Everyday Ironies: Finding Salvation In The World

One of the biggest stumbling blocks many of us in the world face (by “in the world” I mean “not in a monastery”) is that almost all of the Orthodox spiritual advice written in books is written by monastics for monastics.  Therefore, a certain amount of discernment is called for, a certain amount of adjustment is needed, a kind of retuning of the material to fit a different key.  Those who are…

Reading Spiritual Texts: Knowing That You Don’t Know

“What brings sweetness is harder to perceive than that which brings bitterness” Abbess Arsenia I am reading a collection of letters by Abbess Arsenia, a nineteenth century Russian nun who acted as a spiritual mentor for Peter Brianchaninov, brother of St. Ignatius Brianchaninov.  St. Ignatius Brianchaninov is perhaps most famous today for his book, The Arena, in which he lays out some very practical and insightful advice for monks and anyone zealous…

Our Church / Our Family

Please register on-line for Holy Nativity’s Fall Conference: Our Church / Our Family with Dr. Philip Mamalakis.  It’s only two weeks away!  Register at holynativityconference.ca I’ve just finished his book, “Parenting Toward the Kingdom.”  I find his advice helpful and insightful. In addition to two talks on parenting, Dr. Mamalakis will be giving a talk on marriage relationships and a talk on Orthodoxy and contemporary mental health issues.

On Perceiving God’s Glory in Another

According to Serafim Seppälä*, St. Isaac the Syrian understands the perception of the angelic orders to be limited by their own natures.  That is, each rank of the heavenly orders—angels, archangels, thrones, dominions, powers, etc.— is able to perceive a higher rank, but only in so far as its own nature, it’s own ability to perceive God’s glory, allows it.   I admit that this is a rather esoteric observation, one that…

Response To A Question on Buddhist Meditation

A reader wrote that he had begun to discover himself through Buddhist meditation despite 25 years of Orthodox Christian practice.  He asked for my perspective.  This is what I wrote him. Dear E, I don’t know enough about Buddhism or specifically about Buddhist meditation to make any sort of intelligent comment.  Neither do I know you personally nor your experience as an Orthodox Christian nor your actual practice of meditation.  Therefore, I…

Some Thoughts On Anger

If I were to venture a guess as to the most commonly confessed passion that I hear in confessions, I would say that it is anger.  Just about everyone is angry.  According to many of the saints, anger and misdirected desire are the two main passions from which all vices and passions come.  The sources of anger can be varied, but I think there are two sources of anger that are most…

The Resurrected Christ Comes To All

I wrote this today because it was on my mind.  It is probably too preachy and predictable.  Nonetheless, it may encourage someone, so I offer it.   There are five Sundays between Pascha and Ascension.  The first two Sundays focus on people associated with Christ’s resurrection.  The next three Sundays focus on Christ coming to people with various problems: The righteous who suffer, those who fail in their theology and morality, and…

Why Am I a Practicing Orthodox Christian?

Why do I do it?  Why am I a practicing Orthodox Christian.  It’s not because it’s the true faith, the oldest form of Christianity, faithful to the teaching and worship of the ancient Church.  It is these things, but that’s not why I’m a practicing Orthodox Christian.  It’s possible to be convinced of the verity of Orthodox Christianity and still not want to be Orthodox.  An acquaintance of mine is also convinced…

On Closed Communion

The following is my response to one of my catechumens to the question of why the Orthodox Church practices a closed communion. Basically, Communion creates and defines our community, our being one with one another in Christ—i.e. eating of the one bread and of the one cup.  Historically, some people/groups separated themselves from the communion of the Church through heresies or immorality or aligning themselves with a heretical bishop.  Therefore, they are…

On Not Trying Harder

There are many situations in our struggle for holiness that require us to try harder.  Some such situations might include getting out of bed to pray—assuming that you went to bed at a reasonable hour the night before and have slept adequately.   Not getting out of bed to pray just because one doesn’t want to is a classic situation that might call for one to try harder.  Another situation that might…