Grief Observed

As regular readers of this blog will know, I buried my mother last week. Her passing was a very godly event. I have no particular thoughts on my grief (that I care to share) – only the abiding comfort of the prayers of the Church and gratitude for the prayers of friends. I wrote the following article on grief in February of 2007 and found it of interest. Surely, He has borne…

Prayer – It’s Something Personal

I have long been intrigued with the notion of our common responsibility, or rather, that I am “responsible for the sins of the whole world.” I think I first came across the notion in a quote from the Elder Zossima in The Brothers Karamazov. And even there, Dostoevsky was only putting on the lips of his fictional Elder the sentiments of the saints and the common teaching of the Church. At one time…

The Last Battle

The Scriptures end with the description of a battle that is truly “apocalyptic” in its scale: all the forces of evil arrayed against all the forces of good. It is grand theater, having caught the imagination of countless generations (and even Hollywood). I do not know quite what to make of the description. That it describes a reality, I do not doubt. What that reality will look like to its bystanders (if…

The Inverted Pyramid

No greater image of prayer and the love of God has been given in our modern time than that of the Elder Sophrony’s Inverted Pyramid. The subject of such prayer has risen. I thought to share this as an effort to shed some light. Fr. Sophrony [Sakharov], in his book on St. Silouan, presents this theory of the “inverted pyramid.” He says that the empirical cosmic being is like a pyramid: at…

The Time for Prayer

A brother asked a hermit, “If I oversleep and miss the time for prayer, I hesitate to keep the rule of prayer. I am embarassed and do not want the brothers to hear me praying.” The hermit gave him this advice: “If you sleep late, get up and shut your door and windows. Then pray your psalms. Both day and night belong to God. You will glorify God whatever time it is.”…

The Experience of Prayer

As a foolish man I go so far in this post as to speak of the experience of prayer. I write this not to speak of great experiences but, if possible, to quiet our minds, and to speak a word of peace in a culture that is full of madness and spiritual delusion. There are many wonderful spiritual stories to be found in the lives of the saints and elders. Many people,…

Prayer Before Bed

Some written prayers are simply better than anything you can think of yourself.  There are phrases in this traditional Orthodox “prayer before bed” that speak worlds. “…or seen the beauty of someone and been wounded by it in my heart…” To the Holy Spirit: O Lord, the Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth: have compassion and mercy on me, Thy sinful servant! Absolve me, who am unworthy. Forgive all the…

Beginning to Pray

I have written from time to time on the nature of prayer. I was recently asked by a reader to offer a reflection on “beginning to pray,” which seems to me to be an invitation to write about something that happens for me, by necessity, every day. I cannot write as a man of great experience in prayer. But I have had years of experience in beginning to pray. If the reader…

Rightly Reading – Yet Again

I am reprinting this short article on “rightly reading” in response to comments on my last post. I suspect that this article will be reprinted often when the subject of the study of Scripture arises. The course of your reading should be parallel to the aim of your way of life…. Most books that contain instructions in doctrine are not useful for purification. The reading of many diverse books brings distraction of…

With What Little We Know – It Is Enough

The question was offered earlier today: What is the place of asceticism in the life of a family? Should we learn to guard the intellect, strive for pure prayer, etc. in a similar way as a monastic would? I offer here a reprint that speaks to the question. For the truth is, we will know little about the deeper forms of asceticism – even if we read books on the subject (or especially…