I Can’t Make It Without God

I introduced some of Tito Colliander’s Way of the Ascetics. I offer here the second chapter as well. I have been in Detroit, Michigan attending a conference and will return to the website on Tuesday evening if I’m not able to do any work in Detroit. May God bless. Chapter Two: ON THE INSUFFICIENCY OF HUMAN STRENGTH THE holy Fathers say with one voice: The first thing to keep in mind is never…

Learning to Sin

As strange as it sounds – human beings have to “learn to sin.” Not that we need any help doing the things that sinners do – all of that comes quite easily to us. But we have to learn that we are sinners – and this does not come easily to us. Oddly, I first heard this when listening to one of Stanley Hauerwas’ lectures at Duke. “You have to teach someone…

Back to the Cross

I feel a need to tie a few loose ends together – or at the very least to make a few connections. It’s possible as in this last week to drink rather deeply at one of the many wells of living Orthodoxy such as the writings of Fr. Sophrony. It’s also possible in doing so to almost need to come up for air. The waters are truly deep. His teaching on “dogmatic…

A Closing Word Tonight from St. Silouan

A few paragraph’s from Fr. Sophrony’s St. Silouan the Athonite. It was a great moment in the history of human thought and spiritual experience when Descartes pronounced the words, ‘Cogito, ergo sum’ (‘I think, therefore I am’). Another philosopher, one of our day, understood life rather differently, putting it, ‘I love, therefore I am, for I esteem love a more profound motive for searching out the reality of our existence.’ Others might…

Icons And Coming Home Again

A recent news story reported the return of icons to Cypress from the United States, where they had apparently surfaced after being missing for a fair number of years. The museum in whose possession they had come worked with the Church in Cypress to see them restored to their rightful place. This is not the first time such an event has occurred, even in recent times. Back in mid-December I wrote about…

Getting Started

Tito Colliander wrote a small spiritual classic, The Way of the Ascetics. I heartily commend it to all. Asceticism is not simply the domain of monks, or something foreign to Christianity, much less is it opposed to salvation by grace. Asceticism is not an earning of grace, but a “doing of the Word.” It is obeying the commandments of Christ and not just talking about them. I am offering here the short…

The Triodion Comes (and I Can’t Wait)

Preparing bulletin and sermon for tomorrow, the realization that we begin the Lenten Triodion tomorrow brings with it the “crashing down around you” realization that Great Lent will be upon us shortly. For the non Orthodox, the Lenten Triodion is the book that contains all of the specific material needed for the Lenten season. We are now entering the “pre-Lenten” season. If your memory goes back to 1928 Prayer Book (or earlier)…

The Knowledge We Should Seek

Just another few paragraphs from Father Sophrony’s St. Silouan the Athonite. He is here even more explicit on the difference between the knowledge acquired by experience and that acquired in a more abstract manner: God is neither envious, selfish nor ambitious. Humbly and patiently He pursues all men on all life’s paths, and each of us can therefore come to know God to some degree, not only in but outside the Church,…

Father Sophrony on “Dogmatic Consciousness”

I introduced the phrase “dogmatic consciousness” yesterday – a phrase coined by Fr. Sophrony Sakharov to describe the acquisition of grace in a manner that is truly engrafted within our lives and mind. Today some more thoughts: The Dogmatic consciousness I have here in mind is the fruit of spiritual experience, independent of the logical brain’s activity. The writings in which the Saints reported their experience were not cast in the form…

The Patience of the Saints

Christ said, “In patience possess your souls” (Luke 21:19). Orthodoxy presumes patience on our parts. The services take patience – they last a good length of time and without patience your mind will never stop wandering. Catechumenates can take a while. Learning many of the things of an Orthodox way of life cannot be rushed. Only time can make a difference. These are hard words in a culture where time is money…