Scarcity and Abundance in a One-Storey Universe

We stand mournfully around the grave, letting the strains of the hymn find their resolution in the final chord. The priest approaches the coffin, now closed and ready for lowering into the grave. The closing of the grave begins with a single handful of dirt. The priest tosses the dirt with the words: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” Fullness seems strangely contradictory to the mood of a funeral.…

The Mystery of God

Unless we start out with a feeling of awe and astonishment – with what is often called a sense of the numinous – we shall make little progress on the Way. When Samuel Palmer first visited William Blake, the old man asked him how he approached the work of painting. “With fear and trembling,” Palmer replied. “Then you’ll do,” said Blake. The Greek Fathers liken man’s encounter with God to the experience…

The Slowness of Grace

This is a reprint from November of 2006. I’m not trying to be lazy here – but to bring out some things that I think worth reading twice.  From Prayer by the Elder Sophrony At times prayer seems over-slow in bringing results, and life is so short. Instinctively we cry, “Make haste unto me.” But He does not always respond at once. Like fruit on a tree , our soul is left…

Praying Like a Publican – A Reprint

Sometimes I want to say things I’ve already said. My parishioners have apparently learned to put up with this as my children did long ago. The subject of this posting came up recently in a sermon (probably not for the first time – but who can remember?). It is not all that is to be said about prayer – but it should be said sometime and is said too infrequently. If you…

Some Further Thoughts on the Atonement

One of the most peculiar statements relating to the Atonement can be found in Revelation 13:8 where Christ is descibed as the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth.” In a similar fashion we read in 1 Peter 1:18-20: You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that…

A Project to Come

I have started work on a Blog project that I’m entitling “Catechesis Project.” It is to be a slow writing of catechetical materials designed for those inquiring into Orthodoxy. There is a wealth of material out there, and I use everything I can get my hands on, but I still haven’t found any one thing that does some of what I would like to be able to do with Inquirers and Catechumens…

What’s At Stake in the Atonement

One of the more common topics both on this blog and on a number of other Orthodox sites are questions about the Atonement. In general the Atonement refers to how it is we understand that Christ reconciled us to God. When we say, “Christ died for our sins,” what does it mean? The questions of the Orthodox tend to center around the doctrine of the Substitutionary Atonement, which in conservative Evangelical circles…

The Heart of Silence

The heart itself is but a small vessel, yet dragons are there, and there are also lions; there are poisonous beasts and all the treasures of evil. But there too is God, the angels, the life and the kingdom, the light and the apostles, the heavenly cities and the treasuries of grace—all things are there. (H.43.7) St. Macarius One of the great difficulties in knowing silence is not to be found in…

The Silence in which We Dwell

There is a strange noisiness to our culture. Most of us live very busy lives in which time itself is noisy. My phones (there always seem to be two) are primed to go off at any moment and the very details that surround us carry a kind of noise about them. It is rare that the world would offer us silence. And yet, the Fathers teach us about Hesychia (silence) in which…