Deceiving the Deceiver

christApril 28, 2019
Bright and Saving PASCHA
of our Lord Jesus Christ

I love how the character of Christ is portrayed in the 2016 film Risen. In the movie, a Roman tribune is assigned by Pilate to investigate the alleged theft of the body of one late Hebrew rabbi who claimed to be the Messiah. This same tribune had witnessed Christ’s crucifixion himself, so he knew his man. But upon his first encounter of the risen Lord, he was taken aback. This mighty Roman tribune who had commanded legions of soldiers and put down entire insurrections against Caesar was terrified not so much by Jesus’ resurrectional power, but by the way in which it was manifest: an uncanny sober levity and a peculiar nonchalance. He was smirking like one who had pulled off the most enormous con game ever played. Continue reading

The Lord’s Last Farewell to his Friends

aka, Mecca.April 26, 2019
Great & Holy Friday

I am an art collector. A good painting with an equally good story has a way of catching my eye and heart. But because I have neither the time nor the pocketbook, most of my collecting happens online via Google image searches. And once I find an image that means something particular to me, I like to hunt it down to its source, where it lives, usually in a museum or sometimes in a church.

When I was recently in Chicago for a clergy retreat, I felt compelled to visit that fine city’s Art Institute. I remembered it to be the home for at least one or two of my favorite works. But as I neared the marble steps, I was racking my brain to remember the particular painting there that had stolen my heart the most. It wasn’t Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks or Wood’s American Gothic; neither was it the Paris Street; Rainy Day or any of the museum’s excellent collection of Rembrandt. All of these are undoubted masterpieces, but they don’t tell a story that speaks directly to me. Continue reading

Spring Cleaning for the Soul

198065.pForgiveness Sunday

It always comes as a bit of a shock that morphs quickly into mild panic when we hear,  Let us set out with joy upon the season of the fast and prepare ourselves for spiritual combat. Let us purify our soul and cleanse our flesh; as we fast from food let us abstain also from every passion. (From Lord I Have Cried verses, Sunday of Forgiveness)

I think to myself, “Great Lent is already here? I barely just finished my Christmas ham, and my taxes aren’t done.” Lent seems at first like the last and most recent thing on a very long to-do list, another obligation in a never-ending stream of necessary tasks. Continue reading

Our Common King of Peace

27690099366_64cf72ef82_bDecember 25/January 7, 2018
Nativity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God in the Flesh
A.K.A. Old School Christmas

O Come, Thou king of David bind
In one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease
And be thyself our king of peace.

The wise men are by far my favorite characters in the Nativity narrative. From the East they arrive at the auspicious moment and place, guided by the help of a single prophecy and a single bright star. The Jews, the Lord’s own people by contrast, had centuries worth of prophecies, volumes of laws, and a revealed faith that should have prepared them for the greatest moment of human history: God come in the flesh. Yet when that moment arrived, “… his own received him not,” and the winning touchdown, the 49-yard field goal, and the extra point all went to some exotic, pagan kings that paid attention to the heavens. In that moment of the Magi’s visitation, all reason for one nation’s elite condescension over all the others came to an end and the universal Kingdom was revealed. Continue reading

In Defense of Christmas Trees

31657782822_84d1ed5f32_oIn this time of the year, as the days wane more and more and darkness swallows up the light of the sun, we Christians in the northern hemisphere dream of the time of turning. The turning, or “yule” as it was called by our Saxon/Germanic ancestors, marked the time when the sun would end its long descent into the South and begin to climb north again. The Pagan Romans celebrated this as the Feast of the Invincible Sun, Sol Invictus, on or close to December 25th. The Church baptized this great celestial event by celebrating in its place an event of cosmic proportion: viz. The Advent of the Son of Righteousness whose coming in the flesh heralds the salvation of the whole universe. And this yuletide turning brings with it two great and ancient symbols of life and hope: trees that are evergreen and lights upon them that overcome the night. Continue reading

Hierarchical Visitations, New Ordinations, and the Establishment of a New Diocesan Monastery

Tuesday, August 15/28, 2018, Boston, MA
Feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God

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It is an amazing gift that with the blessing of Patriarch Neofit and the blessing of the beloved Prelate of our diocese, Metropolitan Joseph, three Hierarchs, the Metropolitans Serafim of Nevrokop,  Grigorii of Vratsa, and Daniil of Vidin, together with Archimadrite Epifaniy came from Bulgaria to Boston to officiate the tonsuring and ordinations of our beloved Brothers in Christ from the parish of Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Boston, MA. Continue reading

Holy Week and Paschal Magic

christ-resurrectionHoly Week and Pascha are definitely the most amazing and wonderful jewels of the Orthodox Christian Church. Holy Week and Pascha are not only incredible but also personal leaving me crying of sorrow and of joy of Christ’s resurrection. Christ died on the cross only because of our sins. He loves us. Only a person that truly loves us would die for us.

Now, let me explain what is so beautiful about Holy Week and Pascha. First, Palm Sunday: The Lord rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, where the people praised and glorified him. Then, Holy Monday: The Bridegroom Matins service foretells of the future sufferings of Jesus Christ. Holy Tuesday: The last musical Presanctified Liturgy, in which the Holy Communion(Eucharist) is pre-sanctified. There is harmonious music in the service like “Let my prayer arise…“. Holy Wednesday: Holy Unction is the service in which Orthodox Christians receive holy oil to heal us physically and spiritually. Continue reading