The Gospel passage mentioned in the last post said, …if you do not forgive your brother from your heart. But, going the “extra mile” in forgiveness, in his first epistle, St. Peter says:
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. And James echoes this same idea of “covering” the sins of others: …whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
This covering others’ sins is something we don’t think about much, though it has been around a while…in Proverbs, love covers all offenses, and elsewhere in Proverbs,
Whoever covers an offense seeks love,…
We not only are called to forgive, but to actively use love to cover sins.
Continue reading “Going the “Extra Mile” in Forgiveness”
So much of our society trains us to focus on ourselves, on our rights, and to judge others as respecters or offenders of those rights. This past weekend, in Bend, some alleged social media posts from the shooter who took the life of two innocents revealed this to the extreme. Remembering wrongs others commit against us and the lack of forgiveness is toxic. What we see in Christ’s Gospel is quite the opposite, not focused on the wrongs of others, but on our own spiritual state.
After the story of the man forgiven a massive debt, who turns around and requires someone else to repay him a much smaller debt, resulting in his re-judgment with the same harshness he used, the passage ends: So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.
So, we know what not to do. But what should we do? How should we act?
Continue reading “We Determine How Strictly We Are Judged”
Without a doubt, the spirit and tone of some of our hymnography comes across wrong to today’s hearer, especially when it comes to women. I do not condone the rewriting of hymns to just to pacify modern sensitivities, but rewording (and even just re-punctuating) can often bring out the original, beautiful intent of the text.
Here is one example and how I reworded it:
The tears of Mary were not shed in vain; for, behold! she was counted worthy of having angels instruct her and Jesus Himself appear to her. But, as a weak woman, she thought earthly thoughts. Wherefore, she was turned away and commanded not to touch Christ. Yet was she sent as a herald to Thy disciples, bearing glad tidings to them and announcing Thine ascension to the portion of the Father. With her count us worthy, 0 Lord and Master, of Thine appearance. (The 8th Evangelical Sticheron from Sunday Matins)
Continue reading “Women in Orthodox Hymnography”
First looking at St. Basil’s three hundred and something letters, I was afraid I would not find direction toward the spiritual life for quite some time. Well, I was wrong. In Letter II: Basil to Gregory, that is St. Gregory of Nyssa, a friend of his, I hit a key word that really sparked my curiosity and which did lead to some of St. Basil’s “secrets” to the spiritual life.
He went on to say, “For it is no more possible to write in wax without first smoothing away the letters previously written thereon, than it is to supply the soul with divine teachings without first removing its preconceptions derived from habit.” For to reach that end, “solitude gives us the greatest help, since it calms our passions and gives reason leisure to sever them completely from the soul.”
He said, “We must try to keep the mind in tranquility.”
Continue reading “Silence is the School of the Soul”
St. Basil the Great went so far as to apologize for using his own words to speak of the spiritual life, that is, instead of using only those words found in the Scriptures themselves. This is a love for the Scriptures that many of us would not so readily associate with a Church father from the 4th century. Yet, his love for Christ and his dogged adherence to the faith of the Apostles were key ingredients into the making of one of the most important defenders of Christianity at a time when the Church was very much under attack by those who would twist those beloved Scriptures to mean something quite different.
Continue reading “Bible-Loving Basil, Seed of Saints, Molder of Monastics”