Shame and Forgiveness and God

St. Theophan the Recluse has a wonderful commentary on Psalm 118 recently (2014) revised and published by St. John of Kronstadt Press.  I’m being both inspired and stretched by it.  I got to thinking about what the Church means when it talks about forgiveness by some of St. Theophan’s comments on verse 31 of Psalm 118. I have cleaved to Your testimonies, O Lord; put me not to shame. St. Theophan’s commentary touches…

Love Is Enough

I have developed an on-line acquaintance with someone who works full-time with homeless people in a large city in Canada.  She sometimes asks me theological questions.  Sometimes she tells me a sad story and asks for my prayers.  She says of herself that she is Protestant on the outside and Orthodox on the inside. I get that.  Lot’s of people feed from the crumbs that fall from the Orthodox table.  I like…

The Least of These

One of the problems with reading the story of the Last Judgement as recorded in Matthew 25 is that it’s almost impossible to do so without missing the deeper meaning of the story.  The story of the Last Judgement is more commonly known as the “parable” of the sheep and the goats.  Interestingly, this story is not actually a parable.  Throughout the Gospels, most of what Jesus says about the Kingdom of Heaven,…

Advice On Psalmody

In the middle of Homily 54 of St. Isaac’s Ascetical Homilies, he begins a set of paragraphs with the question, “Do you wish to take delight in the psalmody of your liturgy and to understand the oracles of the Spirit which you recite?”  In the following three paragraphs, St. Isaac gives specific advice on how to do this, how to take delight in psalmody. He begins by saying that one should disregard…

The Trouble With Balance

You will often hear people speak of the importance of having balance in our lives.  And generally speaking, it is a good idea to have a balanced life.  This is especially true if by having balance in our lives we mean that we try to avoid extreme attitudes or behaviours.  However, the trouble with the concept of having balance in our lives is that it is not a Christian concept.  That’s not to say…

Recognizing Empty Deceits

I’ve just had a very merry Christmas.  It was about as perfect as they come.  My daughter and her family came for a week (five children, including eleven-month old twins).  The services were beautiful and well attended.  And it snowed enough to feel Christmassy, but not so much that you couldn’t get out of the house and take the kids to the zoo, or McDonalds, or whatever might give mom a break…

Abbot Chapman Prays In The Rain

Spiritual Letters is a collection of letters written in the early part of the twentieth century by a Roman Catholic priest—and I highly recommend it to English speaking Orthodox Christians who want to be encouraged in prayer. The priest, Abbot John Chapman, was a very well educated Oxford graduate and devout Anglican who converted to Roman Catholicism in his mid twenties.  As a Roman Catholic he became a Benedictine monk, then a…

Being of One Mind: What It Is and Isn’t

One of the themes that resounds throughout St. Paul’s epistles is the exhortation that his spiritual children be of one mind, that they be likeminded.  In Romans and 1 Corinthians, St. Paul explicitly both prays for and commands that the believers be of one mind.  However, it is in the book of Philippians that St. Paul makes his most emotional plea—truly  of all of the Churches St. Paul wrote to, it is…

Admitting That We Hate

Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny (Matthew 5:25,26). It has been said by many others that the “adversary” in this saying from the…

Concern Over God’s Judgement: What Does It Look Like?

In homily 51, St. Isaac begins a paragraph by quoting St. Gregory (I don’t know which one): “He is a temple of grace who is united with God, and is constant in his concern over His judgement.”  St. Isaac then asks, “what is concern over God’s judgement?”  His answer is quite surprising, a non sequitur really.  He doesn’t actually deal with God’s judgement at all, at least not in the way that…