The Presence in the Absence

There is a strange aspect to the presence of God in the world around us. That aspect is His apparent absence. I read with fascination (because I am no philosopher, much less a scientist) the discussions surrounding “intelligent design” and the like. I gather that everybody agrees that the universe is just marvelous and wonderfully put together (I can’t think of a better universe). But then begins the parting of ways as…

The Kind of Kingdom Our God Would Have Us Serve

The Christian community’s openness to new life and our conviction of the sovereignty of God over that life are but two sides of the same conviction. Christians believe that we have the time in this existence to care for new life, especially as such life is dependent and vulnerable, because it is not our task to rule this world or to “make our mark on history.” We can thus take the time…

The Onion

Once upon a time there was a wicked-wicked woman, who died. And she left behind her not one single good deed. The devils seized her and threw her into the fiery lake. But her guardian angel stood, and thought: ‘What good deed of hers might I remember, in order to tell God?’ He remembered, and told God: ‘She pulled up an onion in the kitchen garden,’ he said, ‘and gave it to…

“Save Me Whether I Want It or Not”

A Prayer to Our Lord Jesus Christ My most merciful and all-merciful God, O Lord Jesus Christ! In Thy great love, Thou didst come down and become flesh in order to save all. Again, I pray Thee, save me by Grace! If Thou shouldst save me because of my deeds, it would not be a gift, but merely a duty. Truly, Thou aboundest in graciousness and art inexpressibly merciful! Thou hast said,…

The Icon as Proof of God’s Existence

God “adorns himself in magnificence and clothes himself with beauty.” Man stands amazed and contemplates the glory whose light causes a hymn of praise to burst forth from the heart of every creature. The Testamentum Domini gives us the following prayer: “Let them be filled with the Holy Spirit…so they can sing a doxology and give you praise and glory forever.” An icon is the same kind of doxology but in a…

The Descent into Hades

Charles Williams, one of C.S. Lewis’ circle of friends, once wrote a book entitled, The Descent into Hell. In it he chronicles the slow inexorable damnation of a soul. Choices made or not made – a chronicle more of spiritual ennui than of willful rebellion – it is a very sobering novel. There is an understanding of hell that goes far beyond the typical lake of fire and burning Gehenna. Those images,…

An Update on the Pontificator and Limbo

Al Kimel, writing on Pontifications, has posted another article on Limbo, this time doing a masterful job of stating quite clearly why the doctrine is wrong, why children, unbaptized, still enjoy the bliss of heaven. His reason is simple: the love of God. The problem that has plagued the West on this subject is accurately analyzed as well: the false assumptions by St. Augustine, et. al. concerning what we know. Al has…

Worship and the Knowledge of God

We prove God’s existence by worshiping Him and not by advancing so-called proofs. We have here the liturgical and iconographic argument for the existence of God. We arrive at a solid belief in the existence of God through a leap over what seems true, over the Pascalian certitude. According to an ancient monastic saying, “Give your blood and receive the Spirit.” Paul Evdokimov Evdokimov’s insight follows quite literally the pattern of the…

In Limbo No More

Al Kimel, over at Pontifications, has posted an excellent article that supports the Vatican’s possible abandonment of the doctrine of Limbo, that is, a doctrine that consigns unbaptized babies to somewhere other than the Beatific Vision of Heaven (in some Catholic accounts, limbo was a place of natural bliss, in others a place of torment.) He references an article by Fr. John Breck which is an excellent Orthodox statement on the subject.…

Saving Beauty

  “God will save the World Through Beauty”   This saying, often attributed to Fyodor Dostoevsky, never occurs in precisely this form in his novels – though the idea is present in such a strong sense that the phrase is correctly attributed to him. It is a phrase that is easily misunderstood. For Dostoevsky, in good Orthodox fashion, beauty is far more than a matter of aesthetics – it is the very…