Sovereignty

Our capacity to reject the will of God According to Saint Gregory Palamas, God has given us lordship over all the earth because of our capacity for sovereignty. With this sovereignty comes the responsibility to be good stewards of that which God has given us. Saint Gregory wrote, “There is within our soul’s nature a governing and ruling faculty, and there is also that which is naturally subservient and obedient, namely, will,…

A Eucharistic Ethos

Christianity is incompatible with wastefulness As Orthodox monks we hold to the importance of respecting the environment, which requires us to be good stewards of what God has given us. An important part of that stewardship is working towards sustainability, based on a simple principle that everything we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment.  When balance is maintained, we can coexist with the…

Fearing to Love

He who does not love remains in death There are those who fear commitment for fear of loss. They fear the other will either leave them, or be lost in death, so they remain aloof from any possible relationship. Some put on a facade of indifference, for fear of rejection, depriving themselves of any possible happiness. In fear of possible loss, they become the ultimate losers, for the happiness that comes in…

The Holiest Place

The holiest place is where you are Twenty-nine years ago I made a pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain of Athos, where I was able to visit seven ancient monasteries. Upon my return to the United States, I asked by spiritual father, the Ever-Memorable Archimandrite Dimitri, for a blessing to return to Mt. Athos, where I said I’d like to spend the remainder of my life in monastic repentance. Father Dimitri told me…

The Struggle for 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. There is no spiritual improvement if we do not seek to please God with holiness of life. If we find good in our deeds, we must attribute it to God.…

Developing the Heart

We must not educate the mind while ignoring the heart The stress that is placed upon the importance of educating the mind is enormous. Without a good solid education, we are told, our life will amount to nothing. One of my grandmothers grew up in Wisconsin as a simple, uneducated woman. She worked much of her life as a laundry woman, spoke in simple ways, and loved God and her family with…

Love Everyone

How can we possibly love everyone? We are instructed by Christ to love our neighbors as ourselves, and even to love our enemies. There are always individuals who come into our lives that we find difficult to like, let alone love. Given this, how do we follow the commandment of Christ to love everyone? As Christians we venerate icons of Christ, among them those showing Christ suffering on the cross. When the…

Despondency

When despondency seizes us 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, was from God. As a…

Silence

Entering into the Silence All Orthodox Christians are aware of the importance of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, in our journey to God. These three practices are at the heart of our faith. Prayer is our way of communicating with God on a daily basis, and fasting days (Wednesdays and Fridays) are called for throughout the Church Year. As Christians, we are also obligated to give alms to the poor, as demonstrated throughout the…

The Right to Life

Those who use abortifacients commit homicide–Saint Clement The heinous crimes committed by ISIS have shocked the civilized world. Burning innocent men alive, stoning women in the streets of Islamic countries, beheading captive Christians, and raping women with such abject cruelty and total disregard for the life of another human, have stunned us all. How anyone, in the name of religion, could be so depraved as to murder others, and cause such horrid…

Helping the Vulnerable

With authority comes responsibility When people are hurting, and seeking professional help, they are vulnerable, and the trust they place in the professional makes them particularly open to exploitation. This is why we must have institutions and lines of authority that hold professionals accountable. We can not allow anyone who is vulnerable, be they a child, or an adult, to be exploited. The bottom line is that we are all fallen, and…

In Sorrow

Bound together in a community of sorrow Many years, ago, I met Richard, Rose, Savannah, and Ryan on a forest trail, where we discovered to our joy, we had many connections: we were connected in very general ways as people who live on Vashon Island. We were connected more intimately in that we lived quite close to one another in the Village of Dockton. Even more intimately, we shared a religious and…