What Modern Churches Are Missing

Recently, a well-known Orthodox monastic and academic shared some of her thoughts on 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, which passage I will now quote: I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually-immoral people; not at all meaning the sexually-immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since then you would need to depart from the world. But rather I wrote to you not to associate with any…

Of Vikings and Paralytics: A Sermon for the Feast of St. Vladimir and the 6th Sunday after Pentecost

Icon of St. Vladimir interceding before the Lord In the introduction to the life of St. Boniface of Tarsus, we hear the following words: When we praise the saints it is not fitting to keep silence concerning their early transgressions: it should be known that not all of them were righteous from their youth. Like other men, many saints defiled their bodies, but by true repentance and sincere self-amendment they acquired lofty…

On Secular Churches and the Mystical Sacrifice

A headline caught my eye several days ago: “They Tried to Start a Church Without God. For a While, It Worked.” While the concept of a church without God is beyond doubt bizarre, it nevertheless also makes perfect sense. In our age of loneliness, amidst the near-total collapse of practically every traditional form of community and social structure, to abandon Christianity is to hurtle oneself into the void foretold by Nietzsche when…

Not Yours, But You: Almsgiving in the Modern Age

In the Gospels there are many “hard sayings” of our Savior. Of these hard sayings, there are also many which have been all but forgotten — even by those who sincerely strive to be faithful Christians. Of these hard and forgotten sayings, I would like to call our attention today to one in particular: When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your…

On Ecclesiology, Humility, and Love

It has been argued by some that modernity is, at its core, simply the continuation of the Protestant Reformation. I think that there is a great deal of merit to this theory — at least, so far as it goes (what it leaves out is that the Reformation itself was simply the continuation of the Great Schism, as I have alluded to before). This theory is especially borne out when examining the attempted incursions of modernity into the Orthodox Church: unavoidably (much though their instigators would doubtless prefer to avoid it), such incursions must needs take as their foundation an unmistakably Protestant ecclesiology.

What Are We Waiting For?

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. We have all heard these words of the Prophet Joel, quoted by St. Peter on this great day of Pentecost, many times before. And yet it seems that…

How Ingratitude Became a Virtue

Immanuel Kant once wrote: “Ingratitude is the essence of vileness.” And while I think that this is doubtless true in the modern sense of the word “vileness,” for the purpose of this article I would like to consider the archaic meaning: it comes from the Latin vilis, which means “worthless.” Kant is saying that there is nothing more worthless to human beings than ingratitude. “Not so!” argues a recent article in The…

Begging for Barabbas

And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas (who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison). Luke 23:18-19 On the eve of Western Easter, our nation’s newspaper of record — the New York Times — published a brief interview with a Protestant minister, the president of the Union Theological Seminary. Unfortunately (albeit not unpredictably), this…

On Holy Week and the Way of the Cross

The Forty Days of the Great Fast have now ended. We have once again been given a foretaste of the approaching Paschal joy in the raising of Lazarus the Four Days Dead. We have once more exulted together at the Triumphal Entry of our Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem. And now we watch and wait (let all mortal flesh keep silence!) outside the Holy City, to behold the events of this Great…

The Long Road Home

In the church hymns for this day we commemorate the expulsion of Adam from Paradise; he is vividly portrayed to us sitting outside the Garden of Eden, weeping for his great sin and for all that he has lost. But these hymns are often sung in the first person; for like Adam, all of us have sinned, all of us have been cast out by God, all of us weep for our lost homeland. But unlike Adam, we weep for what we have never known.