Concealing Our Sins

When we conceal our sins from our confessor A number of people have privately shared that they were hesitant to confess certain sins for fear of being embarrassed before their priest. One woman said she couldn’t handle the idea that a man would hear the details of her sinful actions, and wondered what the priest would think of her after…

The Reality of God

Some years ago I had the mother of a boy of about thirteen arrive at the monastery, son in tow. She was upset because her son had declared himself an atheist and she was afraid he was in danger of eternal damnation. I sat down with the boy and told him that each one of us has to come to…

The Whole Person

We are both soul and body Unlike angels, who are entirely spiritual beings, God has made each of us as creatures dwelling in a material world. To be whole, we must worship God both in body and soul. This teaching is central to our Christian faith and is an affirmation of the sacramental nature of this material world. Because of…

The Stars and Stripes Forever

Standing up to those who would destroy our nation’s heritage Earlier today it was announced that the statue of Christopher Columbus that has long stood before the state capital in Columbus, Ohio, has been removed. But what really shocked me was hearing that they are now considering changing the name of their city, seeing Christopher Columbus as responsible for the…

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…