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Christ is Born! Glorify Him! The First Day of Christmas!

By His Grace Bishop John Abdalah As Orthodox Christians, we greet one another with this confident exclamation during the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord. With this seasonal greeting we affirm that Jesus, who took on flesh and was born into our world, is indeed the Christ, and worthy of glorification. This greeting is unlike other seasonal greetings about being merry (Christmas), glad (tidings), or happy (holidays). Not that I have any trouble with

Saving Knowledge

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, November 28, 2016  I have often used the example of riding a bicycle as an image of knowing God. There’s no difficulty learning how to ride if you don’t mind falling off for a while. But no matter how many years you have ridden, you cannot describe for someone else how you know what you know. But you know it. I also suspect that if you thought too much about riding a bicycle while you were riding

Being Saved – The Ontological Approach

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, August 12, 2016 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

The Disenchanted World

By Fr. Stephen Freeman, July 22, 2016  A very apt word for the world we live in is: disenchanted. It was first used by Max Weber and a number of others to describe a certain aspect of the modern world – the absence of the sacred. Where people of earlier eras and other cultures have experienced the world around them as charged with divine power (of various sorts), we simply experience the world as inert. There

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