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Path of Descent: The Belly of the Whale

And so long as you do not know that to die is to become, you are just a wretched visitor on this dark earth. —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe [1] Jesus’ primary metaphor for the mystery of transformation is the sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:39, 16:4; Luke 11:29). As a Jew, Jesus knew the vivid story of Jonah, the prophet who ran away from God and yet was used by God in spite of himself. Jonah was swallowed by a

On Spiritual Struggle by Elder Porphyrios

What makes a person holy is love, the adoration of Christ When Christ enters our soul, everything within us will be altered Man is a mystery. We carry within us an age-old inheritance – all the good and precious experience of the prophets, the saints, the martyrs, the apostles and above all of our Lord Jesus Christ; but we also carry within us the inheritance of the evil that exists in the world from Adam

The Scandal of the Transfiguration

By Father Stephen Freeman, August 6, 2016  My bishop recently shared the story of a young man whom he taught some years ago. He was Orthodox from Estonia. He grew up in the Soviet era and had come to hate all things Russian, including the Orthodox Church. Nevertheless, he saw an Orthodox procession in the streets of his city one year, a procession that included the Russian bishop (whom he also hated and believed to

The Search for the ‘Place of the Heart’: A Life-Giving Discipline

Our whole spiritual progress is a ‘search for the place of the heart’. Little by little, the conscious self frees itself from idols, strips away the dead layers and illusions, and ‘descends’, like Psyche holding a lighted lamp, into the dark crypt of the heart. Sanctuary, crypt and tomb become the bridal chamber; the ‘heart-spirit’ is remade in the fire of grace, it trembles with joy, it bursts into flames, the world and humanity are

The Work That Saves

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, April 17, 2015  Do we cooperate in our salvation? Do our efforts make a difference? These questions lie at the heart of a centuries-old religious debate in Christianity. Classically, the Protestant reformers said, “No,” to these questions, arguing that we are saved solely and utterly by God’s grace, His unmerited favor. The Catholic Church replied that “faith without works” is dead and that faith alone is insufficient. This debate, with various

Grace and the Frog

By Stephen Freeman, April 24, 2015  When David completed the Book of Psalms he was uplifted with satisfaction. He said to God, “Does there exist any creature which You created anywhere in the entire universe which sings songs and praises which surpass mine?” At that moment a frog passed and said, “David, do not be uplifted with pride, for I sing songs and praises which surpass yours! … Not only that, but I also perform

The Seventh Friday after Pascha. The Lord and Giver of Life

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, May 31, 2015  The opening verses of Genesis offer the mysteries of creation for our consideration. Of particular note is the primary role of the Holy Spirit. “The Spirit of God moved over the face of the waters… “Light and dry land are made to appear and then, the miracle of life: “Let the earth bring forth…” The earth is, above all, the planet on which life comes forth. For although we

The Second Wednesday after Pascha. CHRISTOS ANESTI! CHRIST IS RISEN! Members of One Another (Part X): The Spiritual Value of the Human Body

In St Silouan’s teaching concerning the bonds that unite us humans to the rest of creation, there are three points that I find particularly interesting: The Starets underlines the spiritual value of the human body. While he adopts a negative attitude towards the passions, he is fundamentally positive in his estimate of our human physicality. We are to hate, not our bodies as such, but the sinfulness that corrupts them. In its present fallen state

RENEWAL WEDNESDAY. CHRISTOS ANESTI! CHRIST IS RISEN! HUMAN NATURE IS HEALED

CHRISTOS ANESTI!  CHRIST IS RISEN! One has to distinguish most carefully between the healing of nature and the healing of the will. Nature is healed and restored with a certain compulsion, by the mighty power of God’s omnipotent and invincible grace. One may even say, by some “violence of grace.” The wholeness is in a way forced upon human nature. For in Christ all human nature (the “seed of Adam”) is fully and completely cured

The Holy and Great Thursday

“I am the Resurrection and the Life” (Part I)  The Incarnation of the Word was an absolute manifestation of God. And above all it was a revelation of Life. Christ is the Word of Life, ho logos tês zôês (I John 1:1). The Incarnation itself was, in a sense, the quickening of man, as it were the resurrection of human nature. In the Incarnation human nature was not merely anointed with a superabundant overflowing of