Heard the Hymn of Cassiani last night in church and today on a wonderful youtube mix. What a profound expression of repentance and grace. May he who rose from the dead, Christ our True God, grant us the same grace, mercy, and forgiveness as we near the day of his most glorious resurrection from the dead:
On this Forgiveness Sunday, the beginning of Great Lent in the Orthodox Church, with our Western brothers and sisters beginning Lent this coming Wednesday, I need to beg forgiveness for a debt I will never be able to repay. It is a debt of love I owe especially to the Episcopal (Anglican) Church for midwifing me into the Orthodox Church over 25 years ago.
When I was a Christian in College without a church to call home, the local Episcopal church took me in. While the richness of the Orthodox Church stunned me into silence and kept me at an awkward distance, the local Anglican priest shared hymns and church customs that were more familiar. In the presence of an Orthodox Liturgy, I felt like a bum dragged off the street and set before a seven course French meal; Continue reading →
Lord, I have loved the beauty of Thy house, the place where Thy glory dwelleth. (Psalm 26:8)
Fr. Michael Pomazansky of blessed memory has a wonderful phrase to describe the rich banquet of divine services offered by the Church for the salvation of our souls: He calls this banquet liturgical maximalism. And now as the Orthodox Church begins her 40 days of the Great Fast toward Holy Week and the Bright & Holy Pascha of Our Lord’s Resurrection, the sheer number of services multiplies exponentially. In just the two Orthodox parishes local to us, there is a service offered almost every day in this first week of Lent. What should we make of all this church-going in a month usually dedicated to madness and green beer? Doesn’t all this abstaining and prostrating lead to a repression of life and joy? Continue reading →
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 →
Behold, 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.
A beautiful summary of the martyrs desire to die with Christ and the unbelievable fact that they do so out of giddy desire, not out of dour duty. Also, a wonderful summary of patristic wisdom on the subject. Enjoy!
I think we all know what’s coming. I think we know what Jesus means when he says in today’s Gospel lesson, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” I think we know, too, what the author of the letter to the Hebrews means when he says that Jesus is a high priest who “suffered” and was “made perfect.” I think we all know that next Sunday is Palm Sunday and the week following is Holy Week. I think we all know what’s coming; we all know that Jesus’ Passion and death are just around the corner.
If I’m not mistaken, there seems to be a certain giddiness in today’s readings. Notice, for example, the triumphant tone in the letter to the Hebrews: Jesus has “been…
Beloved in Christ, we have to see ourselves as being different than the world around us! As Christians we are called to be “in the world, but not of the world.” (John 15:19). The Scripture says “come out and be separate…..” (2 Cor. 6:17)
Yet this can be very difficult in a world that pressures us to conform to its ways and to be connected to it at all times. We live in this age of the 24hr news cycle, which most of the time is not really “news,” but entertainment, shock factor, blog/twitter commentary of usually trivial information. We live in the age of text, twitter, snap chat, Facebook, etc., etc. and we’re pressured to feel we have to be connected constantly or we’ll miss something.
And yes, we are missing something, Jesus, and relationship with Him. We’re missing quietness, prayer, stillness, reflection. And instead, we’ve become impersonal, impatient, addicted, nervous if we don’t have our iPhone “on us” at all times. Is this human advancement? Is this progress of civilization? Continue reading →