OrthoAnalytika

In this (meandering!) meditation on Galatians 1:11-12, Fr. Anthony talks about how important it is that we develop an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ, informed by our parents, mentors, and spiritual fathers/mothers but not dependent on or mediated by them.  Enjoy the show!  

Direct download: GospelofGodnotMan.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 5:45pm EDT

Join Fr. Anthony next to his back porch in Hartwell, Georgia, as he talks with scientist, theologian, professor, Associate Dean, and evangelist, Gayle Woloschak, PhD, DMin (Northwestern University) about COVID, vaccines, and discernment.  This is a recording of Fr. Anthony's livestream from 10/24/2020.

Direct download: CovidVaccinesandOrthodoxy.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

In this recording of Fr. Anthony's livestream, he and Fr. Gregory Jensen talk about authenticity and Alexander Solzhenitsyn's (and Rod Dreher's) advice to "live not by lies."  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: LiveNotByLies-FrGregory.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

In this homily on St Luke 10: 16-21 and Colossians 4:5-11, 14-18, Fr. Anthony reflects on what Christ's contrasting the power the disciples had over demons with their names being written in heaven might mean for us in this divisive time.  He encourages us to use power with humility lest we actual feed the spirit of darkness within us and lose our place in the book of life.

Direct download: DontFeedtheDarkness.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 1:51pm EDT

Join Fr. Anthony next to his back porch in Hartwell GA as he talks with Professor Carrie Frost, PhD about clericalism, ritual, and the risks and benefits of lay hesychasm.  There were some audio problems with the YouTube livestream; our editor (Doug) made the best of it for the podcast version.  Enjoy the show! 

Direct download: HesychasmforLaity.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 8:53pm EDT

Listen as Fr. Anthony talks with Sarah Riccardi-Swartz about truth, why our commitment to it has waned, and what Christians can and should be doing to bring balance and grace to our culture. Sarah is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Recovering Truth: Religion, Journalism, and Democracy in a Post-Truth Era project at the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict (Arizona State University). Enjoy the show!

Direct download: ChristianityAnthropologyandTruth.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

In St. Luke 5:1-11 Christ calls fisherman to be his disciples, in this homily Fr. Anthony reflects on how absurd it is that He didn't use angels or Greek philosophers to be his messengers and evangelists, going on to describe the implications for us as we evangelize and pastor our neighbors (and ourselves).  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: HomilyontheAbsurdityoftheGospel.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 8:14pm EDT

This is a recording of Fr. Anthony Perkins' Livestream from 10 October 2020.  In it, he continues the themes from his discussion with Fr. Gregory Jensen on transcendent introspection and a good test of our relationship with Christ (and complexity): can we love President Trump AND Antifa?  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: MoreonTranscendentIntrospection.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

This is the recording of Fr. Anthony's livestream from 09 October 2020.  In it, Fr. Anthony talks with Fr. Gregory Jensen, PhD, about the difference between isolation and solitude, how to cultivate transcendent introspection, the difference between pastoring and controlling, and the challenge of baptizing authoritarian tendencies.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Livestream-TranscendentIntrospection.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 4:16pm EDT

In this homily on St. Luke 6:31-36, Fr. Anthony develops the idea that that our inability to love well is a result of the way we objectify and commodify things, our neighbor, and the Church. Enjoy the show!

Homily: Loving vs. Commodifying (St. Luke 6:31-36)

Introduction: missing the point

It is hard for us to live the way we should.  From our time in Eden to now, we have failed, and the consequences to our hearts, our families, and our world have been disastrous.

One of our challenges is that we do not see things as they really are.  We do not see their beauty and we do not see how things are connected.  Even for things that are ugly and hard, we do not see the potential for beauty and the potential for blessings.  Instead of seeing things in their full splendor, we evaluate them based on what they mean for us; what we can get from them.  

We were designed to bring out the best in everything and everyone; to heal those that are hurt and to build up those who are already well towards perfection.  But instead of this, we just want to know what we can use things for and what we can get out of people.  We are like a hungry man in the middle of a feast who insists on eating his seed corn.  It’s destructive and we need to change.

Adam and Eve: Commodifying what they were meant to love

I mentioned Adam and Eve.  Think of how they fell.  One of the ways to understand this (from St. Nikolai Velimirovich) is that they turned the thing they were meant to tend – the garden – into a commodity; from something that deserved respect and the greatest of care to something that was useful primarily as food.  Even the thing God told them not to eat became a commodity to them: they wanted what it offered.  And remember what they learned?  That it “tasted good.”  What a loss.

 

Hear me well:  Adam and Eve were meant to eat the things that grew in the garden, but the availability of food was really just a side-effect (a “positive externality”) of being a good steward.  They got it all wrong when they put what they wanted from the garden before their love for it.  Instead of tending the garden, they tended to themselves.  They forgot about beauty; they forgot about connectedness; they forgot about service.

And We Commodity EVERYTHING!

We are so much worse than they were; our commodification of people and things in this world knows no end.  We are always looking for an angle; looking for the best deal.

Again, don’t mishear me: being frugal is part of being a good steward of our resources, but we are missing a side-effect for the main point.  Men should not love their wives because they hope for something in return, they should love their wives because they want to help nurture them to perfection (but I am not speaking of marriage but of the Church).  Christ does not love us because He wants something from us.  He does not sacrifice Himself for us in hopes of getting help with His plan to restore beauty to this world.  As we become perfect as God is perfect, we will help Him with this plan; but He sacrifices Himself for us because He sees the potential beauty within us and wants it to grow.  He does it because He loves us.  

We have to stop looking at one another as things to be used, things that either bring us pleasure or pain.  We have to see one another the way God sees us.  

More on Blindness: Commodification leads to a lack of proportion

Surely one of the ways we have cursed ourselves with our blindness is that we cannot see the beauty that emanates from all of God’s creatures; the blessings present in every moment.

