We Exalt the Cross by Ascending It

My brothers and sisters, we celebrate today the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross of Christ, the feastday of our monastery and the second of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Church year. It is remarkable that at the outset of the Church new year, not a single day passes between the afterfeast of the Nativity of the Theotokos and the forefeast of the Exaltation of the Cross. This is by…

The Light of Pascha

Christ is risen! We have reached today the final Sunday of Paschaltide, the Sunday of the Blind Man. While there are other accounts of miracles — both in the Old and the New Testaments — in which people are healed of their blindness, today’s miracle is far more remarkable than those others, for as the blind man himself in the today’s Gospel declares: “Since the world began was it not heard that…

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…

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…

Preparing for Lent in a Time of Pandemic

It has now been a year since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, changing almost overnight nearly every aspect of our day-to-day lives in the modern world. Some of us have lost loved ones; the Church has bidden farewell to more than a few holy men and women whom the Lord chose this year to call home. The quarantine restrictions that have been in place more or less continuously throughout the world have also…

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…

Beholding the Glory of God

We celebrate today the great and glorious feast of the Transfiguration of Christ. On this day the Lord took three of His closest disciples – Peter, James, and John – up to the summit of Mount Tabor, where He revealed Himself to them in His divine and heavenly glory. St. Peter only one week earlier had, for the first time, openly confessed Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God.”…

The Coronavirus and the Cross of Christ

We have reached today the midpoint of the Fast. Half of the struggle is behind us, and the second half still lies ahead. And seeing our weakness, seeing our faintness of heart and the ease with which we can tire and grow despondent, on this Sunday our mother the Holy Church mercifully offers us hope and refreshment, comfort and consolation. But the form which this takes is not at all what “common…

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…

How Not to Perish Eternally

The Ungrateful Servant “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17). Our Lord Jesus Christ came to dwell among us sinners in order to heal us, to forgive us, to save us, to lift us up once again to our primal glory, and indeed far higher: He came to exalt our human nature to the very throne…