Reflections in Christ

Lenten Reflections

The Pascha No One Wants

By Father John Parsells


True leadership brings people where they need to be but don’t want to go.

No Christian worth their salt believes Christ went to His crucifixion subservient to the Jewish leaders and Roman state. Even though the Jewish high priest, Caiaphas, gave voice to the common plot to put Jesus to death when he said “it would be…

“On behalf of all and for all”

by Fr. Paul Yerger

At the direction of our Archbishop Alexander, I served the Divine Liturgy Sunday with only four people present: the choir director, one singer, one altar server, and myself. I found it to be a very sad experience: what is usually a joyful gathering of the faithful now a handful.

In his letter Archbishop Alexander calls our…

The Joy of the Cross

by Fr. Jonathan Lincoln

“Rejoice in the Lord; rejoice in the Lord; rejoice in the Lord. May the Lord guard your soul and body and spirit from every evil, as well as from every opposition of the devil and every troubling imagination. The Lord will be your light, your protection, your way, your strength, your crown of gladness and eternal help.”

Lenten Distancing

by Matushka Donna Farley

Church closed.

Community members scattered widely.

Weeks without normal daily and weekly routine, without spiritual instruction, without icons to venerate, without Sunday eucharist, without community agape meals.

This was the deliberate practice of the monastery of Abba Zosima in the sixth century Palestinian desert,…

The Triumph of Orthodoxy, Us, and The Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ

By John Lickwar

We have completed the first week of the Great Fast! We began it one week ago by receiving the universal impetus gathered as the Church in worship to surrender our hearts to the direction given at the service of vespers, ‘to cleanse our soul as we cleanse our flesh,’ and ‘to abstain from passion as we abstain from food.’  We do this…

What Kind of Fire?

by Matushka Valerie Zahirsky

The image of fire appears frequently in the Orthodox Church’s prayers and teachings concerning our eternal destiny as human beings. For example, on the Sunday of the Last Judgment (Meatfare Sunday) we sang in the kontakion, “When You, O God, shall come to earth with glory, all things shall tremble, and the river of…

The Last Judgment

Knowing the commandments of the Lord, let this be our way of life:
Let us feed the hungry, let us give the thirsty drink.
Let us clothe the naked, let us welcome strangers.
Let us visit those in prison and the sick.
Then the Judge of all the earth will say even to us:
“Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you”
[Vespers for…

The Prodigal Son: Re-Centering Until Our Last Breath

“God requires of us to go on repenting until our last breath” [Saint Isaias the Solitary].

“Repentance…. It means not self-pity or remorse, but conversion, the re-centering of our whole life upon the Trinity ... It is to see, not what we have failed to be, but what by divine grace we can now become; and it is to act upon what we see” [Metropolitan…

Looking at the Lenten Prayer

I cannot be the only Orthodox pastor to have been asked occasionally by my people about the meaning of the Lenten Prayer of Saint Ephraim the Syrian. In its (OCA) translation, it reads, “O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk. But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience,…

Lives Worth Judging

As we draw closer to the beginning of Great Lent – which begins on Monday, February 19—we are able to set our Lenten efforts against the background of the Last Judgment, thus giving us the “big picture” within which we live our lives and determine our personal destinies.  The Gospel read at the Eucharistic Liturgy this past Sunday—the Sunday…

The Gospel:  Turning things upside down

Yesterday, the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, we entered the season of the Triodion, that vast compilation of lenten hymnography gathered together in one book over the centuries that will guide us through the pre-lenten period, and then on through Great Lent and Holy Week, taking us to the very brink of the Paschal celebration of the Death…

“Earthly Life Ceases”

I came across the phrase “earthly life ceases” at the beginning of an explanation of Holy Week written by the late Father Thomas Hopko.  What could he mean by saying that “earthly life ceases?”  It is certainly not meant to be taken “literally” because, if so, Father Thomas would not be much of a thinker or theologian!  The phrase “earthly life…

Palm Sunday:  Where are You in the Crowd?

Come away with me; let us leave our world and travel back together to the first Palm Sunday in the first century.  Stepping out of our time machine, we see the bright sunshine beating down on us, the dusty road, the jostling, joyful, shouting crowds.  And there, coming down the road from Bethany, with the Mount of Olives towering above on His right,…

Through the Cross… Joy!

“For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comprehension” [2 Corinthians 4:17].

The Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross extends throughout the entire week.  Thus, we continue to “bow down” and venerate the Cross whenever we gather together for any services throughout this week up to, but not…

Great Lent and Fasting in the Age of “the Screen”

“Enlighten me through prayers and fasting” [Forgiveness Vespers].

Within the context of Great Lent and our ascetical effort during this season, commonly called fasting, I would like to raise the issue of not only fasting from certain foods and drink—the most basic aspect of asceticism because of our sheer dependence on food and drink—but also of…

“Now is the Acceptable Time”—Lent as “Beginning”

A “good beginning” to Great Lent can go a long way toward a “good ending.”  Today, on “Pure Monday,” it certainly may seem premature—if not a bit ludicrous—to already allude to the end of Great Lent.  We are just beginning our Lenten journey, and the end is not quite in sight!  But I bring this up with a pastoral purpose in mind.  I have, in…

Bright Sadness

by Father Andrew Morbey


The American poet and Orthodox convert, Scott Cairns, writes in a chapter of God For Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter:

.... at first, I was surely among the crew that Father Alexander Schmemann acknowledges when he writes (in his amazing and very helpful book, Great Lent), “For many, if not for the majority…

A Lenten Reading List

I thought to compile a list of more-or-less Orthodox “lenten classics” upon which you may want to draw as Great Lent approaches.  I have read and re-read these books through the years and they have all had an impact on my spiritual formation.

Each book is quite accessible—no dry theology, just a variety of lively approaches to God and the spiritual…

Holy Week: A Mystic Torrent

As we enter Holy Week, the festal atmosphere of Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday yields to the solemnity, sobriety and sadness of Holy Week as the Lord moves toward His voluntary and life-giving Passion.  The Son of God came into the world “to bear witness to the truth” [John 18:37] and “to give His life as a ransom for many” [Mark 10:45.]  It is…

Ten Things As We Begin Holy Week

by Father Theophan Whitfield

Palm Sunday

On the weekend of Palm Sunday, we begin the celebration of Holy Week—a 10-day long procession to the Cross, to the tomb, and to the Resurrection.  And as we get ready, our Lord extends the same invitation to us as He extended to James and John.  To all of us who wish to see His glory, who desire to be by His side at…