Why is this so hard?  Why are we unable to enjoy the fruits of God’s love for us?  Why don’t we see things the way they are?  This blindness really is a curse; it pulls us further away from our purpose and robs us of the joy we were meant to have.

There are so many examples in our lives where we are blind to miracles.  Yes, the problems are there, but they are so minor compared to the miracles!

Let me give you one example that is so big it cannot help but make this point.  It is the example of the Church.

So much of what we do here in Church has been commoditized.  For some, our actions become part of our political protest against over-reaching authorities.  For others, our rituals become a magnet for our fear of disease or distrust of the other.  Even in normal times church can become less a place to experience the transcending and saving grace of God and more a place to give and receive judgment.

Are we really so blind to God’s wonders?  Have we no sense of proportion?

God works in this place, it is His very Body and Blood that are offered here – do we understand the magnitude of this miracle?  If we focus on the way it is offered – beyond the basic need to protect our health and the dignity of the act - then we have to admit that we do not.  Complaining about this is somewhat like the man who is dying of poison complaining to the doctor because the cup containing the necessary antidote to the poison is blue instead of green.  Have we lost our minds?  Again, do not mishear me; we have to be careful and safe – but we cannot allow this to distract us from celebrating being part of such a wonderful miracle.

Similarly, some people complain about Confession, saying things like; “why do I have to go to the priest for confession?”  Here God has given us a way to rid our hearts of the sin that has accumulated in and polluted them, and we complain about the way He has told us to do it.  Seriously?

Complaints about the role of bishops, the all-male priesthood, the traditional view of marriage, -  everything about the way we do things that we do not like threatens to turn the celebration of God with Us into a series of political or ideological positions that can be analyzed and judged … I do this all the time; I suspect some of you do, too.

We have turned even the Church, the vessel of everything good and true, into a commodity, something to be judged, to be measured, to be evaluated like some product on a grocer’s shelf.

Is it any wonder that we do the same thing with our spouses, our children…our enemies?

 

Conclusion:  Love without reservation

My point is not that the things that attract our attention in this way are not important or that they should not be discussed.  Going back to the example of the garden, food is important.  If we don’t eat, we die.  If we prepare food incorrectly, we die.  But Christ reminds us;

“Do not be anxious about what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.” (paraphrase of Matthew 6:25).

God is right here with us, working miracles in our midst, and we miss them by focusing on His height (“Oh, is that Jesus; I imagined he’d be taller.”)

Let’s not get distracted.  Let’s love without reservation.  Let’s love without expecting anything in return.  

Let me repeat the irony; if we tend this world – this garden - in love, we will receive what we need – the necessary commodities, if you will, in return.  As the Lord says in almost the next breath, if you really love, if you really give of yourself without reservation, then “it shall be given unto you in return; a good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over…” (St. Luke 6:38). 

And again in St. Matthew (paraphrase of 6:33-34); “seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and all the things you need will be given to you as well.”

Let’s open our eyes and our hearts to the beauty in this world; the beauty in our neighbor; and the beauty in the Church.

 

Direct download: Homily-Commodity.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 6:48pm EDT

Audio recording of Fr. Anthony's Livestream from 10/3/2020.  In it, he warms up with a talk about civil society, moves on to parish culture, and finishes with a bit on discernment and prelest.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: ParishCultureandDiscernment.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

In this homily, Fr. Anthony explains the meaning of the Cross for us today in the light of 1 Corinthians 6:12 ("All things are lawful for me..."), Philippians 2:6 ("[Christ Jesus] did not consider it robbery"), 1 Corinthians 10:33 ("...so that some might be saved."), and the Transfiguration.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily-Cross.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 6:50pm EDT

This is the audio recording of Fr. Anthony Perkins' YouTube livestream on 26 September 2020.  In it Seminarian James Cummings talks about the journey of discernment that took him through the army, the Satanic priesthood, and finally to Christ and Holy Orthodoxy.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: SatanismandDiscernment.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 8:26pm EDT

Sunday after the Exaltation of the CrossGalatians 2:16-20; Mark 8:34-9:1

(The Greatest Commandment) life has no meaning without a goal. Goals allow us to distinguish between what is useful and what isn’t; the right goal ensures that all our actions are virtuous.

 

This week restates this lesson. Listen closely:

And Jesus called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Mark 8: 34)

Do you see how this is just a restatement of the goal of “loving God and neighbor”?

The “self” that we must deny has to be properly understood or we will end up perverting the Scripture, pursuing the wrong goal, wasting our talent, and – as we are warned in today’s Gospel reading – losing our very soul/life. There are two main ways that the “denial of self” should be understood:

  • The denial of the self as a sacrificial action.Why do you think that the Old Testament is full of sacrifice? In part, it is because doing something worthwhile requires giving up something else. If I am saving my money so that I can buy a new computer or go on a nice vacation, then there are things that I have to give up – to sacrifice – along the way. If I am going to follow God, that is to say, if I am going to love Him and love my neighbor the way He does, then that means giving up or “sacrificing” all the other goals that I might have pursued. This is only fitting and logical: when someone accepts a 9-5 job, they give up doing other things they might have done during that time. When a couple gets married, they give up both the single life and the possibility of marrying anyone else. When we commit ourselves to following Christ and serving our neighbor – the two Great Commandments – then we are sacrificing all the other things we might have done.

  • The denial of self as commitment and hard work. When someone takes a job, they don’t just give up doing other things while they are at that job: they commit themselves to working hard to do that job well. When a couple gets married, they don’t just give up dating other people: they commit themselves to working hard to make their marriage joyful and productive. This takes constant effort; these people “deny themselves” to do their job well and to keep their marriages healthy. When we commit ourselves to following Christ and serving our neighbor, we aren’t just giving up all the other goals we could have committed ourselves to, we are dedicating ourselves to put real effort into living a life of love.


