Any classical public speaking training would tell the aspirant lecturer to always start with a little warm up for the audience, in order to get them engaged, then introduce the topic, present the topic and then a short recap at the end. It is all about building up to your main subject. This is pretty much what I’m doing now.
There is an old story with a priest in a convent that loved to preach. He always used well thought out phrases, nice metaphors, parables, comparisons, his subjects were always good, but he would tend to take a little more time than others. The abbess was a little upset about that because this would cut out the… Continue reading
Tags: after · at hand · Christ · Epiphany · forst · Jesus · Kingdom · repent · repentance · Sermon · Sunday · theophany
Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
St. John the Little, a disciple of St. Pachomious the Great, said once “Nobody builds his house from the roof down but from the foundation up”. Asked what he meant by this he said “our foundation is our neighbor; to him I should tend first, because on him hang all the commandments of Christ.” The essence of… Continue reading
Tags: Agape · Christ · church · love · New · orthodox
Say to those of a hasty heart, Be strong, fear not; behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the full dealing of God. He will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
In everyone’s life there is evolution. We evolve from being babies to full adults. We start learning how to read and we grow into teachers, engineers, doctors. So in spiritual life we develop from indifference, to interest, to engagement. Of course there is also involution but we’ll leave this subject for another time. In one of these stages of my personal spiritual life (I won’t… Continue reading
Tags: Blind · emotions · hesychia · imagination · man · Miracle · orthdox · orthodox · Penticostarion · prayer · sixth · Sunday · western art
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
Last year there were rumors that the tomb of Jesus was found. The other day some claimed to have found the nails that were used to crucify Christ. More and more news like this surface today and, although most of them prove to be untrue, the people avidly read them because we, even as Christians, are not happy anymore with what the Holy Tradition has passed unto us for centuries and we want new proof for everything. We have ceased to believe in the catholicity of the Church, in the universal truth shared in the community of the ecclesia for generations and we trust more the intellect of man, despite its shortcomings, ignoring the divine Sophia, the Wisdom of God… Continue reading
Tags: apostle · believe · Christ · christian · doubt · doubting · orthodox · Resurrection · Thomas · truth
We live in a world with blazing speed internet that renders TV, radio and newspapers obsolete, we have access to rapid couriers that can bring to our doors anything from around the world in 24 hours, we even have churches that promise instant salvation with a simple declaration of faith. If there was one word to define our society today that would be instant gratification. With the development of technology this long awaited dream of man is getting closer to becoming reality.
I say long awaited because even in the Biblical times people dreamed of such things. Adam and Eve in paradise were seeking instant knowledge by eating from the tree of knowledge. The apostles today, after seeing Christ… Continue reading
Tags: Ascension · ascent · Climacus · Divine · Klimax · Ladder · lent · Sermon · Triodion
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
The miracle of healing of the ten lepers, is generally perceived as an exposition of the importance of gratitude in our lives. There is however another aspect I would like to stress today. The essential piece for its understanding lays in Christ’s words addressed to the cured Samaritan returning to offer his gratitude for the healing: And He said unto him, Arise, go your way: your faith has made you whole” (Luke 17:19)
The other nine, ungrateful, lepers did not hear the same words, save a bitter reproof from Christ. They were not called “whole”, like the Samaritan, because they lacked a crucial virtue the Samaritan exhibited: faith.
Without faith, which is recognizing and trusting the power of… Continue reading
Tags: Christ · circles · orthodox · running · whole
O pure Maid, you eluded nature’s laws, conceiving God in ways past understanding. You evaded things proper to mothers in childbirth, even if by nature you were prone to change.
We are again in deep awe at the profound yet simple events that happen at Annunciation. But the most important things in this life are very simple. The story line is straight forward: the young Virgin receives an angel and she accepts the task given to her. End of story. Yet on this very humble and natural acceptance lays the accomplishment of the ages old plan for the salvation of humankind. The simple becomes complex and the complex become simple.
But don’t be fooled by the brevity… Continue reading
Tags: Annunciation · Archangel · Gabriel · Gospel · Maria · Mary · Theotokos