A Story of Repentance

One of my favorite books comes from the last years of the Soviet Union. It is the story of Tatiana Goricheva, a member of the “intelligentsia” and a Soviet-era dissident. Her book, Talking About God Is Dangerous, offers fascinating insights into both a period of time and the period of a human soul’s conversion by grace. The little volume is out of print but can be found on the internet for as little…

Fasting – Prayers by the Lake – XLI

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich XLI With fasting I gladden my hope in You, my Lord, Who are to come again. Fasting hastens my preparation for Your coming, the sole expectation of my days and nights. Fasting makes my body thinner, so that what remains can more easily shine with the spirit. While waiting for You, I wish neither to nourish myself with blood nor to take life–so that the animals may sense the…

The Difficulty of Lent

Many of our readers come from communities who use the Western calendar, on which today is the first day of Great Lent, Ash Wednesday. Orthodox Lent begins on at sundown this Sunday. This short reflection may be of help for us all. Great Lent is one of the most important spiritual undertakings in the course of the Orthodox Church year. There is nothing unusual asked of us, nothing that we do not…

The Peace of God – St. Silouan

The following small quotation is from the book Wisdom from Mount Athos: the Writings of Staretz Silouan 1866-1938 +++ We must always pray the Lord for peace of soul that we may the more easily fulfil the Lord’s commandments; for the Lord loves those who strive to do His will, and thus they attain profound peace in God. He who does the Lord’s will is content with all things, though he be…

Turning Points

On February 15, 1998, on the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, my family and I were received into the Orthodox Church by Chrismation, bringing both the end to a very long pilgrimage, and the beginning to one far longer. It is significant to myself and my family, that this year the calendar has come back around to where it was 11 years ago. Thus this Sunday, February 15, will be exactly eleven…

Living in the Un-holy Land

Generally, our language reserves the word “unholy” to mean something evil or positively wicked (now there’s an oxymoron). Of course we also live in a culture where not much, or nothing at all, is considered holy. We think we live in a neutral zone – a place that is merely secular. Of course, the modern use of the word “secular” is just that – modern. It is part of our post-Enlightenment culture…

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…

St. John of the Ladder on Anger

I continue with some thoughts on this important subject. This is taken from the great spiritual classic, The Ladder of Divine Ascent (chapter 8). There are a number of very worthy insights – quite similar to those found in Met. Jonah article referenced earlier. As the gradual pouring of water on a fire puts out the flame completely, so the tears of genuine mourning can extinguish every flame of anger and irascibility.…

Salvation in a Cloud of Witnesses

Perhaps more than any culture in history – America has championed the individual. The context for this cultural development was the nation’s historic resistance to the class structures of 17th and 18th century Europe (and later) as well as a positive response to certain intellectual concepts that were popular at the time of the nation’s independence. The European settlement of America in its early modern history was largely accomplished by individuals or…