The Liturgical Theme of the Sunday of Forgiveness, The Casting out of Adam from Paradise. The prerequisite for true forgiveness.

What is the dominant liturgical theme of Forgiveness Sunday? This is not a trick question. It is NOT that we would forgive our brethren. The theme is concerning the absolute prerequisite for us to be able to forgive others. Without this virtue, we are lost, having darkened understanding, and blindly stumbling through life. …

As we think, so we live. Almost Heaven, West Virginia. Pilgrimage to the Hermitage of the Holy Cross, Wayne, WV Part 1

Account of Pre-Lenten Retreat to the Hermitage of the Holy Cross, Wayne, WV. Part 1. Introduction, and concerning thoughts. Pictures of Priest Seraphim with friends at the monastery trapaza, and with the goats at the goat barn.

I traveled to the Hermitage of the Holy Cross in West Virginia right after theSunday of the Publican and Pharisee[1] in order to get myself ready for Great Lent. I needed what they call in the world an “attitude adjustment” – in the Christian faith this is accomplished by repentance, prayer and (good) activity. I was also going to see Hierodeacon Sergius for the first time since he came to the “monastery of his repentance”[2], not long he was baptized at St Nicholas, and also old friends Igumen Seraphim, Hieromonk Andrew, and Mother Theodora, whom I knew in St Louis before the Hermitage began. …

Murphy’s law and molebens. Logismoi. How to think about personal intercessory prayer.

We all know about “Murphy’s Law” – “If anything can go wrong, it will”. It has many corollaries, and is sometimes funny in context. But it is not funny when applied to real life – and by this I mean our inner life, in which we gain our salvation.

There is an “occupational hazard” in the pastoral life, which, I believe afflicts all but the truly humble and perfected. It consists of “Murphy’s law type of thinking – “logismoi” – negative thoughts.

I have these thoughts, and they are like mosquitoes – very hard to get rid of – and the best way to deal with them is to ignore them and just keep doing the right thing….

Quiet and healing for the soul. Monday Moleben and Akathist

Last night I arrived early at church to prepare for the regular Monday Moleben with Akathist, and to await the arrival of someone for an appointment. We have served a Moleben each week for a long time, with prayer for a long list of names – all of our parish members, our parish “sort of” members, friends from other local parishes and a long list of people on our public prayer list, who have requested prayer.

It is one of the most important things I do. It is also often quite hard to do. This is because of me; anything in which the soul feels heavy and does not want to do something is because of us. Let’s be honest here. We all have weak faith, and the best we can do if we want to eventually have real, warm and perfect faith is to be like the son in the parable who at first said he would not go into the field to work, but later repented, and went to work. Our Lord tells us that he did the will of his father, and not the other son who said he would go, but did not.

This parable has always been a great comfort to me. It tells me that I can receive a blessing even from imperfect obedience, and that the most important part of obedience is not what we say or feel, but what we do. This describes a lot of stuff that I do, or, often, describes the way I start to do things. …

“Parable” of the healing of the blind man of Bethsaida. I see men as trees.

Today’s Gospel reading is much like a parable. It is a factual recounting of the healing of the blind man at Bethsaida, and is one of the shortest recountings of a healing in the Gospels, but it has a very important and rare detail – and this detail makes it also a type of parable for us.

The blind man was healed by degrees, and not all at once, as in almost every other healing of Jesus. The first, partial healing, was that a man who formerly could not see anything could now “see men as trees, walking” – that is – he could see poorly, fuzzily. After Jesus put his hands again on him and made him look up … he could see clearly.

This can be thought of as a “parable” describing all spiritual healing. ….

All dogs do not go to heaven but most dogs have some heaven in them. Sasha

It looks like my dear friend Sasha is in her last days….

I do not have any illusions about dogs. I don’t have any patience for all that new age stuff. They do not go to heaven, and they are not angels. They have a soul, as all animals do, but their soul is not eternal. When they die, they pass out of existence, but while they live, the exceptional ones are a great gift from our creator, and Sasha has been so good to me so many times, than I have thought of her as a kind of “guardian angel”. …

A text that Elder Porphyrios loved. By St Symeon the New Theologion.

We should look upon all the faithful as one person and consider that Christ is in each one of them

By St Symeon the New Theologion
A text that Elder Porphyrios loved.

Icon of Elder Porphyrios, originally from

Elder Porphyrios persistently taught that our love for our fellow man should be such that we look upon them as we look upon ourselves. At one time he had asked one of his spiritual children to photocopy the following article of St. Symeon, the New Theologian, which was handed out to his visitors. …