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Knowing the Knowledge that Transforms

By Father Stephen Freeman, March 22, 2016 “If only I had known…” These are, not infrequently, the words of an apology. They are also an explanation of why we are sometimes the way we are. Ignorance is, in the mind of the Fathers, a major cause of sin. Of course, if sin is understood in a legal/forensic framework, then ignorance would be nothing more than a form of innocence. Not knowing is excusable in most

The Purpose of Mystery, Paradox and Contradiction

By Stephen Freeman, January 25, 2016  Orthodox Christianity is deeply associated with the word “mystery.”  Its theological hymns are replete with paradox, repeatedly affirming two things to be true that are seemingly contradictory. Most of these things are associated with what is called “apophatic” theology, or a theology that is “unspeakable.” This same theological approach is sometimes called the Via Negativa. This is easily misunderstood in common conversation. An Orthodox discussion takes place and reaches an

The Dormition Fast: The Most Holy Mother of God

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, August 13, 2008  On August 15, the Orthodox Church (new calendar) commemorates the Dormition (falling asleep) of the Most Holy Mother of God. The feast is considered to be one of the 12 Great Feasts of the year and thus an integral part of the proclamation of gospel of Jesus Christ. Many who are not familiar with Orthodoxy, or its manner of understanding saints, easily see feast days and the veneration

The Light of Christ and the Transfiguration

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, August 5, 2020  My attention was drawn to the event of the Transfiguration during my college years. It was then that I first read a book on St. Seraphim of Sarov, who himself was transfigured in a famous incident in his conversation with Motivilov. There, on a snowy winter’s day, the saint shown with a brilliant light, and Motivilov felt effused with warmth and joy. It caught my attention in the

The Dormition Fast: August Theophanies

Sermon preached by Fr. Antony Hughes on Sunday, August 10, 2014 The Reading is from the Gospel of St. Matthew. (14:22-34) The month of August is a month of theophanies. A theophany, from the Greek, literally means a “revelation of God”, not “from God”, but “of God.” The Transfiguration of Jesus is a theophany. God reveals himself present in Jesus Christ in this world. He shares his light and energy with us and with all

The Life of the Cosmos

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, January 15, 2016  What does it mean to be alive? This is a question whose answer would seem so obvious that it is hardly worth asking. And yet. A recent comment drew attention to a different way of thinking about what is “alive.” I will offer some quotes from the comment and then some observations of my own. I give special thanks to Justin. Everything is alive. Everything. We encounter the

Unknowing: Ascent and Descent

When it says, “He went up,” it must mean that he first went down to the deepest levels of the earth . . . to fill all things. —Ephesians 4:9-10 Philosophies and religions are either Ascenders, pointing us upward (toward the One, the Eternal, and the Absolute) or they are Descenders, pointing us downward (toward the sacred within the many, the momentary, the mystery, and the earth), seldom both at the same time. Yet that’s what we need. Metaphors of

Pentecost: The Descent of the Holy Spirit

In the Old Testament Pentecost was the feast which occurred fifty days after Passover. As the Passover feast celebrated the exodus of the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt, so Pentecost celebrated God’s gift of the ten commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai. In the new covenant of the Messiah, the Passover event takes on its new meaning as the celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection, the “exodus” of men from this sinful world to

ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! CHRIST IS RISEN! The Fourth Friday of Pascha: Getting Your Mind Right

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, April 19, 2016  In the classic movie, Cool Hand Luke (1967), the lead character struggles in a Deep South prison chain-gang setting. Very cool towards authority, he is finally, at the Warden’s direction, beaten by the guards. There is a memorable bit of dialog: Luke (lying in a grave he’s been forced to dig): Oh God! Oh God! I pray to God you don’t hit me anymore. I’ll do anything you say, but

ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! CHRIST IS RISEN! The Fourth Wednesday after Pascha: The Feast of Mid-Pentecost

By Sergei V. Bulgakov On Wednesday of the fourth week we celebrate the Mid-Feast of Pentecost, i.e. half of the period from Pascha to Pentecost. This day we commemorate that event from the life of the Savior, when He on the Midfeast of the Tabernacles taught in the temple about His Own Divine ministry and the mystery of water, under which we understand the beneficial teaching of Christ and the beneficial gifts of the Holy