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 Light of Pascha

Christ is risen! We have reached today the final Sunday of Paschaltide, the Sunday of the Blind Man. While there are other accounts of miracles — both in the Old and the New Testaments — in which people are healed of their blindness, today’s miracle is far more remarkable than those others, for as the blind man himself in the today’s Gospel declares: “Since the world began was it not heard that…

Keeping the Sabbath

Today is perhaps not the most auspicious day to publish any words. Having just served the Vesperal Divine Liturgy for Holy Saturday, wherein is sung the somber yet supremely beautiful hymn “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence,” I find myself in danger of falling under my own condemnation. So I will at least try to keep my words brief. In the center of the church the Lord, the life of all, lies…

The Way Home

My brothers and sisters, we have reached today the threshold of Great Lent; tomorrow the “gates of repentance” will once again be opened to us, in answer to our solemn prayers during the Sunday Matins services of the past month. This Sunday has three names. The first is “Cheesefare Sunday,” since it is the last day on which we will eat dairy until the night of the Lord’s Pascha. It is also…

Heroes of the Last Days

We celebrate today the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church. In the icon in the center of the church we truly behold a host of heroes no less glorious than any who have ever walked upon the earth, though they are men and women of a time neither very far nor very different from our own. Despite the fact that they were born into a world of nearly universal spiritual…

To Love God Above All

Today we celebrate the memory of the Venerable Herman of Alaska, the patron saint of North America. There is so much that is praiseworthy in the life of this man of God that one hardly knows where to begin. He was an ascetic who dwelt as an anchorite in the forests from the time of his early childhood. He was a zealous missionary who, like the righteous Abraham, left his home and…

Making Angels Out of Men

We celebrate today the Synaxis of the Bodiless Powers, the feast-day of all the holy angels, from their Chief Commanders Michael and Gabriel to each of the guardian angels whom the Lord God appointed to watch over every one of us — throughout all our lives — at Holy Baptism. Today should therefore be a day of great joy and profound gratitude for every Christian, no less than our namesday on which…

Become as Little Children

We celebrate today the Feast of Pokrov — the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God — with great faith and heartfelt joy. Though not numbered among the Twelve Great Feasts, nevertheless it is kept as one of the chief and most beloved feast-days of the entire Church year. Most of us are familiar with the story of the feast’s origins in the 10th century: the imperial city of Constantinople was threatened…

A Shortcut to Heaven and a Shortcut to Hell

My brothers and sisters, we have just heard one of the most important Gospel parables which the Lord ever spoke. At the heart of the Christian religion is forgiveness — and how our hearts yearn for such forgiveness! For who among us does not know — at least somewhere in the depths of our heart — that we too owe just such an immeasurable debt as did the servant in today’s Gospel?…

Made Perfect Through Sufferings

After several weeks of almost unprecedented temptations of both soul and body here at the monastery, we have just heard these beautiful and inspiring words from St. Paul in today’s Epistle lesson: “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4). And in today’s Gospel reading we are being given an earnest of this comfort and…