Justice and Mercy – With Thanks to the Pontificator

Fr. Al Kimel has recently posted an article (The Injustice of Grace) on the triumph of God’s mercy that is well worth reading.  The following is an excerpt in which he quotes passages from St. Isaac the Syrian and St. Antony the Great: The seventh century ascetical master, St. Isaac the Syrian, boldly challenged the portrayal of God as one who rewards the virtuous and punishes the wicked: Do not call God just,…

You Can Never Be Too Kind

When I was first assigned as lay pastor, and later, as priest for the fledgling mission in Knoxville, TN, I asked my Archbishop for advice. He had served and been a successful Orthodox missionary in the South for better than 30 years. His simple advice to me was, “I have made it a rule always to accept an invitation to speak.” His method generally followed that model. He practiced hospitality and kindness…

The Mystery of Salvation

There is a song I recall from my childhood – sung by John Hartford – in which the operative phrase is, “I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t been there…” It runs the permutations on life’s possibilities. One thing leads to another. It is this connectedness that always seems to trump the power of choice that adds one of the greater mysteries to life. I know that I “chose” to marry my…

Leaving the Secular Life

The default position of America is secular protestantism. I say this is the default position and mean by it – that without effort and care – we all find ourselves thinking and acting out of a secular protestant mindset. Of course, I need to offer a definition for my terms. By secular protestantism (and I mean no insult to Protestants by the term) I mean a generalized belief in God – but…

The God Who Is Beautiful

Everything is beautiful in a person when he turns toward God, and everything is ugly when is is turned away from God. Fr. Pavel Florensky I come to the end of a day that has been filled with other activity and little time for writing. But in my reading at bedtime I came across the above quote. It obviously contains a world of truth, indeed, from a certain perspective it contains the…

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…

The Church of the Unanxious God

The story of the conversion of Metropolitan Kallistos Ware to Orthodoxy has more or less passed over into modern Orthodox legend. He accidentally stumbles into a Vigil service in order to get out of a rain storm. Discovering Orthodoxy and its beauty he begins to inquire into conversion only to be told to go back to his Anglican Church (he was not a clergyman, by the way). When eventually he does convert,…