Meeting God in Unanswered Prayer

Someone, apparently a young adult, wrote me recently and asked about prayer.  This person was having a hard time discerning the difference between worry and prayer.  He or she was wondering if prayer, although salutary to ourselves, really does have an effect on those we pray for.  Particularly, this person was worried about and/or praying for his or her parents who seemed to be getting further and further apart.  Did God hear his/her…

A Small Affliction Born For God’s Sake

A small affliction borne for God’s sake is better before God than a great work performed without tribulation; for affliction willingly borne brings to light the proof of love…. St. Isaac The Syrian: Homily 36 Someone has famously said, the exact attribution is under dispute, that it is not the mountain that wears us out but the grain of sand in our shoe.  St. Isaac is, I think, saying something similar.  In…

A Charismatic Learns To Take Up Her Cross

I am rereading a book that I read on my way to becoming Orthodox almost twenty years ago.  The book is Abbess Thaisia: An Autobiography.  It is published by St. Herman Brotherhood Press.  When the Charismatic Protestant community that I was a part of first discovered Holy Orthodoxy, our only contact with the the Orthodox Church was through the books published by the St. Herman Brotherhood—who at that time published books mainly…

Surviving The Valleys

Homily 70 One of the realities of created life in this fallen world is variableness, according to St. Isaac the Syrian.  Variableness is the reality of change, both good and bad. In a sense, you can say that this variableness of life is what mankind chose (and continues to choose) in the Garden of Eden by eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Life as we…

Lord, If You Had Been Here….

Lord, if you had been here… When Lazarus dies, his sisters, Martha and Mary, are overwhelmed with sadness, confusion and probably not a little anger. A few days before Lazarus’ death, Martha and Mary sent messengers to Jesus telling Him, “Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick.” Martha and Mary reached out to Jesus because they believed in Him. They believed in His love for them and their brother. They believed…

Following In Christ’s Steps

Immediately after the Apostle Peter recognizes Jesus as the Christ (something revealed to him from heaven), Peter rebukes Jesus for saying that He must be rejected and killed, (something inspired in Peter by satan).  Even the Apostle Peter, even immediately after a heavenly revelation, could not accept that the way we enter into the Father’s Glory, the way we experience the Resurrection, is through suffering and death.  Jesus, however, assures us that…

Tribulation: The Door of the Kingdom

In the Epistle reading for today, we read that Sts. Paul and Barnabas, after preaching the Gospel in Lystra, visited the churches they had founded on their way home to Antioch: “Strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith.”  And what do you think they said to strengthen the disciples (the believers) and to exhort them to continue in the faith?  What would encourage us to continue…

What is worth living for ? A response

You have really asked the fundamental question: What is worth living for? You are right that an external constraint to be good only proves to be a burden that eventually produces some form of mental illness either because of guilt because you ignore the “rules” or fundamentalistic self-righteousness and condemnation of others because you deceive yourself into thinking that you are keeping the “rules.” Why bother? Of course, libertinism only produces more…