Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 20

This is the last chapter that deals with formal prayers. And while this chapter is short, I think it is a little profound what Saint Benedict writes for us to read. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 19

This next chapter is back to being short again. After this chapter, we have one more that deals with prayers and things, then things go more into life and governance of the monastery. This chapter talks about the discipline of Psalmody.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 18

This next chapter is not as short as the other ones that we have recently had. This chapter is a little lengthy, but it is not that long. Believe it or not, but I actually enjoy typing out the longer chapters; it makes me feel like I've worked at the blog post.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Nativity Fast

Today, the 15th of November, the Orthodox Church starts the Nativity Fast. This fast will last for 40 days. Some people may call this fasting period Advent, which is slightly shorter in the West. During this fasting season falls such feasts as the Presentation of the Theotokos, and Saint Nicholas Day- when Orthodox traditionally gave gifts.

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 17

I apologize for missing two days of updates. My wife and I have been very tired as of late, so when my day is done I usually go straight to bed. Anyway, we continue on where we left off, explaining how the prayers of the Hours should be practiced.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 16

This next chapter deviates from what we have seen with the services thus far. This chapter talks about praying during the day. Some of my readers may remember that I have touched on such things before in previous blog posts. Also, this is still a short chapter.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

War is Hell

War is Hell. I should know, I've been there, got the t-shirt.

The Orthodox West

In my post on Chapter 15 of the Rule of Saint Benedict, I mentioned toward the end that the West was once Orthodox. Many people - at least those who know that there is such a thing as Eastern Christianity - often think of the West as being distinctly Roman Catholic, and the East as being distinctly Orthodox. While today that assumption pretty much holds true, at one point in time it did not.

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 15

Not much for an introduction today; I'm running out of things to say to open these short chapters. I will say this, though, and that is for everything there is a reason. I may not know what the reason is, nor how to accurately explain the reasonings behind the thing, but there is a reason for the thing.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 14

This next chapter is really short, like only 2 verses long. And again it covers the proper procedure for services.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Nektarius the Wonderworker

On November 9, we commemorate Nektarius the Wonderworker, Metropolitan of Pentapolis:

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 13

It has been a long time since I posted. I apologize, I've been swamped with schoolwork, life as a father of a newborn yet again (she's squishy!), life as a father of two girls who are running circles around me, and life as a husband of a grad student. There is so much on my plate right now, but things are starting to calm down. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 12

Now, we move into the way Lauds is supposed to be conducted. Lauds is similar to Matins, or Orthros in the Eastern churches. Lauds is so called because, "the three last psalms of the psalter (148, 149, 150), the Laudate psalms, which in former versions of the Lauds of the Roman Rite occurred every day, and in all of which the word laudate is repeated frequently." (Wikipedia)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Icons of the Most Holy Theotokos of Pochaev

On July 23, we commemorate The Icons of the Most Holy Theotokos of Pochaev:

The Icon of the Mother of God of Pochaev - Metropolitan Neophytus, a bishop belonging to the see of Constantinople, was traveling through Volhynia in Ukraine where he was given hospitality by a pious woman, Anna Goyskaya. The bishop gave this woman an icon of the holy Theotokos, which began to work miracles, including the healing of her blind brother. In 1597 the icon was given to the monks residing in Pochaev near the border of Galicia, where the Mother of God had appeared in 1340, leaving an imprint of her footprint in the rock, from which a stream gushed forth. In 1675 when the Lavra of Pochaev was besieged by the Moslem Turks, it was saved by the miraculous intervention of the Mother of God through her wonderworking icon. Even though the Lavra of Pochaev came into Uniate hands for over a century, miracles continued to be worked through the holy icon. Since its return to the Orthodox Catholic Church in 1831, the icon has been a grace-bestowing support for Orthodox Christians, especially those in western Ukraine and the Carpathian region.


Icon of the Mother of God

On July 23, we commemorate Icon of the Mother of God:

The Icon of the Mother of God "Joy of All That Sorrow" - As with so many other icons of the Theotokos, wonderworking copies of this icon have been found throughout Orthodox Russia, each with its own history and moving collection of miracles. In this icon, the most holy Mother of God is depicted standing full stature sometimes with, sometimes without the Divine Child in her arms; she is surrounded by all manner of the sick and the suffering, to whom Angels of the Lord bear gifts of mercy, consolation, and suitable aid from the most holy Theotokos. The icon "Joy of all that Sorrow" was inspired by the hymn of the same name; see page 222 in Great Compline. Through one copy of this icon, the sister of Patriarch Joachim was healed at the end of the seventeenth century in Moscow, from which time the feast was established. Another copy of the icon was found in Saint Petersburg; on July 23, 1888, during the severe thunderstorm, lightning struck a chapel at a glass factory, burning the interior walls of the church, but leaving the icon unsinged. From the violent disturbance of the air, the icon was knocked to the floor, the poor-box broke open, and twelve copper coins adhered to the icon in various places; afterwards many miracles were worked by the grace of the holy icon.