So why the big warning? Because today’s reading, like last week’s, comes with a big warning:

For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. (Mark 8: 35)

The bottom line is that you will waste and ruin your life if you pursue the wrong goals. Idolatry? Two masters? Temple? It’s all saying the same thing. Don’t waste your life. Live a life of virtue. Commit yourself to it, study how to do it well, and then work hard an sacrifice yourself for it. Parts of you will rebel – deny those parts. Other parts will enjoy it; this is the multiplication of your talents – take that joy and offer to God and share it with your neighbor … this is how you grow “into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21).

One of the ways that today’s reading can be misunderstood is to think that the “denial of self” means the denial of joy. Now I hope you see how ridiculous this is. Do not turn God into a monster: he is not trying to turn this world into a hell of misery but into a place where all his children have joyful life in abundance (John 10:10) – and He wants us to want and work for that, too.

The denial of self does NOT mean that we hate or neglect or selves; quite the opposite. This is made clear by the final verse we will cover in today’s homily;

For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul (life)?(Mark 8:36)

Love of self means doing what is good for the self; pursuit of the wrong goals brings destruction to our lives. That is not love, that is something else. You know people who have destroyed their lives through the pursuit of power, or of laziness and self-indulgence, or of the approval of the wrong people, or through drugs … this is what Jesus means when He warns that you can gain the world but lose your soul. People who have lived for the wrong goal may well “gain the whole world”, but all that effort has been counter-productive; it has not brought abounding joy, it has not brought joy to others.

So now that you understand this command of Our Lord, the challenge is to make it your primary motivation:

Deny yourself. Give up your life and live it for the Good News of salvation that is guaranteed to bring joy to you and to this world.

 

Direct download: Homily-LoveisWork.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 8:19pm EDT

This is a recording of Fr. Anthony's livestream on 19 September 2020.  It it, he and Dn. Michael Abrahamson talk about gardening and the difference between transactional love (loving to be liked, respected, etc.) and loving without reservation.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: LovingtobeLovedvsLivingtoLove.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

St. Matthew 22:1-14 (The Wedding Feast)

Today is the threshold of the new liturgical year, a time when we take stock of ourselves and the great story we are a part of.  Today I want to retell this story.  You are familiar with the events, but perhaps not with how they fit together or how they culminate with the revelation offered in today’s Gospel.  It is a huge story, running from the very beginning until now – and just a bit into the future.  Obviously there isn’t time to go over all the nuances of this story – that would literally take forever; but there is time to speak of the general contours.  Mel Brooks did it in two hours – I propose to do it in much less.  And while the story I tell will not be funny like his (nor will it allow our subdeacon to test out of this semester’s class on the Old Testament), understanding it can be a passage through which we can understand and rejoice in this world and our place in it.

Act I: In the Beginning
God brought order to things.  Even the waters – the ancient sign of chaos – were divided and contained.  Creation was established as a very special sort of place.  A place of wonder and the deepest magic.  And the greatest wonder was that he made a creature from the dust of that place and enlivened it with his own breath.  He gave that creature special power, endowed Him with His own image and likeness, then commissioned that creature to use its powers for the benefit of others.  It was the steward of creation.  Its power was such that everything in creation responded to its intentions.  The was the design of the God, that everything be interconnected so that every thought and action of His steward would be a blessing.  That everything would grow in perfection, unity, and love as His steward grew in perfection, unity, and love under God’s own example and instruction.

But this new creature, this steward with the power to affect everything in the world around it, ignored its calling and used its power for something else.  It still had this power, the world still responded to its thoughts and actions, but instead of bringing blessings, it brought curses.  Instead of fruits, the world offered up thorns and thistles.  Instead of a joyful abundance of life, it brought pain and death.  The steward became perverted and warped, and it warped and perverted the world.  It groaned in sin.

Act II: The Flood
This steward was mankind.  One might expect that mankind would learn its lesson.  That it would grow tired of thistles and pain and death and disorder and separation, that it would return to its original commission and the world to its original purpose, but it did not.  It continued to use its powers to curse creation; it even turned its magic against itself.  Mankind became a living blight on the world.  When it seemed that all was lost, when perversion had twisted almost everything and everyone, God could allow it no more.  He withdrew His powerful protection that separated the waters and kept the destructive might of chaos at bay.  The world was flooded.  The last remnant of good was saved – life was given a new chance.  Mankind rejoiced at this and offered up its thanks to the Lord.  God commissioned mankind once again to tend to creation and promised never again to allow the waters of chaos in.  The world once again felt the blessings of love and unity.

Act III:  The Tower of Babel and the Instruction of lsrael
But this state did not last.  Mankind soon drifted away from its purpose once again.  It joined together, uniting its great power to work against the order and love that created and sustains the world.  God saw that if this continued, there would be no end to the evil mankind would do.  He divided them into nations, assigning divine guardians to watch over and instruct each of them and He Himself took up the instruction of one of them, the sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  He established a new covenant with them through Moses, and gave them the Law.  He used the Law to teach them how to use their powers for good, to teach them the proper order of things and how they can be maintained, and to forbid those things that would sow discord and chaos.  He demanded that they keep themselves pure and holy as He is holy so that mankind would become the blessing to creation that it was created to be.  When they went astray, he sent prophets to guide them back.

Act IV:  The New Adam
But even with the Law and the Prophets, this nation – the Israelites – could not stay true.  The nations around them had given themselves over to demons and many of the Jews had joined them.  As in the days of before the flood, it seemed as though all creation would be destroyed by the wickedness of mankind.  But among them there were some that still stayed true, most notably the Virgin Mary.  And through her, the most amazing thing happened: God’s commission to mankind was finally realized in full.  Adam’s power was perfected and completely turned to its proper purpose.  How was this done?  Through the Incarnation of the God-man Jesus Christ.  He is called the “New Mankind”, the “New Adam”, because all the things mankind was called to be and become were brought about in His person.  Creation responded to Him and it was a blessing.  Remember how, when He went into the river Jordan at His baptism, all the filth and evil that had accumulated in its waters from generation after generation of curses was turned back by his presence – the Jordan turned back!  Sickness fled at His touch.  Leprosy was healed.  The blind could see.  The lame could walk.  Creation finally had the steward she was made for, and it responded in joy!  But evil did not rejoice – it retaliated.  It could not tempt The New Adam from His purpose, so it conspired against Him.  The fallen powers of the world hated Him for His goodness.  They condemned Him to death and crucified Him on the Cross.  But they underestimated His power – death itself fled from His power and from His love.  No curse, no disease, not even death itself, can abide to be in the same place as the New Adam.

