Good Works

Our good works help us gain God’s “likeness” in this life Salvation can not be explained in legalistic terms of acquittal and justification, for salvation is much more than simply being forgiven and getting into heaven. The close tie between faith and works, when it comes to the Orthodox view of salvation, is not about being “saved” by our works, for this is impossible. Works do not save us, but when placed…

The Struggle

Until this earthly life finishes the struggle between sin and righteousness continues “Do not be surprised that you fall every day; do not give up, but stand your ground courageously. And assuredly, the angel who guards you will honour your patience (Saint John of the Ladder).” Out of the lower parts of our soul arise gluttony and lust as well as their counter-virtues: abstinence, continence and chastity. Out of the higher parts of…

Keeping Unrest at Bay

Peacefully receiving all that comes our way Every day can bring about many events or problems that can make us feel unsettled. Yet if we want to keep unrest at bay, it is important that we prayerfully receive everything with the knowledge that God is with over us, and that all will be fine in the end. Spending time worrying accomplishes nothing, for worrying simply brings on the stress that keeps our…

The Quest for Humility

And our struggle with pride Struggling with his pride, the monk focuses on bringing his own will into conformity with the will of God, through monastic obedience. This obedience is not limited to obeying the directives of his abbot, but taking up a standard of humility that takes seriously his adherence to the 102 canons of the Sixth Ecumenical Council, in the garb he wears, and refraining from cutting his hair and…

The Holy Theotokos

The veneration of the Holy Virgin in the Ancient Church All the early reformers, including Luther and Calvin, believed Mary to be Ever Virgin. The practice at the time of Jesus was to refer to all cousins as siblings, so none of the early Christians believed Mary had born any children other than Jesus. Furthermore, the veneration of the Virgin did not begin with Rome, but began in the Early Church. The problem…

The Incubator

Building the bonds of an Orthodox family Evenings spent together as family is important, for these moments not only build a bond between parents and their children, but serve as important times in which to share family values. The old saying that “a family that prays together, stays together” was a truism that is often forgotten. I remember, as a boy of six, a Catholic family living next to us who had…

When we are Broken

What should we do when we feel broken It is only human to become despondent when we have failed in keeping to our moral, ethical and spiritual standards, succumbing instead, to temptation. Our Orthodox Faith teaches that we must be compassionate towards others, loving, quick to forgive, exemplar in our Christian living, and always demonstrating to the world that we belong to Christ. Yet we also know we fail most of the…

God’s Will

Submitting to the will of God It is often difficult for us to put our total trust in God. We have our own agenda as to what we think needs to happen and wonder where God is when we don’t get the answer to our prayers the way we think it should be. We are like little children who doubt our mom’s love when we don’t get the cookie we want, just…

We Cry, God Where are You?

All the while floating in a river of grace The renowned 19th century Russian saint, Seraphim of Sarov (1759-1833), said of himself, “I don’t know anything”. These words were remarkable coming from a hermit who was the most sought after spiritual adviser of his age, with even the Tsar seeking out his counsel. Yet Saint Seraphim recognized that he was but a funnel from which anything good that came out of him,…

Imitating Christ

Doing what the Lord requires of us As we examine how we live our lives as Christians, we look to those who leave an impression of goodness, kindness, and humility, as examples of the person we would like to become. That saintly person, by their every example, exudes the humbleness of the Lord, and love seems to be palpable when we are in their presence. Such a person didn’t just appear, for…

The Jesus Prayer

A prayer that takes you out of yourself We all need a good dose of silent prayer each and every day. Finding that perfect place in your home that can become your cave, or prayer closet, will afford you that sacred space wherein you can go deep into the heart and connect with God. That place wherein you can close off your family, your worries, your job, your distractions, and go deep…

Keeping Watch

Holiness comes only to those who keep watch Not an hour should pass without taking time to examine our heart, for the hour of judgement can come at any time, and we must be ready to give account to God for our life. In the Gospel of Matthew (5:8), we read “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”. It is clear that without a humble and contrite heart…