Why You Can’t Do Orthodoxy By the Book (or the Blog)

There is a grave problem with Orthodoxy – you can’t do it by the book. Even less so, can you do it by the internet (he says as he types away at his blog). The reason for all this is simple: we teach that God has revealed Himself as Person. As I’ve noted before, God cannot be known in general or in a non-personal way. Indeed, it is God Who reveals to…

Bad Icons

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).  It is a teaching of the Fathers concerning the holy icons that we do not truly “see” them if we have no reverence for that which they depict. Icons are “windows into heaven,” but…

A Prayer for a Church Building

My weekend is spent in and around a Church building (as is most of the rest of the week). We do not care for these great gifts nearly as we ought, nor do they play the role in our culture that the Orthodox faith teaches. It is an area where we can pray for great growth. I have spent time worshipping in a warehouse (when St. Anne’s was just beginning) and in…

Giving Thanks

It’s the day after Thanksgiving – I was eating yesterday with family in S.C. and far away from computers. I’m still eating today but found a little time and computer connection in order to make a short post and catch up on mail. Fr. Alexander Schmemann taught that one way of understanding the sin in the Garden of Eden, was that we ate the only food there that had not been given…

Hidden Wonders

Being a good boy from the South, I learned long ago that certain things remain hidden. A woman’s age, certain stories about the family, how much a man is worth (though we were too poor to care much about that one). Even religion could be a hidden thing – at least for some. Among the most hidden things of all were things and people that involved pain. I was no stranger to…

Things Are More Than They Appear

Today is the feast of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the the Temple. We celebrate the event in the life of the Virgin Mary when she is presented in the Temple by her parents, Joachim and Anna. The hymnography of the feast is rich and wonderful. Like much of the writings of the Fathers, the Church’s liturgical writings love irony. It loves the irony of the strong become weak,…

The Slowness of Grace

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 to scorch in the sun, to endure the cold wind, the scorching wind, to die of thirst or be drowned in the rain. but if we do not…

Fasting for Christmas

Last Wednesday, November 15, the Orthodox Church began its “Winter Lent,” the fast that prepares for the feast of the Nativity. Somewhat similar to Advent, it is the older practice, a full 40 day fast, that reminds us that Christmas, joy that it is, is a foretaste of Pascha. The Cave of Bethlehem reminds us of the Cave of Hades (icons of the Descent into Hell picture the Cave of Hades). The…

A Washington Family Weekend

I am in Washington, D.C., this weekend to attend the wedding of a niece, and share the joy of a family whose youngest generation is now doing things like getting married. Like many American families, we are scattered across the churchly plain. My parents and I are Orthodox. I have a brother whose family is Episcopalian (including the niece getting married). I have another brother who is Catholic. Sometimes our discussions are…