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…

On Allegations of Orthodox Fundamentalism (Part 2)

The Church and Modernity Earlier this week, I began examining an article from Public Orthodoxy entitled “Fundamentalism as ‘Orthodoxism.'” In this article, the author laments what is, in his opinion, “our long-standing captivity to a sad caricature of Orthodoxy.” In the first part of my analysis I discussed two of his four main allegations: that the Orthodox world has developed an idolatrous attitude towards the Holy Fathers, and that it has additionally come to an…

Morality and Truth in a Secular Age

It sometimes seems that each new day brings with it another assault on traditional Christian morality from yet another front. The dust had barely begun to settle after the Supreme Court of the United States descried a hitherto undetected right to gay marriage hidden somewhere between the lines of the Constitution, when immediately the forces of radical secularism began the fight to promote and normalize the transgender ideology. To give some context…

The Perfect Law of Liberty

Freedom and the Gospel Commandments I wrote several week ago about the salvific and life-giving nature of the Gospel commandments. I argued that those who would dispense with them out of a misguided sense of compassion for modern man are in fact dispensing with the very medicine by which modern man can and must be healed. So often we view the commandments as burdensome rather than as therapeutic, as obligations rather than…

Against Modern Legalism

For all of its godlessness, this modern age hungers more than any other for love, compassion, and mercy. It hungers too for God (though often without realizing it), perhaps all the more strongly since no other age has banished Him more thoroughly from all its affairs. Yet so many modern people think of the God of the Bible as a vengeful, wrathful, angry deity, a god of hellfire and brimstone, a god…