Daily Meditations

Hope-Bridled Grief: Discovering in Gregory of Nyssa a Christian Discipline of Grief (Part III)

How, then, do we reconcile Gregory’s theological objections to grief with the pastoral sensitivity that he displays in his funeral orations? Is Gregory the theologian at odds with Gregory the pastor? I do not think this is the case. Each of the funeral orations has a point of transition that marks the end of his sympathizing with his congregation’s grief and the beginning of his attempt to lead them out of their grief toward genuine

Hope-Bridled Grief: Discovering in Gregory of Nyssa a Christian Discipline of Grief (Part II)

When Macrina breathes her last, Gregory is “numbed with grief,” as he recalls in The Life of Macrina. When he hears the mournful wailing of the virgins of the community, “my reason no longer remained steady, but as if submerged by a torrent in flood, was swept under by passion. Thereupon, disregarding the duty at hand, I yielded myself up wholly to the lamentations.” While convinced that reason ought to be in control and that

Hope-Bridled Grief: Discovering in Gregory of Nyssa a Christian Discipline of Grief (Part I)

The death of a loved one is excruciatingly painful, and it would seem wrong to ask moral questions about the appropriateness of someone’s grief, as if it were possible to hold our emotions in check at such horribly difficult times. It would appear cruel to imply to those in mourning that there is something wrong with them for feeling the way they do. Christianity holds that reason is a distinct faculty that gives guidance to

Dwarfs on the Shoulders of Giants

And all that is present today. It is in us. Granted, there is a certain amount of rubbish: the sins of the Church. But above all else there is a crowd of wings fluttering in our hearts: the holiness of the Holy One, of God, and the holiness of Christians sanctified by mortification in their faith and their love. We have the twenty centuries of the Church’s life in our blood. We are its heirs.

Living a Spiritual Life

We Are the Glory of God Living a spiritual life is living a life in which our spirits and the Spirit of God bear a joint witness that we belong to God as God’s beloved children (see Romans 8:16). This witness involves every aspect of our lives. Paul says, “Whatever you eat, then, or drink, and whatever else you do, do it all for the glory of God” (Romans 10:31). And we are the glory

Father Maximos on Fanaticism and Delusion

Fr. Maximos continued. “I am reminded of what Elder Joseph the Hesychast wrote in a little booklet about this matter. The title of his essay was ‘Delusion.’ In it, he clearly identifies delusion with fanaticism. The fanatic is under the spell of delusion. The person who is monolithically dogmatic, absolutistic in his views, and dismissive of others who profess different opinions is under the spell of plani, of delusion.” “Religious people often consider such characteristics

Drawn to Interior Silence

The practice of contemplation quiets the noise that goes on in our heads and allows inner silence to expand. This expanding inner silence is a wide and fertile delta that embraces the mud, reeds, and rushes of all sound, whether delightful or disruptive. Initially, however, the practice of contemplation can strike us as frustratingly awkward, and we react to everything within and without. Though we feel drawn to interior silence, what we find when we

The Experience of God

I think some experience of God is necessary for mental and emotional health. You basically don’t belong in the universe until you are connected to the center and the whole, and a word for that is “God.” When you live in the false self you are “eccentric,” or off-center. You’re trying to make something the Center that is not the center—yourself or anything else. It will never work. Thus the ONLY real sin is idolatry—making

ON THE GARDEN OF THE HEART

THE new life you have just entered has often been likened to that of a gardener. The soil he tills he has received from God, as well as the seed and the sun’s warmth and the rain and the power to grow. But the work is entrusted to him. If the husbandman wishes to have a rich harvest, he must work early and late, weed and aerate, water and spray, for cultivation is beset by

Saint John of Kronstadt’s Sermon on the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos

“Magnify O my soul, the honourable Translation of the Mother of God from earth to heaven.” (Refrain for the 9th Ode of the Canon) Let us be happy, beloved brothers and sisters that we belong to the Holy Orthodox Church, worthily and rightly glorifying the Most Holy Sovereign Theotokos on this eminent day out of all the days of the year with special solemnity. There exists on earth many societies and entire governments that do