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,…

What Does Asceticism Look Like?

One of the temptations of being an Orthodox priest and pastor is to present a view of the spiritual life and the ascetic path by which one develops his or her relationship with God in the Church as if it were essentially one thing, as if there were only one way for everyone—and I knew what that way looks like.  A lot of the reason for this, in my own experience, has…

None Of Us Can Do Everything

In chapter 21 of the homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian, the Saint gives some useful, but what may seem at first to be controversial, advice.  St. Isaac presents this advice in the context of a conversation between a younger hermit and an older, more experienced one.  The younger hermit asks the older one what he should do:  “Many times I obtain a thing I have need of because of illness, or…

Stretching Out Our Hands In Mercy

In this season of repentance, let us stretch out our hands in works of mercy; and then the ascetic struggles of the fast will bring us to eternal life. For nothing saves the soul so much as generosity to those in need, and alms giving combined with fasting will deliver a man from death. Let us do all of this with gladness, for there is no better way, and it will bring…