Daily Meditations


NO ONE WHO PUTS HIS HAND TO THE PLOW AND LOOKS BACK IS FIT FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD.—LUKE 9:62 Attachment—how is an attachment formed? First comes the contact with something that gives you pleasure: a car, an attractively advertised modern appliance, a word of praise, a person’s company. Then comes the desire to hold on to it, to repeat the gratifying sensation that this thing or person caused you. Finally comes the conviction that


NO ONE WHO PUTS HIS HAND TO THE PLOW AND LOOKS BACK IS FIT FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD.—LUKE 9:62 God’s kingdom is love. What does it mean to love? It means to be sensitive to life, to things, to persons, to feel for everything and everyone to the exclusion of nothing and no one. For exclusion can only be achieved through a hardening of oneself, through closing one’s doors. And the moment there is

The Feast Day of the Holy Apostle Bartholomew. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew: On the Origin of Evil.

We need a theology that will answer the atheist position about evil, about the process imputed to God since Jean Paul Richter, Nietzsche, and Dostoevsky (think, for example, of the arguments presented by Ivan in The Brothers Karamazov). We must abolish once and for all that image of a “diabolical God” who, from all eternity, controls everything and thus appears as the only source of evil. Our God is the Theos pathon, the crucified God

Spirituality from Below (Part I)

The spirituality bequeathed to us by the moralizing theology of modern times works from the top down. It presents high ideals that we are supposed to translate into reality. Typical ideals include selflessness, self-control, continuous amiability, selfless love, freedom from anger, and mastery of sexual desire. Spirituality from above surely has some positive meaning for young people, since it challenges them and tests their powers. It prompts them to grow up and out of themselves

Death and Humility

A pilgrim to the Holy Mountain of Athos asked an old hermit, “Father, how can I attain my salvation?” The venerated holy man replied, “Every day at dusk go to the cemetery and for an hour hurl insults to the dead. Do that for a month and pay attention to everything that happens around you. Then come and report to me.” After a month the pilgrim returned. “Father, I have done what you told me

Members of One another (Part V)

What of the demons? Might they also be saved, and in that case should we not pray also for them? St Isaac the Syrian, as already noted, affirms that the merciful heart is ‘on fire’ with compassion for the demons, but he does not actually say that we should pray for them. St Silouan speaks in similar terms. We are to ‘pity’ the demons, but nothing is stated about intercession on their behalf: The Spirit

Mystical Moments of Emancipation

Another word to describe mystical moments is emancipation. If it isn’t an experience of newfound freedom, I don’t think it is an authentic God experience. God is always bigger than we imagined, expected, or even hoped. All of these words describe mystical moments: enlargement, connection or union, and emancipation. You may not use the same words, but on a practical level mysticism is experienced as a new capacity and a new desire to love. And

Monday of the Holy Spirit

On the day after every Great Feast, the Orthodox Church honors the one through whom the Feast is made possible. On the day following the Nativity of the Lord, for example, we celebrate the Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos (December 26). On the day after Theophany, we commemorate St John the Baptist (January 7), and so on. Today we honor the all-Holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, Who descended upon the Apostles at Pentecost in

Desert Fathers, Psychologists of their Day

Around the year 300 the first signs of the monastic movement began to appear. Monks settled down in various places, first in uninhabited regions, and then in the desert. Scholars are still arguing over the origins of monasticism. Obviously there were some non-Christian sources. The Bible itself issues no call to monastic life. Monasticism is a broadly human movement that can be found in all religions, a primordial longing to live for God alone, to


Abba Poemen said: “The nature of water is yielding, and that of a stone is hard. Yet if you hang a bottle filled with water above the stone so that the water drips drop by drop, it will wear a hole in the stone. In the same way the word of God is tender, and our heart is hard. So when people hear the word of God frequently, their hearts are opened to the fear