Lent is upon us and as we start cleaning our fridges of the food that we feasted upon until this point, we also start a much deeper interior cleaning of our inner being to prepare our souls for the joy of the Resurrection of our Lord.
Every year though, Lent looms over as a big and scary thing, mostly because it is something that stretches us to our limits. How much should I fast? How long can I resist standing? How many prostrations I should do? How many services are there to attend? Is it Pascha already? As thoughts like this pass through our minds we boldly move ahead with the discipline of fasting and the heightened rhythm… Continue reading
This is a talk I gave on January 31st at the NTOM conference “Falling Asleep in the Lord: An Orthodox Perspective on Dying, Death and Grief” at St. Demetrios Greek orthodox Church in Fort Worth.
Blessed is the way in which thou shalt walk today, O soul, for a place of rest is prepared for thee (Prokeimenon of the Apostle, Funeral Service)
Reverend Brothers, Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
When confronted with the reality of death most people reveal a deep-seated fear of such an event beyond any human control. This is especially acute nowadays when the science of medicine has made great strides in curing diseases that only a century… Continue reading
Tags: body · end · funeral · judgement · kolyva · life · memorial service · Resurrection · soul · suffering
Living in a multi-cultural, post-modern world brought to us by the new era of rapid communication, we are more and more exposed to cultures that are, or at least seem to be, very remote from our own. Although many of them are in fact foreign, there are times when we find in them something that strikes a sensitive chord with us. Take for instance the concept of “Tao,” found in the homonym religious movement, Taoism, but also in Buddhism, Confucianism, and even in Eastern Martial Arts.
An easy explanation of Tao would be a path or way of life. James Legge, a famous researcher of Chinese culture, described Taoism as “the exhibition of a way or method of… Continue reading
Tags: budhism · Christianity · church · college · morality · orthodox · tao · teens · whatever · youth
Talk given at the North Texas Orthodox Missions 2013 event called “How to Talk with Your Children and Grandchildren About God”.
You can also listen to the live recording of the talk on Ancient Faith Radio here. Note: The live version differs a bit from the written version.
In preparing for this talk I had some interesting conversations with a couple of friends regarding the possible conflict between science and, for a lack of a better world, religion or spirituality in general. Comments varied from saying that religion has no right to interfere with scientific truth and religion is only a way to cope with yet… Continue reading
Tags: christian · conflict · earth · galileo · orthodox · religion · revolve · science · sun · urban · war
One of the interesting linguistic phenomena is semantic change, or in layman terms, the change in one of the historical meanings of a word. Archbishop Dmitri of blessed memory, for example, was always making waves during pan Orthodox Lenten Vespers when he was blessing the fasting meal using the prayer “Our Lord Jesus Christ bless Thee the meat of Thy servants”. He always enjoyed clarifying that the original meaning of the word meat in Middle English was actually food, of all varieties, not just of animal origin. It made for sure an interesting conversation over baked potatoes.
There are other changes, however, that occasionally can draw attention to cultural shifts in the society. Take for instance the word holiday… Continue reading
Tags: corruption · Eastern · Eglish · faith · meaning · orthodox · semantics · Western
Christ is risen!
A new church opening is a major event in the life of a parish that gathers together the entire body of its members in the extraordinary joy of a mission well accomplished. The reason why parishes build such new traditional Church buildings, beside the obvious capacity requirements, is to bring the community closer to the ideal Orthodox way of worshiping, through spaces, shapes and finishes that are appropriate for its intended liturgical purpose. This means that a new church will not only host more people but will also allow them to worship in a more meaningful manner.
As a community gets closer to enter a new… Continue reading
Tags: Architecture · art · byzantine · church · emotions · Euless · experiences · false · feelings · New · orthodox · Saint John · saints
On the fifth Thursday of Lent in the Orthodox Churches we chant the service of the Great Canon of St Andrew of Crete. It is a monumental work of hymnography with more than 250 odes, or verses, to which we also add the lengthy reading of the life of St Mary of Egypt. This makes it probably one of the longest services of Great Lent. If one also a counts the number of prostrations performed after each ode, it becomes also one of the most uncomfortable services for any casual observer.
But the length of the service and the physical discomfort of the standing and the prostrations is not the… Continue reading
Tags: church · Cross · East · orthodox · pain · Resurrection · suffering · uncomfortable · West
This article is not about Ghandi and the independence of India; is not about hunger strikes and the upholding of civil rights; but it is an attempt to restore to its former heights an overlooked tool for spiritual development, recommended by generations upon generations of Holy Fathers and spiritual elders.
Upon hearing the word “fast” today, one doesn’t think of freedom, on the contrary, the discipline of fasting is more associated with coercion, restriction and limitation of choices. This is the primary reason why so many people do not even consider fasting in their development as Christian.
From a material point of view however this is what fasting is: we abstain from certain foods, or even all… Continue reading
Tags: Baptist · Comfort · Desert · Fasting · Forerunner · Great Lent · John · lent · orthodox · Pleasure · Rejection · saint · Sarakosti · wilderness
The recent overthrowing of the authoritarian governments from the Middle East countries has brought up again the importance of freedom as an essential human value. The notion of freedom however is not as easy to define as one would think. In general we understand that freedom means the capacity to act without any outside restraint. As J. Rufus Fears, professor of Classics and chair in History of Liberty at the University of Oklahoma, asserts, this concept can be applied to a nation for example that is free from any outside domination, can be applied to a political system, meaning that one can elect its own choice of government, but most importantly can be applied to the individual that is… Continue reading
Tags: christian · decisision · Eastern · freedom · liberty · morality · orthodox · right · Theology · Western · wrong
The veneration of the Virgin Mary has long been point of contention among Christians. Although it may be difficult to delineate a uniform position among the plethora of Protestant denominations, it is generally recognized that most of the Reformed Churches have no particular place of honor for the Virgin Mary in their theology or worship. Most believe that her role was fulfilled at giving physical birth to the human Jesus Christ and from there on she is nothing but a regular woman that went on with her life, having other children and never to be heard of again. On the other hand the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox, although may differ in some theological aspects, hold the Virgin Mary… Continue reading
Tags: Catholics · Eastern · idol · Maria · Mariolatry · Mary · Opinion · orthodox · Protestants · Roman · Theotokos · Virgin