“Paul not only urges us to pray, but he teaches us how we should do it. He writes that we should offer our petitions and supplications to God with intensity…Paul is saying that prayer must be vigorous. We might say that for Paul, effective prayer requires intense exertion. It takes a strong effort that overcomes all obstacles…Paul goes on to identify three characteristics of forceful prayer. First, it is vigilant. That is, it is awake, alert, and on guard against diversions.
“…our goal is not to make the world into paradise, but rather to prevent it from becoming hell. Each of us can work to make holiness present in our lives – which means not so much becoming morally perfect as it means allowing Christ into our hearts and homes so that each of us is transformed by the Gospel commandments. We do not need to be sinless, but we do need to be repentant to have Christ in our lives. The Kingdom of God is not established on earth through governments, l
“Once, the monk John the Short told the desert father Poeman that he had asked the Lord to take away his passions. John said that the Lord answered his prayer, and he was at peace: the warfare between flesh and spirit in his heart was over. Poeman replied, “Go and ask the Lord to stir up in you a new battle against the passions. Fighting against temptation is good for the soul.” When the passions attacked John once more, he did not pray for the end of the fight against them.
“Give us this day our daily bread.”…Daily is a misleading translation of the Greek epiousios, which is literally “above the essence” or “super substantial”….In the Lord’s Prayer we are not merely asking for physical health, but for [daily] spiritual nourishment.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Matthew 6:11) “Give us bread today for the coming day,” or “Give us today the bread we need for today.” The term ἐπιούσιος (epiousios) does not occur outside of early Christian literature…so it
“The story of the first sin begins not with a choice, but with a lie. As much as we tend to emphasize “free-will” as the origin and dominant factor of human sin, we do well to remember the true nature of our lives. Things are much more complicated than freedom can account for. Rather, we act in the context of lies and deception, some from outside and some from within. It is only the “truth” that can set us free – that is – only reality as it is constituted by God can set us i
“Hidden under that English translation blessed is the Greek word makarios. This is not the usual word, evlogitos, which literally means “blessed” (as in having a blessing pronounced on one). Makarios is a word from the ancient world that instead referred to the blissful life of the gods in their heavenly realm. It is also used in the Scripture to refer to the joy, the glory, the happiness, the unity, and the love that the faithful angels share with God. Thus, the part of the
“In the Feast of the Holy Cross, the hymnography…makes the statement, “The Tree heals the Tree.” It is one of the marvelous commentaries on the life of grace and its relationship to the human predicament. It refers to the relationship between the Cross of Christ and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The latter was the source of the fruit that Adam and Eve consumed that was the source of their fall from grace. The “Tree that heals” is none other than the Cross of Chr
“In our culture, love has often been reduced – even abused in its over-definition. Almost totally lacking, however, is a practice of honor. I recall a retired colonel (WWII) in my first Anglican parish. He had a deep sense of honor and held matters of the Church in a regard that seemed rare. I enjoyed being with him. I trusted him. On reflection, I can see that he learned honor in the same manner as the Centurion whose servant Jesus healed. The military of his day carried a d
“Acknowledging our emptiness and brokenness, our failures and weakness, is an exercise in confronting shame. It can be quite painful – something we either avoid or cover over with self-loathing. Shame is not self-loathing. Indeed, the energy behind our self-loathing is simply pride (ϕιλαυτία). Self-loathing is consumed with the self and driven by its unwillingness to be that person. Bearing our shame is the willingness to acknowledge the truth of ourselves and our lives as a
“One of the amazing things about our God is God’s willingness to empty Himself in love for us and for our salvation…Though He is the King of Heaven, Christ comes to earth as a servant of humanity….not only does God suffer pain for us through being flogged and then nailed to the cross, those wounds and scars have become a permanent part of His body, even His resurrected body. In fact, Christ cherishes that He was able to suffer for us in order to save us. His wounds which hea