Everywhere Present

Everything you do, all your work, can contribute towards your salvation. It depends on you, on the way you do it. History is replete with monks who became great saints while working in the kitchen or washing sheets. The way of salvation consists in working without passion, in prayer…. May God give you the strength to keep your spirit, your mind, and your heart in the spirit of Christ. Then everything that…

You Are Not a TV Show

The modern world, with the advent of technologies such as the internet and other instantaneous forms of digital creation, has created what is easily described as a virtual world. In digital comprehension, a virtual world is not a real world, but increasingly feels like one and, to some extent, can be experienced like one. Doubtless, human experience has known a variety of experiential worlds, but this latest, the virtual world, stands perhaps…

Giving Thanks as a Way of Life

The act of giving thanks is among the most fundamental acts of love. It lies at the very heart of worship – in which, in the words of Archimandrite Zacharias of Essex, there is an exchange. In giving thanks we make an offering which itself is always inferior to what we have received – but which is itself an enlargement of the human heart. To live rightly in the presence and communion of…

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 writing).…

To Guard the Heart

I often think about the admonition of the fathers to “guard your heart.” It seems so obvious to me that the disposition of my heart has everything to do with how I will perceive and react to everything around me. An anxious heart perceives everything as a threat – a disaster or vexation in the making. An angry heart perceives the slightest hindrance as a great provocation. A sad heart can have…

The Nature of Things and Our Salvation

Reflecting on yesterday’s post, I thought it worthwhile to share these thoughts again on the nature of our salvation. Few things are as critical for me as the distinctions given here. Perhaps it is timely. It offers a short summary of the difference between a moral and an existential understanding of the Christian faith and why the difference matters. Indeed, as I look through my writings I know this is a recurring…

To Tell the Truth

Abba Poemen said, “Teach your mouth to say that which is in your heart. Speaking the truth is as fundamental as the Ten Commandments. It also receives a great deal of attention within the pages of the New Testament. Do not lie to one another since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image…

Tradition and the Heart

He who possesses in truth the word of Jesus can hear even its silence. St. Ignatius of Antioch (To the Ephesians, XV, 2) The faculty of hearing the silence of Jesus, attributed by St. Ignatius to those who in truth possess His word, echoes the reiterated appeal of Christ to His hearers: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” The words of Revelation have then a margin of silence which…

Here and Now

Strangely enough, the one place that most of us avoid is here and now. In the observations of Fr. Meletios Webber, we prefer either the past or the future. The past is marked by the thoughts of “if only,” the future with thoughts of “what if.” These thoughts are the voice of the logismoi, the constant barrage of thoughts and feelings that distract us from ourselves and from the world as it…

The Problem of Goodness

From my first class in Philosophy 101 in college, the so-called “Problem of Evil” has been tossed up as the “clincher” in arguments against the existence of God. How can a good God allow innocent people to suffer? The most devastating case ever made on the subject was in Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov. Ivan Karamazov, in the chapter entitled “Rebellion,” which is the chapter preceding the famous “Grand Inquisitor,” makes the details of his…