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,…

The Transfiguration of the World and the Life of the Church

For many centuries, the life of the Church (I am not here speaking particularly of the Orthodox Church though it applies even there) has been relegated to itself as institution and dispenser of the sacraments. Many of the the things we think of as intergral parts of the institution have only existed for a short while and do not constitute anything of eternal value to the Body of Christ. Parish Councils, to…

The Transfiguration of the Material World – Part 2

The transfiguration of the material world is not just a corollary of the doctrine of the Incarnation, but of the complete doctrine of salvation itself. Christ did not come and die, and rise again, only to make us better people. He came to make dead men live. He came to make a creation that is in the grip of death and decay become partakers of the incorruptible Life of heaven. Orthodoxy is…

Transfiguring the Material World – Christmas Through the Ages

I’ll have to ask for forgiveness at the outset on this post – mostly because of its speculative nature – something I generally prefer not to engage in – at least not for others to read. The Incarnation of Christ is significant in the course of our salvation – but we all too easily look at the story from a mere moral or soteriological point of view and fail to stop and…

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, Has shown to the world the light of wisdom. For by it those who worshipped the stars, Were taught by a star to adore Thee, The Sun of Righteousness. And to know Thee the Orient from on high, O Lord, Glory to Thee! Troparion for Christmas Day