A Priest’s Rights

I’m finally home from my running around all summer.  It feels good to be (mostly) home for the next nine months. One of my trips early this summer was to a clergy symposium.  The speaker was Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos.  I was amazed and blessed by both his presence and his teaching.  It wasn’t that His Eminence Hierotheos said much that was particularly new or unknown—certainly not if you have read some of…

Reforestation and The Healing Of The Soul

It’s August first, 14 degrees (57f) and raining: Welcome to my world. Actually it is a beautiful day, if you wear a little more than a tee shirt and if you’re somewhat at peace with yourself.  A lot of our life is like this.  On days that we expect sun and good times, it rains–sometimes it rains for days on end and it seems as if we will never see the sun…

Disappointment With Church Leaders

Last week we had our annual diocesan conference in Phoenix, AZ.  Although it was 45 degrees at the beginning of the week without a cloud in sight, by the end of the week it had cooled down to a comfortable 35 with a few showers—not the soaking, misty rain as we know it on Canada’s Pacific Coast, but rather big, heavy drops that fell about 30 centimetres apart and didn’t really wet…

On Saving Our Souls

  [Written in Phoenix, Arizona, at the diocesan Parish Life Confernce.  No rain in sight.] Recently someone wrote and asked me this Questions: “How many functions of the soul are there and what are they?” This is a questions that many great saints of the Church have devoted pages and pages to answer. Basically, the five volumes of the Philokalia are a kind of anthology of holy Fathers from the fourth to…

Some Thoughts on Rightly-Directed Zeal

In my last blog I spoke of one of the ways zeal can be wrongly directed.  Today I’d like to share a few thoughts on rightly directed zeal based on the 55th homily of St. Isaac the Syrian.  Let’s begin with this quote: In the beginning of its movement, the impulse of a desire of good is accompanied by a certain zeal, similar to coals of fire in its fervent heat.  Such…

Wrongly Directed Zeal

St. Isaac the Syrian speaks of two kinds of zeal.  In homily 51 he speaks of a “sick” zeal, a “wrong” zeal.  And in homily 55 St. Isaac speaks of zeal as a “watchdog” and “shield” of the soul.  However, to say these are two different kinds of zeal is not quite correct.  Both find their origin in the natural, “incensive” faculty of the soul.  This is an old English word that…

Deeds, Disposition and Humility

…[Christ] honours obedience by His actions, and experiences it by suffering.  Just as in our case, the mere disposition is an unsatisfactory thing unless we give it practical effect—for deeds are the proof of dispositions.  We may perhaps also make the not invalid assumption that He tests our obedience by the art of His philanthropy, and measures all our sufferings against His own, so that He is able to understand our condition…

Being Saved Together

In St. Gregory Palamas’ 25th homily on All Saints Day, the first Sunday after Pentecost, written about 1350, he interprets Matthew 10: 38-42 in a way that I have found very helpful in my spiritual life.  In the context of Matthew 10, Jesus is giving final instructions to his disciples before he sends them out to “ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons.”  Here is the passage from…

Evangelism According To St. Isaac The Syrian

When you wish to exhort someone toward the good, at first give comfort to his body and honour him with words of love.  For nothing so persuades a man to feel shame, and causes him to exchange his evils for what is better, as the bodily benefactions and the honour which he receives from you.  And a second means of persuasion is a man’s diligent effort to make himself a laudable example. …

Patience: What Growth In Christ Looks Like

A small but always persistent discipline is a great force; for a soft drop, falling persistently, hollows out hard rock…. When patience greatly increases in our soul, it is a sign that we have secretly received the grace of consolation.  The power of patience is stronger than the joyful thoughts that descend into the heart.  (St. Isaac the Syrian, Homily 48) When Jesus told His followers that they must eat His flesh…