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…

Things That Remain

I have recently returned from a pilgrimage to Alaska, travelling aboard a (very non-ascetic) cruise ship, in the company of a number of other pilgrims led by Fr. Michael Oleksa and Fr. Laurent Cleenewerck, both of whom gave some talks to the group as we sailed north from Seattle. Fr. Michael gave the lion share of the talks, speaking to the group about the original Alaskan mission with his customary insight and…

The Orthodox Church and an Organic Western Rite

In my last post I pointed out several things which were problematic about the current Western Rite used in the Orthodox Church, including its artificiality and lack of organic growth within the flow of history. Today I would like to meditate a little more on how liturgical traditions grow organically. One of the arguments often used in promoting the Western Rite within Orthodoxy is the observation that the Orthodox Church is not…

The Western Rite and the Flow of History

A minor debate within Orthodoxy has concerned what has been called “the Western Rite”. By this term is meant an (often doctored) version of the text of the Roman Catholic Mass or the Anglican Communion Service. Is the substitution of this Western Rite in place of the Byzantine Divine Liturgy advisable for Orthodox churches? Is it even legitimate? I would like to examine this question as dispassionately as possible, keenly aware that…

Can a Christian be Demon-possessed?

Believe it or not, I am sometimes asked the question “Can a Christian be demon-possessed?” Not often, admittedly, since our culture declares that demons do not exist, and that anyone who imagines that demons do in fact exist should probably be locked up and not let out with their keeper. Belief in angels is sometimes allowed (though presumably not by people like atheistic Richard Dawkins), because that belief makes us feel good,…

Loving the Sinner

The concept of loving the sinner while hating the sin has fallen upon hard times. Fallen man finds it very difficult to hold in tension the notion that one must love the sinner along with the notion that one must hate the sin which the sinner commits. It is easy—far too easy—to equate the sinner with his sin and conclude that because the sin is an abomination the sinner must therefore be…