He Shall Exalt the Humble and Meek

All heaven and earth exalt the humble Saints, and the Lord grants them the glory of being with Him. ‘Where I am, there shall also my servant be.’ The humility of the Mother of God is greater than any, wherefore all generations on earth exalt her, and all the heavenly hosts serve her; and this His Mother the Lord has given us to intercede for us and be our help. There is…

The Most Holy Mother of God

On August 15, the Orthodox Church (new calendar) commemorates the Dormition (falling asleep) of the Most Holy Mother of God. The feast is considered to be one of the 12 Great Feasts of the year and thus an integral part of the proclamation of gospel of Jesus Christ. Many who are not familiar with Orthodoxy, or its manner of understanding saints, easily see feast days and the veneration of saints as distractions…

The Seven Holy Maccabbees

August 1 is the Feast of the Precious and Life-Giving Wood of the Cross, but also the feast of the martyrdom of the Seven Maccabees. Since Protestant Christians do not include the books of First and Second Maccabees in their canon, they will be unfamiliar with this historically accurate and Godly tale of the courage of these holy martyrs from the Old Testament. In their honor I share the story of their…

The Feast of the Dormition of St. Anne

Today is the patronal festival of my parish, the feast of the Dormition of Righteous Anna, mother of the Theotokos. The details we know about her life, and that of her priest-husband, Righteous Joachim, are from sources within the Tradition (though not within the Scriptures). They are often pointed to as one of the great examples of married saints. Their story, like many in the Old Testament, include a time of barrenness…

Scattered Thoughts

We have noticed with sadness that nowadays men suffer dreadfully because their mind is fragmented. Imagination, which is only one of the mind’s activities, is overindulged and dominates men’s lives, leading some to hardness of heart due to pride, and others to mental illness. According to the teaching of the Gospel and the Scriptures, the mind works naturally only when it is united with the heart. Mind and heart are naturally joined…

The Fullness of the Fullness

It is frequently the case that Orthodox theology uses the word “fullness” to describe its understanding and life of the gospel. This is a far more apt expression than simply saying “we have the truth.” Fullness, I think, better describes something. Truth, in our modern vocabulary, can mean something quite flat – as in a correct answer on a test. However, “fullness” describes not only the truth but the truth with an…

Why the Intercession of the Saints is a Dogma

Biblical interpretation and doctrine based on Scripture have certain parameters that anyone rightly handling the word of truth must observe. The particular rule that I have in mind in this posting is the simple avoidance of anachronisms. That is, if an idea did not exist at the time of the New Testament, or shortly thereafter, but is, in fact, a modern development, then, whatever the writer might have meant, he could not…

True Knowledge of God

The Elder Sophrony made a strong distinction between the knowledge we gain by rational speculation and the knowledge of God that comes as a gift of grace. He used the term “dogmatic consciousness” to express the knowledge of God as found in the lives of the saints and great ascetics. It is not a contradiction of the dogma of the Church, but an existential encounter with God that ineffably confirms the teaching…

Grace and “the Inverted Pyramid”

Fr. Sophrony [Sakharov], in his book on St. Silouan, presents this theory of the “inverted pyramid.” He says that the empirical cosmic being is like a pyramid: at the top sit the powerful of the earth, who exercise dominion over the nations (cf. Matt. 20:25), and at the bottom stand the masses. But the spirit of man, by nature [unfallen nature as given by God], demands equality, justice and freedom of spirit,…