My Sins

I must accuse myself, blame myself, judge myself We see people’s sins, but we don’t know whether they have made peace with God. We don’t know if the person who has sinned regrets it, but we are not called to judge them, but only to forgive them. As we become aware of our own sins, and begin to realize how…

Knowledge

Simplicity and humility lead to true knowledge The Apostle Paul tells us that it is better to be ignorant in speech rather than in spiritual knowledge (2 Cor. 11:6). Being skilled in speaking is a matter of human learning, as are the other forms of worldly education, but they do not contribute to the salvation of the soul. Even if…

The Orthodox Temple

The link between the Old and New Testament temples Orthodox temples have kept to the same form and function since ancient times. Using the Old Testament Temple model, Orthodox churches are divided into several courts or spaces peculiar to their function. The Holy Table, upon which is celebrated the Eucharist, is situated at the east end of the building behind…

Acquiring a Grateful Heart

We must give thanks to God for everything that comes our way Whatever circumstances in which we find ourselves, God is giving us the opportunity to gain a freedom that comes only when we acquire humility. Whatever our job, whichever task we are asked to perform, whatever life places before us, all is an opportunity to give thanks to God.…

Estrangement

When we responded to God’s love, all estrangement is cast aside When we feel estranged from God it is a true sign we are in need of working more diligently on building up our faith. Faith is a gift from God that requires our cooperation and when we are feeling dry we must quickly turn our eyes to Christ, asking…

Arrow Prayers

Short prayers used in personal devotion Many Church Fathers taught the use of the “arrow prayer”, deliberately short prayers for personal devotion that were easily remembered, and could communicate one’s love for God, while seeking His help. They were like arrows being shot into the air, wholeheartedly demonstrating our sincerity in asking God’s help. One of my personal favorites is…

The Garden

Tending the Garden of the Heart Both my maternal grandfather and my mother were avid gardeners, so I grew up surrounded by the beauty of plants and flowers. The cottage garden is a distinct style of garden that is certainly my favorite. The use of traditional materials, in an informal design, together with dense plantings, and a mixture of ornamental…

Accepting Christ’s Forgiveness 

Christ’s absolution requires us to accept forgiveness, and be quick to forgive others Psychologists have often made the observation that the one thing they lack, when it comes to their profession as psychological healers, is the ability to pronounce absolution. Yet many Orthodox Christians, making a good confession and receiving absolution, remain in a state as though they were still…

The Image of Christ

And the modern iconoclastic movement that would destroy it Growing up in Northern Idaho, I clearly remember the Lutheran church in my hometown having a painting above their altar depicting Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, with obvious Norwegian features, while the Catholic church in the same town had Christ represented above their altar with clearly Italian features. That the…

The Foundation of Holiness

Humility can transform that which was rotten into a beautiful flower We all struggle with our passions, and like Saint Paul we can say that we do that which we do not want to do and do not do what we want to do. The passions hold us down to the ground in our sin and fallen nature, and we…

The Eucharistic Meal

Where the unseen reality manifest in our midst At the Mystical Supper in the Upper Room Jesus gave a dramatically new meaning to the food and drink of the sacred meal. He identified Himself with the bread and wine: “Take, eat; this is my Body. Drink of it all of you; for this is my Blood of the New Covenant”…

Incense

Let my prayer arise as incense before Thee From Old Testament times believers have burned incense as an offering when worshiping God. The ancient temple in Jerusalem even had priests whose sole duty was to keep the censer burning twenty-four hours a day. Ancient pagan kings were often escorted with large fans of peacock feathers and burning incense when entering…