Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Saw this movie last night and found it very disturbing. It had little actual death in it but yet was full of death. Very well crafted and well told set of stories but truly horrific in many ways...

St. John Chrysostom says.....

"For a man cannot possibly live a pure life without believing in the Resurrection..."
Homily 45 on St. John's Gospel chapter 6 vv. 28-30

How deeply am I wedded to death, with so little thought for the Resurrection?
Colourless wretch that I am, this pale shadow of assent might pass for fervour,
But for He Who is the Resurrection.

Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

His taste of death....

O Sweetest of fruits from the bitterest of trees!
Adam, reaching for the sweetness of forbidden knowledge
Grasped only the bitterness of death
Yet You, O my Saviour, in grasping the bitterness of death
have brought forth the fountain of immortality!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Living toward the Chalice

Presanctified yesterday. What an amazing service! My whole day yesterday seemed fraught with danger and hope toward it. Would I find myself lashing out sinfully at some imagined slight or would I navigate through this narrow passage toward the light of communion? By God's grace I made it to the Chalice. Yet as I reflect I suspect it is also because of my ignorance that I received communion. How much bitter pettiness and hidden sin did I bring to the Cup? Grant me to see my own transgressions Oh Lord....

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,
and love to Your servant.

Yea, O Lord and King
grant me to see my own transgressions
and not to judge my brother or my sister

From the Lenten prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Canon of St. Andrew

This was my first Lenten service at my home parish as I was away visiting my kids last weekend. Very beautiful.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Lurching into Lent

Headlong, pell mell, here we go!
Don't know if I can be ready for this but I hope I can at least profit from it, unready though I be. I'm planning to try and post something "Lenten" every day till Pascha.
Might be long, might be short, might just be "Lord have mercy!" Something every day, though, I hope.
For today
Lord have mercy
You know Oh Lord, what a magpie I am
You know how quickly I will trade away
the penetrating warmth of your quiet presence
for the bright shiny plastic bauble
skittering along in the world's wind outside the nest of prayer
Help me, Oh my Lord

Monday, February 12, 2007

On growing old

This is a recycled post. I liked it when I wrote it almost a year ago and I still do. I think it captures something of the ambiguity of our relationship to our physicality.
Something I like to think about as lent approaches.

The Body Remembers
River of youth's strength remembered cannot quench
Fiery accretion of the body's many small betrayals.

Yet the body carries as much of beauty as decay
Lines of laughter, strength of bearing, clarity of gaze
Born of resistance to meanness & joy in life's grandeur
Now the spirit, unbowed, shines ever more brightly,
In the time-polished mirror of its most ancient friend.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

James, Baptism and obedience

As Lent approaches I have been reading the Epistle of James. It is making me very uncomfortable. I am seeing how little I trust God and how often I judge others. And how deeply these things are connected. God help me.
Below is my grammatical and textual exercise in identifying the place of Baptism in James' Epistle. It is nearly worthless but I leave it in as it was what got me started reading the Epistle again.

Some words from James:

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror
24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law of liberty, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

The mirror and the perfect law of liberty are presented in parallel and so refer to the same thing. How odd. looking in a mirror matched with looking intently into the perfect law of liberty.
What then is this law of liberty and how does the idea of a mirror help us to understand it? The original Greek doe not say "sees himself" in the mirror but rather "sees the face of his birth" in the mirror. I don't know anything about patterns of speech in NT Greek so it might just be the normal way of saying "sees himself"....But it's construction sounds so awkwardly different that I think it means exactly what it says. What is the face of a man's birth? I doubt James is talking about baby photos here. Baptism perhaps? This would make the image in the mirror coincide with "the perfect law of liberty". Our baptism gives us a "new face" as Paul says (As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ Galatians 3:27). This connects with the previous text where James refers to the "implanted Logos Who is able to save you" (1:21).
I don't want to get lost in the technicalities of Greek grammar but rather to understand what the Apostle is trying to teach us about the relationship between baptism and obedience. It is the same relationship that he has drawn for us between faith and works. Faith without works is dead. So too, Baptism without doing the works it shows us is dead. Christians who would like to rest on the laurels of baptism and those who would like to rest on their one-time "conversion" are both given a rough ride by James. James also rejects the notion that we will be saved by works apart from Christ as he refers us to the Person of Christ, "the implanted Logos who is able to save".
Our response to Christ in us is our working out of our own salvation with fear and trembling.
"For we are His workmanship, created for good works in Christ."(Ephesians 2:10)