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…

Menpleasing and Murder: A Homily for the Beheading of the Forerunner

The memory of the righteous is praised, says King Solomon (Proverbs 10:7 LXX); but the Lord’s testimony suffices the righteous one we remember today. What testimony? Among them that are born of women, there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist(Matthew 11:11). What honor can our praises add to one who boasts such an eminent witness? How can the life that today is crowned with a glorious death be fittingly…

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…

Of Vikings and Paralytics

Icon of St. Vladimir interceding before the Lord In the introduction to the life of St. Boniface of Tarsus, we hear the following words: When we praise the saints it is not fitting to keep silence concerning their early transgressions: it should be known that not all of them were righteous from their youth. Like other men, many saints defiled their bodies, but by true repentance and sincere self-amendment they acquired lofty…

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…

A Higher Love

In the modern world, we have all but forgotten the saints. Once upon a time, we used to name not only our children, but even our streets and our cities in honor of the saints of God, in order to seek their heavenly aid and intercession, and in order to continually bring these holy saints to our remembrance. On each day of the year, we kept the festival of not one saint…

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 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…

Clinging to My God

Today is the fifth and final Sunday of Great Lent. In a few short days Holy Week will begin. There is one more week remaining in the Great Fast, one more week in which to prepare ourselves to meet the awesome and saving events of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection. All throughout Lent, the Church has provided us with a roadmap for our spiritual journey. We began the Fast with Forgiveness Sunday;…