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
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
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
The expression “Hitting the wall” refers to an athlete, usually a marathon runner or cyclists that during a race they deplete their muscles glycogen reserves and they experience sudden loss of energy and extreme fatigue. In other words they can’t go on with the race, they’re stuck.
This is what happened with St. Mary of Egypt in the church in Jerusalem when she was stopped by an unseen wall to enter the nave. It was like all her spiritual “glycogen” has ran out and there she was, unable to take one more step and enter the Church. Of course you are going to tell me it was God who stopped her because she was unclean, and living in terrible… Continue reading
Tags: Egypt · Great · lent · Mary · saint · Sunday