Repentance and the Kingdom

…In the words of St. John Climacus, “Repentance is the daughter of hope and the denial of despair.” It is not despondency but eager expectation; it is not to feel that one has reached an impasse, but to take the way out. It is not self-hatred but the affirmation of my true self as made in God’s image. To repent is to look, not downward at my own shortcomings, but upward at…

Crushing the Heads of Dragons

Every feast day in Orthodoxy is connected to the Feast of Pascha, because Pascha is God’s great act of salvation. However, some feasts show this connection more clearly than others. Three feasts in the year share the same pattern of services: Pascha, Nativity, and Theophany. Each has a Vesperal Liturgy on its Eve and a Vigil the night before. The icons of the three feasts are strikingly similar, with Christ descending into…

Resting in God

The Pulley (1633) by George Herbert  When God at first made man, Having a glass of blessings standing by; Let us (said he) pour on him all we can; Let the world’s riches, which dispersed lie, Contract into a span.   So strength first made a way; Then beauty flowed, then wisdom, honour, pleasure: When almost all was out, God made a stay, Perceiving that alone of all his treasure Rest in…

Ignorance and God

I am an ignorant man, despite posting writings on all kinds of things. But make no mistake – I am an ignorant man. Thus, I would always counsel any reader to remember, these are the writings of an ignorant man. Why would I say this? Because it is true. How am I ignorant? I am as most of us are – I do not see the world clearly for what it is.…

Living in Difficult Times

One of the most influential books in my life crossed my path during my college years. It was a collection of essays, edited and contributed to by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. From Under the Rubble offered more insight than the then more popular novels and the Gulag Achipelago that had vaulted the writer into his position of fame. The essays made it clear that this writer – always described as a “Soviet Dissident” in…

Weeping with the Mother of God

Abba Isaac said: “Once I was sitting with Abba Poemen, and I saw that he was in an ecstasy; and since I used to speak very openly with him, I made a prostration before him and asked him, ‘Tell me, where were you?’ And he did not want to tell me. But when I pressed him, he replied: ‘My thoughts were with St. Mary the Mother of God, as she stood and…

St. Basil the Great

The Orthodox Church offers a number of different liturgies during the year – mostly St. John Chrysostom’s and, during Lent St. Basil’s, as well as on a few other occasions. The Pre-Sanctified Liturgy, attributed to St. Gregory the Great is used on weekdays during Lent. But every priest I know has a special love for St. Basil’s Liturgy. I was ordained at the Liturgy of St. Basil, and my first Liturgy was…

The End of What

I do not know the source, though I think it was an American, who said, “It may not be the end times, but it rhymes with it.” I have probably misremembered the quote and changed it completely in my mind. But the statement holds true for all of the times after the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. We live in the end times, and though the times I live in may not…

What We Cannot Change

There is no doubt that God is changing the world – though most of this work is hidden. A strange part of this hiddenness is the work that God does within us. The work is not entirely hidden – I can look back and see change that has occurred in my life – it’s just that it helps sometimes to live long enough to see it. Human beings seem to change at…

Transfiguration of the World Where You Are

I am traveling in the latter part of this week, going home to see parents and in-laws (which for me means going to South Carolina). As I posted in answer to an earlier question, we cannot “change the world,” even if this is an eschatological goal of the Kingdom. Political movements speak of transforming the world – it is not speech that originates in the Church. In the name of lofty projects,…