Ezekiel the Prophet

On July 23, we commemorate Ezekiel the Prophet:

The Prophet Ezekiel ("God is strong") was the son of Buzi and a priest by rank. He was taken captive and brought to Babylon during the reign of Jechonias. In the fifth year of this captivity, about 594 or 593 B.C., he began to prophesy. Having prophesied for about twenty-eight years, he was murdered, it is said, by the tribe of Gad, because he reproached them for their idolatry. His book of prophecy, divided into forty-eight chapters, is ranked third among the greater Prophets. It is richly filled with mystical imagery and marvelous prophetic visions and allegories, of which the dread Chariot of Cherubim described in the first Chapter is the most famous; in the "gate that was shut," through which the Lord alone entered, he darkly foretold of the Word's Incarnation from the Virgin (44:1-3); through the "dry bones" that came to life again (37:1-14), he prophesied both of the restoration of captive Israel, and the general resurrection of our race.


Phocas the Holy Martyr, Bishop of Sinope

On July 23, we commemorate Phocas the Holy Martyr, Bishop of Sinope:

This saint was known for the many miracles he worked and for his apostolic zeal in shepherding the flock of Sinope. He contested for the Faith during the reign of the Emperor Trajan, in the year 102, when he was burned to death in a bath-house. A homily in his honour was composed by Saint John Chrysostom. The translation of his holy relics is celebrated on July 23.


The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 11

So this post was here yesterday, and now it's gone. I have no idea what happened other than that I must have overwritten it with the new one. I have no idea how that happened. So here is Chapter 11 again.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mary Magdalena, the Holy Myrrh-bearer

On July 22, we commemorate Mary Magdalene, the Holy Myrrh-bearer and Equal to the Apostles:

Saint Mary was from Magdala in Galilee on the Sea of Tiberias, and for this was named Magdalene. When the Lord Jesus cast out seven demons from her, from which she had been suffering, she became His faithful and inseparable disciple, following Him and ministering unto Him even to the time of His crucifixion and burial. Then, returning to Jerusalem together with the rest of the Myrrh-bearers, she prepared the fragrant spices for anointing the body of the Lord. And on the Lord's day they came very early to the tomb, even before the Angels appeared declaring the Resurrection of the Lord. When Mary Magdalene saw the stone taken away from the tomb, she ran and proclaimed it to Peter and John. And returning immediately to the tomb and weeping outside, she was deemed worthy to be the first of the Myrrh-bearers to behold the Lord arisen from the dead, and when she fell at His feet, she heard Him say, "Touch Me not." After the Lord's Ascension, nothing certain is known concerning her. Some accounts say that she went to Rome and later returned to Jerusalem, and from there proceeded to Ephesus, where she ended her life, preaching Christ. Although it is sometimes said that Saint Mary Magdalene was the "sinful woman" of the Gospel, this is nowhere stated in the tradition of the Church, in the sacred hymnology, or in the Holy Gospels themselves, which say only that our Lord cast seven demons out of her, not that she was a fallen woman.

Read more at []

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 10

This is another short chapter that details how summer Vigils should be kept.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Symeon the Fool for Christ

On July 21, we commemorate Symeon the Fool for Christ:

These Saints were from the city of Edessa in Mesopotamia and flourished during the reign of Justin the Younger (565-578). After a pilgrimage to Jerusalem they were moved with a desire to forsake the world; they were tonsured monks by the Abbot Nicon, and soon after left the monastery to struggle together in the wilderness near the Dead Sea. When they had passed a little more than thirty years together in silence and prayer, Symeon, having reached the heights of dispassion, departed for Emesa in Syria, where he passed the rest of his life playing the fool, saving many souls from sin while hiding his sanctity with seemingly senseless behavior. He reposed in 570; by the providence of God, John, who had remained in the wilderness, departed soon after.


The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 9

This next chapter covers more of how formal prayers are to be conducted.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 8

I decided to take a break from posting yesterday and try to focus on worshiping. Our parish had its first Divine Liturgy in our new building and I wanted to have no distractions so I could be in a worshipful mood when I got to church.

