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The Matter of our Salvation

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, March 18, 2016  Perhaps the most obvious thing for a visitor to an Orthodox Church are the presence and place of icons. They are literally everywhere. Some Churches are covered completely with iconography and no Orthodox Church is ever without them. That Churches are so decorated might not strike someone as unusual. After all, many Catholic Churches, particularly in Europe are highly decorated (think of the Sistine Chapel). But the difference

Self-Emptying Prayer

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, February 29, 2016  We are told that Christ “emptied Himself” in His death on the Cross (Philippians 2:5-11). Further, we are told that this self-emptying is to be the “mind” that we ourselves have. It is possible to grasp that such self-emptying can be practiced in our dealings with others when we place them above ourselves – when the “other” is our greater concern. But how is this possible in prayer?

Justice, Forgiveness and Bearing a Little Shame

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, March 15, 2016  This morning I read a headline in the newspaper: “We will get justice.” In the relentless cycle of the daily news, the report was of the discovery of a young woman who had been murdered. It seemed a completely appropriate response by the law officer in charge of the investigation. His words doubtless echoed the sentiments of everyone who knew the young woman. The desire for justice is

Forgiveness for All the Sundays to Come

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, March 10, 2016  I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; (John17:20-21) The Elder Sophrony, together with St. Silouan, wrote about the “whole Adam.” By this, they meant all the human beings who have ever existed and those yet to come. They were, for them, something known in the present tense, a “hypostatic” (the term Sophrony preferred) knowledge of the fundamental

Greatmartyr Eustáthios Placidas, with his wife and children, of Rome

Before his Baptism, the Holy Great Martyr Eustáthios was named Plakidas (Πλακίδας). He was a Roman General in the reigns of Emperors Titus (79-81) and Trajan (98-117). Even before he came to know Christ, Plakidas devoted himself to charitable endeavors, helping the poor and destitute. Therefore, the Lord did not allow this virtuous pagan to continue in the darkness of idolatry. One day, while hunting in a forest, he saw a remarkable stag which stopped

The Elevation of the Venerable and Life-Giving Cross

Saint Helen, the mother of Saint Constantine the Great, when she was already advanced in years, undertook, in her great piety, the hardships of a journey to Jerusalem in search of the cross, about the year 325. A temple to Aphrodite had been raised up by the Emperor Hadrian upon Golgotha, to defile and cover with oblivion the place where the saving Passion had been suffered. The venerable Helen had the statue of Aphrodite destroyed,

The One Thing Progress Cannot Do

By Stephen Freeman, February 6, 2016  It is common among Orthodox teachers to identify prayer with the “one thing necessary” that Christ speaks of in John 11. This emphasizes prayer as communion with God – for communion with God is the very source of our life. I will expand this meaning of the “one thing necessary” to include the very “mind” required for its practice. And, as we shall see, it is strikingly at odds

Thoughts on Life and New Life, on God’s Nature and our Nature

Thoughts on Life and New Life By Michael Haldas, July 6, 2016 “The gift of new life requires the reception and cooperation of the believer through faith and obedience to God. We are His children (Romans 8 v. 14) as He leads us by the power of the Spirit. In this new life, the body becomes the follower, not the leader. In choosing the way of the Holy Spirit, we put to death sinful passions

The Way of Shame and the Way of Thanksgiving

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, December 19, 2015  The language of “self-emptying” can have a sort of Buddhist ring. It sounds as we are referencing a move towards becoming a vessel without content – the non-self. Given our multicultural world, such a reference is understandable. It is, however, unfortunate and requires that we visit the true nature of Christian self-emptying. Our self-emptying is deeply tied to shame and the Crucified Christ. As a touchstone, I cite

Greatmartyr Procopius of Caesarea, in Palestine

The Holy Great Martyr Procopius, in the world Neanius, a native of Jerusalem, lived and suffered during the reign of the emperor Diocletian (284-305). His father, an eminent Roman by the name of Christopher, was a Christian, but the mother of the saint, Theodosia, remained a pagan. He was early deprived of his father, and the young child was raised by his mother. Having received an excellent secular education, he was introduced to Diocletian in