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.

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…

Begging for Barabbas

And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas (who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison). Luke 23:18-19 On the eve of Western Easter, our nation’s newspaper of record — the New York Times — published a brief interview with a Protestant minister, the president of the Union Theological Seminary. Unfortunately (albeit not unpredictably), this…

The Long Road Home

In the church hymns for this day we commemorate the expulsion of Adam from Paradise; he is vividly portrayed to us sitting outside the Garden of Eden, weeping for his great sin and for all that he has lost. But these hymns are often sung in the first person; for like Adam, all of us have sinned, all of us have been cast out by God, all of us weep for our lost homeland. But unlike Adam, we weep for what we have never known.

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…

The Age of Morality (Anthropology of Antichristianity, Part 7)

My most recent article in this series advanced a rather grim argument: that modern man, having rejected the Cross and having pathologized obedience, has thereby not merely renounced his own humanity, but has even begun to make war openly upon it. The traditional Christian understanding of what it means to be human — to be formed in the image and likeness of God — is now considered by our culture to be…

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,…

Don’t Waste Time

According to the teachings of the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church, every passage in the whole of sacred Scripture, and above all each word of the Holy Gospels, is spoken by the Lord God directly to each one of us personally. All of the history recorded in sacred Scripture is the history of our own heart. Every prayer we read in Scripture should be taken up as the cry of our…

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…