The Glorious Prophet Elias

On July 20, we commemorate The Glorious Prophet Elias (Elijah):

Elias of great fame was from Thisbe or Thesbe, a town of Galaad (Gilead), beyond the Jordan. He was of priestly lineage, a man of a solitary and ascetical character, clothed in a mantle of sheep skin, and girded about his loins with a leathern belt. His name is interpreted as "Yah is my God." His zeal for the glory of God was compared to fire, and his speech for teaching and rebuke was likened unto a burning lamp. From this too he received the name Zealot. Therefore, set aflame with such zeal, he sternly reproved the impiety and lawlessness of Ahab and his wife Jezebel. He shut up heaven by means of prayer, and it did not rain for three years and six months. Ravens brought him food for his need when, at God's command, he was hiding by the torrent of Horrath. He multiplied the little flour and oil of the poor widow of Sarephtha of Sidon, who had given him hospitality in her home, and when her son died, he raised him up. He brought down fire from Heaven upon Mount Carmel, and it burned up the sacrifice offered to God before all the people of Israel, that they might know the truth. At the torrent of Kisson, he slew 450 false prophets and priests who worshipped idols and led the people astray. He received food wondrously at the hand of an Angel, and being strengthened by this food he walked for forty days and forty nights. He beheld God on Mount Horeb, as far as this is possible for human nature. He foretold the destruction of the house of Ahab, and the death of his son Ohozias; and as for the two captains of fifty that were sent by the king, he burned them for their punishment, bringing fire down from Heaven. He divided the flow of the Jordan, and he and his disciple Elisseus passed through as it were on dry land; and finally, while speaking with him, Elias was suddenly snatched away by a fiery chariot in the year 895 B.C., and he ascended as though into heaven, whither God most certainly translated him alive, as He did Enoch (Gen. 5:24; IV Kings 2: 11). But from thence also, after seven years, by means of an epistle he reproached Joram, the son of Josaphat, as it is written: "And there came a message in writing to him from Elias the Prophet, saying, Thus saith the Lord God of David thy father, Because thou hast not walked in the way," and so forth (II Chron. 21:12). According to the opinion of the majority of the interpreters, this came to pass either through his disciple Elisseus, or through another Prophet when Elias appeared to them, even as he appeared on Mount Tabor to the disciples of Christ (see Aug. 6).


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Holy Martyr Emilian

On July 18, we commemorate Holy Martyr Emilian:

This Martyr was from Dorostolum in Thrace, the servant of a certain pagan in the days of Julian the Apostate (361-363). As a fervent Christian, Emilian abominated the error of the pagans, and one day entered the temple and broke all the idols with a hammer. Seeing that others were arrested and beaten for this, he gave himself up of his own accord. He was mercilessly whipped, then cast into a fire, in which he gave up his soul without his body suffering harm.


The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 7

This next chapter is quite long; longer than the others that we have seen thus far. I think that this chapter being long is a good thing given the material that it covers.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Holy Great Martyr Marina

On July 17, we commemorate The Holy Great Martyr Marina (Margaret):

This Martyr lived during the reign of Claudius II (268-270). She was from Pisidia of Cilicia and was the only daughter of a certain priest of the idols. On being orphaned by her mother, she was handed over to a certain woman who instructed her in the Faith of Christ. When she was fifteen years old, she was apprehended by the ruler of Olmbrius, and when asked her name, homeland, and faith, she answered: "My name is Marina; I am the offspring of the Pisidia; I call upon the Name of my Lord Jesus Christ." Because of this she endured bonds, imprisonment, and many whippings, and was finally beheaded in the year 270. Saint Marina is especially invoked for deliverance from demonic possession.

Read more at []

On the Recent Chattanooga Shootings

The following is my response to the shooting in Chattanooga that killed four Marines.

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 6

This next chapter is actually very quite short, and it is on a topic that I know I have a problem with on most days.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

MYSTAGOGY: Eleven Anonymous Turkish Muslims Baptized Orthodox...

MYSTAGOGY: Eleven Anonymous Turkish Muslims Baptized Orthodox...: Eleven Turkish citizens, among them being a famous Turkish actor, were baptized a few days ago [in May 2015] Orthodox Christians. The Myste...

MYSTAGOGY: What Ever Happened to the Holy Altar of Hagia Soph...

MYSTAGOGY: What Ever Happened to the Holy Altar of Hagia Soph...: According to legend, after the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453, three Venetian ships fled the city filled with various relic...

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 5

This next chapter on our journey through the Rule covers obedience.

