The Mystery of the Forerunner

There is a unanimous witness in the Christian gospels concerning the place of St. John the Baptist. In the Orthodox world he is generally referred to as the Forerunner. All of the gospels agree that he plays a key role in the coming of the Messiah. It is a role that is largely ignored by most of the Christian world. The gospels make reference to two Scriptures when they mention St. John.…

God’s Grandmother

Today is the patronal feast of my parish, St. Anne. St. Anne (Anna) was the wife of St. Joachim. Joachim and Anna were the parents of the Virgin Mary, according to the early tradition of the Church. In Orthodox commemorations they are referred to as the “ancestors of God.” It is a shocking title, perhaps even more shocking than Mary’s “Mother of God.” Christmas devotion has accustomed many Christians to think about…

By Your Prayers

It is a common phrase in Orthodoxy, “By your prayers.” it is a recognition that we cannot make this journey alone. I have days when I think I’m doing ok, and then there are much longer periods when I realize that only by the prayers of others and the mercies of God will I make this journey in any shape or form. I am probably more fortunate than many. I have a…

A Mystery Solved

If you practice an excellent virtue without perceiving the taste of its aid, do not marvel; for until a man becomes humble, he will not receive a reward for his labor. Recompense is given, not for labor, but for humility. -St. Isaac of Syria +++ I cannot count the number of times that people have complained of their lack of “progress” in the spiritual life. In our cause and effect model of…

Mother Alexandra and Her Guardian Angel

The following is a short excerpt from Mother Alexandra’s  (former Princess Ileana of Romania) small book, The Holy Angels. It is by far the best treatment I have seen on the subject despite its short length. This short account tells of her encounter with her guardian angel at age seven. In the service of Orthodox Baptism, the priest specifically prays that an angel of light be assigned to the life of the child…

Christos Voskrese

This delightful youtube video was posted a year ago. One of our readers and occasional commenter,  Dejan, (without a doubt my favorite Serb) provided the English translation.  The words are from a poem by St. Nikolai Velimirovich who served for a time as the Rector of St. Tikhon’s Seminary – truly one of the great Serbian saints of the modern era.  Translation: People rejoice, nations hear: Christ is risen, and brings the…

In the Tomb of Lazarus

Largely ignored by much of Christendom, the Orthodox today celebrate “Lazarus Saturday” in something of a prequel to next weekend’s Pascha. It is, indeed a little Pascha just before the greater one. And this, of course, was arranged by Christ Himself, who raised His friend Lazarus from the dead as something of a last action before entering Jerusalem and beginning His slow ascent to Golgotha through the days of next week (Orthodox…

It's Nothing Personal

One of the most frightening phrases in the English language is: “It’s nothing personal.” It almost always precedes something bad. For someone to tell me that what they are about to do is not personal is already a confession of sin. But why should the word personal carry such weight? In the life of the Eastern Church few words could be more important. Oddly there is not a single definition for the…

St. Silouan on the Love of God

I cannot remain silent concerning the people, whom I love so greatly that I must weep for them. I cannot remain silent because my soul ever grieves for the people of God, and I pray for them with tears. I cannot refrain from making known to you, brethren, the mercy of God and the wiles of the enemy. Forty years have gone by since the grace of the Holy Spirit taught me…

The Desert and the Struggle in a Flat Land

Originally posted in August of 2007 as part of the One-Storey Universe Series One of the best-known sayings to have come from the Desert Fathers is: “Stay in your cell and your cell will teach you everything.” To a large degree the saying extols the virtue of stability. Moving from place to place never removes the problem – it only postpones the inevitable. Somewhere, sometime we have to face the heart of…