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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

The First Tuesday of Great Lent. The Lenten Journey. Repentance.

The Lenten Journey: Transformation through the Lenten Journey By Abbot Tryphon, February 27, 2020 The Byzantine Court was filled with sycophants, busying themselves with building alliances that would help them rise in status and influence. During the thousand years of the empire, a few emperors were tricked into believing these sycophants were truly their friends, and could be trusted, when in actuality they were being played, and these flatterers were not their friends. These sycophants

Eastern Christianity: Theosis

The Orthodox teaching of divinization, or theosis, according to Pope John Paul II, is perhaps the greatest gift of the Eastern Church to the West, but one that has largely been ignored or even denied. [1] The Eastern fathers of the Church believed that we could experience real and transformative union with God. This is in fact the supreme goal of human life and the very meaning of salvation—not only later, but now, too. Theosis refers to the shared deification

Feast of the Holy and Glorious Great Martyr Saint Demetrios, the Myrrh-Streamer

Saint Demetrios suffered in Thessalonica during the reign of Galerius Maximian (c. 306). He belonged to one of the most distinguished families of the province of Macedonia and was widely admired not only because of his noble ancestry and grace of bearing, but also for virtue, wisdom and goodness of heart surpassing that of his elders. The military expertise of Saint Demetrios led Galerius, as Caesar of the Eastern Empire, to appoint him commander of

Sermon on the Mount: Blessed Are the Merciful

Blessed are the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them. —Matthew 5:7 I believe with all my heart that mercy and forgiveness are the whole Gospel. The Benedictus (Luke 1:68-79) says we’ll have knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sin (1:77). The experience of forgiveness or mercy is the experience of a magnanimous God who loves out of total gratuitousness. There’s no tit for tat. Grace isn’t for sale. That is the symbolism of Jesus

Fifth Wednesday of Pascha. Holy Mountain: A Universal Presence and a Heavenward Orientation (Part 4)

By Metropolitan Nikolaos of Mesogaias and Lavreotikis A long time ago I was approached by a young student. Very hesitantly, but with the intensity of someone who is determined to find out something, he declared that, although he was an atheist and found it hard to believe, he very much wanted to find faith. He had tried and searched for years but all to no avail. He had talked with professors and educated people but

Fourth Thursday of Pascha. Holy Mountain: A Universal Presence and a Heavenward Orientation (Part 3)

By Metropolitan Nikolaos of Mesogaias and Lavreotikis The Mountain reveals the extremity of human situations. It is moderate in its discreet character but also displays a divine extremeness – though without foolish extremes – in its absolute and uncompromising lifestyle and philosophy. The daily vigils, the absence of a comforting female presence (even in pictorial form), the customary obedience, the life devoid of personal choices emphasizes the naturalness of the ‘supernatural’ state. The Mountain is

The Fifth Friday of Lent. The Fullness in Lent

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, March 18, 2014  This article keeps coming to mind as I celebrate the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts on these Lenten Wednesdays and Fridays. There is nothing to compare to them in the Christian liturgical world. It’s hard to thinking of fasting in the midst of such a feast. Orthodoxy has a number of “favorite” words – all of which fall outside the bounds of normal speech. Though we commonly use

The Fourth Thursday of Great Lent. The Ascetic Life (4th Sunday of Great Lent)

Bishop Agathangelos of Fanari For the secular people of today, focusing on an ascetic saint represents a problem. How can the ascetic figure of Saint John, the author of the Ladder, speak to us, when he acquired and preserved the Grace of God through tears, prayers, and spiritual asceticism? In Orthodox teaching, the ascetic life is nothing other than the transcendence of selfishness, the attempt, in Grace, to apply God’s commandments, to live the life

I’ll Be Small for Christmas

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, December 18, 2017 Children today are raised with dreams of greatness. Cultural affirmations of our limitless potential, well-intentioned, have not produced a generation of over-achievers, but have indeed brought forth hordes of great dreams. This is nothing new in American culture. We are the world’s longest sustained pep-talk. Ronald Reagan loved to quote the 1945 Johnny Mercer hit: You’ve got to accentuate the positive Eliminate the negative Latch on to the