Humility And Patience In Trials

In my last blog post, I spoke of two categories of trials discussed by St. Isaac in homily 42: trials that are the fruit of pride and trials that are allowed by God to create longing and are evidence of one drawing near to God.  Before I get into what St. Isaac says about patience and humility at the end of homily 42, I want correct a potential misunderstanding some of you…

Joy And Fear Together: St. Isaac Helps Us Discern Our Trials

Continuing in homily 42, St. Isaac gives us another warning.  When you find unchanging peace, that is, when everything is going smoothly for you most of the time, then “beware: you are very far from the divine paths trodden by the weary feet of the saints.  For as long as you are journeying in the way to the city of the Kingdom and are drawing nigh to the city of God, this…

St. Isaac’s Warning Applied to Advice From Holy Elders

In Homily 42, St. Isaac the Syrian makes an interesting statement about spiritual guidance.  He says, “Do not seek advice from a man who does not lead a life similar to your own, even if he be very wise.”  St. Isaac goes on, “Confide your thoughts to a man who, though he lack learning, has experience in things, rather than to a learned philosopher who speaks on the basis of speculations, having…

The Almost Blind Leading the Almost Blind: Theosis For Those Who Do Not See Very Well

Often when I am answering questions from inquirers, I realize that I am saying (or writing) something that might be a blessing to others.  When that happens, I usually ask the person I am responding to if he or she would mind if I used some of what I have written to them as the basis of a blog post and podcast.  Yesterday I did my best to answer some questions from…

Individualism and Charismatic Delusion

In an on-going discussion with my inquiring friend today, I respond to two questions.  First, why do traditional Christians call priests father; and second, why do we pray to saints (i.e. why don’t we just go to God ourselves)?  My friend is familiar with contemporary Charismatic Protestant Christianity, so I refer to this below. You know, both those questions are related in many ways. Today we are such individualists that it is hard…

Suicide and Hell

A friend of mine who is an Orthodox inquirer recently asked me some questions about hell.  My friend has been a paramedic for many years and has tried to save (sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing) the lives of many suicides.  Knowing that the mental state and the life circumstances of these suicides vary greatly, my friend was concerned that the Church seems to condemn all suicides to hell.  I explained to my friend that…

Cold Rain, Wind And Fog. Repeat.

Maybe it’s just the weather: Cold rain, wind and fog.  Repeat. I haven’t blogged for a few weeks because I haven’t had anything to say that I feel confident enough about to write an essay on it.  Or, when I have felt confident, it has been a combative, argumentative spirit that leaves me tied in knots inside—a hellish eddy in the river of my experience that I would not wish to inflict on…

Meeting God in Unanswered Prayer

Someone, apparently a young adult, wrote me recently and asked about prayer.  This person was having a hard time discerning the difference between worry and prayer.  He or she was wondering if prayer, although salutary to ourselves, really does have an effect on those we pray for.  Particularly, this person was worried about and/or praying for his or her parents who seemed to be getting further and further apart.  Did God hear his/her…

Your Kingdom Come: Transfiguration

There is one more thing that I’d like to say about “Your Kingdom come” before we move on.  It seems rather obvious, though in all my years of bible reading, I never saw it until a couple of years ago.  I was reading a collection of ancient Greek homilies on the Transfiguration of Christ (in translation, of course—my Greek isn’t that good).  What several of these homilies pointed out almost shocked me…

Sinful Dreams and Spiritual Warfare

A catechumen once asked what he could do to get victory over bad dreams: especially lustful dreams that roused his passions and often led him into temptation. I told him that this is one of those aspects of life in a fallen body that must be resisted and endured. One of the ways satan seeks to weary and wear out the saints (or those who strive to be holy) is through the…