Saving Faith

In a recent post I quoted Vladimir Lossky on the nature of faith. Several have asked me to expand on the Orthodox understanding of faith. I begin with Lossky’s quote: What one quests is already present, precedes us, makes possible our question itself. ‘Through faith, we comprehend (we think) how the ages have been produced’ (Heb. 11:3). Thus faith allows us to think, it gives us true intelligence. Knowledge is given to…

Why Small Things Matter

A reader’s comment on an old posting of mine (from 2007) took me back to read the same. It seemed worth re-posting. Some things bear repeating – again and again, as they say. Perhaps one of the greatest disservices done to Christians by the spate of “Left Behind” novels and the like, and the romanticism that is inherent in the drama depicted – is that it makes the true struggle undergone by…

Mustard Seed

Christ said: “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you (Matthew 17:20). +++ Skeptics and Naturalists through the years have always had a field-day with this verse. I recall a passage in Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage, where a boy with a club foot, goes…

Praying for the World

We must pray for other people with contrition and pain in our soul. We can only achieve this, if, due to our humbleness, we consider ourselves the cause of all the problems in the world. The Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain +++ This insightful but “hard” saying of the Elder Paisios is very similar to a statement made by the literary character, the Elder Zossima, in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, who…

Making Choices

Our culture celebrates the ability we have to choose – and so we think a lot about choices. We are told every four years that we get to “choose” our leaders (though the choices given to us might not be suitable in either direction). As I look back and think of my preaching over the years I can see a change – and not just a change wrought by my conversion to…

The Weight of Glory

Several years ago I had opportunity to visit a parish where the icon, Our Lady of Sitka, had been brought for veneration. The Church was packed that evening and I had the privilege of concelebrating the Akathist to the icon. There are many stories told about wonder-working icons. Some are known to weep tears of myrhh. Why a particular icon becomes a “wonder-working” icon is a mystery known only to God. It…

To Live in Wonder

Concepts create idols; only wonder grasps anything – St. Gregory of Nyssa St. Gregory’s marvelous dictum is among a handful of things that describe what is required for the Christian life. So much of Christian history has been marked with a bifurcation – a split between those who study the faith and those who live it. It is not a necessary split – only a common one. Of course there is the larger…

The Mystery of Pascha – Expanded

I have, on occasion, edited and reissued a post – though not as quickly as this one. My post from earlier this week seemed to want a few more words – something to draw the reader closer to the mystery itself. I offer this small addition and pray it is of some use. In his Revelation, St. John describes Christ as the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (13:8). It…

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…

The Weakness of Man

It is counter-intuitive that God saves man through His own weakness. The irony of the Divine Reversal has provided endless material for the hymnographers of the Church through the centuries. The Strong becomes weak, the Sinless takes on our sin, the Rich becomes poor, God becomes man – the whole of the gospel seems to be a Divine irony. This irony has a beauty that has always drawn me. Sometimes the imagery…