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…

John the Baptist and Forerunner of the Lord

We approach the feast of the Nativity of the Forerunner of Christ – a feast noted around my household for also being the birthday of my wife (and of her brother). Thus we celebrate and are sometimes slightly distracted from the ecclesiatical meaning of the day. But a family cannot be faulted for the joy it takes in its mother, nor I in my spouse. But I want to turn my thoughts…

To Know God

I have had some correspondence recently on the subject of knowing God. The knowledge of God, generally spoken of in a very experiential manner, is an absolute foundation in Orthodox theology. Nothing replaces it – no dogmatic formula – no Creed – not even Scripture – though Orthodoxy would see none of these things as separate from the knowledge of God. But the questions I have received are very apt. In a…

On the Shoulders of Giants

One of the peculiar things (though not really) about the Orthodox Church in America (and by this I mean all the jurisdictions) is the fact that in a little over 200 years on this continent, we have been blessed by the showing forth of many saints. And not only have saints been shown forth, but many of those saints have been among our hierarchs. Men such as St. Innocent of Alaska and Metropolitan…

New Martyrs from Optina

There is an excellent account of three Monk Martyrs of Optina Monastery in Russia on the website of Handmaidleah. She is a frequent visitor to this blog, always with insightful comments. Her account of these new saints is well worth a read. Her blog, Christ is in our Midst is on the blogroll here at Glory to God for All Things.

The False and True Self

Part of the experience of being involved in religious activities in the late 60’s and early 70’s was the not infrequent encounters with members of cults (they seemed to be everywhere). I’m not certain how I would define a cult (not purely by doctrine but certainly by its destruction and control of its members as whole persons). I worked in a “coffee house” (which in that particular time period, oddly enough, was…

The Faith of the Apostles

We have learned from no others the plan of our salvation than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and at a later period, by the will of God, handed down (tradiderunt) to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith… Matthew issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while…

Small Things, Great Hopes

On the surface it was not a world-shaking event. A friend of the parish loaned me a DVD last week. The DVD was a Russian DVD – with English subtitles. Again, not a world-shaking event. Thus, let me take a few minutes to explain why I felt the earth move. The movie in question is The Island, or Ostrov, to call it by its Russian name. It has won a number of…

Humility and Love

The following is from the Afterword of Father Sophrony’s Saint Silouan the Athonite. If we cast our thoughts back over the bimillenary history of Christianity we are dazzled by the enormous wealth of Christian culture. Vast libraries full of the grandiose works of the human mind and spirit – innumerable academies, universities, institutes, where hundreds of thousands of young people drink thirstily of the living waters of wisdom. Tens of thousands of…

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…