Act V:  Unity in Christ
But the story does not end there.  There is a New Covenant and there is a new power.  Jesus Christ is the New Adam, the new mankind, the One who can live up to the high calling of steward to creation.  His presence, His thoughts, intentions, and actions, bless the world and transform it.  They bring about its healing, unity, love, and perfection.  But the most amazing thing about this act of  history is that we are called to join Him!  Through Him, we, as created beings, can be purged of all filth.  Through Him, we can become true stewards.  We can become the New Adam.  We can become a blessing to the world.  The Church is the Body of Christ.  Those who are baptized (in the water He transformed) have “put on Christ”.  Those who believe in Him have Him in them and they in Him.  Through Him the unity of mankind is restored and it is finally ready and able to go about the work of its original calling.  Matter is transformed by the intentions and actions of the Church: water is sanctified, oil heals, a prayerful touch brings the remission of sins, another brings the charisma of ordination, another unites man and woman into one flesh, through the actions and intentions of the Church even bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ!  The world is transformed around the New Adam, and all of us are part of that.  This is the most heroic epic ever written – and we are offered the part of heroes! 

Today Christ refers to this calling as a wedding feast.  He desires that His people join Him in His joy.  But do you remember how they responded?  They had other things to do!  They mocked and turned down His offer.  They even killed His messengers.  But others did come in.  We have joined them.  We have put on our wedding garments and bask in the glory of Our Lord.

But the story does not end there.  We, here at Holy Resurrection in the heart of Appalachia, have the fullness of the Church.  We are the New Adam.  The world is groaning in sin – the people suffer.  We must go out and be the source of healing, joy, and unity that we are meant to be.  It is time for us to live up to our commission.  Through Christ, this is possible.

 

Direct download: Homily-TheHistoricEconomyofSalvation.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 8:08pm EDT

1 Corinthians 16:13-24; St. Matthew 21:33-42.  In this homily, Fr. Anthony describes how our obsession with past wrongs, the future, and tribalism turn us into the vinedressers who persecuted the owners servants; will we also kill his son?  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily-WearetheVinyardManagers.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 3:34pm EDT

In this homily on the Gospel of the rich man who went away sad (and Christ's warning about the eye of a needle; St. Matthew 19:16-26), Fr. Anthony reminds us that we have to let go of everything, to include our politics, in order to be with and in Him.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily-YouCantPullPoliticsthroughtheNeedle.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 10:37pm EDT

1 Corinthians 9:2-12; St. Matthew 18:23-35.  Christianity doesn't have a mold for saints or holy cultures; it helps the good in them grow and prunes away the bad.  What would that look like for America?  Can our economy be a source of virtue for its participants?  Today's readings say yes, with qualifications.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily-MakingMoneyCanBeVirtuous.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 8:55pm EDT

This is the audio from Fr. Anthony's livestream on 8/11/2020.  In it, he talks with Fr. Gregory Jensen, PhD about life in Madison WI, sudden onset gender dysphoria, and how we'd all be better off if the Church did its job of spreading God's love.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20200811-JensenonEvangelism.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

This the audio from Fr. Anthony Perkins' livestream of 8/10/2020.  In it he talks about how to logos the chaos and whatever else comes into his fool head.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20200810-LogosingtheChaosGB.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

This is a recording of Fr. Anthony Perkins' YouTube Livestream from 8/3/2020.  In it, he shares some of the wisdom he gained from his summer job moving furniture and argues that people with authority/expertise in one field should exercise humility when making dogmatic statements outside that field.  He also shares his concerns about the Jenga game being played with liberal democracy (and the engine of growing freedom and prosperity).  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20200803-FurnitureFreedomeDiversityandFreedom.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 9:46pm EDT

Homily on 1 Corinthians 1:10-18, St. Matthew 14:14-22 (feeding of the five thousand), and the commemoration of St. Elijah (Elias).  In it, Fr. Anthony makes the case that we have exactly the miracles that we need for the problems we face today.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily-MiraclesforOurTimes.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

This is a recording of Fr. Anthony Perkins' YouTube Livestream from 7/27/2020.  In it, he makes the point that identity politics is bad theology and politics.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20200727-ReligionofIntersectionality2.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

This is a recording of Fr. Anthony Perkins' YouTube Livestream from 7/20/2020.  In it, he makes the point that virtue is ontological and its unreliability in politics necessitates limited government.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20200720-VirtueinTheologyandPolitics.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Homily on Romans 12:6-14.  It is not enough to gave gifts, or even to want to use them well.  Much harm is done by people who have the zeal and skills, but lack the ability to abhor evil, cling to the good, and love without hypocrisy.  Commitment to Orthodoxy can help, but isn't enough; adding self-control and humility and really trusting God can allow us to meet the requirements of the moment.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily-UsingOurGifts.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 5:04pm EDT

This is a recording of Fr. Anthony Perkins' YouTube Livestream from 7/13/2020.  In it, he talks about how stupidity is overdetermined (and not just demonic or agenda-driven), a couple of the things that make intersectionality such a perverse and counter-productive religion, and how Orthodox Christians are both culpable for it and responsible for replacing it with Authenticity.

Direct download: 20200713-ReligionofIntersectionality.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Homily: The Demoniac at Gardenes

Introduction – the context of the story

Our Lord had just come across the water with his disciples.  They had faced one kind of fear when they were on the water: a fear of the chaos of a storm.  A great wind had come up while Jesus slept, and the disciples panicked.  They woke Jesus up and he calmed the wind and rebuked them for their lack of faith. 

