The First Step

The journey to God begins with the first step The spiritual struggle that is required of us can not depend on having a spiritual father. Most Orthodox Christians do not have one, and the average parish priest is not equipped, either with the time, nor the inclination, to take on the role of spiritual father to members of his flock.…

The Chaplain

A monastic as a police and fire chaplain It has been a great blessing for me to have been serving as a police and fire chaplain for the past eighteen years. My interest in chaplaincy began when I was asked by a number of inmates to serve as their Orthodox chaplain in one of the state’s prisons. Spending one full…

The Holy Oblation

The place where heaven and earth are united As a priest, I bear the awesome burden of offering the Holy Oblation before the Throne of God, on behalf of all the people whose names are submitted to the monastery, and who are Orthodox. I offer for my spiritual children, and even for the whole world. I commemorate my own beloved…

Standing in Worship

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,…

Cloud of Witnesses

The saints are alive in Christ Jesus Vigil lights are placed before the icons of the saints, according to Saint Symeon the New Theologian, as a way of showing that without the Light, Who is Christ, the saints are nothing. It is only as the light of Christ shines on them that they become alive and resplendent. The saints show…

Tending Our Garden

We dare not ignore the cultivation of our own garden We teeter on the edge if we let ourselves be concerned about our neighbor’s garden rather than being concerned about the cultivation of our own garden. Judging another person’s spiritual life is one of the most dangerous things we can do, for judging another distracts us from fully living a…

Acquiring Holiness

Holiness comes only to those who struggle 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. When we practice the examination of the heart, we do so with the knowledge that there is no…

Joyfulness of Heart

Living out every day with joyfulness of heart 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…

Greater Virtue

The great virtue of forgiving others Many years ago I was dining with a monastic community, during one of my travels. I noticed a senior monk eating meat, and found myself judging him for not keeping the monastic tradition of avoiding meat. When visiting with one of the junior monks, much to my shame, I commented on how horrified I…

Fighting Polarization

We must all learn to respect differences of opinion The cultural and spiritual warfare that is taking place in this country has served to divide many people, even pitting friends and family members against one another. Not since the Civil War have American’s been so divided. Conservatives are often seen as enemies and reactionaries by those holding to liberal views,…

True Wisdom

The energy of the mind inside the heart It has been said that humans are a microcosm of the whole universe because we have within ourselves the entire material world. Created as we were for immortality, it is our fallen nature that has separated us from that which God had intended. When we avail ourselves to the transformational healing that…

The Absence of Love

Christian morality, ethics, and liturgical services are inconceivable in the absence of love Our liturgical rites and religious traditions are of no value if we have not love and mercy. When we rise to a sincere evangelical love for others, we become God’s collaborators, for our Christian love and mercy is the most divine trait possible for the human being.…