Metropolitan Hilarion: Life is given for us to exercise in virtue

Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev by Metropolitan Hilarion –
But there in one thing that we all should know: life is given for us to exercise in virtue and to get rid of vices, sinful habits and inclinations. If the Lord lost hope for our reformation He would put an end to our earthly life to make us move into a different existence. If the Lord has patience for us here, on earth, it means that there is a hope for our reformation. […]

On April 3, the Fourth Sunday of Lent when the memory of St. John Climacus is celebrated, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations, celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the church of Our Lady the Joy to All the Afflicted in Moscow.

After the service, the DECR chairman greeted the archpastors present in the church and delivered a sermon reminding the faithful that the Church commemorated on that day St. John Climacus known to most believers as the author of the book The Ladder of Divine Ascent. He said:

“This book was written in the 7th century for the monks on Mount Sinai, but it is still relevant today. It presents the entire spiritual life of a Christian as a ladder of ascent to God. [Read more…]


To Seek God and to Let Oneself Be Found by Him

Faith and Reason Define Christianity by Deacon Keith Fournier –
Naturally, the humility of reason is always needed, in order to accept it: man’s humility, which responds to God’s humility

Christians of the nascent Church did not regard their missionary proclamation as propaganda, but as an inner necessity, consequent upon the nature of their faith: the God in whom they believed was the God of all people, the one, true God, who had revealed himself in the history of Israel and ultimately in his Son, thereby supplying the answer for which all people, in their innermost hearts, are waiting. […]

Yesterday, I covered the launch of Pope benedict XVI’s outreach called “The Court of the Gentiles” intended to encourage a dialogue with non-believers. The effort debuted in Paris over the weekend. It already has appointments in Tirana, Albania, Stockholm, Sweden, numerous locations in the United Sates, Canada and Asia. This effort is the inspiration of Pope Benedict XVI, the Missionary Pope, and is being led by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi who heads the Vatican’s culture office. [Read more…]


The Reasonableness of Christianity

Jesus Christ - Lord God and Saviorby Jack Kerwick –
Contrary to atheistic boilerplate, Christianity is anything but a crutch for the weak minded and timid hearted. Christians have gone to great lengths over the centuries to show that, while reason is no substitute for faith, and while it can never occupy anything other than a subordinate position with respect to the latter, reason can indeed establish at least the probability of God’s existence. Some Christians have gone further than this to argue that God’s existence is rationally demonstrable — that is, that it can be established with certainty by reason alone.

St. Anselm, the eleventh century bishop of Canterbury, is famous for his “ontological proof” for God. Anselm tried to show that there was no way that God can’t exist. The idea of God, Anselm reasoned, is the idea of a being “than which none greater can be conceived.” When the atheist and the theist deny and affirm God’s existence respectively, it is this idea that they have in mind. But since it is better for a being to have existence than for it to lack it, and since God is, by definition, the best, the conclusion is inescapable: God necessarily exists. It is no more possible, logically, to affirm the idea of God while simultaneously denying His real existence than it is possible to affirm the definition of a “bachelor” while denying that a bachelor is an unmarried man. [Read more…]


We Should Not Despair, Even If We Sin Many Times

St Peter of Damascus by St. Peter of Damascus –
Even if you are not what you should be, you should not despair. It is bad enough that you have sinned; why in addition do you wrong God by regarding Him in your ignorance as powerless? Is He, who for your sake created the great universe that you behold, incapable of saving your soul? And if you say that this fact, as well as His incarnation, only makes your condemnation worse, then repent; and He will receive your repentance, as He accepted that of the prodigal son (cf. Luke 15:20) and the prostitute (cf. Luke 7:37-50).

But if repentance is too much for you, and you sin out of habit even when you do not want to, show humility like the publican (cf. Luke 18:13): this is enough to ensure your salvation. For he who sins without repenting, yet does not despair, must of necessity regard himself as the lowest of creatures, and will not dare to judge or censure anyone. Rather, he will marvel at God’s compassion, and will be full of gratitude towards his Benefactor, and so receive many other blessings as well. [Read more…]


What Is Hell Like? Does It Even Exist?

