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Great and Holy Thursday

Introduction On Thursday of Holy Week four events are commemorated: the washing of the disciples’ feet, the institution of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, the agony in the garden of Gethsemane, and the betrayal of Christ by Judas. Commemorations of Holy Thursday The Institution of the Eucharist At the Mystical Supper in the Upper Room Jesus gave a radically new meaning to the food and drink of the sacred meal.

The Sixth Monday of Great Lent: The Mystery of Holy Week and Pascha

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, April 2, 2018  This [coming] weekend, Orthodox Churches [begin] the observation of Holy Week. The services are long and plentiful. In my parish, from Lazarus Saturday to Pascha, there will be somewhere on the order of 40 hours of services. It is a large parish effort. Most of the services have the participation of the full choir. Last night, I had the anxious face of a young server in the altar

The Fourth Thursday of Great Lent: Salvation

More than acquittal and justification By Abbot Tryphon, December 12, 2019 Salvation cannot be explained in legalistic terms of acquittal and justification, for salvation is much more than simply being forgiven and getting into heaven. The close tie between faith and works, when it comes to the Orthodox view of salvation, is not about being “saved” by our works, for this is impossible. Works do not save us, but when placed in the context of

The Fourth Monday of Great Lent: As Lent Moves On – The Greatest Fast Awaits

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, April 9, 2019  As Great Lent has passed its mid-point, attention begins to move towards Holy Week itself and its very intense focus. It has been an unusual time for me, having traveled on two successive weekends to lead retreats. Travel is always disruptive, and absence from your own community creates a break in the normal continuity of the Fast. I have great sympathies for those whose jobs involve frequent travel.

The Second Friday of Great Lent: Unmediated Grace

By Stephen Freeman, March 30, 2013  This Sunday the Orthodox Calendar commemorates St. Gregory Palamas – perhaps the most significant theologian and teacher of the late Byzantine period. He particularly is important when considering the nature of the Christian experience of God. Orthodoxy believes that it is truly possible to know God though He remains unknowable. The mystery of this true knowledge constitutes the heart of St. Gregory’s work. I first encountered St. Gregory’s writings

Bob, His Doctor, and Your Moral Life

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, November 15, 2015  Bob woke up one morning and felt terrible. He had no energy and his head hurt. After a while, he decided to go to see his doctor. When he got there the doctor had a number of questions for him: “Are you eating good meals? A balanced diet?” Bob replied, “Yes.” “Are you getting enough exercise?” the doctor continued. “Yes,” Bob said. “Do you smoke?” “No.” “Then, I

The Thirty-Second 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

Church as Living Organism

The Apostle Paul’s teaching is deeply incarnational, yet this has often not been recognized. Paul sees that the Gospel message must have concrete embodiment, which he calls “churches.” Jesus’ first vision of church is so simple we miss it: “two or three gathered in my name” (Matthew 18:20), “and I am with you” (which is just as strong a statement of presence as in the bread and wine of communion). This is surely why Jesus insists

Reality Is Communion

In the beginning God says, “Let us make humanity in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves” (Genesis 1:26). The use of the plural pronoun here seems to be an amazing, deep time intuition of what Christians would later call the Trinity—the revelation of the nature of God as community, as relationship itself, a Mystery of perfect giving and perfect receiving, both within God and outside of God. The Body of Christ is another metaphor for

The Most Holy Mother of God

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, August 13, 2008 On August 15, the Orthodox Church (new calendar) commemorates the Dormition (falling asleep) of the Most Holy Mother of God. The feast is considered to be one of the 12 Great Feasts of the year and thus an integral part of the proclamation of gospel of Jesus Christ. Many who are not familiar with Orthodoxy, or its manner of understanding saints, easily see feast days and the veneration