Christos Anesti! Christ is Risen! Monday of the Fifth Week of Pascha. The Mystery of Suffering.

It is much easier to appreciate the glory of Jesus’ resurrection than his painful crucifixion. Yet, Mark’s Gospel, written around 65 to 70 AD, focuses on Jesus’ “suffering servanthood.” Christians believe that we are “saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus.” The key is to put both together. We need to deeply trust and allow both our own dyings and our own certain resurrections, just as much as Jesus did! This is the full pattern

Christos Anesti! Christ is Risen! Tuesday of the Second Week of Pascha: Through the Cross, Joy! (Part II)

This descent, this final and ultimate penetration into the realm of the dead, is accomplished once and for all. It frees patriarch, prophet, and king. But at the same time it frees us, liberating us from the consequences of death. The hand that reaches out to grasp the hands of Adam and Eve reaches out to embrace their descendants as well: every “Adam” who responds to His gesture with longing and with faith. We, like

Inner Stillness: Contemplation as Transformation

SPIRITUAL AUTHORS TELL us that we need to spend some time every day being still, either seated or standing. They encourage us to have a “prayer word”-the Jesus Prayer, the single name “Jesus,” some other short prayer, or silence. Our quest for a spiritual life pivots on quiet time and intimacy with Christ. Our quiet time can be part of our personal prayer rule as directed by our spiritual father. The usual directive is to

Stillness and Silence: Speaking of Silence (Part I)

Abba Poemen said, “In Abba Pambo we see three bodily activities; abstinence from food until the evening every day, silence, and much manual work.”26 A brother asked Abba Poemen, “Is it better to speak or to be silent?” The old man said to him, “The man who speaks for God’s sake does well; but he who is silent for God’s sake also does well.”27 Stillness provides an environment for silence. Abba Poemen understands silence as

The Third Day of Christmas Advent. An Illegal Christmas

By Father Stephen Freeman The great advantage to thinking about God in legal terms, is that nothing has to change. If what happens between us and God is entirely external, a matter of arranging things such as the avoidance of eternal punishment or the enjoyment of eternal reward, then the world can go on as it is. In the legal model that dominates contemporary Christian thought, the secular world of things becomes nothing more than

Jesus: Forgiving Victim

It seems we always find some way to avoid the transformation of our pain. There’s the way of fight. Fighters are looking for the evil, the sinner, the unjust one, the oppressor, the bad person “over there.” He or she “righteously” attacks, hates, or even kills the wrong-doer, while feeling heroic for doing so (see John 16:2). Philosopher René Girard sees this tendency to scapegoat others as the central story line of human history. Why?


Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgement; because as he is, so are we in this world.  I John 4.17 In many ways the word “society” serves to summarize most or all of that which a non-monastic Christian encounters on a daily basis, but which a desert monk seeks to avoid as a general rule. This includes constant interaction with other human beings, as

Transforming Our Pain

Spirituality is always eventually about what you do with your pain. It seems our culture has lost its own spiritual foundation and center, and as a result we no longer know what to do with universal pain. If we do not transform our pain, we will always transmit it–to our partner, our spouse, our children, our friends, our coworkers, our “enemies.” Usually we project it outward and blame someone else for causing our pain. In

Patience (Part V): Patience Provides Space for Daily Repentance and Transformation

Abba Antony said: Having therefore made a beginning, and set out already on the way to virtue, let us press forward to what lies ahead. And let none turn back as Lot’s wife did, especially since the Lord said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and turns back is fit for the Kingdom of heaven.” Now “turning back” is nothing except feeling regret and once more thinking about things of the world.

The Cell, Meeting God and Ourselves (Part X) The Cell and the World

The Cell and the World  Is anachoresis a rejection of the inhabited world? Is the solitude and inwardness of the cell a selfish endeavor? The desert abbas and ammas helped form a wider Christian monastic tradition that combines seeking God with conversion of life. In the cell the monk risks all in the battle between the ego (subjectivity) and openness to the Other. Through ascetic praxis the boundaries of the self are extended beyond itself