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The Matter of our Salvation

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, March 18, 2016  Perhaps the most obvious thing for a visitor to an Orthodox Church are the presence and place of icons. They are literally everywhere. Some Churches are covered completely with iconography and no Orthodox Church is ever without them. That Churches are so decorated might not strike someone as unusual. After all, many Catholic Churches, particularly in Europe are highly decorated (think of the Sistine Chapel). But the difference

Justice, Forgiveness and Bearing a Little Shame

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, March 15, 2016  This morning I read a headline in the newspaper: “We will get justice.” In the relentless cycle of the daily news, the report was of the discovery of a young woman who had been murdered. It seemed a completely appropriate response by the law officer in charge of the investigation. His words doubtless echoed the sentiments of everyone who knew the young woman. The desire for justice is

Unity, the One Cup and the Fire of God

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, February 14, 2016  Ecumenism is back in the news and with it comes a deluge of misunderstanding and theological confusion. For while “unity” and the very concept of “one” are actually inherently mystical, most who write about and discuss the topic substitute a merely human, political and administrative notion. Two key verses are frequently drawn from the 17th chapter of St. John’s gospel:  Now I am no longer in the world, but

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 Dormition Fast: The Earth Stood Still

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, August 20, 2014  Orthodox Christians commemorate the death (Dormition) of the Virgin Mary during the month of August (New Calendar, the 15th, Old Calendar, the 28th). For those for whom such feasts are foreign, it is easy to misunderstand what the Orthodox are about – and to assume that this is simply a feast to Mary because we like that sort of thing. Flippant attitudes fail to perceive the depths of the mystery

The Sixth Thursday of Pascha: The Ascension of our Lord

“AND ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN….” Rev. George Florovsky, D.D. “I ascend unto My Father and your Father, and to My God, and Your God” (John 20:17). In these words, the Risen Christ described to Mary Magdalene the mystery of His Resurrection. She had to carry this mysterious message to His disciples, “as they mourned and wept” (Mark 16:10). The disciples listened to these glad tidings with fear and amazement, with doubt and mistrust. It was not

ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! CHRIST IS RISEN! The Fourth Monday of Pascha: The Kingdom of God Is Not a Choice We Make

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, April 29, 2008  Part of the spiritual landscape of American religion is the sizable role played by choice in a culture shaped in the free market – with freedom as a mythic symbol. It is not unusual to hear American politicians describing solutions to social problems as a matter of “trusting Americans as consumers.” It is as though we could “shop” our way out of life’s difficulties. And thus it is that Calvinism,

The Sixth Friday of Great Lent: Let’s Get Out of This Place

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, April 11, 2020  The Saturday before Palm Sunday is known as Lazarus Saturday among the Orthodox, and they celebrate Christ raising him from the dead just prior to His entrance into Jerusalem (gospel of John). It is a feast that offers something of a preview of Christ’s resurrection, and a foretaste of the General Resurrection at the End of the Age. Some years back I sat in a cave that is purported to

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