The Gift of Pentecost

Each human soul is unique with her own thoughts and desires, hopes and fears, joys and sorrows. Everyone of us needs individualized care especially when we are confused, when we don’t know what to believe, and when we feel alone. And the Lord Christ offers us that personal solicitude in the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Eternal Son came into this darkened world that our thoughts might be holy, our desires pure, our hopes golden and our fears as a cloud of smoke dispersed by the wind. And on the fiftieth day after His Resurrection, that wind came through which He provides most graciously the … [Read more...]

Christ’s Ascension and a New Vision of our Life

The period between Ascension and Pentecost provides us with a glimpse of how we are to deal with the transitory nature of this life with its daily pressures, unavoidable disappointments, and prolonged suffering. The Feast of the Ascension is one of the twelve great feasts of the year in the Orthodox Church.  It is an important feast not so much in the commemoration of the Lord’s bodily departure from this earth, for He Himself promised us that He would not leave us orphaned and that He would send us His Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth Who is everywhere present and fills all … [Read more...]

Baptism, Faith, and the Death and Resurrection of Christ

“Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.” In one of his Paschal discourses to his monastic community Saint Symeon the New Theologian explains how the Cross, the Tomb, and the third day Resurrection of Christ are mysteries that … [Read more...]

Some Initial Thoughts About Vigils

Vigil, throughout the night, was an ascetic practice instituted by our Savior, valued by His holy Apostles, and continued by Christians throughout the ages. Saint John Chrysostom pointed out to the faithful that Christ frequently went up into the mountain to pray in order to teach us to keep vigil in a special place where we can be alone with God and at a special time in which distractions are less intrusive (Homily on Matthew). In other words, praying during the night is divinely-ordained ascetic practice given by the Lord Himself to the faithful. Saint Jerome likewise noted how the Apostles … [Read more...]

When the Heart Beats, the Lungs Breathe, and the Nous Prays: Christian Life without Fear

Anxiety and fear seem to be everywhere we look, everywhere except on the faces of the Saints. Sacred Icons of the Martyrs even during their martyrdom have not a trace of fear or anxiety. Why is fear and anxiety so present in our world and so absent in a world of genuine and proven holiness? Father John Romanides provides an answer from the position of Orthodox anthropology: “While the brain is the center of human adaptation to the environment, the noetic faculty in the heart is the primary organ for communion with God. The fall of man or the state of inherited sin is: a) the failure of the … [Read more...]

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

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A Joyful Battle with a Cry of Thanksgiving

The ancient fathers have consistently described the spiritual life in terms of warfare.  In their writings and homilies, they often use terms such as battle, armaments, assaults, and weapons following Saint Paul’s description of the whole armor of God.  While this is an apt description of the spiritual life here on earth, it may cause us to lose sight of an important characteristic of Christian soldiers, they are joyful and grateful.  After all, we are not marching towards a defeat, but towards a radiant victory that has already been accomplished through our Lord’s glorious Resurrection. If we … [Read more...]