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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,

The Fourth Thursday of Great Lent: Salvation

More than acquittal and justification By Abbot Tryphon, December 12, 2019 Salvation cannot be explained in legalistic terms of acquittal and justification, for salvation is much more than simply being forgiven and getting into heaven. The close tie between faith and works, when it comes to the Orthodox view of salvation, is not about being “saved” by our works, for this is impossible. Works do not save us, but when placed in the context of

The Fourth Wednesday of Great Lent: Ten Suggestions for Lent

By His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America Meditate on the History of Salvation Think of the Lenten period as a time of meditating on the history of salvation.  Think about the creation of the universe and of Adam and Eve as the beginning of human life on earth.  Think about the fall of Adam and the entrance of sin in humanity.  We see in the hymnology of the liturgical book of Lent, the Triodion,

Unavoidable Suffering and Salvation – The Way of Shame

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, November 13, 2015  At the heart of the modern narrative is a concern to alleviate and even eliminate suffering. This understanding is rooted in the Christian virtue of compassion. In many ways, however, modern compassion has been detached from its original context and become a thing-in-itself. Modernity is an arena where compassion has run amok, and, ironically, promises to create new and unique miseries in its wake. The Christian gospel 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

If It Makes You Happy

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, August 31, 2015  In 1998, my family and I were received into the Orthodox Church. I had served as an Episcopal clergyman for 18 years prior to that. I left a large parish with a wonderful staff and tremendous programs. I took up the work of starting an Orthodox mission. Of course, such a life-change creates awkward moments for your friends, colleagues, and former parishioners. What do you say to someone

No Looking Back. When We’re Broken.

By Abbot Tryphon, October 11, 2019   Don’t hold on to guilt and shame There are many people who cling to memories of past sins, holding on to guilt and shame, reliving things long ago confessed, as though they happened yesterday. They struggle with regrets, often revisiting shame as though they were archeologists, digging for historical artifacts that must be preserved. Such is not the case with God, for His interest is not in our past,

Sermon on the Mount: Blessed Are the Merciful

Blessed are the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them. —Matthew 5:7 I believe with all my heart that mercy and forgiveness are the whole Gospel. The Benedictus (Luke 1:68-79) says we’ll have knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sin (1:77). The experience of forgiveness or mercy is the experience of a magnanimous God who loves out of total gratuitousness. There’s no tit for tat. Grace isn’t for sale. That is the symbolism of Jesus

Fifth Friday of Pascha. The Ontological Model Part 2: How Good Is Your Will

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, May 28, 2019 Suppose I give you a bicycle for the convenience of travel. Suppose, however, that the bicycle is broken: flat tires, missing spokes, a chain that slips frequently. Nevertheless, you figure out a way to make it go. The ride is bumpy and you often have to stop and fix the chain. You fear that one day the wheels will just come apart as the spokes yield to the

Fifth Monday of Pascha. Being Saved—The Ontological Approach

By Father Stephen Freeman, May 24, 2019 I cannot begin to count the number of times I wished there were a simple, felicitous word for “ontological.” I dislike writing theology with words that have to be explained – that is, words whose meanings are not immediately obvious. But, alas, I have found no substitute and will, therefore, beg my reader’s indulgence for dragging such a word into our conversations. From the earliest times in the