How Do You Feel About That?

In the near decade-and-a-half that I have been Orthodox, I cannot recall ever being asked, “How do you feel about that?” It is not a wrong question, but one that simply doesn’t come up much in Orthodox conversation. The Tradition of the Church is not set by feelings (at least officially). Neither is the Church a therapy group (officially). But I sometimes suspect that conversation is neglecting an important question – and…

Waking Up

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10). This fear descends on us from on High. It is a spiritual feeling, firstly of God and then of us ourselves. We live in a state of awe by virtue of the presence of the Living God together with awareness of our own impurity. This fear places us before the Face of God to be judged by Him. We have…

Making the Journey

The photo posted with this article is from Zion National Park in the American Southwest. I took the shot five or six years back when my wife and I were vacationing in the area. This blog started in late 2006 – this photo became a visual symbol for me of the journey toward Christ’s Kingdom. It is not so steep as many journeys are, but it is “upwards.” I am also aware…

The Nativity Fast – Why We Fast

November 15, marks the beginning of the Nativity Fast (40 days before Christmas). The following article offers some thoughts on the purpose of fasting. +++ Fasting is not very alive or well in the Christian world. Much of that world has long lost any living connection with the historical memory of Christian fasting. Without the guidance of Tradition, many modern Christians either do not fast, or constantly seek to re-invent the practice,…

Face to Face

There are few joys of a blogosphere writer greater than to meet face-to-face with his readers. Such has been my experience at my time at the 16th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America. To embrace someone who can say that my articles on the death of my parents helped them to endure the death of their own parents is beyond anything I can express in words – for the love…

Reading Rightly

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 mind down on you. Know, then, that not every book that teaches about religion is useful for the purification of the consciousness and the concentration of the thoughts. St. Isaac of Syria quoted in The Spiritual…

The Geography of Heaven and Hell

I noticed tonight in a Facebook discussion a reference to this article – thus I thought a reprint might be timely. I continue to be amazed at the literalism that infects the minds of many Christians. Just because Scripture uses the language of geography to describe something does not at all mean that we should assume that it is referring to a literal geography. Those whose imaginations are filled with various versions…

Fasting without Force

The following is taken from Wounded by Love: the Life and Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios You don’t become holy by fighting evil. Let evil be. Look towards Christ and that will save you. What makes a person saintly is love – the adoration of Christ which cannot be expressed, which is beyond expression, which is beyond… And such a person attempts to undertake ascetic exercises and to do things to cause himself…

Change and the Mystery of God

A body changes in its activity as a result of contact with another body. How therefore could there be no change in someone who with innocent hands has touched the Body of God. St. John Climacus, Ladder of Divine Ascent, 28. +++ I am the father of four adult children, all of them married. In the course of my life-time I have seen them change from infants to people of maturity and…

Mind and Heart

I write frequently about what I term the Religion of the Heart. Archimandrite Meletios Webber has a short piece on what can be called the Religion of the Mind. The distinction between mind and heart is not a distinction between thought and feeling. Rather it is a distinction between the mind (seat of thoughts and feelings) and the heart (the seat of a deeper awareness – sometimes called the nous in Orthodox…