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Forgiveness: Forgiving Reality for Being What It Is

The story of Noah and the flood is filled with insight. God tells Noah to bring into the ark all the opposites: the wild and the domestic, the crawling and the flying, the clean and the unclean, the male and the female of each animal (Genesis 7:2-15). Then God does a most amazing thing. God locks them together inside the ark (Genesis 7:16). Check it out. Most people never note that God actually closed them

A Word on What Matters

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, June 3, 2015 I began writing this blog in October of 2006. Printed below is the second article that I wrote. I have reprinted it from time to time, as much for my sake as anything. When I wrote it, almost no one was reading the blog. It was simply a reminder not to take myself too seriously. With around a million views a year these days, it’s tempting to think

A HOMILY ON THE DORMITION OF THE MOTHER OF GOD

We have peace when we are with the Lord and His Most Holy Mother; she is always here to help whenever we call upon her. In her we have unshakable support, which remains the same for all ages and which will not change. We cannot find this support anywhere else on earth, not even among our family members, let alone in things like riches, earthly power, and honor. We can be left without all these

REPENTANCE IN THE PHILOKALIA (Part III)

Theognostos (fourteenth century?) is known to us only as the author of the work included in the Philokalia. “When you fall from a higher state, do not become panic-stricken, but through remorse, grief, rigorous self-reproach, and, above all, through copious tears shed in a contrite spirit, correct yourself and return quickly to your former condition. Rising up again after your fall, you will enter the joyous valley of salvation, taking care so far as possible

The Eighteenth Day of Great Lent. A Lenten Meditation, by Saint Leo the Great

Dear friends, at every moment the earth is full of the mercy of God, and nature itself is a lesson for all the faithful in the worship of God. The heavens, the sea and all that is in them bear witness to the goodness and omnipotence of their Creator, and the marvelous beauty of the elements as they obey him demands from the intelligent creation a fitting expression of its gratitude. But with the return

The Tenth Day of Great Lent. Lent in Our Life (Part II)

In regard to Lent, instead of asking fundamental questions—”What is fasting?” or “What is Lent?”—we satisfy ourselves with Lenten symbolism. In church magazines and bulletins appear recipes for “delicious Lenten dishes,” and a parish might even raise some additional money by means of a well-advertised “tasty Lenten dinner.” So much in our churches is explained symbolically as interesting, colorful, and amusing customs and traditions, as something which connects us not so much with God and

Forgiveness – Do We Know What We’re Doing?

By Fr Stephen Freeman, March 13, 2016 The first service of Great Lent in the Orthodox Church is “Forgiveness Vespers,” served on the eve of Monday of the First Week. There is nothing unusual about the service itself – other than the “rite of forgiveness” appended to it. In this, the priest and the faithful ask forgiveness of one another. Often this is done with mutual prostrations. Each asks the forgiveness of the other. The

Should I Forgive the Unrepentant?

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, March 17, 2015 It has been noted that forgiveness is often directly tied to repentance. This is doubtless true, but also fraught with misunderstanding. It is important to understand what forgiveness is and is not and what repentance is and is not. The heart is filled with twists and turns – understanding is helpful at every moment. “Without repentance, there can be no forgiveness.” This, or something similar, is a common

Can You Forgive Someone Else’s Enemies?

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, March 11, 2015 I have written from time to time about the concept expressed in Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, “Forgive everyone for everything.” It is a quote taken from the fictional Elder Zosima, but it is certainly a sentiment well within the bounds of Orthodox thought. I have recently been challenged in several places by people arguing that we cannot forgive those who have not sinned against us – that this right belongs

A Tuning Fork

Contemplative prayer is like striking a tuning fork. All you can really do in the spiritual life is resonate to the true pitch, to receive the always-present message. Once you are tuned, you will receive, and it has nothing to do with worthiness or the group you belong to, but only inner resonance, a capacity for mutuality (see Matthew 7:7-11), which implies a basic humility. We must begin with the knowledge that the Sender is absolutely and