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…

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.

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…

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…

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 Consequences of Contraception

50 years ago, Pope Paul VI issued a papal encyclical entitled Humanae Vitae, which he addressed not only to Catholics but also “to all men of good will.” In it, he reaffirmed the universal and unbroken teaching of the Church Fathers, both of the East and of the West, that artificial contraception is intrinsically sinful and incompatible with the Christian life. At the time of its publication, the widespread Orthodox response was…