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ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! CHRIST IS RISEN! The Fifth Monday of Pascha: Stumbling Toward Salvation

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, May 14, 2021  On occasion I have written on topics that seem to scandalize readers, or certainly cause difficulty for many. Some of those topics have been articles on the wrath of God; the radical forgiveness of everyone for everything; the commonality of our life and our salvation; and various posts on giving thanks always for all things (there are others as well). I am not intentionally contrarian – I do

The Second Friday of Great Lent: Unmediated Grace

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, March 30, 2013 This Sunday the Orthodox Calendar commemorates St. Gregory Palamas – perhaps the most significant theologian and teacher of the late Byzantine period. He particularly is important when considering the nature of the Christian experience of God. Orthodoxy believes that it is truly possible to know God though He remains unknowable. The mystery of this true knowledge constitutes the heart of St. Gregory’s work. I first encountered St. Gregory’s

Prayers for the Dead

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, May 21, 2016 The Orthodox pray for the departed. The most pressing prayer within the liturgies appointed for this purpose is for God to forgive their sins. We say, “For no one lives and does not sin, for You only are without sin….” This is easily misunderstood, but it goes to the very heart of the mystery of our relationship with God. The same sentiment, interestingly, is offered in the prayers

The Twenty-Fifth Day of Christmas Advent. The Conception by Righteous Anna of the Most Holy Mother of God.

Saint Anna, the mother of the Virgin Mary, was the youngest daughter of the priest Nathan from Bethlehem, descended from the tribe of Levi. She married Saint Joachim (September 9), who was a native of Galilee. For a long time, Saint Anna was childless, but after twenty years, through the fervent prayer of both spouses, an angel of the Lord announced to them that they would be the parents of a daughter, Who would bring

The Fifteenth Day of Christmas Advent. The Christmas When Everybody Was There.

By Stephen Freeman, December 24, 2018  The soldiers were scattered across Europe with the loneliness of war. The world was caught up in a total struggle. Women had gone to the factories; children were collecting scrap metal. The “war effort” was universal. In many places, food was rationed. The madhouse of consumption belonged only to the war; everything else could wait. And there was Christmas. Hollywood and Tin Pan Alley were part of the effort

The Fifth Day of Christmas Advent. Entering the Mystery of Christmas.

By Stephen Freeman, December 28, 2019  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 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