These teachings I received from others. Through these teachings and others, I found Christ.

Person, Operation, & Nature

It is common to refer any number of vices to “human nature”. In fact, the problem with this kind of thinking is the failure to distinguish between person, operation, and nature. Nature is that which is common to all members of a species. There is one nature of human beings, another of dogs, another of sheep, etc. There is no such thing as a nature that is not enhypostasized as a person. Person is that which is utterly unique to the individual and is not duplicated in any other member of the species. Operations are those functions and activities proper to a particular nature, and visible only in persons. It is human nature to have a body, to be either male or female, etc. By nature, man has the capacity to reproduce, has a mind, a will, etc. Operations proper to human nature include reproduction, thought, the exercise of the will, and so on. The person is the absolutely unique individual member of the species. Each person is a whole universe, utterly unique, absolutely distinct as an individual.

Inner Counsels

When asking for blessings, say “we”, but when confessing sin and unworthiness, say “I”.If you have anything to teach others, teach rather yourself. Then, when you have learned all that you have to teach, and are ready to teach others, become the student of the Fathers and teach nothing until they have nothing to teach you, which will never happen. If anyone says that in this way you are also teaching, learn from them, but do not become a teacher.

I have nothing to say unless the Church has said it or unless the Church says ‘Amen’.

Better not to begin the day, than to begin without prayer. Let the sun not rise on me, nor let me wake, unless waking and rising I pray to Thee. Let the day and toil never end, unless it ends with prayer.

When you go to Divine Liturgy, say “Lord, I thy betrayer come.”

When you kiss the icons, say “Like Judas have I kissed thee.”

If you can bear to be despised for what you are, can you bear also to be misunderstood and despised for what you are not?

Can you bear it, if you have no true home, no safety, no rest, no companions, and not even the dignity of life? If you bear the absence of these, you will receive them.

When you write your name, add to it “the unworthy”, so that you don’t forget the truth.

Better not to eat, than to eat and not pray.

Being rich is not evil; knowing where starving people are, and buying a stereo — that’s evil. Have mercy on me, the thief of the world’s goods, the rich man who laments his poverty, the feigner of desperation who ignores the desperate. Save me with empty hands, a bare back, and no roof to hide me, I who fear these things but do not fear Thee.

Do not let piety stand in for good work or vice versa.


O mighty Churches of Greece and Antioch, what has made you stumble?. Where is your nimbus of pieties? The holy icons are replaced with stained glass, so that we cannot see Heaven nor light candles for the light of saints, being confronted with the ordinary light of Earth. We cannot make prostrations, nor kiss the saints, because the pews of infirmity and age fill the nave and we are frozen not with holy dread but with furniture. We cannot pray in one voice for the harmonies of the choir and the boom of the organ, nor learn the sacred tones now adrift in a See of polyphony. We kiss the cheek of a priest without beard, his locks shorn as though in captivity to the world rather than to Heaven. The pagan collar, yoke of schism, pretender to catholicity, for which there are no vesting prayers, has replaced the holy vestments, so that there is no hem to touch and be healed. The liturgies are abbreviated, so that the mind cannot learn the secrets of the mysteries, nor the depth of theology. Even so, the secret prayers of the temple, the humility of the celebrants, are broadcast across PA speakers. The calendars are laid bare, so that the Saints are difficult to find in our prayers. Where are you, our Mother? Where can you be found? You still speak with foreign tongues, but are adorned with local squalor. Where in you is our one Homeland and spiritual Country? Save me, Holy Church, save me who seeks in you your former glory.


Deliver the kidnapped, the enslaved, and the wrongly imprisoned.
Rescue the missing and the lost.
Deliver the innocent and the suffering.
Provide for the poor and protect the helpless and the weak.
Comfort the solitary, the broken, and abandoned.
Heal the sick and dying.
Expose the murderer and the rapist and the kidnapper and the exploiter.
On all men have mercy, and by their prayers save me a sinner.
And come quickly, O Lord.Grant that I may be made worthy and ready with St. Photius the Great, St. Maximus the Confessor, and St. Mark of Ephesus to suffer for Orthodoxy banishment, imprisonment, and excommunication at the hands of even my brethren.

Let me never be wealthier than I am, that I might not fall into Hell.

Lord, I am a sinful man. Teach me in others and in silence. Speak not directly to me, lest I swell with pride and, forgetting the pit I am in, fall into a deeper one.

Keep me from prelest. Let me not see visions of Angels or of Thee; the words of Saints are enough for me.

Deliver me from pride, the slayer of my soul.

My heart is breaking. Refashion my heart.


I stand in the light of Saints as the sole shadow. I stand in the shadow of Saints as having no shadow at all. In either case, I stand when I should be prostrate. Have mercy on me the sinner.

My guilt is that I write prayers rather than pray them, that I read the prayers of Saints and am struck to the heart, and still do not pray.

I am my own enemy. How can I add anything to another?

