Category Archives: Orthodox Christianity

reading list

I was asked to coffee today by a Roman Catholic woman who spent Great Lent, Holy Week and Pascha with our church in Mesa. She heads home to Washington next week and wondered what books I might recommend for her continuing journey towards Orthodoxy.I do not consider it complete. It was written at the spur of the moment and is on the back of a receipt. I would like to note that I am not recommending the Philokalia. She had already purchased the Philokalia from a monastery and I was redirecting her to Tito Coliander’s excellent little book…

Two friends have already suggested that Facing East by Frederica Mathews-Greene should be on the list. What other books would you recomend?

reading list written in a Starbucks on a receipt..



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Paschal Joy

Paschal Joy


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Holy Tuesday: The Hymn of St. Kassiane

At Bridegroom Orthros on Great and Holy Tuesday, the Church sings the following hymn by St. Kassiane:

O Lord, the woman who had fallen into many sins, perceiving Thy divinity, fulfilled the part of a myrrh-bearer; and with lamentations she brought sweet-smelling oil of myrrh to Thee before Thy burial. ‘Woe is me,’ she said, ‘for night surrounds me, dark and moonless, and stings my lustful passion with the love of sin. Accept the fountain of my tears, O Thou who drawest down from the clouds the waters of the sea. Incline to the groanings of my heart, O Thou who in Thine ineffable self-emptying hast bowed down the heavens. I shall kiss Thy most pure feet and wipe them with the hairs of my heads, those feet whose sound Eve heard at dusk in Paradise and hid herself for fear. Who can search out the multitude of my sins and the abyss of Thy judgments, O Saviour of my soul? Despise me not, Thine handmaiden, for Thou hast mercy without measure.


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Lazarus Saturday Baptisms and Chrismations

We had a bumper crop of converts yesterday. 6 baptisms and 10 chrismations! Enjoy these great pictures!


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a little bit is enough

This past Sunday we heard a father and son story. This father’s son is possessed and can neither hear nor speak. The boy is overtaken and is sometimes thrown into fire to be burned up or into water to be drowned. The father takes his son to the disciples who aren’t fasting or praying and so can’t free the child. Jesus questions the father who says,

Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief.

This is not a riddle. This is what God does to the soul. He takes our unbelief, and if there’s the slightest seed of belief in us, he makes it grow. In St. Matthew’s Gospel, He explains that if your faith is as a mustard seed, God will do anything. A mustard seed is tiny; you can barely see it.

According to the fathers we are like the boy because we do not hear the Word of God and we do not speak out to praise of God. But, it is also true that we are like the father of the boy. We have a little belief mixed in with some unbelief. But that little bit of belief is enough for the Lord to act.

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Filed under Orthodox Christianity, Scripture Rumination

The Cross is the Wardrobe

Procession of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross

The third Sunday of Great Lent Orthodox Christians venerate the precious and life-giving cross. It is the same hand cross that the congregation comes forward to kiss at the end of every service as the priest says, “The blessing of the Lord and His Mercy come upon you.” But on this Sunday the priest lifts the cross over his head and processes to the middle of the church as the choir and the people sing, “Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal: Have mercy on us.” When the priest reaches the doors into the altar area he lifts the cross up and sings out, “Wisdom! Let us attend!” Immediately the choir and the people begin singing the apolytikion of the cross:

O Lord, save thy people, and bless thine inheritance. Granting to thy people victory over all their adversaries; and by the power of thy cross, preserve thy community.

Here is the theological one-two punch:

It is at this point that that entire congregation sings three times and makes three prostrations:

We adore thy cross, O Master, and thy holy resurrection we glorify.

The choir then chants:

Come, ye faithful, let us adore the life-giving wood, on which Christ the King of glory, stretched out his hands of his own will. To the ancient blessedness he raised us up, whom the enemy had before despoiled through pleasure, making us exiles far from God. Come, ye faithful, let us adore the wood, through which we have been made worthy to crush the heads of invisible enemies. Come, all ye kindred of the nations, let us honor in hymns the cross of the Lord. Rejoice, O cross, complete redemption of fallen Adam. With thee as their boast our faithful kings laid low by thy might the people of Ishmael. We Christians kiss thee now with fear and, glorifying God who was nailed upon thee, we cry: O Lord, who on the cross was crucified, have mercy on us, for thou art good and lovest mankind.

Veneration of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross

When I kissed the cross my cheeks brushed the flowers that surround it. I thought immediately of the kids in C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe who brushed the fur coats in the wardrobe as they past from this earth to the kingdom of Narnia. The Cross is the Wardrobe. It is the ladder from earth to heaven.


Source of pictures

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an abundant flow of light: zeal for fasting in great lent

You know that decent penitence accompanied by tears that spring from the depth of the heart will melt and burn away the filth of sin. Light a fire and make pure the soul that has been defiled. In addition, penitence through the visitation of the Spirit generously imparts an abundant flow of light to the soul, whereby it is filled with mercy and good fruits (James 3:17). I pray, therefore, fathers and brethren, let us use fasting both during this third week of Lent and in those that follow, as we daily add fervor to fervor and zeal to zeal, until we arrive at the Sunday of Easter with souls and bodies alike resplendent.  St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Discourses, Page 174

If you want to read more about St. Symeon, I wrote about my love for St. Symeon and his writings here.

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Filed under Flames of Wisdom, Orthodox Christianity