Choice

The liberty of choice is either to receive or reject God’s love Orthodox Christians believe there is nothing we can do to earn salvation. It is a gift from God and one that must be freely received by us. We are free to reject God because His offer to us is based on relationship and dependent upon our cooperation. God…

Sovereignty

And 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,…

Witnessing for Christ

Sharing the truth in a world devoid of hope If you wish to share the truth of the Orthodox Church, and Christ Who is her head, you must give witness to the love of Christ by loving everyone. Without Christ, Orthodoxy is just another religion, devoid of the power to transform and deify the human heart. Without Christ the Church…

Humility

The monk’s quest for humility 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,…

A Sympathetic Heart  

The importance of cultivating a sympathetic heart We humans are an odd species. We are capable of great sensitivity and compassion, yet we are also capable of terrible cruelty. Staring at people with facial deformities, or who may have peculiar, physically malformed bodies, may satisfy our innate curiosity, but the cruelty inflicted upon the sufferer is great. As a child…

The Mystery of the Church

And the corporate nature of salvation There is a certain emptiness in trying to live the Christian life outside the life of the Church. This is because it is impossible to truly live as a Christian without the Church. The reading of the scriptures, and our commitment to prayer, are important foundations in the life of a Christian, but they…

The Bee or the Fly?

Looking only for the good in others The newly glorified (canonized) Saint Paisios of the Holy Mountain said there are two types of people. There are the bees and the flies. The bees are attracted to flowers and sweet smells, whereas the flies are only attracted to dirt and stench. Ask a bee where there is stench, and he will…

Priests

Priests must serve as beacons of light The cure for all the passions of the flesh is to be found within the walls of Church. As the Body of Christ, the Church is the foundation of compassion and mercy. It is therefore not Christ’s Church that fails people, but sometimes her priests who can get caught up in the letter…

The Garden

Tending the garden of the heart Both my Norwegian 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…

The Chief Criterion

The fulfillment of the law is love 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 liturgical…

Compassion

None can be saved without showing compassion for others We must not be so self-consumed as to have no compassion for others. Saint Basil tells us that a man who has two coats or two pair of shoes, when his neighbor has none, is a thief.  In the Holy Scriptures we read, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness…

I Don’t Know Anything

Yet I am fortified and protected by the Light of Christ 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…