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…

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 Leaven of the Pharisees and the Kingdom of God

The secret thought nestles within me: ‘Who knows what happens after death?’ If I say I believe in immortality, then I am speaking about my mind only; and my heart is far removed from a firm conviction about it. That is openly witnessed by my conduct and my constant care to satisfy the life of the senses. -The Way of a Pilgrim It is a striking fact that in the Gospels, Christ…

Seeing is Not Believing

At first glance, the Gospel passage appointed for this Sunday appears to be about two separate events during the earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ: the healing of two blind men, and the casting out of a demon from a dumb man. Yet the Church in Her wisdom has joined these two events together in order to draw out a deeper meaning hidden beneath the surface of today’s Gospel reading. The…

On Doubt

I was not always a Christian. For many years of my life — may God forgive me — I viewed Christianity as something primitive and simplistic, something irrational and even immoral (like so many of the children of modernity, I considered the entire concept of the Last Judgment as theologically and morally indefensible — such was the enormity of my pride). And for many years, like the young St. Augustine, I wandered…