Who God Would Have Us Be

When man stands before the throne of God, when he has fulfilled all that God has given him to fulfill, when all sins are forgiven, all joy restored, then there is nothing else for him to do but to give thanks. Eucharist (thanksgiving) is the state of perfect man. Eucharist is the life of paradise. Eucharist is the only full and real response of man to God’s creation, redemption and gift of…

The Secret Hand of God

Now Moses built an altar and called its name The-Lord-My-Refuge; for with a secret hand the Lord wars with Amalek from generation to generation  (Exodus 17:16 LXX). After a number of decades as a Christian pastor, I am convinced that most of what God does in our lives and in our world remains hidden. I have many thoughts as to why this is so – but that it is so, I have…

An Unnecessary Existence

In Dostoevsky’s The Demons, the character, Kirillov, is insanely fascinated with freedom. He cannot bear the fact that he did not choose his own existence. Life is a “given.” In what must be seen as a parable of the radical thought of the 19th century, Kirillov determines to kill himself, the only act of true freedom he can take. His insight about the necessity of his own existence and its lack of…

A Life of Thanksgiving

Everyone capable of thanksgiving is capable of salvation. Fr. Alexander Schmemann   I have just completed a week in New Mexico, visiting a monastery and leading a retreat in Santa Fe. One of the retreat participants reminded me of this post on giving thanks and shared how helpful it had been for her. We are coming to a season where Americans think of thanksgiving – though our holiday is often expressed in…

The Luck of the Draw

I have heard Fr. Thomas Hopko quote his father-in-law, Fr. Alexander Schmemann, many times as saying: “Spirituality consists in how you deal with what you’ve been dealt.” The image, of course, is of playing cards. Fr. Alexander’s point is that the circumstances of our lives are beyond our control – our spiritual lives consist in how we respond to what is beyond our control. It is home-spun wisdom. There is another image that…

The Morning Prayer of the Last Elders of Optina

I have loved this prayer for years and found it essential in beginning the day. Key phrases have a way of coming back throughout the events of each day. It is worth committing to heart. O Lord, grant that I may meet all that this coming day brings to me with spiritual tranquility. Grant that I may fully surrender myself to Thy holy Will. At every hour of this day, direct and…