Athenogenes the Holy Martyr of Heracleopolis

On July 16, we commemorate Athenogenes the Holy Martyr of Heracleopolis:

This Saint was from Sebastia of Cappadocia and , according to the Synaxaristes, became Bishop of Pidachthoa. He and ten of his disciples were tortured and beheaded by the Governor of Philomarchus in the times of Diocletian. There is a second Martyr Athenogenes commemorated today, mentioned by Saint Basil in Chapter 29 of his treatise "On the Holy Spirit"; it is said that as this Athenogenes approached the fire, wherein he was to die a martyric death, he chanted the hymn O Joyous Light in praise of the Holy Trinity


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Vladimir, Equal-to-the-Apostles of Kiev

On July 15, we commemorate Vladimir, Equal-to-the-Apostles of Kiev:

Grandson of Saint Olga, Saint Vladimir ascended the throne of Kiev in 980. Though a zealous idolater, he was illumined by the grace of God, accepted the Christian Faith, and completely changed his ways. He was baptized in Cherson in 988, receiving the name Basil; he came forth from the font not only healed of a blindness lately afflicting him, but also from being passionate and warlike, he became meek, peaceable, and exceedingly godly. Whereas his grandmother had refused marriage with the Emperor in Constantinople (see July 11), he married Anna, sister of the Emperors Basil and Constantine, and was accompanied home by priests from Constantinople. Diligently seeking to spread Christianity throughout his realm like a new Constantine, he destroyed the idols (having the chief diety Perun scourged and then cast into the Dnieper River), and summoned all his subjects to Holy Baptism. He reposed in peace in 1015.

Read more at []

The Holy Martyrs Cyricus and His Mother Julitta

On July 15, we commemorate The Holy Martyrs Cyricus and His Mother Julitta:

Saint Julitta was from the city of Iconium. Fearing the persecution of Diocletian, she took her son Cyricus, who was three years old, and departed for Seleucia; but finding the same evil there, she went over to Tarsus in Cilicia, where the ruler arrested her. He took her son from her and tried with flatteries to draw the youth to himself. But the little one, in his childish voice, called on the Name of Christ and kicked the ruler in the belly so hard, that the tyrant became enraged and cast him down the steps of the tribunal. In this manner, the child's head was crushed, and he gave up the spirit. As for his blessed mother, she first endured many torments, and finally was beheaded in the year 296.


The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 4

This chapter of the Rule covers good works. Many of my protestant readers may think that Orthodoxy is a works based religion, which is partially accurate; we are a faith based religion that practices faith based works. We don't think that these works will get us into heaven; rather we have faith, and doing works is a result of that faith.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Rational Sheep and the Word of God

The Scriptures tell the story of humanity with a profound sense of language. The first action of God is speech: “Let there be light!” God does not teach man to speak – we can only assume from the Biblical story that humanity and speech exist together from the beginning. God brings the animals to Adam, “to see what he would name them.” Animals could not exist within the human world and not be named. This is not because there is something inherently “nameable” about animals – rather it is human beings who must name. I say that we must name, because it is an instinct:

Read more at Gloy2GodforAllThings

The above paragraph reminds me of a Celtic tradition where they would name things to have power over those things - such as a haunted hill or pass. Once those things were named you could then invoke that name to have power over it.

This tradition also passed to people, who would be given a name at birth, but would later be given names for appearance, or deeds. Oft times the birth name would be kept secret and the honorary name would be used instead.

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 3

I apologize for the tardiness of this post; I had the whole thing typed up with a nice intro on my Blogger app on my phone. Then it just disappeared. All of those words like I had never written them.

On July 14, we commemorate Our Holy Father Joseph the Confessor, Archbishop of Thessalonica:

Saint Joseph was the brother of Saint Theodore the Studite (see Nov. 11). He also is called Studite, especially when he is mentioned together with his brother. According to Codinus, both of them composed the canons of the Triodion during the reign of Leo the Armenian, while in the Church of Saint Romanus (see Nov. 18); he is not to be confused with Saint Joseph the Hymnographer (Apr. 3). When Saint Joseph became Archbishop of Thessalonica, he was exiled thrice because of his godly zeal for the holy icons, suffering many hardships, imprisonments in dark dungeons, hunger, thirst, and every tribulation, in the midst of which he departed unto eternal life in 833.

On July 14, we commemorate Aquila the Apostle among the 70:

Saint Aquila, who was from Pontus of Asia Minor, was a Jew by race and a tent-maker by trade. In the year 52 he and his wife Priscilla were in Corinth when Saint Paul first came there. They gave him hospitality, and the Apostle remained with them for many days, himself working at the same trade as they (Acts 18:2-3). And having believed in Christ through Paul, they followed him from that time on, working together with him and suffering perils with him for the sake of the preaching of the Gospel, as he himself testifies concerning them in his Epistle to the Romans, saying: "Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my helpers in Christ Jesus: who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the nations" (Rom. 16:3-4). When and where they reposed is unknown.


