Perhaps the most scandalous doctrine of the Eastern Orthodox Church for heterodox Christians is that of theosis, which is often translated as divinization. It is the means of salvation that has been taught since the time of the apostles, but most Christians have never heard of it, and even some Orthodox are unfamiliar with it.
It is written, Ye are gods, in Psalm 81/82 and in 2nd Peter 1:4 we are called to be partakers in the divine nature. As I have written in the past, we cannot partake in the divine nature without either pulling that nature down to something less than divine or being elevated to it.
St. Athanasius states, The Word of God… assumed humanity that we might become God,  St. Macarius wrote that those Christians who struggle and conquer are kings and lords and gods , and countless other fathers from both East and West have taught this doctrine. Continue reading Understanding Theosis
One of my favorite movies as a child was Disney’s The Lion King. In the movie, there is a character, Simba, who has left his royal family to be raised by a pig and a meerkat. He fills his days with play and singing “Hakuna Matata,” which means “no worries,” but in actuality, is practiced as “no responsibility and no need to ever grow up.” He pursues a life of selfish play, which is interrupted when his father, who is in the heavens, reminds him to “Remember who you are.”
We, like Simba, have left the divine royalty and sonship to which we have been called and have wasted our lives in fruitless play, sinful passions, and the pursuit of the “good life” this world offers. Our Father in Heaven is calling us to remember who we are, and in the words of St. Macarius, I find that reminder. He says, Continue reading Remember Who You Are
The serpent found a second Eve in the Egyptian woman, and with words of flattery he sought to make Joseph fall. But, leaving his garment behind him, Joseph fled from sin; and like the first man before his disobedience, though naked he was not ashamed. (Bridegroom Matins, Canticle Nine).
Frequently during the course of Great Lent, as well as Holy Week, we look upon the example of the Old Testament patriarch Joseph. Earlier in the same service, we sing,
Jacob lamented the loss of Joseph, but his righteous son was seated in a chariot and honored as a king. For he was not enslaved to the pleasures of Egypt, but he was glorified by God who sees the hearts of men and bestows upon them a crown incorruptible. (Canticle One)
[Jacob’s] wise and glorious son was enslaved in body but kept his soul free from bondage, and became lord over all Egypt.
A friend recently asked me, “What does it mean to contemplate the face of Christ?” Here is an attempt to provide an answer:
That is a difficult question and I honestly cannot give you an answer that is based from my own experience. But, God willing, I will give you something that will help out at least a little bit.
First of all, contemplation (as I have come to understand it in Orthodoxy) has nothing to do with the imagination. So, we do not picture Christ in our minds in order to contemplate Him and His face. Doing so ultimately leads to idolatry because Continue reading Contemplating the Face of Christ
In some of the classic Disney movies, the princess is in the forest surrounded by animals that befriend her and even sing with her. They follow her and adore her. These scenes reveal a character with purity of heart, a soul that was so undefiled that even nature was unafraid of her.
These scenes spoke to people at the time the movies were released, and even to myself when I was a child. They reminded us of a memory we all instinctively carry within us: the memory of Eden. In the Garden all of nature was subject to man and was at peace with him. After the fall into sin, the animals became afraid of man because while we are still in the image of God, that image has been soiled and defiled by sin. Continue reading Bring Back the Disney Princess!
The enlightening discussion between Motovilov and St Seraphim of Sarov on acquiring the Holy Spirit. It seemed proper to post on Holy Pentecost.
Saint Seraphim of Sarov was born in 1759, in the city of Kursk. His parents were pious Orthodox Christians, examples of true spirituality. At the age of ten, Seraphim was miraculously healed from a serious illness by means of the Kursk icon of the Theotokos. As a boy, he immersed himself in church services and church literature. He began monastic life at the hermitage of Sarov at the age of nineteen. He was tonsured as a monk when he was twenty-seven, and soon afterwards was ordained a deacon. Continue reading On The Acquisition of The Holy Spirit
God does not need our prayers or praise. But we as His creatures, made in His image, must return to the Source of our being in order to become fully alive and filled with love. Two of the most important steps toward developing inward and outward prayer are realizing the great love of God and then putting our faith and hope in that love.
The convincing factor that led me to join the Orthodox Church was not the theology or the worship services, it was prayer. In only a few months, through the teachings of the fathers, I learned more about developing prayer than I had heard in my entire life. And I saw the fruit of it too.
My last blog focused on short prayers that one can say throughout the day. The most important of all of these is the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.” As St Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain teaches, “Preeminence belongs to the Jesus Prayer because it unites the soul with our Lord Jesus, and the Lord Jesus is the only door to union with God, which is the aim of prayer.” Continue reading Developing Inner Prayer, Part 1
A concept that is so integrated into our subconscious that we do not even realize its presence within us is the modern lie regarding the progress of humanity. This legend states that over time, mankind is progressing and leaving the old, oppressive ways behind.
Certainly we have seen forms of progress in the past fifty years regarding technology and some civil issues. But do these things confirm that we are collectively evolving as a society? Or are we simply making a few corrections with one hand while driving society deeper into depravity with the other? Continue reading The Tale of Moral Progress
In my prior post, I discussed the significance of the Garden of Eden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and why and how death entered into the world.
In this post, I will attempt to answer the question: if Christ has come to renew our nature, why do we still die? Also, we will discuss the hope we have through death.
A solid understanding of the significance of the incarnation will enable us to understand it in relation to our own death. When God saw that His creation that was formed in His image had fallen into death and decay, He took action. Continue reading Our Hope in Death, Part 2
This past week, many people were shocked to learn of the suicide of the popular movie star and comedian Robin Williams. In the Orthodox Church, we have been preparing ourselves for tomorrow’s feast day: the Dormition of the Theotokos (that is, her falling asleep in the Lord). Death surrounds us every day; to the vast majority of it we remain ignorant. It is also the one certainty in each one of our lives: we will die.
These things can bring up questions: What is death? Why do we die? What is the purpose of death if we have a resurrection to come? All of these questions I will attempt to answer, but I will start at the beginning… Continue reading Our Hope in Death, Part 1
If one enters into the prayer life of Orthodoxy, you will find a great emphasis on keeping Christ on your heart and mind at all times. The monastics and many laypeople strive to attain “prayer of the heart,” in which their heart speaks the name of Christ or what is known as the Jesus Prayer “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me” at every waking and sleeping hour.
Entering into this realm of life is exciting and transformative. It requires two things: first of all is grace from God. Without His grace, everything else is worthless. Secondly, it necessitates a readiness on our part to receive him. If our hearts and minds are full of the cares, attachments, and desires of this world and our flesh, then there is no room for grace within us. Of course, it takes the grace of God to remove these things, but we must make ourselves available and take the tiniest step of effort toward Him.