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…

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…

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…

What Kind of Triumph Do We Seek?

We celebrate today the Great Feast of the Triumphal Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem. Today Christ enters openly and boldly into the holy city, no longer in secret, no longer hiding Himself to forestall the fury of the Jews, for He knows that His hour to be glorified is now at hand. And so on this day He makes his entry into Jerusalem with glory — at least, in a certain…

When God Does Not Come

We hear in today’s Gospel passage an account of two people coming to the Lord in desperation, each begging for His help in a totally hopeless situation. And it is this fact which is of the greatest importance: despite all evidence, and even in absolute defiance of simple common sense, neither of these two people despaired of the power of God to heal what no earthly skill or craft or knowledge could…

On Gratitude, Modern Utopianism, and the Cross of Christ

The Holy Fathers teach us that in order to conquer any given passion, we must strive to cultivate the opposing virtue. If we are greedy, we must cultivate generosity. If we are angry, we must cultivate gentleness. If we are proud, we must cultivate humility. If we are lazy, we must cultivate zeal for working the works of God. But I have often thought that there is one virtue which encompasses all…

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…

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…

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 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,…