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…

Knowledge As The Infancy Of Love

In homily 47, St. Isaac introduces his famous three degrees of knowledge, which I have spoken about at length before.  Today, I’d like to take a closer look at some aspects of the first degree of knowledge. St. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 8:1 that knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.  Because Paul sets up this contrast between knowledge and love, it’s easy to assume that they are somehow opposites, or tensions…

Holding Thorny Hands

A couple of weeks ago, a disturbed young man got onto the metro train in Vancouver and began acting erratically and shouting and cursing.  As people in the car began moving away from him, one woman did the opposite.  A seventy-year old woman moved toward the man and reached out her hand and gently held his hand.  She just gently put her hand in his.  The man immediately calmed down, and then,…

Stillness and Love: Shunning Your Neighbour To Love Your Neighbour?

St. Isaac the Syrian’s homily 44 is one of his several very difficult homilies.  It is difficult not because it is hard to understand.  Exactly the opposite is the case.  It is quite straight forward and easy to understand.  I understand it, and I am offended by it.  Homily 44 is a letter written to another monk who loves stillness exhorting him to guard that stillness by avoiding contact with others.  St.…

Learning To Love The Lover Of My Soul

One the contemporary Elders, and now recognized Saint, who has helped me the most over the past decade or so has been Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalivia.  The book, Wounded by Love, is about his life and some of his sayings.  It’s a book that I have read several times, and each time it has inspired and corrected me.  The broad inspirational appeal of Saint Porphyrios can be partly seen in that my…

On What Is Only Mine To Give

Mother Alexandra, formally Princess Ileana of Romania, back in 1960 wrote a little booklet called “Our Father: Meditations on The Lord’s Prayer.”  The booklet is divided into fourteen prayers each focusing on a phrase from the Lord’s Prayer and arranged to be prayed with one’s morning and evening prayers over a week (so there’s a morning and an evening prayer for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc.).  In the very last prayer, the prayer…

Some Thoughts on Fear

For a while, when I was in my 30s, I was into rock climbing.  I never scaled any really large faces, although I did do a few three pitch climbs (a pitch is a little less than the length of a rope—50 metres). There are several levels of fear and even kinds of fear that one must encounter and work through as one climbs. There are irrational fears, like the fear of…

Shedding the Fear of God’s Wrath

Sister Vassa in her post on the Sunday of the Last Judgement says that the fear of God, when it is healthy, is manifest in us by the fear of disregarding our own conscience; for, as St. Isaac the Syrian says, our conscience is the voice of God within us. Many people struggle, however, with a different understanding of the fear of God. For them, fear of God refers to a fear…

Love and Fear and Love

“For even true and genuine sons, ten parts of love should be mixed with five parts of fear.”   St. Isaac the Syrian The world is an unequal place. Some are born, as they say, with a silver spoon in their mouths; some are born into a world of need and instability. Some are born slaves, St. Isaac says, and some are born free; some are born into circumstances conducive to the…

Hebrews 10:24

“And let us consider one another to stir up love and good works.” (NKJV) “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (NIV). For many years—most of my adult life really—I read the NIV translation of the Bible. This verse in Hebrews played an important role in how I understood relationships among Christians were supposed to work. That is, I thought we were supposed…