More Wonderings of an Orthodox Parent

My wife gave birth to our third daughter almost 3 weeks ago. Her patron saint is Saint Ia Cornwall. Most people will recognize her as the namesake of a little place in Cornwall called Saint Ives.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Passion of Homosexuality According to St. John Chrysostm

In the deep psyche of the homosexual world there is an autonomy of individual and selfish choice against the truth of God, a deep preference towards falsehood. It is for this reason that the way homosexuals display and advertise their "diversity" is very provocative. Arrogant attitudes and cocky appearances are displayed on television, and inaccuracies and falsehoods are spread about their demonic way of life. This is exactly why St. John Chrysostom boldly states: "Their ideology is satanic, and their life demonic." Thus, God abandons these people, who twist the truth concerning the creation of man and present falsehood with offensive boldness, namely that their perversion is an issue of genes or free sexual choice. And, "when God abandons, everything is turned upside down." A person’s entire mental state is flipped, his entire psychology and bodily existence transgress towards a psychopathological state. And it is exactly for all these reasons that the problem of homosexuality is primarily of a spiritual nature.

Read more at Orthognosia

Holy Martyr Golinduc

Saint Golindoux was a Persian, living in the reign of Chosroes II, King of Persia (590-628), and of Maurice, Emperor of New Rome (582-602). Moved by a divine revelation to become a Christian, she was betrayed to Chosroes by her husband and was cast into a dungeon called Oblivion for eighteen years, withstanding all attempts to make her deny Christ, and preserved by the grace of God. Set at liberty through the visitation of an Angel, she went to Jerusalem, and then to Constantinople, where she fell asleep in peace. She was called Mary in holy Baptism.

On July 13, we commemorate Holy Martyr Golinduc: Read more at

Stephen of Mar Sabbas Monastery

According to some, the Saint Stephen celebrated today was a nephew of Saint John of Damascus, different from the one celebrated on October 28, who later also became a Bishop.

On July 13, we commemorate Stephen of Mar Sabbas Monastery: Read more at

Synaxis of Archangel Gabriel

It is believed that the Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel was transferred to this day from March 26 so that it could be celebrated more festively than in the period of the Great Fast; and, in fact, all the miracles of the Archangel are celebrated on this feast day, which has been listed here in the church books since the ninth century.

On July 13, we commemorate Synaxis of Archangel Gabriel: Read more at

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 2

Continuing on with the Rule, we move to the second chapter, which deals with the qualities of the abbot.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Proclus & Hilary the Martyrs of Ancrya

These Martyrs contested in Ancyra in 106, during the reign of the Emperor Trajan. Saint Proclus was seized as a Christian and, confessing his faith, was burned on his sides and belly, was hung upon a beam with heavy stones tied to his feet, and finally was taken away to be shot with arrows. As he was being led forth, his nephew Hilary encountered him and greeted him, and was himself seized. After his uncle had been slain with arrows, Hilary, because he would not deny Christ, was tormented, then beheaded.

On July 12, we commemorate Proclus & Hilary the Martyrs of Ancyra: Read more at

6th Sunday of Matthew

Resurrectional Apolytikion in the Plagal of the First Tone

Let us worship the Word, O ye faithful, praising Him that with the Father and the Spirit is co-beginningless God, Who was born of a pure Virgin that we all be saved; for He was pleased to mount the Cross in the flesh that He assumed, accepting thus to endure death. And by His glorious rising, He also willed to resurrect the dead.

On July 12, we commemorate 6th Sunday of Matthew: Read more at

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 1

There are 73 chapters in the Rule of Saint Benedict. As a novice Oblate I am to read a chapter per day. For this reason I am going to attempt to post a chapter a day.

I have, since starting in February, read through the Rule twice. I am not bragging, merely stating. The Rule is quite profound, and I have found the reflection lessons each month to be more beneficial than seeing a psychologist. Any way, here is Chapter 1.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Euphemia the Great Martyr

On July 11, we commemorate Euphemia the Great Martyr:

In 451, during the reign of the Sovereigns Marcian and Pulcheria, the Fourth Ecumenical Council was convoked in Chalcedon against Eutyches and those of like mind with him. After much debate, the Fathers who were the defenders of Orthodoxy, being 630 in number, agreed among themselves and with those who were of contrary mind, to write their respective definitions of faith in separate books, and to ask God to confirm the truth in this matter. When they had prepared these texts, they placed the two tomes in the case that held Saint Euphemia's relics, sealed it, and departed. After three days of night-long supplications, they opened the reliquary in the presence of the Emperor, and found the tome of the heretics under the feet of the Martyr, and that of the Orthodox in her right hand.


The Rule of Saint Benedict

A little while ago, I posted on the Oblates of Saint Benedict and I wrote a little about what it meant to be an Oblate. Here I would like to republish some of the Rule, starting with the Prologue and going through all of the chapters. I may also post some of the reflections with my abbot's blessing.

