The Catholic and Apostolic Church of the Creed

In many ways, the Church, the Bride and Body of Christ, defies description even as our Lord, perfect God and perfect man, defies description. Even as the perfections of God are beyond number and comprehension, so the attributes of the Church are as innumerable as the depths of Christ’s divinity are unfathomable. With a divinely keen eye, the holy fathers of the second Ecumenical Council (Constantinople 381) have identified four attributes that are essential for us and for our salvation: unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity. Even as the unity and holiness of the Church that we … [Read more...]

The Creed and Core Beliefs: Changing Our Understanding of our Most Basic Relationship

“Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and Became Man.” Relationships are not just about connections between people. They are also internalized, defining who we are at a level of core beliefs. This is true in our development as children. It is true in our spiritual lives as well. Anyone familiar with the Old Testament knows that in the age prior to the Incarnation when human moral sensitivities were coarse and idolatry rampant, human beings’ relationship with the true God was understood primarily as a contract … [Read more...]

The Power of Truly Believing in the Maker of Heaven and Earth

When we affirm belief in one God who made heaven and earth we are proclaiming more than a belief that God created the heavens and the earth ex nihilo (out of nothing).  We are affirming that the meaning of our very existence in time and space, whenever and wherever we may be, ultimately has its source in God. We affirm that we are all His creatures, born of earth, destined for heaven, and always called to share in the superabundance of His goodness and love, the heart of all that is and ever shall be. God was not under any constraint to create the heavens and earth.  Rather, He freely created … [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...]

The Samaritan Woman, Christian Kenosis, and Luminous Thoughts

We cannot control the automatic thoughts and associations that arise in our heart through the course of the interactions of the day. We have conversations with others that can take many twists and turns, which are often unfortunate. But we can choose to focus on what is good; we can choose to focus on the teachings of Christ, so that those teachings come more readily to the surface as we interact with others. When we do such, conversations can at times have a prophetic force and we can sometimes even discern the voice of God leading us to Himself, just as He led the Samaritan woman to the … [Read more...]

Let Us Purify our Senses that We Might See Christ

Seeing is believing. But what does it mean to see? Most of the work of seeing takes place not through the eyes, but throughout the mind that conjures up distance and difference from light reflecting and refracting in thousands of ways. And to make sense out of light’s perpetual dance, the human brain needs to allocate immense resources to the visual cortex. And yet, the light pouring forth from the tomb of Christ and renewing the vision of the faithful is of another order, beyond sense and beyond thought, and hence, as radical as it may sound to all of us under the sway of physical … [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...]

The Art of Learning During Holy Week

Albert Bandura is a psychologist whose works I appreciate in part because he has a good sense of what psychology can and cannot offer. In Ancient Christian Wisdom, I quote his comment, “Psychology cannot tell people how they ought to live their lives,” and I note that “something hierarchically superior and existentially deeper is required for that.” Nevertheless, Bandura asserts that psychology “can provide them with the means for effecting personal and social change.” Sometimes, what psychology offers is not something new, but added clarity about the mechanics of something that has been done … [Read more...]

The Sunday of Orthodoxy: The Victory of An Iconic Way of Seeing

“Come and see,” the invitation of Phillip to Nathaniel, is so simple and yet so profound. Christianity is about movement and about vision, but movement and vision in another sphere beyond the physical realm and even the dominion of the mind, beyond sensory perception and reasoning, yet never totally disincarnate from those areas. According to the fathers, the heart or nous moves and sees properly when overshadowed by the grace of the Holy Spirit. This blessed movement and vision is the victory of truth over falsehood, life over death, and eternity over time. The feast of the restoration of the … [Read more...]

Holy Theophany: the Radiance of Divine Condescension for Our Salvation

In plumbing the depths of the River Jordan, the Lord Christ foreshadows in His holy baptism the glorious work of salvation completed in the world-changing events of Good Friday, His descent into hades on Holy Saturday, and His glorious Resurrection on Pascha.  Saint Paul describes the divine condescension in his letter to the faithful of Philippi as follows:Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of … [Read more...]