Christ, the Cosmos, and Icons

adam_reation_iconic1My M.A. adviser, Pr. Aristeides Papadakis, is a Byzantinist of the fist order. He published two books, both still available via St. Vladimir’s Seminary press, along with a number of articles. He lived in Georgetown, and thus could walk to Dumbarton Oaks where he went most days to read and research. After he published his Byzantium and the Rise of the Papacy, and then shepherded it through its subsequent French edition, he took up the great topic of Byzantine Monasticism, but set it aside, after some years’ work, for another project, pressed on him by others. I saw him last Fall, the guest of John Neumann University and Fr. John Perich for an exhibition, and he was the evening’s speaker, giving a lecture on the Schism. As always, he was masterful. Continue reading

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St. Benedict to help us begin Lent

saint-benedict-of-nursiaWith Forgiveness Vespers tonight begins Great Lent. A time of reflection, abstemiousness, discipline both physical and spiritual, Lent calls us anew to examine our lives in the light of the demands of the Gospel. The Lenten season bids us, in a way that also the prayers before Holy Communion do, to think about life in the light of death, that is, in the light of impending judgment, of the imminent confrontation with God. Truly we meet God in the Chalice as surely as we shall meet Him at death, or at the world’s last night. Lenten struggle culminates on Great and Holy Saturday when, at the place of the Alleluia we sing “Arise Oh God and judge the earth,” when the paraments are changed from black to white, and the resurrection is announced. Here, death is swallowed by life, and our life is now hidden with Christ. (NB: I know Lent ends formally at the Vespers for Lazarus Saturday.) Continue reading

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A Violent Revelation: two brutes get it!

cosmic liturgy imageThe Epistle

For see your vocation, brethren, that there are not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble: But the foolish things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the wise; and the weak things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the strong. And the base things of the world, and the things that are contemptible, hath God chosen, and things that are not, that he might bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his sight. But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and justice, and sanctification, and redemption: That, as it is written: He that glories, let him glory in the Lord. And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not in loftiness of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of Christ. For I judged not myself to know anything among you, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not in the persuasive words of human wisdom, but in shewing of the Spirit and power; That your faith might not stand on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. Continue reading

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Life and Death with St. Mary of Egypt

MaryEgyptTShirtFlyerSometimes I think I have a lot to live for. There are lots of things in my life that outwardly seem to be going great. I will have a book out this year, plus several articles, and at least two more books in the pipeline. My wife and I hope to move, the Institute seems on track, and my department is doing well. I could go through a whole litany of things that seem great with friends and family. There are certainly things of tragic moment that I don’t want to minimize, and indeed there are some truly crushing matters that could easily overcome me at anytime. Such matters make my above happiness prove shallow. For indeed the only thing that can really give my life purpose and beatitude, in the end, is something to die for, something greater than my own wretched designs and desires that points to that which is greater than my own petty expectations. It’s not that I think my scholarship, my marriage, the Institute, inter alia, inconsequential ephemera. No, the question, in short is, am I a disciple? Continue reading

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Getting carried away on an Eucharistic question

cosmic liturgy imageAn acquaintance of mine who with his family converted to Orthodoxy almost two years ago emailed me earlier today. We touch base through email largely. I should say, he is the one kind enough to contact me. He jumped to Orthodoxy from Presbyterianism of a rather hotter sort, and thus had lots of questions. Sadly, I have only been able to answer a few of them. But today he wrote me about someone from his Presbyterian past with whom he stays in fairly close contact, who had asked him how the Orthodox would respond to the Calvinist objection to Lutheran Eucharistic teaching: that they have to ascribe to the human nature (body/blood) of Christ something (ubiquity/omniprescence) that is proper only to the divine nature (which he said goes against the Chalcedonian denial of the communication of properties between the divine and human natures of Christ). Below is an expansion of the response I gave him. Continue reading

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Prayer and Grief

Sunday a week ago a dear friend of my wife’s took her life. It was senseless not in the way that most people talk about, but from the perspective that no one saw it coming at all, even her closest friend, her cousin with whom she spoke frequently. There were all sorts of reactions, from confusion to anger. Some anger was of the blackest and darkest kind, consigning this poor lady to Hell for what she had done, a lady who had spent all her life helping and working with others: bringing food to the sick (she brought meals to our house when my wife went through a bout of thyroid cancer), and working with the teenage girls in her parish and at a local college. In short, no one can figure out why this happened. She despaired, and in that one moment she acted as though she had no hope. Continue reading

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Blog Abuse: come see the violence inherent in the system!

CusanusAs some of you know, my life has been consumed with trying to get an Orthodox Institute started at my university (you can find out more here and here). Even though things are moving slower than what I had hoped, all such difficulties are negligible really, as most of the people at Eastern are gung-ho for this enterprise, even people I had thought would be resistive. Of course the greatest support has come from the Orthodox of the area, and from across the jurisdictions. I have een travelling, speaking, meeting, and praying for the past seven months about getting the Institute off the ground. This has kept my spirits afloat in an otherwise difficult time, but difficult only in the sense that I have almost no time for other things (sadly, this blog). But what else have I been doing? Continue reading

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