Liturgical Boundaries: Praying for the World, Communing the Faithful

The question is sometimes asked: “Who may the Church pray for in its Liturgy?” What are proper subjects for the Church’s ministry of intercession? For example, may we pray for the repose of non-Orthodox and intone the “Memory eternal” for them? May we commemorate them at the Proskomedia? Should we differentiate between Orthodox and non-Orthodox in the Litany of Fervent Supplication—perhaps by using two separate columns for the names? What boundaries should…

In Praise of Old Wolves

Many decades ago, I was a Wolf Cub. This is not, of course, a confession of lycanthropy, but of my membership in an organization for young boys. The Wolf Cub organization was patterned after The Jungle Books written by Rudyard Kipling, and founded by Lord Baden-Powell (1857-1941). I still have the thin red textbook of the Cubs, entitled, “Tenderpad to Second Star” (i.e. from the first initiation to getting the reward of…

Christmas and the Humility of Yahweh

To really appreciate and understand the Old Testament, one needs to place it in the religious and cultural context of the Ancient Near East. Having done this, one can then see how much the Old Testament shares with that world and also how much it differs. Take, for example, the Tabernacle that Yahweh commanded Moses to construct, the house and shrine where He would dwell in the midst of His people. The…

Who Is My Neighbour: the Rise of a Snitch Culture

The current Covid pandemic is leaving many people scrambling, doing their best to navigate through (the now proverbial) uncharted waters. Government workers are trying to devise policies to combat the pandemic while inflicting as little harm on the economy as possible, and frontline health care workers are stressed and overworked. (And no, I am not going to discuss these wider aspects of the pandemic in the comments section.) None of what follows…

The Beatitudes – “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake”

We conclude our series on the Beatitudes with an examination of our Lord’s words, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” This Beatitude overflows into the next one: “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven”. We note…

The Beatitudes – “Blessed are the peace-makers”

We continue with our series on the Beatitudes. Today we examine our Lord’s words, “Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” In our modern culture dominated by the United Nations, the idea of a peace-maker inevitably conjures up pictures of a third party diplomat trying to reconcile warring groups. But that is not what the picture that would have been imagined by our Lord’s original hearers…