Listen carefully, my son, to the master's instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is advice from a father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice.

The labor of obedience will bring you back to him from whom you has drifted through the sloth of disobedience.

This message is for you, then, if you are ready to give up your own will, once and for all, and armed with the strong noble weapons of obedience to do battle for the true King, Christ the Lord.

First of all, every time you begin a good work, you must pray to him most earnestly to bring it to perfection.

In his goodness, he has already counted us as his sons, and therefore we should never grieve him by our evil actions.

With his good gifts which are in us, we must obey him at all times that he may never become the angry father who disinherits his sons,

nor the dread lord, enraged by our sins, who punishes us forever as worthless servants for refusing to follow him to glory.

Let us up then, at long last, for the Scriptures rouse us when the say: It is high time for us to arise from sleep (Rom 13:11).

Let us open our eyes to the light that comes from God, and our ears to the voice from heaven that every day calls out this charge:

If you hear his voice today, do not harden your hearts (Ps 94 [95]:8).

And again: You that have ears, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches (Rev 2:7).

And what does he say? Come and listen to me, sons; I will teach you the fear of the Lord (Ps 33 [34]:12).

Run while you have the light of life, that the darkness of death may not overtake you (John 12:35).

Seeking his workman in a multitude of people, the Lord calls out to him and lifts his voice again:

Is there anyone here who yearns for life and desires to see good days? (Ps 33 [34]:13)

If you hear this and your answer is, "I do," God them directs these words to you: If you desire true and eternal life, keep your tongue free from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit; turn away from evil and so good; let peace be your quest and aim (Ps 33 [34]:14-15).

Once you have done this, my eyes will be upon you and my ears will listen for your prayers; and even before you ask me, I will say to you: Here I am (Isa 58:9).

What dear brothers, is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling to us?

See how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life.

Clothed then worth faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who called us to his kingdom (1Thess 2:12).

If we wish to dwell in the tent of this kingdom, we will never arrive unless we run there by doing good deeds.

But let us ask the Lord with the Prophet: Who will dwell in your tent, Lord; who will find rest upon your holy mountain? (Ps 14 [15]:1)

After this question, brothers, let us listen well to what the Lord days in reply, for he shows us the way to his tent.

One who walks without blemish, he says, and is just in all his dealings;

who speaks the truth from his heart and had not practiced deceit with his tongue;

who has not wronged a fellowman in any way, nor listened to slanders against his neighbor
(Ps 14 [15]:2-3).

He has foiled the evil one, the devil, at every turn, flinging both him abs his promptings far from the sight of his heart. While these temptations were still young, he caught hold of them and dashed them against Christ (Ps 14 [15]"4; 136 [137]:9).

These people fear the Lord, and do not become elated over their good deeds; that brings about the food in them.

They praise (Ps 14 [15]:4) the Lord working in them, and say with the Prophet: Not to us, Lord, not to us give the glory, but to your name alone (Ps 113 [115:1]:9).

In just this way Paul the Apostle refused to take credit for the power of his preaching. He declared: By God's grace I am what I am (1 Cor 15:10).

And again he said: He who boasts should make his boast in the Lord (2Cor 10:17).

That is why the Lord says in the Gospel: Whoever hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man who built hid house upon rock;

the floods came and the winds blew and beat against the house, but it did not fall: it was founded on rock
(Matt 7:24-25).

With this conclusion, the Lord waits for us daily to translate into action, as we should, his holy teachings.

Therefore our life span had been lengthened by way of a truce, that we may amend our misdeeds.

As the Apostle says: Do you not know that the patience of God is leading you to repent (Rom 2:4)?

And indeed the Lord assures us in his love: I do not wish the death of the sinner, but that he turn back to me and live (Ezek 33:11).

Brothers, now that we have asked the Lord who will dwell in his tent, we have heard the instruction for dwelling in it, but only if we fulfill the obligations of those who live there.

We must, then, prepare our hearts and bodies for the battle of holy obedience to his instructions.

What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of his grace.

If we wish to reach the eternal life, even as we avoid the torments of hell,

then - while there is still time, while we are in this body and have time to accomplish all of these things the light of life -

we must run and do now what will profit us forever.

Therefore we intend to establish a school for the Lord's service.

In drawing up its regulations, we hope to set down nothing harsh, nothing burdensome.

The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love.

Do not be daunted immediately by far and run away from the road that leads to salvation. It is bound to be narrow at the outset.

But as we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God's commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.

Never swerving from his instructions, then, but faithfully observing his teachings in the monastery until death, we shall through patience share in the sufferings of Christ that we may deserve also to share in his kingdom. Amen.


