Friday, November 19, 2010

Farewell Blog

Greetings dear bloggers; I started this blog in April of 2009, & since then I have written 155 posts, and the site has seen over 8500 visits. My goal for this blog was to integrate patristic Christian teaching into our contemporary Christian thinking. I hope that the blog has accomplished that goal in some small way.

The time has come for me to shift gears. I am going to move my blogging to a new blog site called “Orthamerica”. In this blog I will focus on describing the orthodox faith of the undivided church, without the additions or subtractions that are common in America’s Christianity. Then, in this blog I will try to imagine what this orthodox faith of undivided church could look like in modern day America, hence the name “Orthamerica”.

Go to the new blog here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ruling the Passions

Since the reformation, and Luther’s rejection of monastic life, western Christianity has considered monasticism to be an expression of Christian living that is to be rejected. As a consequence of this rejection, we in the post-protestant west have lost our understanding of asceticism in general. Below is a short excerpt from an article that explains the central role of asceticism in the life of the Christian.


Asceticism is practiced through the will in prayer to God and for life. On account of the centrality of the will if anything is going to change for the better in our lives it is the sin of pride that must be dealt with first if further progress is to be made. Pride places ourselves where God should be. It replaces His rule for ours. It subverts our relationships with Him and others through all manners of self pre-occupation. In short, pride has to be killed. In abject poverty of spirit we need to come to God and "throw in the towel" as it were and surrender ourselves to Him. Then, and only then can we hope to make progress with the other sins.


Sin's Target

Ascetic Task




Surrender to God

Communion with God




Reconciliation, Forgiveness




Contentment with God's Gifts




Attachment to God alone




Strengthened body and will to serve God




Depth in relationships



Work discipline

Human development

From: Antiochian Orthodox UK

Friday, November 5, 2010

How are we to read the bible?

How are we to read the bible?

“We know, receive, and interpret Scripture through the Church and in the Church.” Our approach to the Bible is not only obedient but ecclesial. The words of Scripture, while addressed to us personally, are at the same time addressed to us as members of a community. Book and Church are not to be separated.

The interdependence of Church and Bible is evident in at least two ways. First, we receive Scripture through and in the Church. The Church tells us what is Scripture. In the first three centuries of Christian history, a lengthy process of sifting and testing was needed in order to distinguish between that which is authentically “canonical” Scripture, bearing authoritative witness to Christ’s person and message, and that which is “apocryphal,” useful perhaps for teaching, but not a normative source of doctrine. Thus, the Church has decided which books form the Canon of the New Testament. A book is not part of Holy Scripture because of any particular theory about its date and authorship, but because the Church treats it as canonical. Suppose, for example, that it could be proved that the Fourth Gospel was not actually written by Saint John the beloved disciple of Christ – in my view, there are in fact strong reasons for continuing to accept John’s authorship – yet, even so, this would not alter the fact that we regard the Fourth Gospel as Scripture. Why? Because the Fourth Gospel, whoever the author may be, is accepted by the Church and in the Church.

Secondly, we interpret Scripture through and in the Church. If it is the Church that tells us what is Scripture, equally it is the Church that tells us how Scripture is to be understood. Coming upon the Ethiopian as he read the Old Testament in his chariot, Philip the Deacon asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

“How can I,” answered the Ethiopian, “unless someone guides me?” (Acts 8:30, 31).

His difficulty is also ours. The words of Scripture are not always self-explanatory. The Bible has a marvelous underlying simplicity, but when studied in detail it can prove a difficult book. God does indeed speak directly to the heart of each one of us during our Scripture reading – as Saint Tikhon says, our reading is a personal dialogue between each one and Christ Himself – but we also need guidance. And our guide is the Church. We make full use of our private understanding; illuminated by the Spirit. We make full use of biblical commentaries and of the findings of modern research. But we submit individual opinions, whether our own or those of the scholars, to the judgment of the Church.

We read the Bible personally, but not as isolated individuals. We say not “I” but “we.” We read as the members of a family. … The decisive criterion of our understanding of what Scripture means is the mind of the Church.

