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The Destiny of Eros: The Nuptial Way (Part II)

Marriage is chaste because it integrates the erotic relationship of the two persons into their communion within the Church; as their mutual love is expressed through their complementary natures, each gives the other to the world. For nine centuries there was no distinctive rite of marriage for Christians. The couple would marry, then go together to communion. For a man and a woman whose life is rooted in Christ, their love is something they have

The Essence of Prayer (III)

The Wise Men travelled a long way and nobody knows the difficulties they had to overcome. Each of us also travels as they did. They were loaded with gifts, gold for the king, frankincense for the God, myrrh for the man who was to suffer death. Where can we get gold, frankincense and myrrh, we who are indebted for everything to God? We know that everything we possess has been given us by God and

Twenty-Sixth Day of Christmas Advent: The Tree of Life Blossoms

In the hymns for the prefeast of Christ’s Nativity, Jesus’ birth heralds a return to paradise. The Messiah is born and the gates of Eden are opened. The Savior comes and the tree of life blossoms. Paradise is not a place on the map. It is a condition of spirit. When a person knows God and lives in communion with Him, this is paradise. When a person does not know God and lives in communion

The Essence of Prayer (II)

Every time we come near God, it is either life or death we are confronted with. It is life if we come to him in the right spirit, and are renewed by him. It is death if we come to him without the spirit of worship and a contrite heart; it is death if we bring pride or arrogance. Therefore, before we set out on the so-called thrilling adventure of prayer, it cannot be too

Living Prayer

Worship to me means a relationship. I used not to be a believer, then one day I discovered God and immediately he appeared to me to be the supreme value and the total meaning of life, but at the same time a person. I think that worship can mean nothing at all to someone for whom there is no object of worship. You cannot teach worship to someone who has not got a sense of

The Father, Son, Holy Spirit

The Father: Empowered to Call God “Abba” Calling God “Abba, Father” is different from giving God a familiar name. Calling God “Abba” is entering into the same intimate, fearless, trusting, and empowering relationship with God that Jesus had. This relationship is called Spirit, and this Spirit is given to us by Jesus and enables us to cry out with him, “Abba, Father.” Calling God “Abba, Father” (see Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6) is a cry of

THE TWO MEANINGS OF FASTING (Part I)

At this point, the next question arises: if Eucharist is incompatible with fasting, why then is its celebration still prescribed on Saturdays and Sundays of Lent, and this without “breaking” the fast? The canons of the Church seem here to contradict one another. While some of them forbid fasting on Sundays, some others forbid the breaking of the fast on any of the forty days. This contradiction, however, is only apparent, because the two rules

THE TWO MEANINGS OF COMMUNION DURING LENT (Part II)

But why then, one may ask, is Communion still distributed during fasting days at the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts? Does it not contradict the principle enunciated above [see April 15, Part I]? To answer this question, we must now consider the second aspect of the Orthodox understanding of Communion, its meaning as the source and the sustaining power of our spiritual effort. If, as we have just seen, Holy Communion is the fulfillment of

“. . . BUT BY PRAYER AND FASTING” (Part II)

What then is fasting for us Christians? It is our entrance and participation in that experience of Christ Himself by which He liberates us from the total dependence on food, matter, and the world. By no means is our liberation a full one. Living still in the fallen world, in the world of the Old Adam, being part of it, we still depend on food. But just as our death—through which we still must pass—has

LENT IN OUR LIFE: “TAKING IT SERIOUSLY” (Part I)

Now these questions must be asked: How can we apply [Lent] to our lives? What could be not only a nominal but a real impact of Lent on our existence? This existence (do we need to recall it) is very different from the one people led when all these services, hymns, canons, and prescriptions were composed and established. One lived then in a relatively small, mainly rural community within one organically Orthodox world; the very