Honest Doubt that Leads to Deeper Faith

Thomas Sunday, April 19, 2015
Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church
Webster, MA by Fr. Luke Veronis

Re-posted here with permission. I love Fr. Luke’s distinctions of the various kinds of doubt.

Christos Anesti! Christ is Risen! As Orthodox Christians, we not only proclaim this fact, but emphasize that Christ’s Resurrection is the very cornerstone of Christianity. Our faith isn’t first and foremost about “Do’s and Don’ts,” about some moralistic standards. No, our faith is first and foremost about Christ victoriously rising from the dead, and destroying death itself! We’re talking about the ultimate victory of good over evil, of life over death, of Christ over Satan.

St. Paul put it most bluntly, when he states that if the resurrection isn’t true, then our faith is meaningless. If the resurrection is a fairy tale, then we Christians are the greatest fools of all, because we believe in a lie. If Christ is not risen, then we are all dead in our sins. The Apostle Paul goes on to say, if Christ is not risen, then instead of trying to live a disciplined, Christ-centered life of love, we should just eat, drink and be happy.  Just enjoy the moment and the day, for there is nothing after death! Continue reading

O God of Too Much Giving

April 12, 2015
Bright and Saving PASCHA
of our Lord Jesus Christ

Come, let us drink,
Not miraculous water
Drawn from a barren stone,
But a new vintage
From the fount of incorruption
Springing from the tomb of Christ:
In him we are established!
(Ode 3, Paschal Canon)

The strongest and most delicious liquor I have ever tasted was made by the hands of monks in a remote monastery in Greece. It brought refreshment at the end of a long and arduous journey and was accompanied by an equally strong piece of candy. Both were inebriating, but not excessive; intoxicating, while at the same time mysteriously bringing the calm of sobriety. Continue reading

On Easter Sunday

Mendicant Monk:

Easter Sunday sermons really do get this good. This is what happens when deep, ancient insight converses with contemporary experience. Kalli Anastasi to all my Orthodox friends and Happy Easter to all my friends in the West!

Originally posted on Trinity Newton Sermons:

Sermon for Easter, 2015
John 20:1-18

This morning’s sermon is going to take us to three places: present-day Cuba, interstate 90 between here and Rochester, New York, and Whitehall Chapel in 17th century London.   Let’s begin with present-day Cuba.

This past December, as I was packing for a trip to Rochester to visit my mother, who was dying of cancer, the news broke that the United States had restored diplomatic relations with Cuba.  My memories went back to better times, to the trip that Ashley and I made to Cuba about ten years ago.  We were able to get in on a religious visa through a church connection.   It was an amazing trip, and some of my favorite memories are of the music.  OMG, the music was fabulous!  It was like being on the set of “Buena Vista Social Club.”  Rhythms as only Cubans can do rhythm. …

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A Feastday for Sucklings

Icon Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Sunday, April 5, 2015
Orthodox Palm Sunday

I will never forget one of my first experiences of worship in the Orthodox Church. It was a Syrian/Antiochian Orthodox Church in Sylvania, OH, and I thought I had come prepared for what I was about to experience. Had my Bible, my trusty notebook (that I still carry around to this day), and I was ready to drill the priest or anyone else who asked with a battery of biblical objections to what I presumed in advance would be idolatry. What I was not prepared for was an argument from a wordless two year old, toddling next to me in church. He was busy staring open-mouthed in wonder at a larger-than-life icon of St. Anthony the Great of the Desert. In a matter of seconds, I put my book away and decided that the two-year old was getting something that I was missing. For just as the babes and sucklings in today’s feast, his open mouth was already beginning to perfect the praise worthy of Almighty God. Continue reading

Coming to an Orthodox Church Near You…

Duccio di Buoninsegna – The Raising of Lazarus

April 4, 2015
Lazarus Saturday

For those of you in my faithful readership who have yet to experience an Orthodox Christian Holy Week, now is your chance. At an Orthodox parish near you, begins a week of services unlike any you have experienced anywhere else on the planet. If you are local to Boston, you are cordially invited to attend all of the services our parish offers. If you can only do one, come to either Saturday morning Liturgy or late Saturday night, early Sunday morning for the Feast of Feasts, GREAT AND HOLY PASCHA on Sunday, April 12. Continue reading

The Seven Swans

When a sick queen died, a horrible witch strove to become the heir of the throne. The king chose her as his wife, not knowing that she was a witch. But she deceived him completely and transformed the king’s seven sons into swans. The king’s daughter then married and saved her brothers from the nasty queen’s spell by making magic shirts for them which turned them back into princes. This book started in the Russian language for children, and you may find it at the library in the fairy tale section.

Brothers in Unity

brothersBehold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!

It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Running down on the beard,
The beard of Aaron,
Running down on the edge of his garments.

It is like the dew of Hermon,
Descending upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing—
Life forevermore. (Psalm 133)

I have always felt honored to be named personally in this quintessential passage about Christian unity, or at least my beard is named. It has also made me feel like I belong in our parish’s annual Lenten Men’s Retreat whose theme this year is brotherly unity. I am proud to say that I have made it to every single retreat minus one since their inception over a decade ago.

Continue reading