Of Wrath and Righteousness

America is a nation in crisis. We have been facing a political crisis of ever-deepening division and widespread distrust in our own leaders for many, many years now. With the emergence of the COVID-19, we are being confronted with a public health crisis of a magnitude unparalleled in living memory. This in turn has precipitated an economic crisis of massive proportions, one which will almost certainly rival (if not exceed) the Great…

The Coronavirus and the Cross of Christ

We have reached today the midpoint of the Fast. Half of the struggle is behind us, and the second half still lies ahead. And seeing our weakness, seeing our faintness of heart and the ease with which we can tire and grow despondent, on this Sunday our mother the Holy Church mercifully offers us hope and refreshment, comfort and consolation. But the form which this takes is not at all what “common…

Seeking to See Jesus

Today, as we stand at the threshold of Great Lent, the Holy Church gives to us in the Gospel story of Zaccheus an icon of the Lenten journey which lies ahead. It is precisely an icon, because everything happens as it were in a flash, in one single image passing before our eyes. We hear nothing of Zaccheus’ past, and after these few short verses he never again appears on the pages…

On Gratitude, Modern Utopianism, and the Cross of Christ

The Holy Fathers teach us that in order to conquer any given passion, we must strive to cultivate the opposing virtue. If we are greedy, we must cultivate generosity. If we are angry, we must cultivate gentleness. If we are proud, we must cultivate humility. If we are lazy, we must cultivate zeal for working the works of God. But I have often thought that there is one virtue which encompasses all…

The World Unseen

We celebrate today the Synaxis of the Honorable Heavenly Bodiless Hosts. While each of their nine ranks has its own appointed tasks and role in the celestial realm, for us human beings they typically play one role in particular, which is reflected in the name commonly given by us to all of them alike: angels, from the Greek angelos meaning “messenger.” Indeed, their very existence is itself a message to us: that…

On Obedience and the Gifts of God

In the Gospel reading appointed for this Sunday, we hear a story of the greatest importance, both for ourselves and for all Christianity: we hear the story of the beginning of the conversion of the holy chief of the Apostles, St. Peter himself. This was not the first encounter of St. Peter with Christ; his brother, St. Andrew, had brought St. Peter to Jesus in Bethabara and told him that he was…

How Not to Perish Eternally

The Ungrateful Servant “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17). Our Lord Jesus Christ came to dwell among us sinners in order to heal us, to forgive us, to save us, to lift us up once again to our primal glory, and indeed far higher: He came to exalt our human nature to the very throne…

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

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…