In today's edition of "Father, Speak a Word," Fr. Gregory Jensen and Fr. Anthony Perkins talk about the temptation of betraying their own callings by idealizing a romantic vision of monasticism and either trying to impliment it in their parishes or "wagging their tales" after it.  They use Fr. Gregory's "Father, speak a word" substack article "Puppies Wagging Their Tales; Some thoughts about the lack of vocational fidelity" as a springboard. There's also some rank punditry towards the end that some listeners might find interesting.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20240425-FSAW.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 5:57pm EDT

The Way of Ascetics; Tito Colliander

... The narrow way has no end: its quality is eternity. There every moment is a moment of beginning-the present includes the future: the day of judgment; the present includes the past: creation; for Christ is timelessly present everywhere, both in hell and in heaven. With the coming of the One, plurality disappears, even in time and space. Everything happens simultaneously, now and here and everywhere, in the depths of your heart. There you meet what you sought: the depth and height and breadth of the Cross: the Saviour and salvation. ...

Recorded at Christ the Savior, Anderson SC.

Direct download: Ascetics-Chapter26.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 10:29am EDT

Homily on the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt

Fr. Anthony compares the lives of the Theotokos and St. Mary of Egypt, noting that our path looks much more like that of the latter, especially given our culture's immersion in social media, consumerism, aggressive politics, and pornography.  Thank God that he has given us His Way of salvation despite all this!

Direct download: 20240421-TheMarysandUs.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 10:59am EDT

In this edition of "Father, Speak a Word" Fr. Anthony Perkins and Fr. Gregory Jensen talk about the joy of evangelizing a world full of people seeking something real.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20240418-FSAW.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 5:52pm EDT

Homily of the Sunday of St. John of the Ladder

Today Fr. Anthony riffed on this gem, found towards the beginning of The Ladder.  He describes the beautiful way of perfection in Christ planned for all those who do not live in monestaries.  

Step One: On Renunciation
21. Some people living carelessly in the world have asked me: ‘We have wives and are beset with social cares, and how can we lead the solitary life?’ 
I replied to them: ‘Do all the good you can; do not speak evil of anyone; do not steal from anyone; do not lie to anyone; do not be arrogant towards anyone; do not hate anyone; be sure you go to church; be compassionate to the needy; do not offend anyone; do not wreck another man’s domestic happiness; 3 and be content with what your own wives can give you. If you behave in this way you will not be far from the Kingdom of Heaven.’

Direct download: 20240414-Ladder.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 10:51am EDT

Way of Ascetics; Tito Colliander
Chapter Twenty-Five: ON THE JESUS PRAYER

...  Especially should the beginner beware of everything that has the slightest tendency to mysticism. The Jesus Prayer is an activity, a practical work and a means by which you enable yourself to receive and use the power called God's grace-constantly present, however hidden, within the baptized person-in order that it may bear fruit. Prayer fructifies this power in our soul; it has no other purpose. It is a hammer that crushes a shell: a hammer is hard and its stroke hurts. Abandon every thought of pleasantness, rapture, heavenly voices: there is only one way to the kingdom of God, and that is the way of the Cross. And to hang crucified on a tree is horrible torment. Expect nothing else.  ...

Recorded at Christ the Savior in Anderson SC.

Direct download: Ascetics-Chapter25.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 10:23am EDT

Homily of the Sunday of the Cross

From Bishop Nicholas (DOMSE Newsletter):

The Church has placed the Cross in the middle of Great and Holy Lent, the third Sunday of the Fast, for a very specific reason! 

The Church has placed the Cross in the middle of Great and Holy Lent, the third Sunday of the Fast, for a very specific reason!  By the third Sunday of the Fast, most of us have been abstaining from eating prescribed sumptuous foods for three weeks, participating in many services each week at inconvenient times of the day after having worked long hours, expanding our prayer rules, and reading spiritual books. Having done ascetical deeds, some of us are weary, tired, and may feel unsettled.

Prior to Christ being crucified, the cross was a sign of disobedience, a sign of unlawful activity, a sign of damnation, and a sign of condemnation. Thieves and criminals died on the cross so that society was “cleansed.” Jesus was considered one of those unlawful people despite the fact He had healed the sick, raised the dead, and performed miracles that had not been done by anyone else prior to His incarnation. He did not fit their earthly expectations with His divine plan! Therefore, He was crucified.

But after His resurrection, the Disciples, who effectively became apostles at Pentecost (Acts 2:14-42), began to change the common perception of the Cross as they began preaching the resurrected Jesus Christ. Having received the Holy Spirit, Peter’s sermon (Acts 2:14-39) was emotionally moving and thought-provoking to the crowds. Thousands were baptized and started following Christ and His teachings through the words of the Apostles. The faithful’s view of the Cross began to change from a condemnation interpretation to a salvational reality, from a discouraging truth to an encouraging certainty, from a despair mentality to a hope mindset, and from a life destroying event to a life-giving actuality.

