Learning to Walk

I cannot remember learning to walk (I was nine-months old). I do, however, remember learning to ride a bicycle. I think the two experiences are fairly similar. I know that falling down is something both of them have in common. I also know that both of them require falling down as part of the learning process. Learning to walk as a Christian seems little different to me. The only way to learn…

The Invisible Christian

But you, when you pray, go into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly (Matt. 6:6). You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matt. 5:14-16). Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me. (Matt. 11:6) There is an invisible side of the Christian faith, known only to God and the believer. St. Matthew’s gospel refers to this as the secret place. It is not only intended to be secret, but exists only in secret. If we refuse to protect the secret then we will find its door closed to us as well.…

All Dogs Go to Heaven

The fathers do not agree utterly on the question of animals and eternal life – so the question of their eternal disposition is never answered in a manner that satisfies. But there are a few things worth pondering about the lives of animals (of which I have chosen dogs as representatives). Animals, like all creation, are subject to the same corruption as human beings. St. Paul says that all creation has been…

The Mystery, Upborne, Fulfilled

Orthodoxy has a number of “favorite” words – all of which fall outside the bounds of normal speech. Though we commonly use the word “mystery” (for example), popular speech never uses it in the manner of the Church. I cannot remember using the word “fullness,” or even “fulfilled,” in normal speech. More contemporary words have come to replace these expressions. This doesn’t mean that an English speaker has no idea of what…

The Presence in the Absence

Since I’ve started the topic of mystical knowledge of God, I thought to repost this from 2010. I was reminded of it by a wonderful reflection by Jan Bear on OCN  – an enjoyable read. There is a strange aspect to the presence of God in the world around us. That aspect is His apparent absence. I read with fascination (because I am no philosopher, much less a scientist) the discussions surrounding…

To Know What You Cannot Know

You cannot know God – but you have to know Him to know that. – Fr. Thomas Hopko +++ This small quote from Fr. Thomas has stayed with me since I first heard it. It says so much by saying so little. I find two groups of people increasingly common in my conversations – those who profess to not know God (agnostics) – and those who struggle greatly with what they have…

Christos Voskrese! Christ is Risen!

Pascha has begun (though about 12 hours away here in the Eastern United States). But if you listen carefully, you can begin to hear the bells sounding from the East. Christ is risen! This delightful youtube video is a favorite of mine. One of our readers and occasional commenter,  Dejan, (without a doubt my favorite Serb) provided the English translation.  The words are from a poem by St. Nikolai Velimirovich who served…

Preaching to the Dead

The Orthodox mark Holy Saturday (the day before Christ’s Resurrection) as the day in which He descends to the dead and preaches to the departed spirits (1 Peter 3:18-19). There is a long history of wonderful sermons on this topic. St. Cyril of Alexandria (early 5th century) says: “For having destroyed hell and opened the impassable gates for the departed spirits, Christ left the devil there abandoned and lonely” (7th Paschal Homily 2, PG 77, 552 A).…

The Intuition of Narnia

A child, in a game of hide-and-seek, enters a large wardrobe. However, the wardrobe is more than furniture – it is a doorway into another world. That entrance is the introduction of the world of Narnia. C.S. Lewis’ children stories, beloved by one generation, are block-buster movies in today’s empire of Disney. In that wonderland of cinema, the books are overwhelmed in images of battling dwarves and unicorns. Echoes of Tolkien (and…

A Path Beyond Secularism

…It is truly ironic, in my opinion, that so many Christians are seeking some accommodation with secularism precisely at the moment when it is revealing itself to be an untenable spiritual position. More and more signs point toward one fact of paramount importance: the famous “modern man” is already looking for a path beyond secularism, is again thirsty and hungry for “something else.” Much too often this thirst and hunger are satisfied…