Everyday Ironies: Finding Salvation In The World

One of the biggest stumbling blocks many of us in the world face (by “in the world” I mean “not in a monastery”) is that almost all of the Orthodox spiritual advice written in books is written by monastics for monastics.  Therefore, a certain amount of discernment is called for, a certain amount of adjustment is needed, a kind of retuning of the material to fit a different key.  Those who are…

Reading Spiritual Texts: Knowing That You Don’t Know

“What brings sweetness is harder to perceive than that which brings bitterness” Abbess Arsenia I am reading a collection of letters by Abbess Arsenia, a nineteenth century Russian nun who acted as a spiritual mentor for Peter Brianchaninov, brother of St. Ignatius Brianchaninov.  St. Ignatius Brianchaninov is perhaps most famous today for his book, The Arena, in which he lays out some very practical and insightful advice for monks and anyone zealous…

Response To A Question on Buddhist Meditation

A reader wrote that he had begun to discover himself through Buddhist meditation despite 25 years of Orthodox Christian practice.  He asked for my perspective.  This is what I wrote him. Dear E, I don’t know enough about Buddhism or specifically about Buddhist meditation to make any sort of intelligent comment.  Neither do I know you personally nor your experience as an Orthodox Christian nor your actual practice of meditation.  Therefore, I…

Finding A Spiritual Father

Saint Porphyrios I received an e-mail yesterday from someone asking advice on how to find a spiritual father.  I had to tell him that finding a spiritual father, in one sense, is very difficult and may take a lifetime.  In fact, if by finding a spiritual father he means that he is looking for a relationship with a spiritual mentor that is like what one reads about in the Philokalia or the…