Ever since the Beatles travelled to Rishikesh to learn at the feet of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Westerners have been attracted to Eastern spirituality. Western Christianity has seemed artificial, lifeless and powerless; while Eastern spirituality has a life-changing broadness about it. Below, Monk-Priest Damascene traces the path from Western desire to the East's authentic and life-changing answer.
Blog Tag: Spirituality
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When someone’s spiritual practices runs beyond the measure of grace that they have been given, a void is created in their soul. Either it will lead them to sin, or it will make them perverse, proud, hard, and unmerciful. Let’s learn some more about how to encounter God.
The Truth of Orthodoxy is a theological essay by Nikolai Berdyaev (1874–1948) about what makes Orthodoxy different from all other Christian Churches. In beautiful and nuanced language, Berdyaev examines the revelation of the Holy Spirit throughout Orthodox history, the holy mysteries in the interactions between the material and spiritual, and the liturgical means of teaching people about salvation and the life after death. In this excerpt, we learn why the Orthodox Church has changed so little over the centuries.
The knowledge of God, generally spoken of in a very experiential manner, is an absolute foundation in Orthodox theology. Nothing replaces it — no dogmatic formula, no Creed, not even Scripture — though Orthodoxy would see none of these things as separate from the knowledge of God. But the questions I have received are very apt. In a culture that is awash in “experience,” what do the Orthodox mean when we speak of such things and what do we mean by such knowledge of God?
Many Orthodox prayer masters talk about three powers of the soul — mind, will and heart. St. Theophan the Recluse describes how to educate each power of the soul. The Christian life of virtue depends on educating and training each power. Educating the Mind We educate the mind (the intellectual power) through study of the faith - scripture, ancient church writers, and helpful books.
Why would God sing? The question may sound strange and yet it is said in Zephaniah 3:17 that “He will rejoice over thee with singing.” I first noticed this verse when I was a very young Christian and have puzzled about it for nearly forty years. Equally puzzling to our modern way of thought is the question, “Why does anybody sing?” I have been to plenty of operas and have to admit that even the ones in English need subtitles — singing does not necessarily make something more easily understood. And yet we sing.
Even the very best choices in life come with temptations. Temptations to take things to excess, or to approach things with the wrong motives. Visiting a monastery is no exception. While monasteries are holy places and visiting them can prove a great blessing, it can come with temptations.
What is baptism? Baptism is a Christian mystery in which a catechumen (student) is united with Christ. In Orthodoxy, if someone asked what is going on in Baptism, the best answer would likely be, “Everything.” To get a sense of what this means, let’s look at what the priest says within the Baptism Liturgy:
Over the years I’ve noticed that some visitors to Orthodox services feel uncomfortable and uncertain about kissing the cross at the end of the Liturgy Service. I’d like to try to explain why we do it. Kissing the Cross of Jesus We have to admit, that from a modern perspective, it is a really a strange thing to do. Kissing the depiction of a man being executed could, in fact, be seen as grotesque. The reason we do it, however, is because of what this particular person means to us.
Pietism or Activism? By Frederica Mathewes-Green Both extremes wrong It seems to me that there is something wrong with both the traditional extremes - the people who emphasize personal spiritual growth, and the people who emphasize engagement with the world and social activism. The labels are usually "pietist" and "activist." The same thing is wrong with both of them: the temptation to vanity.