The Dark Side

When we experience the “dark side” of the Church For those who have experienced what has been called the “dark side” of the Church, the struggle to remain faithful to the Orthodox Faith can seem daunting. The dark side is the result of the sinful, fallen nature of all of us who make up the Body of Christ. It is…

The Non-Orthodox

What about people who are not Orthodox? It is always a pity when people who claim to be Orthodox make judgements against fellow Christians. In the tradition of Orthodoxy, wherever we find beauty and truth, it is of God, and it is our calling, as Orthodox Christians, to rejoice when we see others have at least some portion of the…

True Peace

True Peace is the Way of the Cross In an age that seems to be forever witnessing wars between nations, and civil wars within nations, peace seems to be something that is about as possible as the alchemy that would turn metal into gold. Peacemakers struggle to find peaceful solutions for the conflicts between nations, political parties, religions, neighbors, and…

Discovering the Ancient Church

The search for a biblical and relevant faith “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” Jude 1:3 The Orthodox Christian faith and doctrine date from the first century…

Love Liberates the Heart

Liberating our imprisoned heart turns chaos into harmony The inevitability of death is particularly difficult to face for most Americans, as we’ve become a people that eschew traditional funerals, preferring to “celebrate the life of our loved one, while disposing of the body, and banning any sign of death from the memorial service should we even decide to have a…

Our Guardian Angel

An angel who is sleepless and cannot be deceived According to Saint John Climacus, in his The Ladder of Divine Ascent, when we feel sweetness or compunction at some word of our prayer, we should dwell on it, for then our guardian angel is praying with us. This angel, who is always with us, becomes distressed and indignant when, without…

Kissing the Hand

Kissing the hand of the priest is not about the man The kissing of the hand of the priest is not about the man, but rather about Christ. It is much like the kissing of an icon, which is not about the veneration of paint and wood, but about the archetype represented in the icon. When we kiss the hand…

Standing Before God

The Orthodox practice of standing for worship Standing before God has been the only acceptable posture for Orthodox Christians from the earliest of times. We recognize that a faithful servant would never sit before his master, for the faithful are all servants of the Lord, whom we worship as we stand in our temples. The Holy Apostle Paul tells us,…

A Pervading Sickness

Our sin is a pervading sickness According to Saint Ephraim the Syrian (306 – 373), “The Church is not the assembly of saints, it is the mass of sinners who repent, who, sinners though they are, have turned towards God and are oriented towards Him.” As a people whose focus is on God, we are sinners who are committed to…

Freedom to Choose

We are not compelled to love God We are not compelled to love God, having been created with free will. God does not, nor can He, compel His creatures to love Him. Mutual love requires, by it’s very nature, freedom to either respond in love, or not. Yet when we respond to God’s love with love His mercy leads us…

The Royal Doors

The tradition and meaning of the Royal Doors The iconostasis represents the Christian continuity from the veil of the Temple in Jerusalem which separated the people from the Holy of Holies that housed the Ark of the Covenant. Normally, the iconostasis has three doors in it. The two single doors to the right and left are called “deacons’ doors” or…

The Veil

The significance of the veil in Orthodox churches I recently had a protestant Christian ask why we Orthodox still separated the faithful by closing and opening the veil that separates the Altar from the people. When I explained that we follow, as did the Ancient Church, the tradition of  showing great reverence to the Holy of Holies, by setting it…