In the Belly of the Whale

The marvelous book of Jonah, read in its entirety on Holy Saturday, includes a very rich prayer which is obviously intended to be spoken from within the depths of Hades itself – thus its inclusion on Holy Saturday, the day on which Christ is proclaiming liberty to those “in prison.” Like the phrase from Psalm 139, “Lo if I descend into Hell there art there,” this prayer in Jonah is a poignant…

Redeeming the Time

In Ephesians 5, St. Paul speaks about “redeeming the time” warning those whom he writes that the “days are evil.” It is a phrase that has always reminded me of Christ’s admonition: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matt. 6:34). Both statements are among the most “down to earth” statements in Scripture. They speak to me…

Why Does God Sing?

A comment was posted this past weekend about prayer and singing (or “chanting”). This article represents some earlier thoughts I have written on the topic. Over the course of this next week I will be largely engaged in another writing task and will only be able to monitor the blog once or twice a day. I’ll also try to post some things of interest. Why would God sing? The question may sound…

Private Prayer – Thoughts of Met. Anthony of Sourozh

The following is an excerpt from a posting on Orthodox World. It is from the late Met. Anthony Bloom (England). There are many articles of interest on this website. There was a time when I read with great faithfulness all the prayers which the Church offers us in the morning, in the evening and on other occasions. But I could not always identify with them. They were prayers which were strange to…

Remember God Always

Somebody asked Abba Antony (St. Antony the Great of Egypt), “What shall I do in order to please God?” He replied, “Do what I tell you, which is this: wherever you go, keep God in mind; whatever you do, follow the example of Holy Scripture; wherever you are, stay there and do not move away in a hurry. If you keep to these guide-lines, you will be saved.” +++ This small story…

The Good Confession

I often think that the confession of the goodness of God is the bold confession of a martyr. We can all understand the stories of great martyrs, who, in the face of terrible torments, refuse to renounce Christ and are faithful to Him. Of course, sometimes their sufferings are short while there are others who suffer for a lifetime. But I believe the confession that “God is good,” to be the essential…

Thanksgiving

This year I will make the annual pilgrimage back to South Carolina to be with family for the (American) Thanksgiving holiday. Fewer of my children will be there – a mark of the maturing of their own families and the difficulty of travel at this time of year. The year is different as well for it will be the first Thanksgiving holiday without my mother’s presence (may her memory be eternal). With…

Words from an Elder – And a Thought about Trees

I am sharing here a few sayings from the Elder Amphilochios of Patmos, someone whose life and teachings I have heard spoken of before by Metropolitian Kallistos of Diocleia (Kallistos Ware). They are worth savoring. The quotes come from the volume Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit. I am especially fond of his attitude to trees. The leaves have almost reached their autumn peak here in East Tennessee and it would take a…

Not to Judge

In a monastery there were two remarkable brothers who soon merited to see the grace of God descend upon each other. Now one day it happened that one of them went out of the monastery on a Friday and saw someone who was eating in the morning, and he said to him, ‘Why are you eating at this hour on a Friday?’ Later there was the synaxis [assembly] as usual. Now his…

The Argument

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God. For many years, two hermits lived together without any conflict or disagreement. One suggested they have a quarrel to see how others live. The other answered, “I don’t know how to start a quarrel.” The first said, “Look, I’ll put this brick on the ground between us and claim it is mine. Then you insist it belongs to you.…