Hell is what happens when human beings say to the God in whose image they were made, we don’t want to worship You. We don’t want our human life to be shaped by worshiping You. We don’t want who we are as humans to be transformed by the love of Jesus dying and rising for us. We don’t want any of that. We want to stay as we are and do our own thing.
[Read more…]


Russian Orthodox Leader Stands for Principle

Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev
Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev

by Janice S. Crouse and George Tryfiates –
The “great man” theory of history — that strong, unique, and highly influential individuals shape history (for good or ill) through their commanding personal characteristics that imbue them with power and influence over a specific period of time or during certain circumstances — may not be as widely accepted today among professional historians as in the past, but for many of us there is no denying what our own experience shows us: An individual’s influence can have dramatic impact in specific situations or historic eras.

One contemporary leader who has that potential is Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev of Moscow, who serves the Patriarch of Moscow as chairman of External Relations for the Russian Orthodox Church. [Read more…]


In Defense Of The Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree Not Pagan, Christian Originby Fr. Daniel Daly –
Our Christmas tree is derived, not from the pagan yule tree, but from the paradise tree adorned with apples on December 24 in honor of Adam and Eve. The Christmas tree is completely biblical in origin.

Several years ago during the Christmas season, a religious program on television caught my attention. The program featured a discussion on the dangers of cults, especially to young people. I found myself agreeing with the panelists as they warned young people about the hazards of involvement in occult or “new age” spirituality.

During the interview, however, one participant made a statement that shocked me: “…and the Christmas tree is pagan too…,” he asserted. The Christmas Tree? Pagan? Could it be that something most of us enjoy so much might be actually pagan in origin? Despite its growing commercialization, the Christmas tree is still associated with the fondest memories of our early childhood. Who does not remember approaching the tree on Christmas morning? [Read more…]


Knowing God, Crucial to Living as a Christian

Knowing God Packer
Eminent Christian theologian J.I. Packer’s best known book is Knowing God. In the book he emphasizes that a lifelong pursuit of knowing God should embody the Christian’s existence. According to Packer, however, Christians have become enchanted by modern skepticism and have joined the gigantic conspiracy of misdirection by failing to put first things first.

11/30/2010 – Chuck Colson –

According to Packer, studying the nature and character of God isn’t, as many Christians suppose, abstract and theoretical, but, instead, the most practical project we can undertake. This knowledge is crucial to living as a Christian.

In fact, attempting to live the Christian life without this knowledge isn’t only foolish, it’s a kind of self-cruelty—denying ourselves the riches of our own faith. [Read more…]


The Glory of Humility

St. John the Baptist
St. John the Baptist

11/15/2010 – Deacon Douglas McManaman –
The word ‘human’ comes from the Latin ‘humus’, which means ‘dirt’ or ‘soil’. Man is from the earth.

I often tell my students that what they learn in the course of a semester, in their math class, for example, or in their chemistry classes, or physics, etc., took centuries for the most brilliant human beings to uncover. Once it has been uncovered, however, it appears to be so simple. Why did it take so long? This is true especially for philosophy. It takes years and years to dispose the intellect to learn such abstract truths, and from these truths it is possible to go on to demonstrate, through reason alone, the existence of God, and it is also possible, through reason alone, to show that God is one, eternal, the source of all that is good and beautiful, that He is Beauty Itself, Goodness Itself, and Truth Itself. And when we finally come to see it, we inevitably think: “This is so clear and simple; why did it take years to get this?”

The reason is that human beings, by nature, are slow. We are the highest beings on the hierarchy of material beings, but we are the lowest beings on the hierarchy of God’s intellectual creatures. [Read more…]


Go With God

Nov. 2010 – Stanley Hauerwas –
An open letter to young Christians on their way to college
“The Christian religion,” wrote Robert Louis Wilken, “is inescapably ritualistic (one is received into the Church by a solemn washing with water), uncompromisingly moral (‘be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect,’ said Jesus), and unapologetically intellectual (be ready to give a ‘reason for the hope that is in you,’ in the words of 1 Peter). Like all the major religions of the world, Christianity is more than a set of devotional practices and a moral code: it is also a way of thinking about God, about human beings, about the world and history.”

Ritualistic, moral, and intellectual: May these words, ones that Wilken uses to begin his beautiful book, The Spirit of Early Christian Thought, be written on your soul as you begin college and mark your life—characterize and distinguish your life—for the next four years. Be faithful in worship. In America, going to college is one of those heavily mythologized events that everybody tells you will “change your life,” which is probably at least half true. So don’t be foolish and imagine that you can take a vacation from church. [Read more…]


Liberty, Youth, and Fidelity to Truth in the Open Society

Dr. Pedro Blas González
Dr. Pedro Blas González

10/16/2010 – Pedro Blas González –
Traveling through the world today, I get the vivid impression that a vast number of the people I meet are living with the self-conscious belief that life is a purposeless thing to be occupied with pointless, daily tasks. I encounter this in spontaneous conversations that arise in diverse places, and with many different people. I am never surprised to hear this same complaint from others. I find it important to listen intently to what others have to say in this matter.

