Christ Crucified

Writing to the Corinthians, St. Paul makes one his most famous statements: “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1Cor. 2:2). It is among the clearest definitions of the apostolic preaching to be found anywhere in the New Testament, or perhaps I should say, “everywhere in the New Testament.” For this is not a statement of the peculiar doctrine of St. Paul, but a plain…

Leaving the Secular Life – Part 2

It is one thing to describe the cultural mix in which we swim and quite another to swim in an opposite direction. One of my favorite icons is a Theophany icon (Christ’s Baptism). In it you can see fish swimming in the water. All of the fish are swimming downstream except one. A single fish, just beneath the hand of Christ, is swimming in the opposite direction. The first time I saw…

Godly Counsel from a Holy Elder

I am sharing here a few sayings from the Elder Amphilochios of Patmos, someone whose life and teachings I have heard spoken of before by Metropolitian Kallistos of Diocleia (Kallistos Ware). They are worth savoring. The quotes come from the volume Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit. I am especially fond of his attitude to trees. +++ My children, I don’t want Paradise without you. Whoever plants a tree, plants hope, peace,…

The Intercession of the Saints

Doubtless one of the less understood aspects of the Orthodox faith, particularly by Protestants, is the importance of the intercession of the saints. Orthodox doctrine and teaching is quite clear that we do not treat saints as objects of worship, nor as worthy of worship. This would be blasphemous to us. Nevertheless, it is a huge part of the “ethos” of Orthodoxy, probably only understood from the inside and then only after…

The Boundary of Death

This was posted originally last Spring. I have posted again for re-reading and for its assurance that Christ is the only guarantee of our dignity. Having spent two-and-a-half years as a Hospice Chaplain, I had opportunity to be present to over 200 deaths (that does not include the many I have witnessed in my years in ordained ministry. As you sit with someone who is dying, there finally arises a boundary beyond…

Before the Feast

I will not likely get a chance to post until after the weekend – the wedding is coming soon upon us and it’s not local. Bags are being packed – last minute details that seem to be endless are all coming to an end that lack of time alone can bring. When it’s all said and done a wedding takes place. As I have written before, our family gathers from the four…

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 Struggle for Communion

For many Protestants whose Church experience was largely shaped in the past few decades, one of the most disconcerting aspects of a first visit to an Orthodox Church is the fact that not everybody, not all Baptized Christians, are permitted to receive communion. Indeed, communion is restricted to Orthodox Christians who have made preparation to receive (that’s another topic). For some this is a surprise, for others, not, and for still some…