For Our Sake

Today, is suspended upon the Cross, He Who suspended the Earth upon the waters. A crown of thorns crowns Him, Who is the King of the angels. He, Who wrapped the Heavens in clouds, is clothed with the purple of mockery. He, Who freed Adam in the Jordan, received buffetings. He was transfixed with nails, Who is the Bridegroom of the Church. He was pierced with a lance, Who is the Son…

Of Thy Mystical Supper

  On this day the Church remembers Our Lord’s institution of the Sacrament of His Body and Blood. The Liturgy is that of St. Basil’s, which is used on all the Sundays of Lent as well. It is one of the most complete statements of the faith, despite its brevity (compared to Catechism or a book). Printed here is a portion of the Anaphora of St. Basil’s Liturgy, in the translation of Archbishop Dmitri…

The Lamb – Slain from the Foundation of the World

It was granted to him [the beast] to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If anyone has an ear, let him hear. These are strange verses from the…

He Who Has Ears to Hear

I am convinced after years of preaching and listening to preaching that the bulk of Scripture has become lost to our ears. We hear it, but fail to “hear” it. And I do not mean this merely in the moral sense (doubtless we fail to be “doers” of the word). Rather, I am aware of a kind of dullness, of seeing a very narrow set of things that become the lens through…

The Bridegroom Comes

Behold, the Bridegroom comes at midnight, and blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching; and again, unworthy is the servant whom He shall find heedless.  Beware, therefore, O my soul, do not be weighed down with sleep, lest you be given up to death and lest you be shut out of the Kingdom.  But rouse yourself crying: Holy, holy, holy, are Thou, O our God.  Through the Theotokos, have mercy…

Reaching Holy Week

Holy Week has long been my favorite time of year. I remember coming to it rather slowly in my college years. My wife and I were active Episcopalians at the time (while in college we volunteered to be in charge of the junior youth group – some 60 teenagers – that qualifies as being “active”). For whatever reasons I had never paid much attention to Holy Week before. There was Palm Sunday…

A Last Minute Word to Catechumens

“Are we really going to do this?” Those were the words I greeted by dear wife with upon waking in our hotel room on February 15, 1998. We were in Columbia, SC, for the purpose of being received into the Orthodox Church by Father Peter Smith (then Rector of Holy Apostles in Columbia). Along with us were our four children, the oldest being 17 and the youngest age 7. This day that…

The Incarnation: Cause of All Things Made, And Caused by None

The title of this post is a chapter heading in George Gabriel’s Mary the Untrodden Portal of God. Gabriel occasionally strikes hard at the West and the book would perhaps be strengthened with a less combative approach to the differences of East and West in the faith (my own opinion), but I liked the book and found Gabriel addressing many things, well foot-noted, that are not found in many other places. I share…

That You May not Grieve as Others Do Who Have No Hope

Most of the services and words of Holy Week are the ones I expect – I’ve heard them before and though something will leap out at me as though I had never heard it (this always happens), I still feel somewhat secure that I know what is coming. In the Orthodox calendar, Holy Week begins on Lazarus Saturday, the day before Palm Sunday. The services bear some similarity, as is appropriate, to…

The Boundary of Death

Having spent two-and-a-half years as a Hospice Chaplain, I had opportunity to be present to over 200 deaths (that does not include the many I have witnessed in my years in ordained ministry. As you sit with someone who is dying, there finally arises a boundary beyond which you cannot go: death itself. I can pray for the “departure of the soul from the body” (the priestly service done at the time…