Category: Icons

  • A Crisis of Beauty

    There is a crisis of beauty within my culture. That is a very kind way to say that much of the world around me, at least the civilizational part, is ugly. It is not an ugliness born of poverty (though poverty is very ugly around here) – unless we understand that there is a poverty…

  • Theophany and the Gates of Hades

    For an Orthodox priest, the services of the Church involve many “comings and goings.” Part of any service takes place within the altar area, which is usually enclosed by an iconostasis, a wall on which icons are hung. The wall does not truly separate one area of the Church from another so much as it…

  • The Mystery of Christ’s Baptism

    This week, the Church moves from the feast of Christmas to the feast of Theophany – the celebration of the Baptism of Christ. The intent of this feast is not to celebrate a succession of historical events (the Baptism of Christ is at least 30 years later than His birth). Rather this feast takes us into the depths of…

  • Empty Ritual

    For the first two decades of my life I thought that “empty” always had to be said in front of the word “ritual.” It speaks volumes about a certain understanding of the world in which we live and the nature of its relationship to God. Time and experience have given me a radically different take…

  • The Word within the Word – The Sacrament of Time

    Perhaps the most beautiful passage in all of Scripture is the prologue of St. John’s Gospel: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that…

  • Icons in a Literal World

    The Scripture tells us that the “pure in heart shall see God.” I have always assumed that this describes a present event and not a promise about a distant life after death. We do not see God now, because our hearts are not pure. In the same manner, we do not see the reality of…

  • Looking Like Christmas

    One of the most striking features of the Gospels is the frequent response of the Disciples after the resurrection of Christ: doubt. I have always been sympathetic to the doubts and hesitations that accompanied their ministry during the ministry of Christ. They are almost endearing in their inability to grasp what Christ is all about.…

  • Heaven On Their Minds

    Years ago, I recall hearing someone complain about zealous Christians, “They are so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good.” The truth of the statement depends entirely on the understanding of heaven and earth. It is possible to pursue a version of “heaven” such that the spiritual life is undermined. It is also…

  • The Hypostatic Nearness of You (A Repost)

    Originally posted in February 2007. I have updated a few things. It is a piece that is quite relevant as my youngest child graduates high school this week. The fullness only grows. Sometimes I sit down to write with an idea and I know that I am either getting ready to write something good, or…

  • Beauty and the Salvation of the World

    Thus the most persuasive philosophic proof of God’s existence is the one the textbooks never mention, conclusion of which can perhaps best express the whole meaning: There exists the icon of the Holy Trinity by St. Andrei Rublev; therefore, God exists. – from Pavel Florensky’s Iconostasis This short quote from St. Pavel Florensky’s Iconostasis is among the most startling…


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Latest Comments

  1. Fr Stephen, About editing older versions of your posts. Yesterday, I came across a most excellent post from 23rd May…

  2. About those “Christian Romance” novels you mentioned: there is a certain irony that properly-written romances with strong Christian undercurrents aren’t…

  3. The consumer-driven religious life has resulted in Churches that major in personal fulfillment with little attention to doctrine and sacrament.…

  4. Fr. Stephen, At times like this I find it helpful to remind myself that God promised the fullness of life,…


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