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…

In Accordance with the Scriptures – Part 2

Another candidate for consideration within the New Testament (particularly the New Testament as Interpretation) is the Johanine Corpus, the writings of St. John.  I am particularly intruiged by its development of a theology of “glory.” Glory is not new to the Jewish Community. The glory of God inhabits (or once inhabited) the Temple. I would grant, in a mood of generosity, that early Christians might describe Christ as “glorified.” What becomes utterly…

The Grace of Repentance

From Archimandrite Sophrony’s On Prayer There, on the Holy Mountain, my life found its right track. Almost every day after the Liturgy I knew a feeling of Easter joy.And strange as it may seem, my constant prayer like some volcanic eruption proceeded from the profound despair that ahd taken over my heart. Two seemingly totally incompatible states met together in me. I am recording facts. I did not understand myself what was…

In Accordance with the Scriptures

This short phrase, “in accordance with the Scriptures,” occurs rather politely in the course of the Nicene Creed. It does not mean that what is described is described “according to the Scriptures,” that is, in a literal sense, but rather that these matters – on the third day rose again from the dead in accordance with the Scriptures, are matters that happened in fulfillment of the Scriptures themselves. It is, first off, a…

And the Word Became Flesh

Revealing to you the pre-eternal counsel, Gabriel came and stood before you, O Maiden, and in greeting said: “Rejoice, earth that has not been sown! Rejoice, burning bush that remains unconsumed! Rejoice, unsearchable depth! Rejoice, bridge that leads to Heaven! Rejoice, ladder raised on high that Jacob saw! Rejoice, divine jar of manna! Rejoice, deliverance from the curse! Rejoice, restoration of Adam; the Lord is with you!” From the Vesperal Stichera of…

Whither the Episcopal Church?

Retired Bishop Wantland of Eau Claire’s statement, in response to the recent rejection by the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops of the demands by the other Primates of the Anglican Communion is staggering: The Episcopal Church is no longer a Catholic body. It is no longer even a Christian one. Itis simply an embodiment of a corrupt, historically inaccurate, spirit of this age. And if the Anglican Communion does not see the Episcopal…