I suppose that to some ears this may sound presumptuous on my part. After all, we are living in a time when most people claim the right to be critics. Critics are everyone in our age. This is as comical as it is deplorable. People who have never studied or read history, literature, philosophy or much of anything else of lasting value are more interested in attacking the contemplative character of genuine ideas than they are in learning and incorporating these in their own lives. And, if these critics perceive or imagine that they are in the presence of a morally upright, righteous person, then they intensify their resistance to knowledge, to advice, to the other person before them like beasts of burden who grudgingly anticipate a difficult task. Unfortunately, today cynicism has filled in the vacuum where virtue once ruled. [Read more…]


Anne Rice Loses Her Religion

9/26/2010 – Miguel A. Guanipa –
“I quit being a Christian.” “I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of … Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”

In this Tweeter feed read around the world of pubescent vampire novel bookworms, author Anne Rice — who claims to have become a Christian a few years ago — resolved once and for all to forswear the faith. A rather momentous decision, betraying a crass impetuosity on her part, but also a welcomed vindication of G.K. Chesterton’s keen observation that many refuse to seriously engage Christianity not because it has been tried and found wanting, but because “it has been found difficult and left untried.” [Read more…]


St. John Chrysostom vs. Communism

St. John Chrysostomby Editors –
This quote was supposedly written by St. John Chrysostom. Those warnings regarding core principles that form the foundation of socialist/communist ideologies should have been heeded by the Church and taught to the people.

St. John Chrysostom:

“Should we look to kings and princes to put right the inequalities between rich and poor? Should we require soldiers to come and seize the rich person’s gold and distribute it among his destitute neighbors? Should we beg the emperor to impose a tax on the rich so great that it reduces them to the level of the poor and then to share the proceeds of that tax among everyone? Equality imposed by force would achieve nothing, and do much harm. Those who combined both cruel hearts and sharp minds would soon find ways of making themselves rich again. [Read more…]


Work and the Two Great Love Commandments

Work: The Meaning of Your Life - A Christian Perspective9/4/2010 – Jordan Ballor –

Amid the threat of a “double-dip” recession, and the ongoing plight of joblessness across America, this Labor Day is bittersweet for many. For those who have the gift of employment, the right to work can seem more like a privilege. And for those looking for work, the hope of being hired soon can sometimes seem more like a fantasy. But it is precisely in this kind of challenging economic environment that we can most clearly see the blessing that work is both to ourselves and to one another.

For ourselves, work helps give life meaning and purpose. Human beings are naturally productive, tending, when unimpeded, to use our minds and hands to make things, to be creative. The very term “manufacturing” comes from root words that mean “making by hand.” Indeed, God has set up the world in such a way that work is a blessing, the way he provides for us to provide for ourselves and our families. The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer in this context called work God’s “order of grace,” the regular means he has given to take care of our material needs. Anyone who has been out of work knows this to be true: having a job and receiving a paycheck is a great blessing. [Read more…]


Godly and Ungodly Violence

St Andrew Orthodox Church8/25/2010 – Fr. Josiah Trenham –

A Parishioner Inquires: “I understand that Leo Tolstoi was an excommunicant of the Orthodox church, but in his book The Kingdom of God is Within You, he raises an interesting question. Tolstoi posits that since Christ commands us to ‘resist not’, and to ‘turn the other cheek’, we should not resist physically anybody who would harm us. I have never been able to reconcile this notion to my own experience in life, considering that on more than one occasion, in order to protect those for whom I care, I have resorted to violence or to the threat of violence. In addition, in the life of Father Arseny, there is a passage in which a soldier-turned-priest beats a group of would-be rapists to preserve the honor of his wife. He experiences a measure of guilt for this, but is consoled by his bishop, since the safety of another was concerned. Can you give me an idea of the Orthodox position on the use of violence as a defensive measure?”

Fr. Josiah writes, “We have 20 centuries of warrior saints. Some of our greatest are St. George, St. Demetrios, St. Theodore the General, etc. They were men who utilized immense physical force to suppress evil and defeat injustice. [Read more…]