The Price of the Liturgy

Having written about the temptations of secularism within modernity – even within the liturgy – I offer this as a balance for our troubled hearts. +++ “We celebrate the Liturgy together. But we must pay what this costs: each one must be concerned for the salvation of all. Our life is an endless martyrdom.” The Elder Sophrony +++ The Divine Liturgy (the Holy Eucharist) is not a ritual action of the Church…

The Presence in Absence

This short post is among the first to appear on this blog – dating back to October of ’06. In the light of conversations about hiddenness – it seemed here timely to bring this back to our attention. I  have written on the topic of the absence of God (or our sense of it) since the beginning of my work. And even though conversations with contemporary non-believers can be tedious – they…

The Apostles’ Fast

The Orthodox year has a rhythm, much like the tide coming in and going out – only this rhythm is an undulation between seasons of fasting and seasons (or a few days) of feasting. Every week, with few exceptions, is marked by the Wednesday and Friday fast, and every celebration of the Divine Liturgy is prepared for by eating nothing after midnight until we have received the Holy Sacrament. It is a…

Hidden Saints

The first Sunday after Pentecost is traditionally observed as the Sunday of All Saints in the Orthodox Church – both those that are “hidden” and those who have been “revealed.” These are some thoughts on the “hidden” saints – by far the most numerous. 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…

We Have Seen

I have been on the road and out-of-town this week, visiting with my daughter and her husband in Louisiana (where I enjoyed the very kind hospitality of St. Gabriel Antiochian Orthodox Church in Lafayette). May God richly bless all of them. I post this article from a year ago – as one that I enjoy re-reading myself. May it bless. +++ St. John, in the prologue of his gospel, says the following:…

Prayers by the Lake – XXIX

This xxix prayer of St. Nicholai of Zicha from Prayers by the Lake. This echoing of the prayers of Pentecost should give us all hope in our sins as we seek the merciful God. For all the sins of men I repent before You, Most Merciful Lord. Indeed, the seed of all sins flows in my blood! With my effort and Your mercy I choke this wicked crop of weeds day and…

The Beautiful God

Everything is beautiful in a person when he turns toward God, and everything is ugly when it is turned away from God. Fr. Pavel Florensky +++ Florensky is among the more intriguing Orthodox writers of the 20th century. A brilliant mathematician, as well as a priest, he refused opportunities to leave revolutionary Russia and follow the path of many other members of the intelligentsia. He taught math (eventually winning the Lenin Prize)…

Do We Live In Between?

The time between the Ascension of Christ and the Day of Pentecost marked something of an “in-between” period for Christ’s disciples. They had been instructed at the time of the Ascension to remain in Jerusalem and wait “for the promise.” Ten days later the promise was fulfilled and the Holy Spirit filled the fledgling Church with the Holy Spirit. It has been a fairly common treatment by preachers of the gospel to…

Heavenly Minded

Years ago, I recall hearing someone complain about zealous Christians, “They are so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good.” The truth of the statement depends entirely on the understanding of heaven and earth. It is possible to pursue a version of “heaven” such that the spiritual life is undermined. It is also possible to pursue heaven in such a way that the world around us is transformed. It is…

Our Selves, Our Souls, Our Bodies – More on Faith

And here we offer and present unto Thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy and living sacrifice unto Thee… From Thomas Cranmer’s Eucharistic Prayer Regardless of what opinion one may have of the English reformer Thomas Cranmer’s theology, no one can deny him a central place in the history of the English language and the impact of his phrasing on the traditional prayers offered in…