The Mother of God – Telling the Whole Story of Salvation

This Friday and Saturday the Orthodox Church focuses its liturgical attention on the ancient hymn known as the Akathist, the “the hymn we sing unseated, i.e., Akathismos” (what hymn would you sing while seated methinks?). St. Romanos the Melodist was the author of the first Akathist, written in honor of the Theotokos (“Birthgiver of God”). It has its own particular poetic form. Many of the Saints now have Akathists written in their…

St. Mary of Egypt

One of the most remarkable stories of the early Church, read each year on this day in Lent during the Canon of St. Andrew, is the Story of St. Mary of Egypt. I know of nothing better to do this day than read it (or attend a service in which it is read – I did the latter this morning). Do yourself a favor and ponder the mercy of God. The Story…

The Problem of Church

My title may sound a bit strange – for I do not mean to say “the Problem of the Church” – but simply the problem that something exists called “the Church” creates for modern Christianity. My thoughts are occasioned by a question posed to one of my recent posts. I assumed that the person posing the question was an evangelical or protestant of some sort – for the statements that were questioned…

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth

Learning to read the Bible (since we now have them so readily available) is a difficult thing. We pray always for the Bishops of the Church that God will “grant them to the Churches, long lived…rightly dividing the word of Truth.” Rightly dividing the word of Truth, or properly interpreting the Scriptures is quite difficult. The modernist approach of the historical critical method can be useful for some things, but has never…

The Truth of an Icon

Icons are lovely objects – directing our hearts towards God – sometimes miraculous and truly “windows to heaven.” But I want to be somewhat theological today and write about the “truth” of an icon. Icons are peculiar, when painted according to the most traditional patterns. They are not just “ahistorical” they are positively non-historical. We can look at an icon and see any number of events depicted that do not belong to the…

Boundaries Which God Has Set

I have written previously of boundaries and their essential nature in our spiritual lives. This can be described by the boundaries we experience within ourselves (certain ones must be maintained) or the boundaries we experience in an Orthodox Temple (such boundaries serve to teach us about ourselves and the Truth of our relationship with Christ). One boundary which is perhaps the most essential, and yet contrary to much modern thought, is the…

The Ladder of Divine Ascent

There is something about charts, methods, tables and the like that always make me react in a negative manner. There is a form of rationalism that, for me, simply screams, “This is the work of man.” A Linaeus can invent a table for classifying nature – and I’m sure that biologists find it very helpful. But there is something irrational at the same time about nature in which everything resists classification. The…

The Breastplate of St. Patrick

I arise today Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, Through a belief in the Threeness, Through confession of the Oneness Of the Creator of creation.I arise today Through the strength of Christ’s birth and His baptism, Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial, Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension, Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.I arise today Through the…

Signposts

I have spent my day traveling by car to the heart of South Carolina where my parents are now living, having moved to an “Assisted Living” Center recently. I have a brother nearby. “Going home” to South Carolina has become a sort of barometer of sorts for me in the past 20 years (it’s how long I’ve been gone). There have been vacations, funerals, weddings, graduations – all the events that mark…

Reverent Audaciousness

From Fr. Sophrony’s We Shall See Him as He Is Divine Love begets reverent audaciousness. Thus a handful of Apostles, hitherto faint-hearted, after the descent of the Holy Ghost were filled with courage and took on the whole of the rest of the world in spiritual struggle. Nearly all of them suffered martyrdom. When the governor of Patras threatened St. Andrew with crucifixion the latter made the marvelous reply, “If I feared…