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The Fourth Friday of Great Lent: The Ladder of Divine Ascent and Moral Improvement

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, April 4, 2019  The Fourth Sunday of Great Lent in the Orthodox Church, is dedicated to St. John Climacus, the author of the ancient work, The Ladder of Divine Ascent. It is a classic work describing “steps” within the life of the struggling ascetic. There is an icon associated with this work, picturing monastics climbing the rungs of a ladder to heaven, battling demons who are trying to pull them off. However,

Fasting. Fasting Precedes Forgiveness.

Fasting Precedes Forgiveness: But fasting alone does not save without forgiveness By Abbot Tryphon, November 22, 2019  There is the story of Saint Epiphanius of Cyprus who invited Hilarion the Great to dinner, and in order to show his hospitality place fried chicken on the table. Hilarion, when he saw the fried chicken, asked forgiveness, but said he had not eaten meat since his tonsure as a monk. Saint Epiphanius responded by saying that he,

The Third Day of Christmas Advent. Fasting for Christmas

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, November 19, 2020 [This past Sunday], November 15, the Orthodox Church began its “Winter Lent,” the fast that prepares for the feast of the Nativity. Somewhat similar to Advent, it is the older practice, a full 40-day fast, that reminds us that Christmas, joy that it is, is a foretaste of Pascha. The Cave of Bethlehem reminds us of the Cave of Hades (icons of the Descent into Hell picture the

Elder Porphyrios: Peace of Heart is Established Little by Little

Your constant care should be not to let your heart become agitated or troubled, but to use every effort to keep it peaceful and calm. Seeing your efforts and endeavours, God will send you His grace and will make your soul a city of peace. Then your heart will become the house of comfort as is allegorically expressed in the following Psalm: ‘Jerusalem is builded as a city’ (Ps. cxxii. 3). God has required only

Christ and Nothing (Part XIII)

By David Bentley Hart, October 2003 Nor will the ululations and lugubrious platitudes and pious fatalism of the tragic chorus ever again have the power to recall us to sobriety. The gospel of a God found in broken flesh, humility, and measureless charity has defeated all the old lies, rendered the ancient order visibly insufficient and even slightly absurd, and instilled in us a longing for transcendent love so deep that—if once yielded to—it will

Churchly Humility

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, August 3, 2015  There are many Orthodox bumper stickers and internet memes that seek to portray the excellence of Orthodoxy. Some compare us to the “marines,” others to various kinds of extreme sports. There’s the one that declares the Orthodox Church to have been founded in 33 A.D. I understand such boosterism in a culture where proclaiming the excellence of your football team or other product loyalty is seen as important.

The Sixth Wednesday of Great Lent. Fast from…Feast on…

FAST from self-concern and FEAST on compassion for others. FAST from discouragement and FEAST on hope. FAST from lethargy and FEAST on enthusiasm. FAST from suspicion and FEAST on truth. FAST from thoughts that weaken and FEAST on promises that inspire. FAST from shadows of sorrow and FEAST on the sunlight of serenity. FAST from idle gossip and FEAST on purposeful silence. FAST from problems that overwhelm you and FEAST on prayer that sustains. FAST

The First Wednesday of Great Lent. The Lenten Journey.

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 were quick to change allegiances should a better opportunity arise, and many an emperor

The Invisible Shame

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, October 21, 2014 The young hobbit, Frodo, bears the terrible burden of carrying an evil ring to its destruction in Tolkien’s classic Lord of the Rings. As he travels deeper into the darkness of Mordor, he is described as becoming “thinner” and is somehow “less visible.” The Ring itself has the power to make its wearer invisible – but only to those in the world of light. It makes the wearer

Things You Can’t Invent

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, June 19, 2015 Most of the things in our lives are not of our own making – they were given to us. Our language, our culture, the whole of our biology and the very gift of life itself is something that has been “handed down” to us. In that sense, we are all creatures of “tradition” (traditio=“to hand down”). Of course, these things that are not of our own making and