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…

The Age of Morality (Anthropology of Antichristianity, Part 7)

My most recent article in this series advanced a rather grim argument: that modern man, having rejected the Cross and having pathologized obedience, has thereby not merely renounced his own humanity, but has even begun to make war openly upon it. The traditional Christian understanding of what it means to be human — to be formed in the image and likeness of God — is now considered by our culture to be…

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,…

The Age of Desire (Anthropology of Antichristianity, Part 6)

When the Lord was taken down from the Cross, the Cross remained on Golgotha, and then it was thrown into the pit that was in that place, where this instrument of execution was usually thrown, together with other refuse. Soon Jerusalem was razed and all of its edifices were leveled to the ground. The pit containing the Cross of Christ was also filled over. When the pagans rebuilt the city (the Jews…

The Freedom of the Cross (Anthropology of Antichristianity, Part 5)

We magnify Thee, O Christ Bestower of life, and we honor Thy holy Cross, whereby Thou has saved us from slavery to the enemy! -Magnification for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross In my last article, I discussed the spiritual consequences of a worldview shaped and dominated by the concept of “rights.” Such a worldview has become so wholly characteristic of modernity that, to the vast majority of people, the denial of…

The Rights of Man (Anthropology of Antichristianity, Part 4)

Individuals throughout human history have found themselves at odds with their societies. But only in modern times has the view taken hold that the authentic inner self is intrinsically valuable, and the outer society systematically wrong and unfair in its valuation of the former. It is not the inner self that has to be made to conform to society’s rules, but society itself that needs to change. -Francis Fukuyama In my most…

The Crucible of History (Anthropology of Antichristianity, Part 3)

In the most recent article of my series on the anthropology of Antichristianity, I discussed loneliness as the defining characteristic of the modern age, stating that: “We have become existentially unmoored, and so it is no surprise at all that we feel lost, purposeless, and alone.” Faced with such a dilemma, as I see it modern man has only three real choices: Christianity, Antichristianity, or suicide (the latter of which comes in…

“Love, and Do What You Want”

In today’s Gospel passage, we hear the greatest definition of the Christian life ever given by anyone. One of Jewish lawyers asked our Lord: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And Jesus replied: “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” St. Augustine later summarized this answer even more starkly: “Love, and do what you want.”

Don’t Waste Time

According to the teachings of the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church, every passage in the whole of sacred Scripture, and above all each word of the Holy Gospels, is spoken by the Lord God directly to each one of us personally. All of the history recorded in sacred Scripture is the history of our own heart. Every prayer we read in Scripture should be taken up as the cry of our…