Gladsome Light Dialogues – An Orthodox Blog

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

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Lent – an intimate journey to God. Lessons from the sermon on the mount

March 1st, 2013 by Fr. Vasile
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Crucifixion_of_Jesus,_Russian_icon_by_Dionisius,_1500What 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

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’s order in our lives">The Great Confusion – reflections on the disruption of Gods order in our lives

February 1st, 2013 by Fr. Vasile
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The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them (Gen 1:21)

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them (Gen 1:21)

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

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The First Sermon of Christ

January 14th, 2013 by Fr. Vasile
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Theophany IconAny 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

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Everyday Saints

November 29th, 2012 by Fr. Vasile
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This article marks the beginning of my collaboration with the OCN blog, the Sounding. So there we go!

The recent book of Archmandrite Tikhon, “Everyday Saints and other stories”, is one of those books that fulfill the prophecies on their back covers: it was impossible to put down and I felt very sorry when it ended. What is so special about this spiritual book, that made it into a major bestseller and almost a pop phenomenon in Russia, is that it brings the elements of faith right where they belong: in real life. I’ve read many books about the unmatched spiritual battles of the saints from the desert of Egypt… Continue reading

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Beyond Semantics

October 26th, 2012 by Fr. Vasile
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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

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Who Am I and Who They Say I Am

August 31st, 2012 by Fr. Vasile
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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

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The Road Ahead

August 10th, 2012 by Fr. Vasile
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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

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In The Footsteps Of The Old Masters Of Byzantium

July 16th, 2012 by Fr. Vasile
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The Beginnings

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

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The Byzantine Style – By Presbytera Mirela Tudora

July 6th, 2012 by Fr. Vasile
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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

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The Bond That Keeps the Bricks of the Our New Church Together

June 2nd, 2012 by Fr. Vasile
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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.

(Mat 22:37-40)

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

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