Coming back home from spring break was always a joy in my childhood. Somehow over the break the nature was magically starting to come back to life. White blooming cherry trees, budding branches with baby leaves, the green starting to fill the dried lawns were all signs that the dominion of winter is past and the rule of spring has begun. In some years however, in the midst of this resurrection of nature, winter was sending its last unexpected snowfall over the land. The tragedy was that any trees caught in bloom were doomed to a fruitless season, as the unmerciful cold destroyed their delicate flowers. It was the last temptation of winter, sweeping away any impatient tree, too eager to… Continue reading
March 1st, 2013 by
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
February 1st, 2013 by
Last night I went to a talent show at my kids’ school. It was enjoyable to watch an entirely random blend of performances unfolding in front of a room full of parents eager to applaud at the slightest hint of aptitude showing on the stage. I know this because I was one of them. There really was true talent to applaud and, even when talent was not really present, there was a lot of courage to be praised.
The one thing that set… Continue reading
January 14th, 2013 by
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
October 26th, 2012 by
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
August 31st, 2012 by
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
August 10th, 2012 by
During the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, after the exchange of rings and the bestowing of crowns, the couple takes their first steps of married life led by the celebrating Priest that holds the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Symbolically, this represents a promise to walk on the road that lays ahead of them together, seeking salvation by following Christ that opens the way into His Kingdom. This ceremonial walk is just the beginning of their journey through the rest of their lives, but they will remember these first steps forever; this is their “hochzeit” as the Germans call it, the “high-time” of their life.
On July 14th 2012… Continue reading
July 16th, 2012 by
When Saint Constantine the Great moved the capital of the Roman Empire in the provincial but well positioned city of Byzantium, his aspiration was not only to transfer the power of Rome to the East but also to overshadow the eternal city with monuments of architecture that will find no rivalry in the world. Miraculously converted to Christianity, Constantine took the small city on the Bosphorus and built it from the ground into a Christian capital, erecting not idolatric temples but Christian churches with an architecture that no one has seen before.
The first Church commissioned by Constantine still stands today, Agia Irene, the Church of Holy Peace. The Church of the Holy Apostles, the… Continue reading
July 6th, 2012 by
Trying to define the Byzantine style only from an architectural point of view one may sorely miss its deep spiritual meaning. Looking only superficial one might think that this style is stuck in thousand year old formal representation, not keeping the pace with all the discoveries in the science and the psychology of the building. But I am asking you: how many times visiting a gothic building you felt that the acute angles and sore heights are quite intimidating, not protective? How many of the modern, original and impressive temples designed by famous architects are not helping you find peace to pray? On the other hand, the architectural language employed by Orthodoxy is aimed to induce the opposite, to produce… Continue reading