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…

Receiving Christ and satan

I ran across a quote today from St. Cyril of Alexandria that really grabbed my attention.  I read it in a pamphlet at a Roman Catholic bookstore.  I did a quick google search to see if I could track down the exact source of the quotation—chapter and verse, so to speak.  I don’t like quoting sources that I have not tracked down myself and verified.  However, although this quote appears in many…

Where Vices and Virtues Come From

I’ve been reading through Andrew Louth’s Introducing Eastern Orthodox Theology.  It’s a challenging book, I find, but I’m quite enjoying it.  In a section that discusses an Eastern Orthodox response to evolution, Fr. Andrew provides a translation of a few paragraphs from St. Gregory of Nyssa’s work, On the Creation of the Human and explains how St. Gregory and many of the Fathers of the Church understood the animal (and indeed plant-like) nature of…

Speaking of Silence and Boasting of Humility

“For even profitable words, spoken without measure, produce darkness, how much more so does vain talk.” (St. Isaac the Syrian, Homily 48) I feel a little crazy sometimes, like an idiot—not a godly, holy idiot, just a plain, old-fashioned idiot: the kind that boasts of humility and speaks about the virtue of silence. It seems strange to feel compelled to talk about the virtues of silence.  Perhaps I am my own negative…

My Dog As A Mirror

I have a great six-year old German Shepherd named Kota.  She is intelligent, obedient, and easily bored.  I can train her to do almost anything a few times.  She will fetch, roll over, play dead, spin around and do all sorts of dogie tricks—three or four times.  That’s it.  And unless you have some really good—and I mean really good—treat for her, she just won’t chase after that ball any more. Kota…

convolvulus arvensis 

Every spring I muse on the weeds in my garden.  A particularly demonic weed (from my perspective) is convolvulus arvensis: Bindweed.  Once you’ve got it, you’ve got it.  The only way to get rid of it completely is to kill everything using something like Roundup—and that’s only if it has not flowered.  If it has flowered and produced seeds, well then you are looking at 20 years of volunteer bindweed. I am not…