullness” of time. But there is a sense that it also carries within Orthodox usage that refers to the Gospel itself. In this usage, fullness…