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…

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…