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Early Christianity: Practical Prayer

In the same way as the early church, the desert Christians were deeply committed to Jesus’ teachings and lived practice. Withdrawal to the wilderness—whether into close-knit communities or solitude—was only for the sake of deeper encounter and presence. Diana Butler Bass describes the natural flow from prayer to active love: [Jesus’ invitation to] “Come follow me” was intimately bound up with the practice of prayer. For prayer connects us with God and others, “part of

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

The Soul and the Hidden Weight of Glory

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, August 8, 2015  Everyone likes things for various reasons. This is perhaps my favorite piece that I’ve done this year. I’m not entirely certain why. I think that in some way it touches on the fragility of our existence and even of our belief. I hope that rereading it might be a blessing for you as well. From a Facebook conversation: Though I wish I believed otherwise, in the depths of my being,

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

Fifth Tuesday of Great Lent. Orthodox Christian Lent, Prayer, Fasting and Baptism

By Fr. Patrick Reardon, March 13, 2005 The word “Lent,” now associated exclusively with the observance of the liturgical year, originally meant “spring” and had no directly religious significance. In English usage, however, its reference was gradually limited to the season of preparation for Pascha, a season that does, in fact, coincide with spring. In languages dependent on Latin, the word for Lent is some variant of “forty,” derived from the Latin *quadragesima*. This is

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

The Second Friday of Great Lent. A Modern Lent.

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, March 29, 2019  Few things are as difficult in the modern world as fasting. It is not simply the action of changing our eating habits that we find problematic – it’s the whole concept of fasting and what it truly entails. It comes from another world. We understand dieting – changing how we eat in order to improve how we look or how we feel. But changing how we eat in order to know God

The Domestic Church

Prior to electricity and central heating, most families gathered in parlors, spending evenings with reading, sewing, and family conversations. The notion that everyone would retreat to bedrooms, kitchens, or dens, separating themselves from other family members, was unthinkable. The communal nature of the family was natural. I can remember, as a child (this really dates me), sitting together with my brother and my parents, listening to radio dramas. Before the coming of television, families would

Prayer of the Heart in an Age of Technology and Distraction, Part 14

By Fr. Maximos (Constas) As we begin to enter into the practice of the Jesus Prayer to engage the presence of the Spirit within ourselves we began to encounter both passing and deeper, recurring thoughts that work to distract us from calling upon the name of the Lord. What is the origin of these thoughts, and what do they show us about ourselves and how we interact with the world? How does the Church teach

Figures of the Nativity—Herod

By Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis, December 11, 2018 Most movies have a villain. In fact, the storyline in many movies, as well as in life in general, is the conflict between good and evil. In Christian terms, church fathers and saints have written about spiritual warfare—the conflict between Godliness and things that are against God. In the Nativity story, we have our villain, and it’s King Herod. When the wise men came to Jerusalem asking King