The Authority of the Fathers

We Orthodox are fond of referring to the Church Fathers as authorities within the Church. When faced with a new or controversial issue, an Evangelical Protestant will ask, “What does the Bible say?” A classic Roman Catholic will ask, “What has Rome said?” An Orthodox will respond, “What do the Fathers say?” By this one can correctly conclude that the Fathers function as authorities in the Orthodox Church. That said, we must…

Are You Comfortable?

Recently I was reading a foreign-language newspaper (well, the English part of it) and there was an article in it about the church. My eyes were first attracted to the article by a photo of an old priest in a stole, having a long white beard, and holding a prayer rope (not the photo at left). The article accompanying the photo read as follows: “The monk priest Fr. (name withheld) came from…

The Real Roots of Universalism

For gaining a deep insight into the minds of cross-sections of the populace, you can’t beat blogging. People will say in the comments section of a blog what they really think about certain topics (sometimes on topics only minimally related to the actual content of the blog piece), and often what they lack in civility they more than make up for in candour. Providing one’s skin is thick enough, reading the comments…

Spirit-Suffused Matter and the Ubiquity of the Demonic

In one part of the rite for hallowing water in the Orthodox baptismal service, we read the following: “The priest then blesses the water by dipping the fingers of his right hand into it and tracing the Sign of the Cross three times. He breathes on the water and says: ‘Let all adverse powers be crushed beneath the sign of the image of Your Cross. We pray You, O God, that every…

Sacred Sex

As the clergy reading this blog may perhaps attest, it is always interesting when a parishioner presses a book into your hand with the request, “Father, would you please read this and tell me what you think?” The book in question is rarely something like Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man, or Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, or (to bring it up to date a little more) David Bentley Hart’s Atheist Delusions. The last time…

Comfort in Affliction

Earth is very dangerous planet to live on—at least under the present circumstances. One day, in the age to come, the wolf will lie down with the lamb, the nursing child will play over the hole of the asp, and they shall not hurt or destroy in all God’s holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:6-9). But…