January 25, 2020

     “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” (Proverbs 18: 21)

     Ouch! Yes, my words can spread “life,” or my words can spread “death.” Not only by way “of the tongue,” as it was when Proverbs were written. Today my sharing of words happens increasingly online, in what I choose to “forward” or “share” via text-message, tweet, email, or otherwise. I’m thinking about this today, because yesterday I received a nasty email, and then forwarded it to a close friend, saying something to the effect of, Look, she’s at i...

January 24, 2020

     “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh for us, arm yourselves with the same thought, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer by human passions but by the will of God. Let the time that is past suffice for doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry.” (1 Pet 4: 1-3)

     There’s this hidden blessing of falling ill “in the flesh”; that I am slowed down against my will, and compelled at least to p...

January 23, 2020

     “And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question, saying, ‘Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man must take the wife, and raise up children for his brother. There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no children; and the second took her, and died, leaving no children; and the third likewise; and the seven left no children. Last of all the woman also died. In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.’ Jesus sa...

January 22, 2020

     “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.” (1 Pet 2: 21-25)

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January 21, 2020

     “It is proper and right to hymn You, to bless You, to praise You, to give thanks to You, and to worship You in every place of Your dominion. For You, O God, are ineffable, inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible, existing forever, forever the same (ἀεὶ ὤν, ὡσαύτως ὤν), You and Your only begotten Son and Your Holy Spirit. You brought us out of nothing into being, and when we had fallen away, You raised us up again. You left nothing undone until You had led us up to heaven and granted us Your kingdom, which is to come. For all these things, we thank You and Your only begotten S...

January 19, 2020

     “When You, O Lord were baptized in the Jordan / The worship of the Trinity was revealed, / For the voice of the Father bore witness to You / And called You His beloved Son. / And the Spirit, in the form of a dove, / Confirmed the truthfulness of His word. / O Christ, our God, You have revealed Yourself / And have enlightened the world, glory to You!” (Byzantine Troparion-hymn of Theophany)

     The Lord “reveals” Himself; He appears unto us. That’s what He does, on this great feast of Theo-phany (θεο-φάνεια, Бого-явление, or «appearance/revelation of God»), celebrated t...

January 17, 2020

     “Of old, the river Jordan / turned back before Elisha’s mantle at Elijah’s ascension. / The waters were parted in two / and the waterway became a dry path. / This is truly a symbol of baptism / by which we pass through this mortal life. / Christ has appeared in the Jordan to sanctify the waters!” (Troparion-hymn, Forefeast of Theophany)

     Today those of us on the Older Calendar begin the third day of the “Forefeast” (προεόρτια, предпразднство) of the great feast of Theophany, or the important moment in Salvation History, of the Baptism of the Lord in the river Jordan...

January 16, 2020

     “What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” (James 2: 14-17)

     I’m grateful to come across the above-quoted passage on this chilly Thursday morning in Vienna, just before I go out for my power-walk. I’m reminded that my faith in God, however Orthodox, does not...

January 15, 2020

     “Acquire a peaceful spirit, and thousands around you will be saved.” (St. Serafim of Sarov, +1833)

     These well-known words of St. Serafim of Sarov, whose repose we celebrate today, help me to keep things simple in complicated times. In this particularly-divisive year of the US-presidential election, I find it more helpful to focus on peacemaking, first and foremost within myself, rather than defend vocally whatever decision I make at the voting-booth. Why? 1. Because the political “race” going on is not a contest of Good vs. Evil (“pace” the claims of both sides tha...

January 13, 2020

     “Peter began to say to him, ‘Lo, we have left everything and followed you.’ Jesus said, ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions (μετὰ διωγμῶν), and in the age to come eternal life. But many that are first will be last, and the last first.’” (Mk 10: 28-31)

     Indeed, we receive “a hundredfold“ of whatever we have had to...

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