When they got to the other side, they faced a new kind of fear: the fear of ghosts.  The demons in this man at Gardenese had driven him into the graveyard to play on men’s superstitions about ghosts.  In different parts of the Gospels, the disciples had shown themselves to be subject to this superstition.  But the Lord identified the demoniac for what he was: not a ghost haunting the cemetery, but a man possessed by a legion of demons.

There are three main points I would have us learn here. 

The first has to do with fear. 

Fear is a strong instinct, and it is one that the powers of the air and marketers of this world like to use to manipulate us.  Fear is a strong instinct, but for we who have given our lives to Christ and to His peace and to His power, it is not a rational one.  Do we fear for our bodies?  Why, when Our Lord Himself said that we should be more concerned with the state of our souls?  When He has given us proof of the resurrection of His sons and daughters into new bodies in the world to come?  Do we fear for the health of others?  Why?  Do we believe that we love them more than God does?  There are dangers in this world and we need to be aware of them; but fear does not help us see and react to these dangers more effectively.  Quite the opposite.  The only laudable fear that Scripture speaks of is the fear of God – and this is the fear that brings His peace and power to bear in the most difficult of times.  We should not fear the storms.  God can bring calm to us even when they blow around us.  We should not fear the ghosts.  They are the illusions of the world created to scare and control us.  We should not even fear the demons.  They have no hold over the righteous and God has granted His Church His power over them.  We should only fear the Lord and trust in His power and love.   

The second has to do with how this man got there in the first place.

[How did that man end up running through the graveyard naked?]  Temptations.  Fascination.  Obsession.  Possession.  Both good and bad thoughts can lead us down this sorrowful road.  Example of a bad thought: remembrance of wrongs.   Example of a good thought: the protection of children.  Even the latter can become perverted so that the parent becomes a curse to himself, to his children, and to everyone around him (other examples: health, work, church/religion).  In these times, it is important to realize that even thoughts that begin from a good place – a desire for another’s safety or a desire for justice – can lead us down this road if we lose perspective and grounding.  The media is designed to feed this obsession.  The real danger for us as Christians is that we are trained by our faith to care for the good and to hate all that is evil; without discernment and peace, our feelings can open us to the kind of manipulation that can lead to the kind of madness that will have us all running crazy through the graveyards.

The third and concluding point is to remind you that this is place where miracles happen. 

This is where God works to bring peace to our souls, to our families, to our community, and to our world.  This is where God roots out the demons and obsessions that have all but ruined our lives.  This is where God brings joy to those who have oppressed by the wickedness of a fallen world.  We have all seen it happen.  We are here because we know this to be a place of peace and power.

Conclusion:  Give your life to Christ

God will not force His miracles on us.  Remember in the story that the demoniacs were not the only ones possessed: there was a whole town nearby that loved their swine and the money those pigs made them so much that they could neither rejoice in the healing of their brothers nor embrace the one God who brought him healing; much less see the demons in their own hearts and seek his mercy themselves.  Instead, they ran Christ out of town. 

We all need healing.  We are all obsessed.  We need to let go of [and renounce] “the devil and all his works, and all his worship, and all his angels, and all his pomp.” 

We must unite ourselves completely to Christ; as St. Paul put it this morning, we need to confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead.  This is the way out of fear, this is the way out of madness, this is the only Way to perfect peace and joy.

 

Direct download: 20200712-H-ModernDemonography.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 7:24pm EDT

This is a recording of Fr. Anthony Perkins' YouTube Livestream from 7/6/2020.  After talking about the (Liturgical) Summer Solstice, he talks about identity politics and the greatest patriotic sf movie ever.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20200706-YT-HappySummerSolstace.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

This is a recording of Fr. Anthony Perkins' Livestream from his back porch in Hartwell, Georgia on 30 June 2020.  He talks about how the modern troubles play on the lowest part of our minds and why "Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future" is incomplete and misleading.

Direct download: 20200630-YT-EmotionsandAliens.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Homily for the third Sunday after Pentecost (Romans 5:1-10; Matthew 6:22-33).  Do we have anxiety or peace?  Are our tribulations bringing us anger and despondency or hope?  In this homily, Fr. Anthony makes the case that we are suffering from the chaos around us because we skipped a step: we went straight to virtue without first seeking God and His righteousness.  This was Fr. Anthony's audible homily; it's not polished, but there you go.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily-WeAreDoingItWrong.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

This talk was recorded and streamed at 10AM EST on 22 June 2020 on Fr. Anthony Perkins' Youtube Channel.  In it, Fr. Anthony talks about what St. Paul’s letter to the Romans teaches us about the utility of feelings and science for discerning and healing the world’s pain.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Talk-WeCANNOTTrustourFeelings.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Fr. Anthony preaches on the epistle reading (Romans 2:10-16), explaining St. Paul's take on the utility of The Law (for the Jews) vs. the Conscience (for the Gentiles) and what it means for us now.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily-AllLocalSaints.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 7:38pm EDT

Homily for All Saints 2020
Continuing on the theme of Division

Call to unity.  But we experience division.  The devil loves to divide us [and to solve that division with hedonism and tyranny]. 

[Review the three parts of the mind]

Rather than taking the unity of God into our minds (through the heart), and spreading it through our families, friendships, communities and the world; we do the opposite: we take the divisions and tyrannies of the devil in the world, bring them into our minds (through our emotions; justified by our brains), and spread them through our families and friendships and communities and the world [giving it back with usury].

We have entire industries devoted to sowing this division through our emotions, under the guise of entertainment and news.

 Everything is turned upside down (in the theater). Who is it that plots against our marriages? Is it not the theater?  Don’t you see how this makes it impossible for women to love their husbands?  Don’t you see how this leads husbands to disdain their wives?  Don’t you see how this encourages insatiability, adultery, and divorce?  This is how it is not just with the theater itself; the theater-goers themselves are subversive of our families and community; they bring a grievous tyranny among themselves and into our midst.  St. John Chrysostom, “Homily 37”.