To discover this “mind of the Church,” where do we begin? A first step is to see how Scripture is used in worship. How in particular are biblical lessons chosen for reading at the different feasts? A second step is to consult the writings of the Church Fathers, especially St. John Chrysostom. How do they analyze and apply the text of Scripture? An ecclesial manner of reading the Bible is in this Way both liturgical and patristic. (
Metropolitan Kallistos Ware)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Post Communion Prayer of St. Symeon

O Thou Who givest me willingly Thy Flesh for food,
Thou Who art fire, and burnest the unworthy,
Scorch me not, O my Maker,
But rather pass through me for the integration of my members,
Into all my joints, my affections, and my heart.
Burn up the thorns of all my sins.
Purify my soul, sanctify my mind;
Strengthen my knees and bones;
Enlighten the simplicity of my five senses.
Nail down the whole of me with Thy fear.
Ever protect, guard, and keep me
From every soul-destroying word and act.
Sanctify, purify, attune, and rule me.
Adorn me, give me understanding, and enlighten me.
Make me the habitation of Thy Spirit alone,
And no longer a habitation of sin,
That as Thy house from the entry of communion
Every evil spirit and passion may flee from me like fire.
I offer Thee as intercessors all the sanctified,
The Commanders of the Bodiless Hosts,
Thy Forerunner, the wise Apostles,
And Thy pure and immaculate Mother.
Receive their prayers, my compassionate Christ.
And make Thy slave a child of light.
For Thou alone art our sanctification, O Good One,
And the radiance of our souls,
And to Thee as our Lord and God as is right
We all give glory day and night.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Throw out the guitars and bring back sacred silence – a liturgical wish-list from a young Catholic

It is always wise to listen. In our day, it may be especially wise to listen to some of the younger voices in our parishes.

One such voice said: "Guitars (electric or acoustic), keyboards, recorder and tambourines are, I’m afraid, throwbacks to the 1960s and ‘70s and are simply embarrassing today."

A great article is found at this link:

Throw out the guitars and bring back sacred silence – a liturgical wish-list from a young Catholic

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Litany for "All Saints Day"

The Litany of Intercession

In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, let us pray to the Father saying,

O Lord, hear our prayer.

O Lord, govern and direct your holy Church; fill it with love and truth;

and grant it that unity which is your will.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

Give us boldness to preach the gospel in all the world,

and to make disciples of all the nations.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

Enlighten [N.], our bishop(s), and all your ministers with knowledge and understanding, that by their teaching and their lives they may proclaim your word.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

Give your people grace to hear and receive your word,

and to bring forth the fruit of the Spirit.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

Bring into the way of truth all who have erred and are deceived.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

Strengthen those who stand, comfort and help the faint-hearted;

raise up the fallen; and finally beat down Satan under our feet.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

Guide the leaders of the nations into the ways of peace and justice.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

Guard and strengthen your servant [N.] our President,

that he may put his trust in you, and seek your honor and glory.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

Endue the Congress and the High Court with wisdom and understanding.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

Bless all those who administer the law, that they may uphold justice,

honesty and truth.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

Give us the will to use the fruits of the earth to your glory,

and for the good of all creation.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

Bless and keep all your people.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

Help and comfort the lonely, the bereaved [N.], and the oppressed.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

Keep in safety those who travel [N.], and all who are in danger.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

Heal the sick in body and mind [N.],

and provide for the homeless, the hungry, and the destitute.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

Show your pity on prisoners and refugees, and all who are in trouble.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

Forgive our enemies, persecutors and slanderers, and turn their hearts.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

Hear us as we remember those who have died in the faith of Christ [N.];

and according to your promises, grant us a place in your eternal kingdom with them.

O Lord, hear our prayer.

Rejoicing in the fellowship of the holy Patriarchs, Prophets,

Apostles, Martyrs, The Blessed Virgin Mary, [N.] and all the saints,

we commend ourselves and the whole creation to your unfailing love.