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Thoughts on Asceticism, the Difficulty of Love and Burdens

Thoughts on Ascetism and the Difficulty of Love Compiled by Michael Haldas, July 1, 2016 “St. Paul notes that “faith works through love” (Gal. 5:6). This describes the very heart of the ascetic life. Only love extends itself in the self-emptying struggle against the passions without becoming lost in the solipsism of asceticism for its own sake. It is love that endures the contradictions of reality without turning away or reducing them. And it is

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

Eighteenth Day of Christmas Advent. Christ Comes to Restore the Image.

Human beings, male and female, are made in the image and according to the likeness of God.1 This is a fundamental doctrine of the Judeo-Christian worldview. It means that we humans are not simply the product of our heredity and environment, of our biological makeup and genetic construction. Neither are we simply the result of some accidental combination of physical particles and material cells, nor merely the outcome of historical processes, economic systems, and sociological

The Tenth Day of Christmas Advent. Christ Comes to Restore the Image.

Human beings, male and female, are made in the image and according to the likeness of God.1 This is a fundamental doctrine of the Judeo-Christian worldview. It means that we humans are not simply the product of our heredity and environment, of our biological makeup and genetic construction. Neither are we simply the result of some accidental combination of physical particles and material cells, nor merely the outcome of historical processes, economic systems, and sociological

A Gifted Existence

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, October 14, 2015 You cannot give thanks for what has not been given to you. This simple maxim goes to the heart of the Christian life. If I steal your money and burn down your house, I cannot offer thanks for what I have done. It was not given to me from God. Anything that is not a gift has the nature of sin. I can give thanks to God that

Faith Without Works is Dead. Imitating Christ.

By Abbot Tryphon, October 29, 2019  Without good works faith does not dwell in our hearts The very moment faith enters the soul is that moment when we turn toward God in repentance and recognize we cannot live without Him. As we grow in our faith we come to realize we must remain in a continual state of repentance, for grace abounds in the heart of the man who is repenting. We come to see

Early Christianity: Practice Prayer of the Heart

Practice: Prayer of the Heart Abba Poemen said, “Teach your mouth to say what is in your heart.” [1] Many of the desert fathers and mothers, as well as the collected texts of the Philokalia in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, have described prayer as bringing your thinking down into your heart. It always seemed like soft piety to me until someone taught me how to do it, and I learned the immense benefits of the prayer

Elder Porphyrios: On the Means of Preserving Inner Peace

To preserve inner peace: First of all, keep your outer senses in order and flee all licentiousness in your external conduct, – namely, neither look, speak, gesticulate, walk nor do anything else with agitation, but always quietly and decorously. Accustomed to behave with decorous quietness in your external movements and actions, you will easily and without labour acquire peace within yourself, in the heart; for, according to the testimony of the fathers, the inner man

Growing in Love’s Likeness: Human Development in Scripture

It is helpful for us to know about the whole arc of life and where it is leading. Walter Brueggemann, one of my favorite scripture scholars, brilliantly connects the development of the Hebrew Scriptures with the development of human consciousness. [1] Brueggemann identifies different stages in the three major parts of the Hebrew Scriptures: the Torah, the Prophets, and the Wisdom literature. The Torah, or the first five books, correspond, Brueggemann says, to the good

Growing in Love’s Likeness: Two Halves of Life

All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image that we reflect. This is the work of the Lord who is Spirit. —2 Corinthians 3:18 We are created in the image and likeness of God from the moment of our conception. The Creator gives us our core identity as sons and daughters of God, “from the beginning” (Ephesians 1:4-5). Throughout our lives we co-create our