Gladsome Light Dialogues – An Orthodox Blog

A journey through our Orthodox faith as we live it every day

Gladsome Light Dialogues – An Orthodox Blog header image 1

Entries Tagged as 'Struggling with Faith'

Beyond Semantics

October 26th, 2012 1 Comment

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:   · · · · · · ·

Who Am I and Who They Say I Am

August 31st, 2012 No Comments

Every time a new school year starts, I inevitably ponder upon the choices one has in education today. The beauty of living in a free country is that one can choose the best-suited education modality for their offspring. Public school is a basic choice opened to all, more refined private schools offer new avenues for the ones that can afford them and for those that don’t trust either, one can also adventure into home schooling.

This was not the case back in communist Romania where I grew up. You had to go to the only school system that was and be taught whatever they decided to teach you. There was not much choice involved. Among other things… Continue reading

Tags:   · · · · · · · · · · · ·

Seeing the truth through the blind man’s eyes

May 20th, 2012 1 Comment

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.

(Isa 35:4-5)

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:   · · · · · · · · · · · ·

Why We Come to Church or Entering the Bridal Chamber

May 2nd, 2012 1 Comment

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:   · · · · · · · · · · · ·

The Uncomfortable Church

March 30th, 2012 7 Comments

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:   · · · · · · · ·

Fasting for Freedom or Growing Wings for God

February 28th, 2012 No Comments

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:   · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

The Empty Churches of the City of Lights

February 3rd, 2012 No Comments

Visiting Paris, the city of lights, is a wonderful experience, anytime of the year. The boulevards, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower and even more so the great cathedrals: Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Saint Sulpice and so on, attract visitors like flies. From a tourism perspective it is wonderful to see these great historical churches full of people all day long. But if you cast a closer look and try to find the people that enter to actually pray, you soon realize that the flock is very small for the grandiose size of the gigantic stone and marble monuments.

In contrast, during a recent trip to the same city I’ve been blessed with participating in the… Continue reading

Tags:   · · · · · ·

Setting a good beginning

December 31st, 2011 No Comments

As the New Year is just around the corner, for many people also comes the time for setting their New Year resolutions. This year I will reach my ideal weight, this year I’ll take better care of my health, this year I’ll finish the college that I always wanted and so on. The first weeks of the year the gyms are full of enthusiastic first time athletes, the grocery stores have record sales for diet foods and the pharmacies sell years worth of nicotine patches.  But the statistics show however that only 8% of people are successful in achieving their resolutions. So come February the gym crowds vanish, the excitement fades away and life goes back to its… Continue reading

Tags:   · · · · · · · · ·

The implications of music in the liturgical life of the Church

November 10th, 2011 6 Comments

I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.(Ps 146:2)

Like with any of the other arts employed by the Orthodox Church in its worship, the music does not serve a purpose in itself. Once used in Church the music drops its role as simply embellishing the services and it is elevated to convey, on a deeper level, the meaning of the prayer contained in the hymns of the church and make them resonate with our souls through its melodies. Great saints of the Church, like John Damascene, Ephraim the Syrian, Roman the Melodios, Andrew of Crete, Joseph the Hymnographer, Kosmas the Poet, John Koukouzelis and many others, have carefully matched the meter of… Continue reading

Tags:   · · · · · · · · · · · · ·

The Freedom of Morality and the Imorality of Freedom

November 4th, 2011 No Comments

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:   · · · · · · · · · ·