Although it was an historical event that took place at a particular time and place, Our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem has other dimensions as well. For example, it fulfills in a remarkable way the clear and precise prophecy of the Prophet Zacharias. But beyond this, it also has a mystical, symbolical meaning addressing the salvation of each of us. St Nikolai Velimirovich explicates here the rich symbolism of Christ’s mystical entry into the “spiritual Jerusalem” of the soul.
This Life of Our Venerable Mother Mary of Egypt was written down in the seventh century by Saint Sophronios, Patriarch of Jerusalem, some hundred years after the repose of the holy Mary, who fell asleep in the Lord April 1, 522.
It is one of the most beautiful and edifying lives of a saint. Its obvious and stated purpose is to glorify God and to feed the souls of its readers.
St. Sophronios lifts up the life of blessed Mary as a most wondrous example of repentance for all the faithful. For this reason, the Church has lifted up this life before all the faithful on the Fifth Sunday of the Great Fast, the Sunday before Palm Sunday.
It is both a challenge and an inspiration to us. It shows us what a human being is capable of when she works with the all-powerful saving and forgiving grace of our all-loving God.
In the midst of an era that seeks to legitimize all modes of sexual license, this Lenten time of repentance offers us the distance from worldly passions that can allow us to fully appreciate the Christian virtue of chastity. As traditional forms of Western Christianity also remember, chastity is closely linked to sexual self-control or moderation (sophrosune).
But Orthodoxy has also retained the experience of chastity in its fulness, preserving not only the value of chastity as a moral virtue, but also its radiant beauty that follows from true chastity as entailing a very special kind of purity (hagneia).
Prof. David Bradshaw’s article helps us understand this rich Orthodox teaching concerning the beauty of chastity by elucidating the Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God, which the Church prescribes for the first five weeks of Lent, and which teaches us how, through the repentance that leads to humility, we can once again approach the beauty of sexual purity that our modern age has not only rejected, but nearly forgotten altogether.
The Leo Ray Miller he had sown that night at the reception sprouted and spread like an ugly weed. It grew up through the cracks of whatever lies he told himself. It choked every intention, it poisoned every relationship and turned every so-called good deed into a self-serving con. He wanted to believe. There had to be some relief beyond his short-term capacity to fool himself. He wanted hope.
A central Christian teaching lost to Western Christianity is that man can partake in the energies of God, the direct life of God Himself manifested through His Holy Spirit. Salvation here is understood, expressed, and experienced as something much more than moral improvement.
As someone who grew up the son of Evangelicals, Fr. Andrew has firsthand experience with discovering the Orthodox faith. In this short video Fr. Andrew relates a lot of what needs to be said.
The Canon of St. Andrew, the nine ode prayer of repentance written by St. Andrew of Crete in the early 700’s, is the customary way Orthodox Christians around the world enter the penitential season of Lent.
If there is no pre-existing, intelligible order to go out to and apprehend, and to search through for what lies beyond it – which is the Creator – what then is music supposed to express? If external order does not exist, then music collapses in on itself and degenerates into an obsession with techniques. Any ordering of things, musical or otherwise, becomes purely arbitrary.
And the young man came to himself and said “I will return to my father’s house.”
The parable of the prodigal son is one of the most remarkable stories in all of world literature and rich with multiple meanings. But perhaps the most powerful, encouraging message may be summarized in just four words: “It’s never too late!”
St. John Chrysostom wrote, “Turn your home into heaven; you will do this not when you change the walls or rebuild the foundation, but when you invite the Almighty Lord to your repast. God never disregards any kind of supper. Where there is spiritual science, there is humility, sincerity and modesty. Where the husband, and the wife, and the children are in accord and united by the bonds of virtue, there is Christ among them.”
Hats off to Byantine TX for publishing this handy guide for Lent and Holy Week and a special thank you to Fr. Jonathan Bannon of Christ The Savior Orthodox in Rockford Illinois who created it. The guide outlines this penitential period in ways easy to comprehend and digest! The “How to Participate” section is especially valuable for inculcating simple practices into our daily life that bring Christ to mind.
Fr. Seraphim Rose (1934-1982), a convert to Orthodoxy and whose story mirrors that of many Americans looking for a way out of the superficiality that characterizes much of the American religious landscape, left writings that guide pilgrims even today.
The Ottoman Empire, Roger Scruton writes, was not composed of nation-states but of creed communities. Peace between the sects could not be ensured by borders, as in Europe, but only by custom. Peace is precarious and requires constant work and architecture is part of that work. When France was given the madate to govern Syria in 1923, the character of the ancient cities of the Mideast began to change. Modernist buildings and the mania for vehicles, roads and motion eroded the native traditions of custom and creed that guided the growth of the Eastern cities for centuries.
Drawing upon the Patristic distinction between God’s transcendent and hidden essence (ousia), and His energies (energeia,) which are operative and manifest throughout creation, we can understand God’s commandments not as formal dictates but as His own energies addressing us personally and inviting us to be “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4) The commandments, then, are not merely or even primarily moral but transformative and ontological, concerning our very being.
The Early Fathers of the Church drew upon the philosophy of Stoicism, not only by appropriating certain elements of its philosophical lexicon, but also in shaping the Church’s articulation of moral virtues. Questioning from a secular perspective recent criticisms of “traditional masculinity” for its “stoic” restraint of the passions, this essay effectually defends the moral vision of ancient Christianity against detractors in professional psychology and other behavioral sciences.
The finale of the Christmas Oratorio composed by Met. Hilarion Alfeyev, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church and performed by the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra in 2007.
One might ask where he finds that time to compose music given his busy schedule. Met. Hilarion responds that much of his writing occurs during layovers in airports because of his frequent international travels.
Christ’s entry into the world, particularly in the way He entered us, reveals how humility overthrows all worldly presumption and the contrivances of the powerful so that grace might fill the world.
As Orthodoxy becomes rooted in areas far from its Mediterranean homelands, it is important to keep seeking ways to articulate the eternal truths of faith in the languages and imagery of these new lands.
It is no accident that most of the language used in the Orthodox services is poetic. Good poetry has the ability to take us into the depths of things much more powerfully than prose.
These two Nativity poems by Mary Lowell penetrate a mother’s reverent wonder at the birth of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.