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…

The Problem of Goodness

From my first class in Philosophy 101 in college, the so-called “Problem of Evil” has been tossed up as the “clincher” in arguments against the existence of God. How can a good God allow innocent people to suffer? The most devastating case ever made on the subject was in Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov. Ivan Karamazov, in the chapter entitled “Rebellion,” which is the chapter preceding the famous “Grand Inquisitor,” makes the details of…

His Life Is Mine

The following is an excerpt from Rosemary Edmond’s introduction to Archimandrite Sophrony’s His Life is Mine. In these paragraph’s she describes the great monk’s journey from Paris, where he had been an artist and a seminarian, to Mt. Athos, where he would take up his vocation as a monk. He speaks of despair and the knowledge of God. The lives of saints are not a rational argument, per se, for the Christian…

The Despair of Unbelief

I am gradually learning things that I have not known before – or only suspected. Posting occasionally as I have on the subject of atheism, and receiving occasional reponses from atheists, is an education in itself. There is atheism as I imagine it to be (I suppose what it would look like were I one) and there is atheism as it has historically expressed itself (in such writers as Nietsche or Sartre)…