Hats off to Byantine TX for this handy guide for Lent and Holy Week that 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. Fr. Seraphim was a child of the West who knew its riches along with its soul-destroying pitfalls and marshaled this knowledge for the good of those seeking Christ in the Orthodox faith just as he did. Only Christ could fulfill the deepest longings of the soul for truth and meaning Fr. Seraphim discovered, and only Orthodoxy — properly embraced and lived — was the path that best guided a man to Him.
One reason Fr. Rose’s writings are so popular is that a man born and nurtured in the West sees his own experience when reading Fr. Rose’s works. He knew the questions and struggles of the kind a pilgrim will encounter if he follows Christ with any seriousness at all, and so the pilgrim senses the kinship of friends sharing a journey together even though one may be far ahead of the other.
The talk below was given in 1979 at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York three years before Fr. Rose’s death. It reveals that in some ways our situation have not changed much, but in others there has been considerable progress, most notably the increasing awareness that the soul-destroying worldliness that afflicts so many Christian bodies in America could destroy American Orthodoxy too if we are not vigilant.
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
One cannot destroy the serene and unostentatious forms of the Levantine city without also jeopardizing the peace that they symbolized and which to a measure they also protected.
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.
Sometimes the trials and irritations of everyday life seem almost impossible to bear gracefully, and at such times we may wonder how it would be possible to endure a far more harsh and hostile environment, such as a Soviet Gulag.
The irreducible difference between Orthodox Christianity and the Western Confessions (Roman Catholicism and Protestantism) writes Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) is that the former understands Christianity as first ascetic effort and the latter perceives it as moral perfection. Orthodoxy sees it differently.
“What is hell?” Elder Zosima asks in Dosteovsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov.” His answer draws from St Isaac the Syrian’s “Ascetic Homilies,” a book that Dostoevsky kept by his bedside: Hell is “the suffering of being no longer able to love.”
“He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love” (I John 4:8). So explains St John, Beloved of Christ. Love is at the center of our Orthodox faith, and indeed as the epistle reminds us, at the center of being itself. Assembled here is a selection of short sayings or aphorism from St Paisios of Mt Athos, whose love for God, for his fellow humanity, and for creation itself is unsurpassed in modern times.
God speaks to man writes Elder Cleopa and His living voice is the means of His self-revelation to man. God’s word was first passed on orally and constitutes what we call Holy Tradition and only later written as scripture, both Old and New Testaments.
Many are familiar with the celebrated “boiled frog” fable (real frogs are smarter than this) in which the amphibian is placed in a beaker of water that is gradually heated until the animal is boiled alive. Even though it could easily leap to freedom, the progressive hostility of its environment is so gradual that it never quite notices. Hieromonk Gabriel helps us in this article to see just how abnormal the environment is that we inhabit, along with a brief history of how this came to pass, noting such ills as the decline of the family and the disintegration of social bonds, along with the rise of secularism and the privatization of religion.
I have to do things as they do, go through the same troubles. I have to be strong enough to comfort them and inspire by my own example. I’m neither intelligent nor gifted, I have nothing but love for Christ, but I’m weak. We can only express our love for him and our faithfulness by comforting people around us. –Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna.
The essence of any religion is contained in the spiritual life, which is its most sacred side. Entry into this life demands not only good intentions, but also knowledge of the laws of spiritual life. But to acquire this knowledge in an age of spiritual confusion requires clear guidance.
We suffer an age of redoubled iconoclasm. It is not the image-smashing of Constantinople, the Reformation’s rage against papist altars in Germany, nor the vandal-piety of Vatican II that plunders its own treasures. It is a militant renovation of the very meaning of beauty which shuns “the aesthetic value of a building” as belonging to an obsolete culture of symbolic frills.
Thomas Traherne was a seventeenth century Anglican priest originally known as one of the less prominent “metaphysical poets,” although he was until recently overshadowed by figures such as John Donne and George Herbert. As a simple country priest, he led a quiet, obscure, and pious life, dying of smallpox in 1674 at less than 40 years of age.
In this moving account, Archpriest Nikolai Agafono narrates how a foolish childhood escapade led his family into Orthodox Christianity, despite their dismissive view of religion that exemplified attitudes imposed by the Soviet state. As the details emerge, he skillfully reveals how God’s love can permeate even the most rigid ideological filters that modern secularism is able to enforce.