Such a change in demeanor toward the Cross urged the Church to utilize its power to inspire the faithful to take up the whole armor of God that they may be able to withstand in the evil day (Ephesians 6:13). That is why the Feast of the Cross has been celebrated on the third Sunday of Great and Holy Lent.

May God bless you and may the Holy Trinity protect you all!
+ Bishop Nicholas

Direct download: 20240407-BpNicholas-Cross.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 10:39am EDT

Today we cover Chapter 24 of Way of Ascetics, "On an Interpretation of Zacchaeus."  It has some beautiful imagery.  This class was accompanied by Thai Tofu Fresh Rolls and Gypsy soup.  If you are ever in the Anderson area, come and visit!

Direct download: Ascetics-Chapter24.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 8:53am EDT

Today Fr. Anthony wanted to share some ideas he's been playing with, resulting from his study of St. Gregory Palamas, theology (e.g. essence and energy), and relationships.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20240331-PalamasandRelationships.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 8:08pm EDT

Marriage as a Metaphor for Orthodoxy
Homily of St. Gregory Palamas

Today we celebrate the life and teachings of someone who really got it? St. Gregory Palamas; he experienced God's love for him in a real and tangible way, and he reflected that love back at God and on all those around him.

That's what we are to do, as well. To open ourselves up to the deifying warmth and light of God; and then to send our thanksgiving and praise back up to Him and to use the energy of His grace to serve those around us.

The Good News of the Gospel is that this is made possible and real through the life, death, and resurrection of the God-man Jesus Christ.

Although this Gospel really is simple, it has been elaborated with so many words and celebrated, confirmed, and taught (if not gilded) with so many rituals and denied by so many lies that it is understandable if we sometimes end up misunderstanding, judging, and even venerating the cup rather than that which it holds.

Perhaps a metaphor will help.

I have met at least two sets of people who think they understand the joy and transformation that marriage can bring.

One set thinks they know it because, while not married, they have their own version of it that seems to enjoy some of its benefits - most notably sex - without any institutional commitment.  The availability of internet porn means that this can even be done without the bother of having a partner.  No one can deny the reality of such experiences, but such experiences have precious little to do with the enduring joy of marriage.  Such people claim that they do not need to be married to experience the joy of sex - the physical part of "one-fleshedness"; but even when it comes to that (ie to sex), they have settled for something less satisfying than the real deal. And while intimacy is a powerful and even necessary part of marriage, it is hardly the primary source of the transformative joy that marriage brings. They think they understand things it well enough to do them their own way, but they don't, and their improper understanding leads them to accept something less than they should. Something that is actually counterproductive and harmful.

A second set which is equally troubling think they understand marriage because they have submitted themselves to the institution of marriage. They have had their ceremony, they wear their rings, and they share a house. But when you start speaking to them about the joy that comes from sharing a life with another person, you learn that their experience is quite different. Shallow.  Weak.  Joyless.  They are living the rituals of marriage, but they are missing the very thing those institutions are meant to hold and protect. They think they get it, but they don't, and their improper understanding leads them to accept something less than they should.

This is a great and wonderful mystery but, as with St. Paul, I speak not of marriage, but of the Church. (Ephesians 5:32)

St. Gregory Palamas fought against both of these misunderstandings about God.

On the one hand, there were people (like the Bogamils - basically medieval Pentecostals) who thought they could really experience God without the institution and sacraments of the Church. This is like having sex without marriage or even without a partner; it may be real in some sense, but it is not healthy nor is it real in the way that a committed sacramental relationship with God in Church is real.  These heretics thought they got it, but they didn't, and their improper understanding led them to accept something less than they should have.  Something that is actually counterproductive and harmful.

On the other hand, there were those (like Barlaam and the Churchians) who thought that the rituals and sacraments of the Church were the only way to know God. They did not believe that it was possible to experience God.  They believed that the teaching that we are to enjoy union with God through Christ was just a metaphor for belief. And they believed that the noetic experience of God that monastic ascetics had when they opened themselves up to the Divine Nature of God was just a simple emotion and not a metaphysical or supernatural reality. They thought they got it, but they didn't, and their improper understanding led them to accept something less than they should have.  It was a joyless religion, lacking the possibility of deeper union with God.

God is real and we were meant to become partakers of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). We are Orthodox Christians. We have not settled for something less than we should. We are not just going through the motions when we pray and participate in the rituals of the Church; we are opening ourselves up to God. We allow His grace to heal and transform us, and then we offer and share this transforming grace with the world.

Direct download: 20240331-PalamasandMarraige.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 8:04pm EDT