[Restate that in terms of race.  It also works for politics, sex, etc.]

The media make money by playing up our divisions [and then offering hedonism and tyranny as a solution].  They know how to use the emotions that the images and stories they craft generate to manipulate us to watch more news.  That’s their model for making money.  They devil rejoices in this because it takes people who have SO MUCH in common to distrust and even hate one another.  This is true of the entire news and media system.  We can’t think that we have opted out because we have found an unbiased source or balanced one set against another.  They are still manipulating us and dividing us for market share.

So what is the solution?

God gave us our psychology for our salvation.  The evil one uses it to manipulate and divide us; the Church works with our psychology to save and unite us.

  • First. Cut way back on our screen time, to include news and social media.  Don’t let them feed the emotions.
  • Second.  Pray.  Read pious and useful literature.  Watch pious and useful entertainment.
  • Third.  Love.  Don’t judge.  Be charitable.

It is easier for Christians who actually pray the prayers of the Church in their daily prayer rules, surrounds themselves with icons, and avoid the excesses of the media to live well because they know from the depths of their heart that they live in a beautiful world among the saints.  Such people have has set themselves up for success.

One final thought [drawing on the parallel between marriage and the Church]:

What would you think of a married man who spent more time hanging out at the bar with his bachelor and adulterous friends than with his wife?

What would you think of a wife who spent more time complaining about men with her friends than nurturing her marriage?

How long would you expect their marriages to last?  And if they lasted, how happy would you expect that marriages to be?

[Restate this with regard to our nation and community.]

We have to be intentional about our relationships with one another in order to find peace and joy within them.  It is the same for our relationship with Christ.  We cannot live healthy Christian lives without nurturing our relationship with Him.  He is Incarnate in His Church.  That means that we must devote ourselves to the life of Christ here in this God-protected parish.

Direct download: Homily-AllSaints2020.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 1:58pm EDT

At Pentecost we celebrate the Holy Trinity and the restoration of unity from the division of Babel.  How are we to understand the present division within that frame?  Fr. Anthony provides some context and gives three pieces of advice for these difficult times:  1) cultivate peace in the heart and in relations 2) be charitable towards the intentions of others and 3) trust God's plan on redemption for all of us.  

Direct download: Homily-Pentecost.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 4:03pm EDT

This homily was given on the Sunday after the Ascension (St. John 17:1-13; Acts 20:16-18, 28-36) and after a week of our shared outrage over police brutality and a growing concern about the rioting that has occurred in response to that brutality.  God wants us to be one; how are we doing with that?!

Direct download: 2200531-HomilyonUnity.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 2:36pm EDT

Join Fr. Anthony on his back porch in Hartwell, Georgia, as he talks with author, priest, professor, and canonist, Fr. Harry Linsinbigler about Orthodox Ecclesiology and Ukraine.  There's at least a little in here for everyone to be challenged by.

Direct download: 2200527-EcclesiologyandUkraine.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Join Fr. Anthony Perkins on his back porch in Hartwell, GA as he talks with author, canonist, and professor, Fr. Harry Linsinbigler about his new book on ecclesiology, "In Every Church" (also "Orthodox Ecclesiology") and how it helps us understand today's ecclesial challenges.  They also talk about how ecclesiology expresses itself in the responses to the coronavirus.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 2200526-EcclesiologyII.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

In this homily on the woman at the well (St. Luke 4:1-42), Fr. Anthony describes how Jesus Christ taught us to do evangelism by leading with love.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20200517-HomilyonLeadingwithLove.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Join Fr. Anthony on his back porch in Hartwell, Georgia, as talks with priest, professor, and canonist, Fr. Harry, about his new books ("In Every Church" and "Orthodox Ecclesiology") and why it’s important to get ecclesiology right.  This is a recording from https://www.youtube.com/user/74snipe/videos.

Direct download: 2200512-EcclesiologyI.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Christ healed the paralytic.  St. Peter healed Ananias and raised Tabitha from the dead.  We sure could use some of that kind of power now, right?  Enjoy the show.

Direct download: 20200510-HomilyonHealingPeopleNow.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 7:47pm EDT

In this homily on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers (St. Mark 15:43-16:8), Fr. Anthony compares our reactions to deaths caused by COVID-19 to the reactions of various groups at the time of Christ's death.  He finishes by encouraging us to imitate the witness of the Myrrhbearers who reacted in the noblest way possible: love.

Direct download: 20200503-HomilyonAttitudestowardsDeath.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 6:18pm EDT

Join Fr. Anthony on his back porch in Hartwell, Georgia as he talks with his mentor and friend, Fr. Robert Holet (UOC-USA) about how we can take this opportunity to meet the evangelical challenges of today and prepare for those of tomorrow.  This is the audio from Fr. Anthony's daily YouTube livestream (Fr. Anthony Perkins).  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20200428-HoletandEvangelization.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 5:22pm EDT

Join me on my back porch in Hartwell, Georgia as I make a case for optimism, boundaries, and the virtue of having a generous spirit.  The last bit ends up being pretty profound (through no fault of my own, I assure you!).  From my daily livestream on YouTube (Fr. Anthony Perkins).  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20200427-AGentleSpirit.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 2:30pm EDT

This is the audio from my daily YouTube livestream (https://www.youtube.com/user/74snipe/)  In it, I talk about the value of diversity in risk-adversity and areas of expertise and describe how our culture's willingness to tolerate diversity will allow us to make it through this crisis better than if we only had people who thought correctly.  I also talk about the value of optimism and use the example of a recent MP article on aliens to describe how NOT to evangelize people who know how to think critically.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20200424-OptimismandAliens.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Join Fr. Anthony on his back porch in Hartwell, GA, as he talks with Fr. Gabriel Rochelle (UOC-USA) about breadmaking, cycling, Celtic spirituality, and the Old Testament.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20200408-FrGabriel.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 10:21pm EDT

Join Fr. Anthony Perkins on his back porch in Hartwell, Georgia, as he talks with Julianna Golas (Human Development and Family Studies, University of Rhode Island) about parenting during these hard times. Themes addressed will include finding your family rhythm in chaos, the power of routines, and recognizing the signs of mental health distress.

