Learning to Wait

I have never done a search to see how many times the word for “patience” is used in the New Testament – but my general impression is that it is a lot. Patience is not only a virtue, it is utterly necessary to our life in Christ. I can recall having almost no patience at all as a young man. At age nineteen I was sure that the Second Coming could be…

How Much Is Too Little? How Much Is Enough?

One of the most pervasive rules in Christian believing is the Latin phrase, “Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi,” usually rendered, “The Law of Praying is the Law of Believing.” It is a simple way of saying both that we believe what we pray (praying will inevitably bring about a conformity in believing), and that if something is to be preserved it must become part of the liturgical life. Time and history have largely…

Ships and Saints and All the Company of Heaven

I offered a quote from Charles Taylor in a previous posting – as a small reminder I offer it again. One of the central points common to all Reformers was their rejection of mediation. The mediaeval church as they understood it, a corporate body in which some, more dedicated, members could win merit and salvation for others who were less so, was anathema to them. There could be no such thing as…

From A Spiritual Psalter

St. Theophan the Recluse collected excerpts from the works of St. Epraim the Syrian and arranged them as 150 “Psalms”. the following is Psalm 11. I Can Control Neither Myself nor the Enemy. Help Me, O Lord! No one can heal my disease except He Who knows the depths of the heart. How many times have I set boundaries for myself and built walls between myself and sin! But my thoughts transgressed the…

His Life Is Mine

The following is an excerpt from Rosemary Edmond’s introduction to Archimandrite Sophrony’s His Life is Mine. In these paragraph’s she describes the great monk’s journey from Paris, where he had been an artist and a seminarian, to Mt. Athos, where he would take up his vocation as a monk. He speaks of despair and the knowledge of God. The lives of saints are not a rational argument, per se, for the Christian…

“Do You Know Jesus?”

I have written in numerous posts about various aspects of conversion to the Orthodox Christian faith. Oftentimes there is an unspoken agreement between myself as writer and those who read in which we assume that we understand each other – that when I say “conversion” we all know what I mean. On reflection there are several very distinct kinds of conversions – though each has a relationship to the other. There is…

A Letter from Butyrskaya Prison – Pascha, 1928

Serge Schmemann, son of Fr. Alexander Schmemann, in his wonderful little book, Echoes of a Native Land, records a letter written from one of his family members of an earlier generation, who spent several years in the prisons of the Soviets and died there. The letter, written on the night of Pascha in 1928 is to a family member, “Uncle Grishanchik” (This was Grigory Trubetskoi who had managed to emigrate to Paris).…

Life from within our Death

The following is taken from Archimandrite Sophrony’s His Life is Mine. It is a deep word of encouragement to us all that in Christ healing is truly possible.  It is usual for the Christian to be aware concurrently of the prsence of the never-fading celestial glory and of the brooding cloud of death hanging over the world. Though the feeling of death torments the soul, it cannot extinguish the fire of faith. The…

An Orthodox Family

Yesterday, at least two of the comments on the post about my son’s birthday asked questions about the family and Orthodox conversion. This is extremely close to my heart – both because of the blessings we have enjoyed in our family – and the blessings and difficulties I have seen in others. I should quickly add that my own family then and now faces issues. In 1998, myself, my wife, my three…

The Necessity of Monastics

A month or so ago I received an email from a young protestant who wondered: “What good is monasticism?” His arguments and observations were pretty similar to others I’ve heard over the years. I recall my older brother once asking me, “If a hermit is in the desert and is very holy, what good does it do since no one knows he’s there.” These questions, of course, come from our modern mindset…