Christmas in Exile

Today is the Feast of the Nativity, whereon we commemorate the Incarnation of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ. So great is this feast-day that even centuries of unprecedented godlessness and apostasy have been unable to erase it from our culture’s remembrance, even when nearly all other trappings of our Christian faith and heritage have disappeared from our social landscape. And though our scholars now try to disguise it with…

A Good Beginning: On Repentance and New Year’s Resolutions

As we once again approach the beginning of a new year, it is good for us as Christians to take advantage of this opportunity for self-reflection, to prayerfully reexamine how we are living our lives and whether we are doing so in light of the Gospel of Christ. Indeed, just as we Orthodox Christians pray each evening in the words of St. John Chrysostom: “though I have done nothing good in Thy…

“Come and See”

Today we keep the feast of the Holy Apostle Philip, one of the very first of the Twelve Apostles whom Christ the Savior preeminently called to follow Him. Evidently St. Philip felt the evangelic nature of his apostleship quite keenly, for immediately upon hearing the most sweet voice of Christ calling out to him, he straightway went and “found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in…

The OCA and the Academy

Several months ago at their 20th All-American Council, in response to the request of the faithful the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America issued an encyclical entitled Statement on Same-sex Relationships and Sexual Identity. Within the historical context of the Christian faith, the only thing even remotely remarkable about this encyclical is the fact that anyone felt the need to issue it at all (sadly, however, such a need is…

We Exalt the Cross by Ascending It

My brothers and sisters, we celebrate today the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross of Christ, the feastday of our monastery and the second of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Church year. It is remarkable that at the outset of the Church new year, not a single day passes between the afterfeast of the Nativity of the Theotokos and the forefeast of the Exaltation of the Cross. This is by…

The Zeal of the Forerunner

Today we celebrate the Beheading of the Forerunner, one of only three great feasts of the Church year not dedicated either to the Lord or the Mother of God. And despite the sorrowful nature of this day’s events, nevertheless it remains a celebration — albeit one which we keep with great spiritual sobriety, observing a strict fast even when it falls (as it does this year) on a Sunday. Why do we…

Remembrance and the Spiritual Life

I have often thought that, in many ways, the spiritual life comes down simply to remembering the things that we know — and yet so often forget. As a spiritual father, it frequently seems to me that my role consists not so much in teaching others something new as in reminding them of the truths they already know, and which they need at that particular moment to bear in mind. Nor am…

Where Are God’s Miracles Today?

Many Christians today might wonder why there no longer seem to be such miracles as were performed by Christ during the years of His earthly ministry — or even such as were performed by the holy apostles, or the prophets of old. Many Christians today might wonder why God appears to have withdrawn from the world, no longer working such “signs and wonders” (cf. John 4:48) as fill the pages of Holy…

The Missionary Life of Prayer

One week ago we celebrated the Feast of All Saints on the first Sunday after Pentecost, noetically beholding the sanctification of mankind that has been continuously underway for two thousand years through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Now, on the second Sunday after Pentecost, we celebrate the feast of all the saints of the Local Church of which we are a part. Although all of us are Americans — and our…

The Forgotten Virtue of Stability

When people think about the vows that a monk or a nun takes before God (if they think about such things at all), three likely come to mind: chastity, poverty, and obedience. Such vows are quite striking, since in the modern world these three things are no longer generally considered to be virtues common to the life of all Christians, exemplified in monasticism chiefly by the degree to which they are put…