The Prophet being referred to is King David.

Friday, July 10, 2015

On Gay Marriage, Reprise

Some of you may have read my original post on the issue of gay marriage. So why am I writing yet another blog post about this? How have my views changed, if they have changed at all?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Christianity without Repercussions: Prayer pt 2

In the last post of this series, I covered how we Orthodox pray in just about everything that we do, trying to reach a point of praying without ceasing. I also wrote about how using formal prayers - and set times to pray - are biblical and were also used in the Early Church. I will cover why we pray to (and for) the dead, saints, angles, and the Theotokos.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Christianity without Repercussions: Prayer

So far in this series I have slightly covered the topics of salvation, and faith, but I have yet to seriously look at prayer. I have mentioned prayer in two previous blog posts in this series, but I want to take more of an in-depth view of prayer in this posting.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Did Religion Create Civilization?

For years, historians, archeologists, anthropologists and pretty much all of the other "ologists" have agreed that agriculture created civilization, including religion, as we have known it for the past 12,000 to 15,000 years. The assumption was that settling down to lives of farming, people built cities, created art and made up organized religions to suit the new needs they faced in the transition from hunter-gathers to farmers. Or not.

New evidence suggests that it was not agriculture which created civilization, but religion. The June issue of National Geographic offers a brief and provocative story from a place in Turkey known as Göbekli Tepe, site of the world's oldest example of monumental architecture i.e. a temple.

Read more at HuffPo

Saint George the Great Martyr

On April 23, we commemorate George the Great Martyr & Triumphant

George, this truly great and glorious Martyr of Christ, was born of a father from Cappadocia and a mother from Palestine. Being a military tribune, or chiliarch (that is, a commander of a thousand troops), he was illustrious in battle and highly honoured for his courage. When he learned that the Emperor Diocletian was preparing a persecution of the Christians, Saint George presented himself publicly before the Emperor and denounced him. When threats and promises could not move him from his steadfast confession, he was put to unheard-of tortures, which he endured with great bravery, overcoming them by his faith and love towards Christ. By the wondrous signs that took place in his contest, he guided many to the knowledge of the truth, including Queen Alexandra, wife of Diocletian, and was finally beheaded in 296 in Nicomedia. His sacred remains were taken by his servant from Nicomedia to Palestine, to a town called Lydda, the homeland of his mother, and then were finally transferred to the church which was raised up in his name. (The translation of the Saint's holy relics to the church in Lydda is commemorated on November 3; Saint Alexandra the Queen, on April 21.) If April 23 falls on or before Great and Holy Pascha, the Feast of St. George is translated to Bright Monday.


Saint George is also seen as a patron saint of soldiers, and his icon can be seen on the left of my blog.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Is the Apostle Paul the Great Falsifier of Apostolic Succession

A few years ago, I wrote a five-part response—and recorded an accompanying podcast—to an article at The Calvinist International on the patristic critique of icons (or lack thereof, as it were).

In the original article, a Presbyterian pastor named Steven Wedgeworth shared five excerpts from the early Church supposedly demonstrating their disdain for iconography. The proofs were brief, and he offered little commentary in support. However, the claims he did make were sweeping, and so I dedicated not a few words in response.

A friend recently made me aware of a new post on “Reformed irenicism” at their site, and some of its own, sweeping claims.

While speaking of their perspective on the Church, Wedgeworth drops this rhetorical bombshell:

"The Apostle Paul is the great falsifier of apostolic succession. He was not initially commissioned by Jesus Christ, and he did not “succeed” the original 12 apostles. He did not derive his authority from them, and he is emphatic about this point. Galatians 1:12 and 2:6 state exactly this, and when Paul has to defend his apostolicity throughout the 2nd Epistle to the Corinthians, starting in chapter 6, he makes no appeal to his credentials or office-bearing as such but instead points to the charismatic proof of his suffering and ministerial fruit."

This is not in any way cited out of context, nor is there any additional material on this specific point either in support or for further explanation.

Read more at On Behalf of All

The Use of Candles in the Orthodox Church

Question: Why do we light candles in the Orthodox Church?

Answer: There are typically two types of candles that Orthodox are familiar with. First there are the genuine pure beeswax candles made from the combs of hives. Secondly, there are the paraffin wax candles made from petroleum. When the Fathers of the Church speak of the Orthodox use of candles, they are referring to the pure beeswax candles and not the latter. Paraffin wax produces carcinogens and soot when burned. In fact, one air quality researcher stated that the soot from a paraffin candle contains many of the same toxins produced by burning diesel fuel.

