An Akathist for Matushka Olga

Sanctity is self-authenticating.  That is, Christians know and recognize real holiness when they see it.  We do not need to wait for Synods of Bishops to officially declare someone a saint in a canonical act of glorification before we can know that he (or she) was a saint.  Indeed, it is because of this prior recognition of sanctity on the part of the Christian community that the official pronouncements of episcopal synods…

Part Two: Not Like Religion – the Christian Calendar

In a previous post we looked at the difference between the Christian Faith and all the other religions, and suggested that the main difference lay in the fact that Christianity was not a religion, but rather the saving presence of Christ in the world, and through His Spirit, our participation in the powers of the age to come. The idea that Christianity is not a religion comes as a surprise to many,…

Part One: Not Like Religion – the Christian Clergy

According to Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Orthodox Christianity is not a religion. In his For the Life of the World, he wrote, “Christianity is in a profound sense the end of all religion…Nowhere in the New Testament is Christianity presented as a cult or as a religion. Religion is needed where there is a wall of separation between God and man. But Christ, who is both God and man, has broken down the…

See You in August!

Just a quick note to my dear online friends:  I will be on vacation and away from the office from July 19 to August 5.  During this time I will not be able to receive, moderate, or post any comments to my blog.  So, if you do post, please don’t wonder why your comments are not appearing immediately.  I am not ignoring your comments, but walking the beaches of Oregon and reading…

The Johannine Pentecost and the Social Context of the Early Church

Ever since my college days many centuries ago, I have been reading about “the Johannine Pentecost”, by which scholars meant John’s version of the Pentecostal bestowal of the Spirit. The reference, of course, is to John 20:19-23. In this post-Resurrection appearance of Christ to His disciples, Jesus greets them by saying, “Peace be with you”, adding, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you”. He then “breathed on them” [Greek…

Replying to Sr. Vassa’s Mail

Recently Sr. Vassa Larin (famous for her “Coffee with Sr. Vassa” podcast) has attracted much and varied attention from a correspondence she published in which she replied to a question from a woman of a fourteen year old boy about how to handle her son’s “coming out”. (The mother’s question and Sr. Vassa’s response may be accessed here.)  Her advice, prefaced by a disclaimer of sorts that it was but her “personal…