Direct download: 20200407-Golas.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 8:45pm EDT

Join Fr. Anthony on his back porch in Hartwell, GA as he talks about connection, story, and a simple way to find comfort and joy even in the midst of a trial.  This is the audio from Fr. Anthony Perkins' YouTube livestream (YouTube channel: Fr. Anthony Perkins).  Check it out!

Direct download: 20200406-FindingComfortNow.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Fr. Anthony shares a lesson that both the Apostles Luke and John and St. Mary of Egypt learned: that our default setting may make us feel right and good, but our feelings are a poor indicator of truth.  Our experience with the Coronavirus helps us understand this and why the world groans in agony as a result.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: CoronavirusandthePsychologyofMisingtheMark.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 8:43pm EDT

Listen as Dn Tim Kelleher, author, actor, director, and deacon talks about story, liturgy, and how we can deepen our faith in difficult times.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 20200403-DnTimKelleher-audio.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Check out our daily livestream on YouTube at "Fr. Anthony Perkins"!

A Meditation on St. John’s “The Ladder of Divine Ascent”

What is Orthodox Tradition? Why is it important for us to immerse ourselves in the worship and rigors of Orthodoxy?

At the visible level, one that can be observed and studied by scientists, tradition is the accumulation of rituals and ideas that are directed towards a purpose. In the case of Orthodox Tradition, that purpose is the formation of good and strong human beings, good and strong families, and good and strong communities.

We know that, left to their own devices, children will go selfish and feral (spoiled, if you will); that family structures will morph into tyranny or disintegrate altogether, and communities will do the same.

On the other hand, good ideas and useful rituals allow humans, families, and societies a way out of this nasty and brutish life. Through Orthodox ritual and belief, the passions are tamed. The child learns self-control, the family finds grounding, and the community naturally brings safety, healing, and guidance to all its members. Beliefs and rituals that do these things are continually reaffirmed through our participation in them and those that prove counter-productive are adjusted. This is done slowly, and with a recognition that there is a wisdom in tradition that is seldom obvious to the impatient.

But there are other forces at play; there is an invisible level. God continually works through His prophets, His Christ, His Holy Spirit, and His Church to grant discernment to individuals, yes, but mostly to the community as a whole. The rituals and ideas of Orthodoxy are not just useful (although they are), they are inspired and strengthen by grace. Even more importantly, Orthodox Tradition is not directed primarily to the perfection of people, families, and communities, but to their salvation. To put it in theological language, we are not just learning to subdue our baser instincts, we are being saved and drawn deeper into infinite perfection through our life in Christ and Holy Orthodoxy.

If we look around, we cannot help but notice that all reasonably healthy, traditional societies have religious systems that have accumulated ideas and rituals that civilize their adherents. Because there is only one human race and we all have the same line between good and evil dividing our hearts, there is a lot of overlap in their ideas and rituals. Virtue is encouraged; vice is shamed and disciplined; and the unity of the good is proclaimed and celebrated. To the extent that we have become lax in our own devotion, we are encouraged by their witness.

We also cannot help but notice that those societies and cultures that have rejected older ways of wisdom in favor of fads and the fulfillment of every flick good idea fairy’s wand find themselves unable to sustain anything but change, leading to a degeneration of the person, the family, the culture, and the world.

This is not to say that all traditions, or even everything that has accumulated around Holy Orthodoxy is good and healthy and should be preserved.  We are all familiar with tradition with a big T – the things that need to be preserved – and tradition with a little t; those things that may be useful for some times and places, but should be replaced with something better as they become counter-productive.

This crisis has forced us to realize how hard that adjustment is.  One of the little t tradition that is hurting us now is that our spirituality has become synonymous with our regular participation in the Holy Eucharist. The big T tradition here is the ontology of the Eucharist and our need for it.  But to the extent that we have missed or neglected other parts of our Faith; the building up of and the experience of the kingdom of God in our hearts and the reality of God’s presence in our homes, then we are less prepared than we should be to face the present temptations and struggles.  The same goes for the mysterious ontology of suffering and the Church’s teaching on how to do it well and in a manner that blesses the people around us

And so, this social distancing becomes an opportunity to broaden our little t traditions; those rituals, ideas, and conversations that flow naturally from our ancient faith and provide wisdom – tested and perfected over time -  to deal with the realities we face right now.  We need not wait until the “good old days” are restored to thrive. 

The wisdom of St. John of the Ladder shares a part of this tradition we need: how to live well alone and how to live well in isolation with others.

  1. Watch your thoughts.  They need not define you (unless you want to be crazy).
  2. Redirect away from unhealthy thoughts; reinforce and intentionally engage thoughts that are patient, kind, and hopeful. Prayer will help with this.
  3. Be the patient pastor of yourself and the people you are living with. NOT the tyrant or passive aggressive rebel.  Build them up and encourage them.
  4. Cultivate peace through silence. Through the slow but kind word, and through every well-considered action.

These will not just allow us to come through this present crisis stronger than we entered as individuals and families; it will bring an important but atrophied part of our ancient and venerable Orthodox tradition back into our daily lives, allowing us and our children to be more prepared for whatever challenges they face.

And when our regular access to the Eucharist is restored to its proper place in the center of our communities, we will allow it to feed rather than atrophy the kingdom of God within us and within our families.

Let us immerse ourselves in that fullness of faithful believers and families, gathered around the celebration of the Eucharist now, as we continue our celebration of God’s love for us, His people, and His world.

