Some people tell me that they are scandalized because they see many things wrong in the Church. I tell them that if you ask a fly, “Are there any flowers in this area?” it will say, “I don’t know about flowers, but over there in that heap of rubbish you can find all the filth you want.” And it will go on to list all the unclean things it has been to.
Now, if you ask a honeybee, “Have you seen any unclean things in this area?” it will reply, “Unclean things? No, I have not seen any; the place here is full of the most fragrant flowers.” And it will go on to name all the flowers of the garden or the meadow. Continue reading The Fly and The Bee
When I began my spiritual struggle shortly after converting to Orthodoxy, I felt frustrated. I had joined a church that felt too demanding: fasting every Wednesday and Friday, pre-communion prayers Saturday nights, an expectation to actually change and live a holy life, morning and evening prayers, feast days and periods of fasting. It all seemed like too much.
There is a rhythm to the life of the Church; entering into it takes time. But I wasn’t used to that. My Protestant upbringing and the American culture made me want instant results, even for sinful habits that were deeply entrenched. In charismatic circles, we would always pray for instantaneous miracles and deliverances from evil. To expect anything less could mean one had weak faith.
At a few points, the temptation entered into my mind: “This is too much for you, and for anyone except the most saintly. You know you can’t settle for mediocrity, and you’re certainly not a saint, so just give up on Orthodoxy. Don’t keep pushing yourself into a lifestyle that is simply too pious for you.” Continue reading Feeling Frustrated with the Spiritual Struggle
Today we celebrate the feast day of St Gregory the Wonder Worker (also known as Gregory Thaumaturgus). I wanted to write about St Gregory because there are many people who believe that the concept of the Trinity was introduced into the Church at the Council of Nicea by Constantine and his “cohorts.”
I remember reading some pamphlet produced by the WatchTower a few years ago that was given to me by Jehovah’s (false) Witnesses. At that time, I was attempting to figure out what I believed. Was the church corrupt by the time of Constantine? Was the doctrine of the Trinity a heretical concept later introduced? I felt that Jesus was likely God incarnate, but I wanted to be open-minded to counterarguments. The pamphlet was so full of historical flaws, misquotes of ancient Christian texts, and bad philosophy that I tossed it aside. Continue reading St Gregory The Wonder Worker
There is an unpopular teaching that I frequently see in the scriptures and in the Church Fathers. I say “unpopular” because I did not hear much about it in my Protestant years.
In 2nd Corinthians 12, Paul writes, “…a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me.” He goes on to say he pleaded with the Lord three times to remove this thorn, but the Lord replied:
My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.
Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul’s exact ailment has been speculated by many scholars. Continue reading A Holy Degradation – The Way of Christ
There is a peculiar desire in many of us: we want to know that which is hidden. We are almost instinctively drawn to those who speculate or even pretend to have answers to unanswerable questions. It is the reason many Christian denominations hold conferences and seminars on unlocking the secrets of the book of Revelations. They advertise, “This has stumped Christians for 1,900 years, but we got it figured out!” And they draw a crowd.
Whether it be heaven, hell, toll houses, the salvation of unbelievers, or the end times, we are easily sucked into conversations about things we truly don’t understand. At most, the scriptures and fathers have only given us hints about these things. Continue reading Dabbling in The Unknown
If you have decided to embark on the journey of deepening your faith and your connection with God, you will probably meet resistance on the path of peace very soon.
Amma Theodora, one of the Desert Mothers taught the following:
You should realize that as soon as you intend to live in peace, at once evil comes and weighs down your soul through accidie*, faintheartedness, and evil thoughts. It also attacks your body through sickness, debility, weakening of the knees and all the members. It dissipates the strength of soul and body, so that one believes one is ill and no longer able to pray. But if we are vigilant, all these temptations fall away.
I share that quote to encourage you to stay strong in this fight against evil. As soon as you decide you are going to attempt to live a life free of judging others, somebody will do something to annoy you, hurt you, or test you in some way. It is not that person’s fault, but rather it is God allowing your resolve to be tested. Continue reading The Desert Fathers on Judging and How to Treat Others
I recently wrote about the Restless Emptiness that so many of us feel. As I mentioned before, the reason we feel restless and empty inside is because we have these alien tyrants called the “passions” ruling us from the throne of our hearts.
My recent posts have followed the same theme: diagnosing and finding the proper therapy for the emptiness that we have within us. This post falls within that theme.
Continue reading Judging Ourselves and Others