The Situation If there’s one thing we don’t like thinking about, it’s death. Yet there is nothing more important, nothing that more defines who we are and how we act, than our approach to death and our understanding of its significance. “Look to the end,” Thucydides and Herodotus remind us, to determine the utility and worthiness of a human life. “Persevere to end,” the martyrs and saints remind us, to gain the crown of life
For many Christians, especially, I think, within Protestantism, Church history is a foggy and mysterious realm somewhere beyond the borders of normal thought, beyond the more familiar lands of biblical interpretation and spiritual discipline. Occasionally, one of its more conspicuous citizens (St. Francis of Assisi, Martin Luther, and a few others) makes an appearance in familiar territory, but in general the land and its inhabitants seem far away and shrouded in darkness. Many evidently prefer
A point of confusion and, sometimes, contention within the Christian religion is the role of saints in the life of the Church. In some branches of Christianity, such as Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism, saints occupy an important place, as is evidenced, among other things, by the names of their churches—St. Luke, St. George, St. Cuthbert, and so on. In some other traditions, particularly within evangelicalism and fundamentalism, the word “saint” is used rarely and with
A New Birth and a New Death On Christmas Day in the year 800 CE, the Roman Empire was proclaimed to be reborn. The Frankish king Charlemagne, a fierce conqueror and the ruler of most of western Europe, had travelled to Rome, and there Pope Leo III declared him Roman emperor, his collection of loosely controlled lands being dubbed the Holy Roman Empire. The coronation was questionable for a number of reasons, not the least
It could be said that, throughout history and even now in the “less enlightened” parts of the world, the cults of the Saints drive not only the practice of Christianity but also speculation (in the older, more revered sense of the term) about Christianity itself. That is, hagiography as such – the vitae Sanctorum – is not a strange collection of bygone myths (in the newer, less revered sense of the term), but the pulse
This is the continuation of my essay series on St. Phanourios. You can read part 1 here 1 and part 2 here 2. Last time, I wrote about how St. Phanourios helped me through a series of personal crises that, as they often do, all spilled out at once. I was jobless, looking for work, had run out of money, and my health was crumbling, with a 50/50 chance of having cancer. St. Phanourios’ prayers
Please remember to check out Part One of the series. “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”1 “Acquire a peaceful spirit and thousands of others around you will be saved.”2 The Great Commission is not about making converts. It is about making saints. It is not about regeneration. It is about maturation. Granted, one needs to be converted in order to become a saint (and I understand
Though we would not meet until many years later, my wife and I both enjoyed the good fortune of having college roommates from India who became our closest friends. My roommate came from a Hindu family, and my wife’s roommate from a Christian family. It was through her that I first heard of “Saint Thomas Christians”—the Christians of Southern India, who trace their faith all the way back to the Apostle Thomas himself. It’s my
This is the continuation of my essay series on St. Phanourios. You can read part 1 here.2 As it is for many, we often spiritually grow through suffering. Elder Sophrony3, when writing to his sister Maria, writes about what suffering can give us: Do you really think that my in my years of monastic life I have escaped periods when the vision of my ruin was so petrifying that it is not permitted to speak
Years ago, in late September, I was at my sister-friend’s parish in Ottawa for a weekday liturgy. Afterwards, an older Greek lady gave out small pieces of bread called “Phanouropita” for St. Phanourios. I have never had such good tasting bread. It was the perfect balance of sweetness and spices; surely it was made with prayer! Nothing tastes so good as when it is made with love and prayer. I remember the priest, after the
I went on a walk with a friend recently, we saw trees fully green and trees with delicate yellow leaves, falling in the wind, on green grass. Autumn in Northern New Jersey! While sitting on a bench, we talked about books, ideas and our dreams for life. I reminisced a bit. I told her how when I was in school, years back, outside Vancouver and new to the Orthodox Church. I saw 2 icons for
The title of this article may sound quite oxymoronic to some. If you are someone like I used to be, you may find yourself wondering what an ancient Saint, a monastic one at that, would have to teach us about being missional today. Those who pursue the study of missional theology often do not place reading books about the reclusive lives of the monastic saints too highly on the priority list. Missiologists, from my experience,
(A Brief Synopsis) What I have been given in the Church ~ The Protection and Shelter of the Saints ~ Part II
Icon of St. Herman of Alaska from Holy Dormition Monastery. Icon of St. Herman of Alaska, made by my Ottawa Parish, from a print from Greece; Picture taken by author. Note: This is a continuation of my series on what I have been given in the (Eastern Orthodox) Church. Part One is found here. The Protection and Shelter of the Saints ~ Part II: Saints Herman and Nicholas Saint Herman of Alaska While at St.
(A Brief Synopsis) What I have been given in the Church: The Protection and Shelter of the Saints ~ Part I: The Mother of God
This icon is called the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God Note: While I am new to Conciliar Post, I am here because of their commitment to dialogue between Christian traditions (Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant) with respect and Christian love. While I could write (and perhaps will later) on why I think this is the best way, suffice for now to say what I see my writing, including this series, to be about: to
I1 am nearing the end of a really beautiful book, called Dimitri’s Cross.2 Right now I am reading the letters he wrote his wife, Tamara, from his first place of imprisonment. I already know, from reading this book, that he is later sent to Dora, a camp called the “Man-Eater” where Fr. Dimitri is forced to work in horrid, extreme conditions, ages quickly, becomes very ill and at the end, speaks of feeling the abandonment of
“Walking in the desert one day I found the skull of a dead man lying on the ground. As I was moving it with my stick, the skull spoke to me. I said to it, ‘Who are you? ‘ The skull replied, ‘I was a high priest of the idols and of the pagans who dwelt in this place; but you are Macarius, the Spirit-hearer. Whenever you take pity on those who are in torment,
Two monks left their cell and appeared before Abba Anthony, who was praying. “Abba,” said one of the monks, “My brother is in error, saying that Squirtle is the best starter when Charmander is clearly superior.” The other replied, “Nay, it is my brother who errs, for Squirtle has the best evolution.” Abba Anthony ceased praying and stood before the brethren. He pulled his own iPhone from within his robe and snapped it in half.
All Augustine sermon citations are taken from Sermon 80, Edmund Hill Translation1 Prayer has always been central to Christian communities. In America today, most are familiar with the text of the Lord’s Prayer, which Christ teaches his disciples in Matthew 6 (cf. Luke 11). The fact that such an ancient text continues to find relevance in the lives of each new generation says something significant about its worth. Yet popularity includes inherent drawbacks. Although millions can recite the
In a catechesis address on April 15 at the Vatican, Pope Francis spoke about the difference between men and women. Some who wish to develop a discontinuous narrative of John Paul II and Benedict XVI as traditionalists and Francis as a progressive pope expressed their disappointment at Francis’s statements, as the pontiff warned against the prevalence of gender theory in modern society. “We risk taking a step backward,” Francis stated, and he claimed that “so-called
What is up with these Orthodox and their bones? Essentially bones matter, stuff matters, matter matters because of the Incarnation. When the Pre-Incarnate, Pre-Eternal, Second person of the Holy Trinity was en-fleshed, when the Fully Divine became Fully Man, matter was redeemed and took on the (or begins to take on) the true nature of what it was created to be.