Menpleasing and Murder: A Homily for the Beheading of the Forerunner

The memory of the righteous is praised, says King Solomon (Proverbs 10:7 LXX); but the Lord’s testimony suffices the righteous one we remember today. What testimony? Among them that are born of women, there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist(Matthew 11:11). What honor can our praises add to one who boasts such an eminent witness? How can the life that today is crowned with a glorious death be fittingly…

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…

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…

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…

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.

A Higher Love

In the modern world, we have all but forgotten the saints. Once upon a time, we used to name not only our children, but even our streets and our cities in honor of the saints of God, in order to seek their heavenly aid and intercession, and in order to continually bring these holy saints to our remembrance. On each day of the year, we kept the festival of not one saint…

Preparing the Cave of our Hearts

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are now in the midst of the Nativity Fast, the special time of year set aside by the Holy Church to prepare us to meet Christ when He enters bodily into His Creation on Christmas Day. While the world around us spends this time in an unparalleled frenzy of shopping and socializing, we Orthodox Christians on the other hand seek to carve out at least…

The Manna, the Tablets, the Rod

Dear brothers and sisters, today, with this beautiful feast, we are honoring in a special way the girlhood of the Mother of God. The surpassingly holy childhood of Our Lady was unique, just as unique as her surpassingly holy adulthood. She is, as the poet Wordsworth famously put it: “Our tainted nature’s solitary boast.” However, we all share the same human nature as the Mother of God. We are, all of us, sons…

Where Might I Hide My Heart?

Today we celebrate the Synaxis of the Holy and God-bearing Elders of Optina Monastery. These fourteen saints, forming an unbroken chain spanning a century, were at the heart of the last spiritual flowering of Holy Russia before the coming of the Communist yoke. Thousands upon thousands of people of every walk of life came to Holy Elders from all corners of the Russian land. These visitors would wait days – sometimes even…

The Weeping of the Widow

We have just heard the story of the widow of Nain, who wept by the bier of her dead son before he was resurrected by our Lord Jesus Christ. Often when I preach on a Gospel passage, I begin by reminding us to look for ourselves in the story being recounted in Sacred Scripture. And I think that there are exceedingly few among us who cannot identify with the widow of Nain,…