Notes on Arab Orthodoxy: Fr Georges Massouh: Gone is the Glory of Constantinople… But Christ Remains
May I add gone is the glory of Coptic Alexandria and all her intellectual and spiritual elites today, but Christ remains!!!
In my endless approach to do “commentaries” on ancient Church fathers, I have not even half-way finished with the first one I started, which is St. Clement of Rome. Yet, I cannot contain myself to show that I am a huge fan of “Saint” Origen. I wish perhaps to give a letter to our Coptic Pope on the idea to create an Orthodox feast of “All Deans’ Day” (like “All Saints’ Day” or “All Martyrs’ Day” in our respective Orthodox traditions), where if at the very least we cannot venerate Origen, we can indirectly venerate all the Deans of the Church of Alexandria, from Pope St. Justus all the way to Archdeacon St. Habib Girgis.
Holy and Blessed martyr Origen, pray for us all!
David Bentley Hart is his own man, with his own distinctive voice and writing style—and thank God for that. His theological writings have been described as brilliant, incisive, penetrating, trenchant, over-blown, outrageous. He is impossible to pigeon-hole. He has read deeply in the Church Fathers, yet his theology can hardly be described as mere repetition of ancient views. He is a communicant of the Orthodox Church, yet his fellow Eastern theologians pay him little attention. One reviewer of his Beauty of the Infinite complained that the book is not Orthodox theology. Hart characteristically replied:
Of course it is. Admittedly it does not much resemble the sort of ‘neo-Palamite’, ‘neo-patristic’ books which have dominated Eastern theology since the middle of the last century, when the great ressourcements movement that has done so much to define modern Orthodoxy was inaugurated. But Orthodox theology has taken many forms over the centuries—mystical, scholastic, mystagogical…
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It has been said you learn something new or intriguing every day you read the Bible, no matter how many times you read a particular passage. I would like to share one contemplation that I found in reading the gospel of John, chapter 16. To set the scene, Christ is giving a long theological discourse to his disciples at the Last Supper. By this time, Judas already left to go and betray Christ, and Christ is giving his final thoughts to His faithful disciples before He prays His famous prayer in the next chapter and then gets arrested from there.
Four days ago was the commemoration of the departure of the late Metropolitan Anthony Bloom. I have read two simple books of his on prayer “Beginning to Pray” and “Living Prayer“, and this sums up what he is best known about, his spiritual teachings on prayer.
Before Fr. Thomas Hopko passed away, I listened to one of his podcasts where he read off Metropolitan Anthony’s homily, “How Can I Deal With My Sinful Condition?”, one of the most powerful sermons I have heard anywhere, and truly hits at the heart of those who feel a sense of spiritual despair where one’s sins seems never-ending.
I think it is a much needed sermon, and thanks to “Agia Zoni” and “Living Orthodox Theology“, I would like to post this sermon here as well, in honor of his memory and in solidarity with all fellow sinners, of whom I am chief, who feel touched by this homily as I have been: (more…)
It has been a year ago this blog has been created.
On this occasion, I will dedicate the birth of my blog to the birth of the Roman Catholic saint Giuseppe Moscati, a physician who took the vow of celibacy and dedicated his profession to the poor. On this day 135 years ago, this great and humble man was born. It is rare for an Orthodox Christian to venerate Catholic saints, but I think there are many who are exceptional and deserve veneration. May his prayers be with us, and may his prayers also help me lead my life in his way as much as I can.
Take heed, beloved, lest His many kindnesses lead to the condemnation of us all. [For thus it must be] unless we walk worthy of Him, and with one mind do those things which are good and well-pleasing in His sight.
The essential meaning is perhaps straightforward. Concentrate however on how the text says “His many kindnesses”. Can kindness lead to our condemnation? This leads to various traditions among the Church, mostly in two ways of looking at it. One way to look at this is to describe God as a seemingly motionless or static Love who burns people who are unable to love Him back. This has been a belief among those who hope for the salvation of all. It is an enticing belief. However, it also seems like we need to consider another tradition, a more dynamic understanding of God, where God does indeed get angry or joyful, rather than describe them as relative human experiences of a static divinity. In this case, “His many kindnesses” can allude to the fact that we are abusing His kindness for not being diligent in doing His will.
So the question becomes how can an infinite God sound so human? Well, it has a lot to do with our assumptions. In some instances, the argument is made that many descriptions of God in the Old Testament is man’s limitations in describing God, and therefore, these are “anthropomorphisms”. However, other people tend to frown upon this idea and say that a true Semitic principle is that man is made in the image of God. Therefore, these are real divine descriptions where we emulate in our “theomorphic” realities. That does not mean they believe God is flesh and bones like us, but they tend to look at it from a spiritual perspective and try to show that it would be unfair to describe such emotions as “anthropomorphisms” as if these are “fake” or “relative”.