If you have received anything good from my hand, it is because God makes the same rain of His Grace to fall on the just and on myself the unjust.

I am covered in the blood of all that have died. Every man, every animal, every forest, each worm, each flower. It was I who killed Our Lord. As He came to bestow life on all, I bestowed upon Him what he knew not. Death. And from that first day of history it spreads from me and infects all creatures, all that is. It is the very air, the ground underfoot, the heat, the light, the darkness, the cold, the wind. I have done this. And my remorse is but a mockery, the shallowest of answers for my crimes. When a whole crop is plowed under, dying to yield its fruit, I have done this. When in the plowing birds, mice, rabbits, worms, beetles, moths, butterflies, snakes, and toads lose their lives, I have done this. When deer and small animals that would have eaten what I left starve and thirst in Summer and Winter, are forced onto highways, where I drive over them in my hastening toward death, I have done it. Whenever anyone or anything anywhere is injured or suffers or falls ill or dies, I have inflicted it. I am the bringer of death, the curse of the world. I am the cause of all wrongs, the succour of demons, the nemesis of angels, the torment of Christ. For all this I have no answer except “Lord greater than death – have mercy and slay me. Overcome me. Melt down and remake me.

If I appear to be giving to the poor or needy, if I an seen laying aside anything for the Saints, I have no such virtue. At best, I am merely fulfilling my absolute obligation to one greater than me. It is the Master’s money, and he bids me deliver it to his true children — those in whom I am supposed to recognize His face. He allows me a living from the funds, and I am the unworthy servant that skims too much off the top and lives in luxury, perishing in soul, while others perish in body and are saved. When I open my palm, what you see is the hand of the thief. I contribute nothing, and I take all. I am Judas clutching thirty pieces of silver and letting Heaven slip from my grasp. God have mercy.

Every breath I take is the death of something. Every good act I have done is an evil. Every true statement I have made is a lie. Every word a presumption. Every charity a self-interest. And no word will change or atone.

My tears are not worthy to annoint Thy feet O Lord. They are not yet tears of true repentance.


The monks keep unceasing watch, as sentries, at hours when I sleep, ever looking for the coming of the Lord. And indeed He does come to them, and they ring bells and cry aloud “Hosanna”. Honor to the vigilant, who will see the light from the East break across the earth. The monks do combat with demons that never reach me because they are stopped. St. Nikolai likened the monks to ninja among us. Angels invisibly surround them. When they do battle, the banners stretch to Heaven, and the trumpets echo in the distance. The demons are shaken and crumble and are driven back. The field is full of incense, dispelling the smoke of the enemy. God fights for his people. The archangels are mighty and their countenance is fierce. The monks, both men and women, are the brave ‘men’ who make a human wall, and I am a child behind them; therefore I call them “father” and “mother”.

The Pieties

The pieties are the small things we do that amount to the constant movement and adornment of our Faith.

The pieties are the teachers of our souls and bodies.

The pieties are the slayer of the passions.

While it is not up to us to point or belittle, even in attitude, others who do not keep the pieties we have come to know, it is our certain goal to learn and be taught by the pieties into the fulness of the fulness of the Faith. When a catechumen or a new Orthodox Christian comes to the Divine Liturgy, and asks when and how to venerate the holy things, when and how to bow or make prostrations or cross oneself, I always tell them to find the old people, especially the old women, and especially those from the old country, the ones with their heads covered, and do what they do. With this practice one will seldom learn anything improper and will learn far more that is pious and appropriate to the fulness of worship.

Our True Names

There are subtleties to the tradition of receiving a new name upon receiving Holy Baptism or upon one’s reception into the Church. There are those, the scriptures indicate, that received new names upon Holy Baptism, and those who did not. The Serbians, to this day, do not, but rather their birth names become their Christian names. There are differing traditions within the one Faith as to how these names are chosen for the Christian, and differing notions as to what kinds of names are appropriate.The reality remains that the fulness of our pious custom is not to use diminutives of the name, any more than we would use diminutives for the Saints for whom these names are often chosen. We would not refer to the evangelist as St. Johnny, nor the Apostle as St. Pete. St. John Maximovitch is said to have refused communion to those who used diminutives in this way, underscoring that using a diminutive in this way is generally a reductionism, a diminishing of our Faith.

Likewise, it is not our tradition to prefer the name of our natural birth which was unto death to that of our new birth, in which we live forever. …

Three Forms of Child Abuse

Our Lord warned that if I cause a child to stumble, it would be better that a millstone were hung around my neck and I were cast into the sea. Better when? In the judgement, it would seem. Translated into the kind of punishment this might mean in the Great Judgement, it is a grave thing indeed to abuse a child. It is a sad product of our age that children are so often viewed as sexual objects, with an accelerated maturity so often associated with sexual maturity, and sexualized children regarded as “cute”. So often, a boy or girl is tantalized and teased by adults as to whether he or she has a boyfriend or girlfriend. The are encouraged to play together in such a way that this is the subtext of their interactions. A friend of my pointed out that it starts with young girls being dressed in “spankers” for “Easter”, evolves into painting their lips and shading their eyes like any harlot of Egypt, and moves through this kind of teasing, under which is always a suggestion if not the expectation or eager desire that they quickly find their sexual place. Inflicted more on girls than on boys, sometimes, our culture portrays the prime time girl of eight or ten or twelve as at once petulant, pouting, and precocious. This type of sexual abuse amounts to the fondling of the soul and the denigration of the body.

