Without Expecting in Return

Our culture is famously ordered along commercial lines. We work, we earn, we spend, we spend until the card maxes out. Though there need not necessarily be any conflict between a free economy and the practice of the faith, many find Mammon to be a formidable foe. On November 1, the Orthodox Church celebrates the memory of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, the “unmercenary physicians.” The short life given in the OCA’s official…

Silence and Tradition

If again we wished to oppose (Tradition) to all that belongs to the reality of the word, it would be necessary to say the the Tradition is Silence. “He who possesses in truth the word of Jesus can hear even its silence,” says St. Ignatius of Antioch [to the Ephesians, XV,2]. As far as I know this text has never been used in the numerous studies which quote patristic passages on the…

Can This Really Be the End?

O, Mama, can this really be the end? To be stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues again. Bob Dylan   Ok. I’ll confess it right up front – I’m a Dylan fan. It shows my age and generation. My children have had to learn to put up with his voice, but more than that, to put up with a parent who seems to find lines from Dylan songs that fit…

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,…