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…

Hidden Saints

It is surely the case that most saints are hidden. St. Paul says that “our true life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3).  I believe that it is for our own sakes that these things are hidden. We’re told that the Theotokos “pondered these things in her heart” (Luke 2:19) which is a world away from walking around asking everybody, “What do you think about this?” There is much about…

We’re All In This Together

Some further thoughts on our connectedness, particularly in the Spiritual Life: The ontological unity of humanity is such that every separate individual overcoming evil in himself inflicts such a defeat on cosmic evil that its consequences have a beneficial effect on the destinies of the whole world. On the other hand, the nature of cosmic evil is such that, vanquished in certain human hypostases [persons] it suffers a defeat the significance and…

Orthodoxy and the Family

One of the topics not discussed much (even among the Orthodox) is the phenomenon of “mixed families.” I’m not sure if that is the right term, but it’s one I’m using. Among converts to Orthodoxy, many are the only Orthodox in their extended family. Occasionally a husband or wife enters the Church without the other, even though this is discouraged to some extent. Harder still, parents convert while children having already reached adulthood choose…

Can the Middle Class be Saved?

One of the hallmarks of Christ’s earthly ministry was the fact that harlots, publicans, “sinners” of various sorts, seemed to “get” his message a more easily than did the “righteous”: pharisees, sadducees, kings, scribes, etc. Indeed it is obvious that St. Paul, good rabbinical student that he was, had no idea that he was a sinner when Christ confronted him on the road to Damascus. “Concerning the law, I was blameless,” he…

My Thanks

I made the trip to SC and back today, spending about half the day with family at hospital. My father’s pelvis seems to be fractured rather than broken, but will require him to be in a rehab situation for some weeks. My mother will move down to be with my older brother (who is truly a Godsend in everyway). Their priest came to see them, their Orthodox sponsors (who are old friends…