Self-Esteem

The idolatry of self-esteem Among the contributors to self-worship, is the possibility of falling into a form of idolatry associated with self-esteem. It is easy to fall into this form of idolatry, since our society has placed a great deal of emphasis on the need for self-esteem. The modern religion of psychoanalysis has promoted self-esteem as though it were the…

Closed Communion

Why only baptized Orthodox Christians may commune When a stranger approaches the Holy Gifts during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy it is the norm in the Orthodox Church for the priest to ask the person to “kiss the chalice”. Not knowing if the person is Orthodox, or whether they are in good standing with the Church, the priest can…

Love and Mercy

Wherein the temporal and the eternal are connected We can be rich in liturgical correctness and wealthy in traditions, but if we do not have love and mercy, we are in reality bankrupt. Our Lord Himself made love and mercy the chief criterion whereby we will be judged on the Last Day. The fulfillment of the law is love, not…

Darkness and Light

Letting the Light of Christ overcome my darkness A number of years ago I was asked by Father James Steele, the kind and humble rector of Saint Elias Russian Orthodox Church in Placerville, CA., to speak as part of his parish outreach program. Led by this amazing priest, and some of the most missionary minded parishioners I have ever encountered,…

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,…