The Gift of Hospitality

This delightful gem from the Desert Fathers comes from Benedicta Ward’s The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers (157) There was a saint in Egypt who dwelt in a desert place. Far away from him there was a Manichean who was a priest (at least what they call a priest). Once, when this man was going to visit one of his confederates, night overtook him in the place where the orthodox saint was…

As the End Draws Near – Silence

St. John the Baptist said of Christ that His “winnowing fork is in His hand.” (Lk 3:17) That farm implement is a tool for separating the wheat from the chaff, that is, to separate the edible part of the wheat from the husk that is to be discarded. It is, in that sense, an instrument of judgment. The character of Christ, who is the Image according to which we are created, is…

Theophany – Showing the World to be the World

I was standing beside the Jordan River, somewhere along its trek through Israel. I was with a group of pilgrims led by Met. Kallistos Ware gathered for the Great Blessing of the Waters. Somehow, it seemed that I was the only priest who had brought an epitrachelion (stole), so I loaned it to the Metropolitan for the service. As the service began, I noticed a school of fish at the edge of…

The Last Christmas – Ever

  This Christmas was the last Christmas – ever. Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. Wherever He is, there is the beginning and the end of all things. If Christ is truly present in this year’s Christmas, then it is the last Christmas – and the first Christmas. And if statements like this make your hair hurt – then read on. Our common way of thinking…

And Honesty for All

There are “bogus” Scriptures out there – special “revelations” to various characters (generally self-described as “prophets” and such). They have as a hallmark, a kind of self-promotion and a carefully crafted message to “solve” various religious problems. I’ll not name names lest I wind up on someone’s hit list. I’ll let the reader fill-in the blanks. However, there is something quite striking about the writings of the Bible, both Old and New…

The Danger and Shame of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is so terribly hard. On a psychological level, it feels dangerous. The shame engendered by any insult or injury is our experience of vulnerability, and we instinctively react to protect ourselves. That, we must understand, is not a sin, it is an instinct that is a gift from God. The example of Christ, who did not “turn His face from the spitting and the shame,” is also the example of just…

A Fast of Righteousness

I am often puzzled by the things theologians say about “righteousness.” First, there are a striking number of different treatments. That alone should tell anyone that we are standing on the ground of “theory” rather than knowledge when we hear pronouncements about the word. It is, of course, an important word. “Seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness…,” Christ commands in the Sermon on the Mount. I think I know…

Thanksgiving as Mystical Communion

“This is good. This is bad.” In one form or another, we divide the world into light and dark. It might take the form, “I like this. I do not like that.” What we find easy are the things we see as good and the things we like. If a day is filled with such things, we are likely to be happy. If the day is marked by things we do not…

Get Deep for Christmas

St. Athanasius College has extended me the invitation to do a four class series on the Incarnation. I am using the occasion to look into the depths of the Incarnation and the basic language that the Church uses for expressing it as theology. It undergirds virtually all Orthodox teaching. I understand that the class will be recorded and made available for viewing later as well to those who register for it. Come…

Providence and the Good God

How do you see the world? Is it deeply troubled, teetering on the brink of disaster? Are dark forces lurking, quietly undermining even the possibility of doing good? There is much talk, here and there, about the nature of the “Orthodox mind.” Whether it is discussed under the heading of “acquiring an Orthodox phronema” (which can be very off-putting for some), or simply coming to understand what constitutes an Orthodox worldview, the…