With this information in mind, we can better understand the six symbolic representations of lit candles handed down to us by Saint Symeon of Thessaloniki:

Read more at Mystagogy

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Christianity Without Repercussions: Faith pt 2

In my last post on faith, I touched on the differences between the typical Protestant worship service, and the typical Orthodox worship service. Technically, every Orthodox service is a worship service, but I really only covered the Divine Liturgy, with a brief glimpse at Matins (I haven't even touched on Vespers, Royal Hours, Lenten services, Paschal services, Memorial services, etc). In this post, I am going to continue to compare and contrast services.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


It is a bit later in the day than when I normally like to post, however, given that I didn't even get to sleep until after 3AM due to the Pascha celebrations I think the time evens out.

Friday, April 10, 2015

On Accepting Homosexuals

For those of you who don't live under a rock, you most likely know that Indiana has recently passed a Restoration of Religious Freedom Act (RFRA hereafter) - just like a bunch of other states and even the Federal Government (under a Democrat president, Bill Clinton). And for whatever reason, this has made a lot of liberals very angry, and has somehow caused them to say that this act is discriminatory towards homosexuals, and encourages discrimination towards homosexuals. Apple threatened to leave Indiana (which would probably be the best thing to happen to Indiana).

Friday, February 27, 2015

Oblates of Saint Benedict

Many, if not most, Christians should be familiar with Saint Benedict (b. 470, d. 543) , if not in name, then at least for the monastic rule that he left behind. Saint Benedict is usually known as the father of Western Monasticism, but his rule also spawned what is known as oblates.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Christianity without Repercussions: Faith Pt. 1

In my last post in this series I touched upon the difference between the Orthodox view of Salvation and the Protestant/Evangelical view of Salvation. I still have a lot to delve in to on the salvation end of things (such as the difference in the views of atonement), but I'm going to leave those alone for right now and focus on the Faith aspect of things.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

About These Ads

A few of you may have noticed that I now have ads on my blog. A few of you who have been here from the start of this blog may have noticed that I have ads on my blog again.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Oldest Hymn to the Theotokos: Reprise

So back on the 15th of January I posted a link to the Oldest Hymn to the Theotokos. Now I thought that article was pretty interesting, so I wanted to go back and give my thoughts as to why this is so significant.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Forgotten Christian World

When we think of great historical events we naturally imagine them in visual terms, of great movements. But our mental maps are often too small. We know, for instance, that Christianity began in Palestine and swept west into the Roman Empire to develop a firm base in Europe. With such a picture in mind it is easy to imagine the Christian church establishing itself across Western Europe, in Britain and Ireland, and then eventually making the leap across the Atlantic into the New World. Nothing in that picture is actually wrong, but it is sadly incomplete. At the very same time that Christians were moving west into Europe in the first two or three centuries ad, others were travelling eastwards into Asia, and south into Africa. By the mid-sixth century, Christian monasteries were operating in China. And we are not speaking here of a few brave missionaries. As late as the 11th century – almost the halfway point of the Christian story to date – at least a third of the world’s Christians still lived in Asia. Even in 1250 it makes sense to think of a Christian world stretching east from Constantinople to Samarkand (at least) and south from Alexandria to the desert of the Ogaden, almost to the Equator.

These Christians differed vastly from our familiar idea of the medieval Christian world. Many Westerners are used to thinking of the church at this time as a narrow and intolerant affair, in which popes and bishops owed their power to their alliance with secular kings and emperors. According to this stereotype the church knew next to nothing about outside cultures or faiths and, if it did, it treated them with fear and contempt, a hostility that became most obvious in the Crusades. But in fact most early Asian Christians lived in a world in which they rarely or never allied with states and kings and always operated as minority faiths living in states dominated by other religions – by Persian Zoroastrians, by Muslims, Buddhists or Hindus. Christians existed alongside these other faiths, and regularly engaged in dialogues that were friendly and cooperative. In China and south¬ India, by the eighth century, members of the Nestorian Christian church used a distinctive symbol in which the cross is joined to the lotus, symbol of Buddhist enlightenment.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Civilization and it's Discontents

In our society, we don't critique Mohammed's religion (or any other religion) because it's wrong.  Religion is denied this honor. We make fun of religion because it is religion. In this culture we are forbidden to engage with religion at all on its own terms. We cannot publicly acknowledge the truth claims of any religion or the conflicting truth claims of competing religions. As a French editor said on the BBC, "We cannot criticize religious believers, only religions." That is what we all do.  Our gov'ts tell us that we cannot use our religion to make choices in public space. Our coworkers tell us we cannot be religious at our desks. Our neighbors complain when our religious observances are injected into the public space.  A religious minority is protected as a minority until it becomes religious. Ask the Mormons how they managed to get statehood for Utah.