Friday, August 29, 2014


Recently I caught the tail end of a discussion on Facebook ("Ask about the Orthodox Faith") with a man who was obviously some sort of Protestant.  As such, he had little patience for those of us who honor and exalt the Theotokos as our fervent intercessor and protector as we traverse the storm tossed waters of this earthly life. 

This man-- his spiritual sight darkened by the delusions engendered by the Babylonian Captivity of the Western "Church"--insisted that Mary was merely a mortal human being "like the rest of us," and so she died and was buried and will not arise again until the General Resurrection--when our Lord returns to judge the living and the dead.

So then...where are her relics?  After all, relics have been preserved down through the centuries of virtually every saint on the Church calendar.  Yet there are and never have been any pilgrimages organized to venerate the relics at the tomb of the Mother of God.  As for the assumption that all human flesh must await the General Resurrection, I ask...what of the Holy Prophet Elijah, who ascended from this earth in a chariot?  What of Enoch, who was "translated" by the power of God?  Scripture affirms that both of these saints will return in the End Times to bare bold witness against the Antichrist in Jerusalem.

In any case, the Orthodox Church does not teach that Mary did not die.  Dormition means "falling asleep."  As a mortal being, Mary truly died and was buried, but she was subsequently translated into heaven body and soul by the power of God.  After all, it was the same God Who created all things out of nothing Who raised Lazarus the Four Days Dead from the tomb and Who raised the bodies of the saints around Jerusalem at His Crucifixion, that they might bear witness to His glorious Resurrection. 

Nor should we say that the Theotokos was "just" an ordinary mortal like the rest of us.  As the Mother of God, she is the perfect flower of the human race--more honorable than the Cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim.  She who preserved her virginity while giving birth--the Panagia (all pure)--was surely preserved from corruption in the grave. 

The Dormition reveals to us the glory and honor God has bestowed upon the entire human race--the crown of His creation.  We are all called to the same perfection achieved by the Theotokos, to become gods by grace.  Though she is indeed human like the rest of us, she has been granted the authority to intercede for us sinners before the Throne of God, covering with her mantle of protection all those who call upon her with faith.

Monday, August 18, 2014


"If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."  What are we to make of this passage?  Is Jesus exaggerating a bit, or is what He says literally true?  Indeed, it does sound rather like the "magical thinking" characteristic of childhood: if we believe something strongly enough, it will surely happen.

As we mature into adulthood, however, we learn very soon that no matter how strongly we desire something and how firm our belief that it will happen, things seldom work out in our lives according to our expectations. 

Obviously Jesus isn't say that if only we believe something strongly enough, it will happen. True Christian faith isn't simply a matter of believing, or "claiming the promise," according to certain "possibility" cults.  Faith is the product of our relationship with the living God.

Genuine faith presupposes that we are living our lives (or at least striving to) in communion with the triune God, aligning our personal desires with His perfect will, so that in the end we "cease to exist" as self centered individuals, saying with  St. Paul, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ liveth in me."

Unfortunately, we too often behave like little children in the thralls of magical thinking, wanting what we want because we think we want it....but if truth be told, we seldom really know what we want.  As the saying goes, Be careful what you wish may get it.

If our faith in God is genuine, we will never consider that He bend His perfect will to our own self-centered desires.  Rather, we must cast aside our egocentric thoughts and desires, affirming with the Theotokos, " "Let it be unto me according to Thy word."  Only then can our faith work miracles: when that which we desire conforms to the perfect will of God.

Monday, August 11, 2014


"For other foundation  can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."  Now it is  obvious that if we are to construct a building, the first and most essential  task  is to dig a deep and solid foundation.  Otherwise the structure will, over the course of time, crack and crumble--and eventually it will collapse.

So it is concerning the life we build for ourselves here on earth: if we choose to build upon the shifting sands of worldly values and deceptions, the temple that we built (for we are  the temple of the Holy Spirit) will sooner or later fall apart--no matter how beautiful and imposing the structure may appear from the outside. 

So our only sure and certain foundation in this ever changing world is our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.  Even so, it behooves us to gather only the finest and most enduring materials to build with, arranging them together most carefully and harmoniously, because--as St. Paul reminds us--our work will one day be tested as though by fire.  Especially must we strive to acquire all the virtues: patience, courage,  humility, longsuffering, meekness, and--above all else--the gift of love in our hearts.

The truth is, if our foundation is Christ, we can easily walk with confidence across the raging and tumultuous sea of this temporal life with no fear of drowning.  If only our faith is firm and deeply rooted, God will surely sustain us and lead us to the safe harbor of His heavenly Kingdom within His holy Church--the only Ark of Salvation.

It is essential, however, that we keep our minds and hearts focused on Jesus, ignoring the tumult of worldly distractions--which is, in the end, nothing more than sound and fury, signifying nothing.  Otherwise we will--like St. Peter--begin to sink.  But even then, we shall surely be saved if only we cry out from the depths of our hearts--as did the Holy Apostle--"Lord, save me!"