I read a very interesting article a few weeks ago that caught my undivided attention. The title was very daring to begin with: “Religious people are dangerous” and, on top of that, it was written by an Orthodox Bishop, so that made it even more thought-provoking. The following passage summarizes it best: “You who go to church, how has the Church benefitted you? As we said yesterday, we went to the shrines, you saw the fathers, you saw the holy relics, you saw Mount Athos, you saw the Panagia in Tinos, you saw everything, and now we have returned. Ultimately of what benefit will all these things be? Have our hearts transformed? Have we become more humble people? Are we… Continue reading
Tags: change of heart · christian · faith · orthodox · religion · religiosity · way of life
What is Lent? By most popular definitions lent is a period of abstinence, total or partial, from food. It is basically a diet. If it is not understood as a diet, then is often considered a period of renunciation to some of our guilty pleasures like tv, chocolate etc. The Christian understanding of fasting however and especially the Orthodox one, is much more complex than simply “giving up” something .
So what is Lent? Of course during Lent we renounce some types of foods like meat, dairy products etc. This is an important part of our lenten journey, not to be forgotten or neglected; it helps the body become swifter and, less encumbered by heavy foods, it can rise faster to prayer… Continue reading
Tags: alms · almsgiving · boasting · christian · Fasting · Great Lent · intimate · orthodox · personal · prayer
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 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
But we all, with our face having been unveiled, having beheld the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, are being changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord Spirit. (2Co 3:18)
Coming back home the other day, I observed with great joy that some trees on my street started to blossom. I was immediately moved to think: the winter is over, spring is here! All the cold weather, all the snow and the ice is gone. But, the thought continued, if we won’t pass through winter we couldn’t appreciate spring in its fullness.
One the most beautiful celebrations in Japan is the cherry blossom festival. People gather from afar to be… Continue reading
Tags: christian · expectation · Fasting · lent · orthodox · transformation
There is no secret that I could loose some weight. I’ll admit it. Getting back into my ideal measurements is as much of a challenge for me as for anyone despite the claims of the insatiable industry that has developed behind this apparently simple goal. From the classical low calorie diet to the latest fashion in Hollywood dieting, we are sold out of the box, unfailing solutions that will miraculously make us loose those unsolicited extra pounds. But they all fail in most people with, of course, some notable exceptions.
I always wandered why this is and couldn’t find a satisfying answer until a few days ago when I stumbled over a book written by a “diet survivor”… Continue reading
Tags: Christ · diet · Fasting · life · orthodox · struggle
The idea that any Westerner has about fasting is strongly linked with renunciation, with giving-up, with sacrificing something for God. In the Eastern Orthodox Church however, fasting achieves a much richer meaning. Fasting is not only about giving-up, but it is actually more about gaining, about being able to reach things that are possible only through this spiritual exercise.
In a legalistic understanding of salvation some believe that Christ has come on earth to fulfill a duty, to repair an offense that man has brought unto God. His sacrifice on the Cross satisfies this need and mankind enters again in God’s favors. From this perspective fasting is a similar symbol: a personal sacrifice that one makes to step back… Continue reading
Tags: Chocolate · East · Fasting · orthodox · Symbol · West