At the same time, children are frequently treated as “pre-people” in the name of physical discipline. …


To erase from my mind all non-existent images.

To put enmity between myself and all my evil thoughts.

Nationalism & Ecumenism

Neither religious nationalism nor religious ecumenism or internationalism is the fulness of the faith. Rather, in dialectical form, nationalism presumes to limit the faith to a category more narrow than the Church, and ecumenism/internationalism presumes to expand the faith beyond the Church’s boundaries. In both cases, a false category is created and a false ecclesiology proffered. So, the proper view is not nationalism vs. ecumenism and internationalism:

Nationalism <——————————-> Internationalism/Ecumenism

but both as ecclesiological heresies against the Church:

Internationalism <——————————-> The Church


The world is not here to call the Church to repentance, transformation of mind, reformation of desires, and redemption of body. Rather, it is the Church that calls for these of the world.

It is not the perogative of the Church to integrate itself into the surrounding culture by accepting without redemption the imperatives of that culture; rather, it is the mission of the Church to redeem the surrounding culture, so that it becomes, as much as possible, the Kingdom of God.

Far from being neutral, culture is in need of redemption. We do not accept it uncategorically, but transform it, raising it to the height of the Gospel.

Dust & Worms

If I worship a god who is comparable to me, of course I cannot lower myself to the dust. But the true God is beyond compare, so that no created notion, whether ‘incomprehensible’, or ‘unattainable’, or ‘unknowable’, and not even holy silence can describe His radiance. Since even my loftiest thoughts and highest expressions are lower than dust, I crawl not to reach God but to get farther from heresies. I strive to see in myself the worm, not in order to lose my humanity or abandon my intellect, but to retain my sanity, fleeing delusion, casting aside man-made idols, and so hope to rise from death, blindness, and madness to life, clear vision, and true humanity. If I follow God, he will take care of my dignity. If I take care of my dignity, I will lose sight of He who creates it. The downward stair leads up. Groveling, to be sure, is a false devotion, but to say with the Forerunner, “I must decrease that Thou mightest increase” is a path to theosis. When someone says “I am a worm” or “I am but dust”, only then does he come closer to commenting on the divine; the comment is one of attitude, and is made sensible only in deification. I can participate in the economy only to the degree that my mind fails in respect to theology.


I once thought that nothing original could be done in Orthodoxy. I considered the “The Faith . . . once for all delivered to the Saints”, and thought it humble to say that anything I create in regard to the Faith is either wholly derivative or inappropriately novel. I now think that one can contribute original expressions of the Faith. After all, each individual is an original expression of the Faith. And I no longer think that only the Fathers can do it. That mentality would drive us to a creative standstill, substituting the Fathers for the Protestant’s “inspired writers” of “The Bible”. I think each person has, as his vocation, a unique expression of the Faith to be lived out for his salvation. In some of us, this comes out as writing or some similar action. The Faith is shared, while the expression is unique. There is no opposition in that distinction.

I think, also, that sometimes it need not be an expression of the Faith, but is more appropriately an expression of experience lived in or with the Faith. Fallible, perhaps even heretical, but hopefully honest. I think, that such expression occurs within Oikonomia.

This works well with my thought that artists, such as myself, will go on creating in paradise. Writers will make new works and publish them. Editors will edit them to make them better. Etc.

So now, I no longer feel as though I should feel guilty for creating weblogs such as this one, or as though I’m helplessly crossing a line out of some sort of creative curse. I’m going to play around with it as I would with others expressive works, and merely let the subtitle serve as disclaimer.

On Excess

Reasons that excess consumption is immoral

First, it diminishes the rational and volitional faculties of the soul. It is a denial and rejection of the Logos, by denying and rejecting the logoi. It is the escape from God, the soul seeking its independence and liberation from its Source. It is apostasy.

Second, it is to drink too deeply of death, since the things we consume are dead things. It is to confirm slavery to death, denying the Incarnation. It is to deny the Eucharist and Cup of Life, by seeking fulfillment in a cup of death.

Third, by exaggerating dependency on the produce of the world, and by too much abandonment to enjoyment and satisfaction, it offers up the world as an end in itself. It is a denial of the sanctity of creation, the Incarnation, and embraces death as the proper end of man. It is a denial of the dignity of man and the proper subordination of nature to his intelligence, by subordinating his intelligence to nature. It is gluttony.

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