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…

Finding and Following Our Heart

I mentioned in a previous blog post that the fathers and mothers of the Church often use words differently, and that you can’t always pin down the exact definition of words like soul, mind, heart and spirit.  But this inconsistency is not unusual among Christian spiritual writers.  In English there are several ways we use the term ‘heart,’ and it is often unclear what exactly people mean when the say things like,…

St. Isaac And The Passions

In the comment section of a previous post, these questions were asked.  I thought I would address my response in a full blog post.  I hope it makes sense. Two questions Father: 1) Can you explain more how the passions can never fully be uprooted from the soul? I tend to think of the soul as only having good qualities, and now becoming Orthodox I see that this is not what the…

Marriage, Sex and Lent

There are some in the Orthodox Tradition who have said that married couples should abstain from sexual relations during lenten periods.  Some have gone so far as to say that this is the teaching of the Church.  I am not an expert on such things, so I will not venture an opinion on whether or not it is the teaching of the Church or whether or not it is merely pious opinion.  However,…