Halfway There: Refreshment for Weary Lenten Pilgrims

A blessed Easter week to all of you in the Western tradition, whether you are Protestant or Roman Catholic. Christ is risen! This year on the Eastern Christian calendar, Pascha (Easter) is an entire four weeks later than in the West. Some years we celebrate on the same day, and other times our calendars diverge by a week or two. I can never remember the reasons for the variations, but no matter…

What a Priest Really Thinks about His People during Confession

In my previous blog post, “Cautious about Confession,” I ended with the personal questions that many of us wonder: Can I really be honest with my priest? What will he think of me? What about the habits and sins—the passions—that I just can’t seem to get past?  I thought it would be a good idea to go directly to an experienced priest and father confessor to see what he has to say.…

Stumbling Stones on the Orthodox Road: Cautious about Confession

When I was inquiring into the Orthodox Faith, the Sacrament of Confession wasn’t just a stumbling stone for me —it was more like a massive boulder blocking the road to Orthodoxy.   My whole life I had been taught the importance of confessing my sins to God and repenting of them—turning away from my wayward path and back to Him. I was even encouraged to review the day before going to bed…

Extreme Prep: The Long Triodion Warm-up for Lent

[An earlier version of this post was first published in February of 2020, and I’m reusing the content for the Walking an Ancient Path podcast as well as here. Because preparation for Lent. — LH] Every act of physical hardship requires preparation. Nobody of right mind sets out to run the New York Marathon without serious endurance training. Even for a shorter race, to qualify for one of the early waves in…

Stumbling Stones on the Orthodox Road: Canned Prayers

My religious background might be described as “motley Christian.” I grew up in a United Methodist Church that was quite evangelistic and also included a cross-section of charismatic members. When I was in high school, some of my classmates were Episcopal, and occasionally I would hear references to their Book of Common Prayer. I thought that was odd. Why would anyone need a book to pray? Don’t they know how to talk…

Stumbling Stones on the Orthodox Road: Four Sunday Morning Struggles

[An earlier version of this post was first published on January 23, 2019. But I think the message fits this series about “stumbling stones,” because our inner attitudes and expectations about worship definitely affect our ability to enter fully into Orthodox Faith and practice. — LH] Sunday morning in an Orthodox parish can be a confusing experience of culture shock for newcomers. Even those who have done a bit of homework in…

Stumbling Stones on the Orthodox Road: Learning to Love Liturgical Worship

Sometimes the major obstacle to becoming Orthodox isn’t theological at all—it’s the worship service itself.    My husband Rob and I both grew up in a United Methodist Church with stained glass, pews, hymns, a pipe organ, and a choir singing anthems. We had to go forward to receive communion at an altar rail at the front of the church, and the pastors wore academic-style gowns. So we were familiar with a…

New Podcast Begins with a Series on “Stumbling Stones on the Orthodox Road”

For the past two years on this blog, we’ve been exploring the experiential side of living and learning Orthodox Christianity. This focus on Orthopraxy, the day-to-day practice of Orthodox life and worship, will continue here biweekly. And next Wednesday, January 13th, my companion podcast will debut, also called Walking an Ancient Path. (What I lack in imagination, I make up for in consistency.)   With our busy lives, many of us like to…

The Solitude of Silent Nights

I have a confession to make. Not the sacramental kind, but the admission of an unpopular opinion, a minority stance.   I’m enjoying the quiet of this year’s Nativity season. I don’t miss the cancelled office parties, community events, and noisy “holiday” celebrations that crowded the days of Christmases past. I’m even relieved by the lack of extra events at my parish. (Shhh—don’t tell anyone.) Instead of frenetic activity, many of us…

Giving Thanks for the Waiting

As I begin preparing the Thanksgiving meal a few dishes at a time—making cranberry sauce and pie dough on Monday; assembling pies, baking cornbread for stuffing, and brining the turkey on Tuesday—the importance of giving thanks in all things is at the forefront of my mind.  I’m thinking about thankfulness because my supply is running low.   This holiday season the sadness of dashed expectations is present daily, humming in the background.…