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…

American Sanctity

We have reached today the Third Sunday after Pentecost, the third Sunday after the feast on which the Holy Spirit was first poured out upon the apostles of Christ, and the great missionary work of the Church was begun. On the first Sunday after Pentecost we celebrate all the saints who have shown forth throughout the entire world, while the second Sunday is set aside for each local church to keep the…

Will Beauty Save the World?

“Such beauty has power,” Adelaida said hotly. “You can overturn the world with such beauty.” –The Idiot, by Fyodor Dostoevsky Perhaps the most famous phrase from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s quite voluminous body of writing is the statement that “beauty will save the world.” Much ink has been spilled concerning this phrase by all manner of critics and commentators, both Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike. And without doubt it is extremely important that we Orthodox…

Strangers in a Strange Land

Several months ago a landmark Gallup poll found that for the first time in American history, as of 2020 fewer than 50% of Americans belong to a church, synagogue, or mosque. Ever since 1937 when the survey was first conducted, that percentage remained fairly constant at around 70% until the turn of the century, when the number began its plummet all the way down to 47% in only two short decades. And…

“Our Fathers Have Told Us”

By God’s grace we have reached the completion of the First Week of Great Lent, and have come now to the Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. Great Lent is the Season of Repentance par excellence, and in general the Sundays of Great Lent all reflect this theme: next week we will celebrate the great hesychast, St. Gregory Palamas; then we commemorate the Precious Cross of our Lord; next we honor St.…

Preparing for Lent in a Time of Pandemic

It has now been a year since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, changing almost overnight nearly every aspect of our day-to-day lives in the modern world. Some of us have lost loved ones; the Church has bidden farewell to more than a few holy men and women whom the Lord chose this year to call home. The quarantine restrictions that have been in place more or less continuously throughout the world have also…

Living in Apocalyptic Times

There is no question that we live in troubling times. The 20th century witnessed an unparalleled persecution of Christianity across the entire world – primarily through revolutionary violence in the East, but primarily through worldly seduction in the West (if you doubt that the two are comparable, I will simply point to the witness of Alexander Solzhenitsyn who had ample occasion to experience both for himself). Such persecution was prophesied to us…

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…