On Hell, Salvation, and Christ

September 2013—April 2014 On Hell – Introduction On Hell Part 1 of 4 – Setting the stage:  Life and Death On Hell Part 2 of 4 – Clarifying words:  Sheol, Hades and Gehenna On Hell Part 3 of 4 – Meditating on hell:  The Lord’s justice and mercy On Hell Part 4 of 4 – […]

Mother of the Wisest Thoughts

“When the door of the steam baths is continually left open, the heat inside rapidly escapes through it; likewise the soul, in its desire to say many things dissipates its remembrance of God through the door of speech, even though everything it says may be good. Thereafter the intellect, though lacking appropriate ideas, pours out […]

Being an Ascetic in the City

Being an Ascetic in the City “There were…a few who had the strength to rise above the turmoil of the world and to flee from the agitation of cities. Having escaped this turbulence, they embraced the monastic life and reproduced in themselves the pattern of apostolic virtue.” “They ignored the world, being above human passions.” […]

A Sermon on Christian Marriage

[The following was preached at the wedding ceremony of Peter Becker and Julia Paxton on July 27, 2013] Peter and Julia, today your friends and family have gathered from across the country to be with you. We are here as witnesses. We will watch you make marital vows to one another. These vows are the first […]

Potty Training through the Passions

“Once you recognize that the Lord’s judgments “are in all the earth” (1 Chr. 16:14), then everything that happens to you will teach you knowledge of God.” – St. Mark the Ascetic, “No Righteousness by Works,” sentence 66 We are potty training our almost three year old son, Declan, and it’s been all-consuming. My husband […]

Mark the Ascetic on an Ordinary Night

There are acts which appear to be good, but the motive of the person who does them is not good; and there are other acts which appear to be bad, while the move of the doer is good. – Mark the Ascetic, On the Spiritual Law, Sentence 35 Concern yourself with your own sins and […]

Choosing Wheat or Tares

“Just as it is impossible to stop a watermill from turning, although the miller has power to choose between grinding either wheat or tares, so it is impossible to stop our mind, which is ever-moving, from having thoughts, although it is within our power to feed it either with spiritual meditation or with worldly concerns.” […]

Learn of Jesus Christ to Pray

“Do not pray for the fulfillment of your wishes, for they may not accord with the will of God. But pray as you have been taught, saying: Thy will be done in me. Always entreat Him in this way – that His will be done. For He desires what is good and profitable for you, […]

On Fasting and Vigiling

In the House of St. Michael, we make devotional commitments each year. These are patterns of life, ways that we hear God inviting us to pursue him. Part of our commitment is to read The Philokalia together. And in the way of the writers of The Philokalia, we are encouraged to include a monthly fast […]

A Holy Selfishness: On Using Evagrios to Read Evagrios and Why I’m Not Called to be a Solitary

The Fathers of the Philokalia and I have not been the best of friends. You may recall my incessant – nigh panicked — questions the last time we read these texts about how I was supposed to incorporate intense fasting and vigil keeping and extreme poverty into my already exhausting life as a nursing assistant. […]