Tags

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

A HOMILY ON THE DORMITION OF THE MOTHER OF GOD (Part II)

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

The Heavenly Kingdom

The Heavenly Kingdom is peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. We need to humble our hearts, which take insults so deeply and also our so-called dignity, for we cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven in pride, as when we take to heart each slander our neighbor casts. We must accept our lessons from everyday life, for each day brings us cares, worries, and insults. We must learn not to take insults to heart, for

Gifts and Talents and the Road to Hell

By Father Stephen Freeman, January 19, 2015 At some point in my past, there was a survey used in parishes that was all the rage. It was a “gifts and talents” survey, designed to make everyone in the parish find their true ministry and to work together in fulfillment of St. Paul’s description of the Body of Christ in 1 Corinthians. The key in these surveys was to determine precisely what gifts and talents someone

Jesus: Forgiving Victim

It seems we always find some way to avoid the transformation of our pain. There’s the way of fight. Fighters are looking for the evil, the sinner, the unjust one, the oppressor, the bad person “over there.” He or she “righteously” attacks, hates, or even kills the wrong-doer, while feeling heroic for doing so (see John 16:2). Philosopher René Girard sees this tendency to scapegoat others as the central story line of human history. Why?

Being Unconditional Witnesses

Being Unconditional Witnesses Good news becomes bad news when it is announced without peace and joy. Anyone who proclaims the forgiving and healing love of Jesus with a bitter heart is a false witness. Jesus is the savior of the world. We are not. We are called to witness, always with our lives and sometimes with our words, to the great things God has done for us. But this witness must come from a heart