The Two Sts. Pelagia of Antioch

On October 8, we commemorate two Sts. Pelagia of Antioch.  The first is a virgin martyr, and the second is a repentant harlot, sometimes referred to as St. Pelagia the former courtesan of Antioch. I first heard the story of St. Pelagia the virgin martyr from my bishop, shortly after he had arrived in California from Damascus.  I had just been ordained a deacon and was helping to run a large youth…

Thomas Sunday

We are coming to the end of Bright Week during which every day is Pascha.  Every day, in monastic practice, we celebrate a Paschal Divine Liturgy.  Every day the hymns reflect on the Resurrection of Christ rehearsing what exactly happened on that Day and reflecting on what it means cosmically and personally. All things are filled with gladness, having received the proof of the Resurrection.  For Mary Magdalene came to the tomb;…

Tuesday Evening of Holy Week

On Tuesday evening of Holy Week, we commemorate the anointing of Jesus’ feet by the sinful woman.  The hymns for this service contrast the beauty of her humility and repentance with the betrayal of Judas.  Of all of the hymns that we chant throughout the year, I think tonight’s hymns are the most beautiful and profound. The harlot came to You who love humanity.  She poured perfume and tears over your feet,…

The Manuscript of Our Life

   In St. Isaac the Syrian’s homily 62, St. Isaac offers us the metaphor of a manuscript in rough draft to help us understand why on-going repentance is important for Christians regardless of their real or imagined state of spiritual maturity.  Here is the paragraph that uses the metaphor: Life in the world is like a manuscript of writings that is still in rough draft.  When a man wishes or desires to…

Admitting That We Hate

Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny (Matthew 5:25,26). It has been said by many others that the “adversary” in this saying from the…

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…

Avoiding and Getting Out of Pits

I When many of the Fathers of the Church warn us to keep active and aware, they are not speaking of physical actions and good works—although good works are always good to do.  By staying active, they are referring to the action of the nous or of the mind/heart: active in the inner man.  We stay active in our nous through constant prayer, often by learning to constantly recite a short prayer, most commonly,…

What Must I Do To Be Saved?

A Protestant acquaintance of mine was able to hear Archbishop Joseph speak this past weekend. He was impressed and (perhaps half jokingly) wrote to me referring to those who heard St. Peter’s first sermon: “what must I do to be saved?” He also wrote later, “what must I do to repent?” Below is my response. Perhaps others will find it interesting. I’m glad you were able to be there. Yes, His Eminence,…