The God Who Became Small

An annual December posting: Whom have we, Lord, like you The Great One who became small, the Wakeful who slept, The Pure One who was baptized, the Living One who died, The King who abased himself to ensure honor for all. Blessed is your honor! St. Ephrem the Syrian +++ We draw near to the Feast of our Lord’s Nativity, and I cannot fathom the smallness of God. Things in my life…

The Presence in the Absence

There is a strange aspect to the presence of God in the world around us. That aspect is His apparent absence. I read with fascination (because I am no philosopher, much less a scientist) the discussions surrounding “intelligent design” and the like. I gather that everybody agrees that the universe is just marvelous and wonderfully put together (I can’t think of a better universe). But then begins the parting of ways as…

The Doors of the Heart

In the summer of 1952, an obscure event took place in London that would have a profound impact on the future of Orthodox Christianity in the English-speaking world. A seventeen year-old English lad walked through the doors of St. Philip’s Russian Orthodox Church on Buckingham Palace Road (the Church has long since been torn down). Today he is known as Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, one of the most important figures in the contemporary…

The Texture of Life and the Kingdom

There is a “texture of life” that cannot be reduced. It has a richness that rational descriptions cannot capture. Though we battle with powerful forces that draw us towards the destructiveness of sin – there is written deep within us a hunger for wholeness and the capacity for God. In the words of St. John, “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).…

Whom God Would Have Us Be

When man stands before the throne of God, when he has fulfilled all that God has given him to fulfill, when all sins are forgiven, all joy restored, then there is nothing else for him to do but to give thanks. Eucharist (thanksgiving) is the state of perfect man. Eucharist is the life of paradise. Eucharist is the only full and real response of man to God’s creation, redemption and gift of…

Falling Short

I fail. We fail. It’s just how things are. It is not a conspiracy or the judgment of God or a universe arrayed against us – we simply fall short. At times falling short is nothing less than embarrassing. This is especially so if we have raised our own expectations as well as the expectations of others. I do not measure up to my own expectations much less to those of others.…

The Boldness of Prayer

In the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, at the end of the litany that precedes the Lord’s Prayer, the priest intones: And make us worthy, O Master, that with boldness and without condemnation, we may dare to call upon Thee, the heavenly God, as Father, and to say: Our Father… It is a phrase that relfects Hebrews 4:15-16: For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling…

Now That We’ve Come to the End of the World

And although in the course of their long history Christians have much too often forgotten the meaning of the cross, and enjoyed life as if “nothing had happened,” although each one of us too often takes “time off” – we know that in the world in which Christ died, “natural life” has been brought to an end. Fr. Alexander Schmemann in For the Life of the World. +++ By age 19 I…

Even If I Descend into Hell…

Charles Williams, one of C.S. Lewis’ circle of friends, once wrote a book entitled, The Descent into Hell. In it he chronicles the slow inexorable damnation of a soul. Choices made or not made – a chronicle more of spiritual ennui than of willful rebellion – it is a very sobering read. There is an understanding of hell that goes far beyond the typical lake of fire and burning Gehenna. Those images,…

Mere Existence and the Age to Come

C.S. Lewis, in his marvelous little book, The Great Divorce, uses the imagery of “solidity” versus “ghostliness” to make a distinction between those who have entered paradise, and those who have not. He clearly did not mean to set forth a metaphysical model or to suggest “how things are.” But the imagery is very apt and suggestive when we take a look at what it means for something or someone to exist.…