The Banishment of Hell

The Lenten Journey and the banishment of hell One of my favorite authors as a young man, was Thomas Merton, the famous Trappist monk. In the introduction to his work New Seeds of Contemplation he wrote: “Hell was where no one has anything in common with anyone else except the fact that they all hate one other and cannot get…

Orthodoxy

A religion for the sick Our Orthodox Church has always seen herself as a hospital for the soul, the place where her children can seek healing. It is within her walls that we find the medicine we need to make us holy (whole), and where we can find the means for transformation that opens the doors to the Kingdom of…

Watchfulness

The guarding of the heart Watchfulness has been described by Elder Ephraim of Philotheou as “the axe which shatters the large trees, hitting their roots. When the root is struck, it doesn’t spring up again.” A conscientious attention to our thoughts is an important tactic in spiritual warfare, and is necessary if we are to have effective weapons that are…

The Place

Returning to where it all began A number of years ago I joined my younger brother, Dwayne, for a travel back in time, to places that were important to our youthful formation. This visit turned out to be one of the best I’ve had with my brother, and the highlight was the day we drove to a remote portion of…

Sin as Illness

The Church as the Hospital of the Soul Our Orthodox Faith defines sin as an illness that is in need of healing, not as a crime that requires punishment. The Church is a hospital for the soul whose therapists (priests) first sought therapy and then became the therapists. As a healing institution the Church is the place for broken souls.…

Rejected

When people don’t forgive There are people who insist on holding on to resentment, often inventing situations in their minds that never happened, justifying their bad behavior, and putting the blame on others. They see themselves as the abused party, always quick to take offense. Rarely are they able to have healthy relationships, for they are in reality, the abusers.…

Why Do You Judge Your Brother?

Standing up against a critical spirit Fearing the loss of control, we construct a wall of defense around us, keeping authenticity at bay. Fearing rejection, we see ourselves as unlovable, and blame others. Knowing we are inauthentic, we flee from the truth by becoming critical of others. We lie to ourselves, and to others, hiding our insecurity and unworthiness, and…

Struggling 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…

Theologians

Theologians are those who have mastered the art of prayer Evagrius Ponticus wrote that “If you are a theologian, you will pray truly. And if you pray truly, you are a theologian.” (Treatise On Prayer, 61). There are only a few Orthodox saints who’ve been given the honor of being called, “theologians”. Saint John the Theologian, and Saint Symeon the…

Deceitfulness

We must strive to always be truthful In our daily encounters with our spouses, family, friends, and coworkers, we must always strive to be truthful. Deceitfulness must never be allowed to be a part of our life, for deceitfulness in relationships with others will always translate into being untruthful with God. Our relationships with others and our relationship with God…

The Battle

If we are to win the battle, we must focus only on our own sins When we take our eyes off our own sins we focus only on the sins of the other.  As their sins get our attention, we fail to struggle with the passions that keep us from the wholeness that God intended, and we move  ever closer…

Hollow Orthodoxy

Taking Orthodoxy beyond the self-congratulatory We must guard against noticing when another parishioner seems careless in the making of the sign of the cross, while we go about demonstrating for all around us, the proper way. Making sweeping signs of the cross that are done in such a way as to be almost a caricature, following up with profound bows,…