Direct download: Homily-EmbraceTradition.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

This is the audio from Fr. Anthony's daily youtube livestream: (https://www.youtube.com/user/74snipe).  Before praying the Moleban for Times of Pestilence and Deathbearing Disease (Book of Needs, Volume 4, St. Tikhons), Fr. Anthony invites us to enter into an attitude of prayer together with three deep breaths and the Jesus Prayer.

Direct download: Moleban-Pestilance.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 11:42am EDT

Listen as Fr. Anthony tries to share three ways that our suffering can become an opportunity for grace.  But listen with patience, because he (I!) didn't do it all that well (God forgives, but perhaps he (I!) needs more sleep?)!  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily-SufferingWell.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

In this homily, given as the devastation and growing risk of the coronavirus is becoming known, Fr. Anthony takes us back to basics, calling us to love (and know) God in peace and to love (and serve) our neighbor in hardship.  The latter includes a willingness to suffer well, in Christ. 

Direct download: Homily_-_Back_to_Basics.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 4:52pm EDT

In this homily given on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, Fr. Anthony makes the point that it is much more difficult to bring people into the Church than it is to drive them out and keep them away.  One easy way we, members of the Royal Priesthood, can keep people out of our pews is by showing how much more seriously we take our tribal politics than the Gospel.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily_-_Sunday_of_Orthodoxy_2020.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 3:26pm EDT

Homily on St. Matthew 6:14-21, in which Fr. Anthony distinguishes between forgiveness that leads to reconciliation, that which allows relations to continue in hopes of reconciliation, and that which leads to an unfortunate but necessary separation.

Direct download: Homily_-_Forgiveness_2020.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

As I told the people at the end of the liturgy, this homily was about two hours of editing away from being worthwhile!  It's great being in a PhD program, etc., but it leaves much time than I'm used to (and need) to prepare.  It's usually okay, but this day I tried out a couple points that weren't quite ready.

Direct download: Homily_-_Last_Judgment_2020.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Dn. Michael Abrahamson talks about the role music (and kindness) has played in his deepening his love of God.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Talk-20200216.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 9:09pm EDT

In this homily on the parable of the Prodigal Son (St. Luke 15:11-32), Fr. Anthony challenges us to move beyond seeing ourselves just as the Prodigal into imitating the Father (while avoiding becoming the Older Son!).  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily-OurStoryintheProdigalSon.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 8:38pm EDT

Arranged by Dn. Michael Abrahamson, sung as part of the Divine Liturgy at Holy Resurrection Mission (UOC-USA) in Waynesville, NC on 2/16/2020.

Direct download: Anaphora-HolyHolyHoly.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 8:21pm EDT

Arranged by Dn. Michael Abrahamson.  Sung as part of the Divine Liturgy at Holy Resurrection Mission (UOC-USA) in Waynesville, NC on 2/16/2020.

Direct download: Trisagion-OdetoJoy.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 8:18pm EDT

Homily – Publican and Pharisee
Fr. Anthony Perkins

All of creation is pregnant with potential – less full of lifeless atoms or particles than of seeds just waiting to be brought forth into fruition.  And here I speak not just of literal seeds (although it is almost time to start working with those and getting them ready for transfer into the garden come Spring), but of everything. 

All of creation is ready to grow, made that way by its Maker, just waiting for our attention – the attention of its stewards – to bring it from possibility into realization.  When sown by stewards of pure heart and understanding, these seeds will be nurtured into beauty, offering the best possible fruit, [and] manifesting the glory of God in very tangible ways.  When sown by stewards of ill will, apathetic spirit, or twisted rationality, these seeds will grow into something much less savory, twisted testimonies to pride and carelessness.  Think of these examples:

  • The relationship of the newly wedded couple contains so much potential. Will they be good stewards of that seed, nurturing it into a marriage that will be a blessing to themselves, their families, and their communities? Or will they warp it with the waters of their own pride, forcing it to grow into a noxious and bitter weed with reeking flowers that foul the air and harm all those who rub against it?  The seed could grow either way – it is up to them; it is their decision.
  • Starting even earlier, take the example of the literal seed within the womb. There is so much potential there.  What will it become?  A child of light or a spreader of darkness?  Or, like a quarter of such perfect seeds, will it be sacrificed to the false gods of irresponsibility and liberation long before it sees the light of day?
  • Take the first interaction between strangers – will this potential relationship manifest itself as an application of love and friendship, or as a selfish transaction between a hustler and his mark? Or will the potential remain just that as the two strangers remain just that – strangers – and the possibility for the incarnation of perfection through what could have been a powerful friendship remains unrealized.

 

Perhaps these are too abstract – we are not used to thinking about relationships in these terms.  Americans tend to be more practical – so let us turn to the building blocks of this society: money and time. 

  • Each dollar within our wallets, our purses, and our accounts is a seed. It has such potential to change lives – will it grow into a beautiful fruit that feeds and heals, or a stunted sacrifice designed to slate our selfish addictions for a moment longer.  It has such great potential – what kind of stewards of that dollar – that talent, to use Biblical language – will we be?
  • And what will we do with our time? Every moment is so pregnant – what will it become?  How will it be redeemed?  In idleness or action?  In prayer or prelest?  As an offering to love or selfishness?  Today we have a great lesson in the use – and misuse of time.  Will we work the moments we are given in a way that brings us into closer union with perfection, or will we work it in a way that moves us only deeper into our own delusion?

Let’s look at the lesson from the Creator Himself that describes this very dynamic.

  • Let’s start with the Pharisee.  He was praying.  How could he go wrong?  He had tended his garden so well… but then poisoned it with his pride.  The moment wasn’t just wasted, it was polluted.
  • How about the Publican?  He was praying, too.  No matter what a mess he had made with all the previous potentialities, in this moment – he was pure.  And God moved within the seed of that moment, that pure offering, and it became like the mustard seed – growing to crowd out all that had been grown before.

Another way to think of this is that there is a seed of perfection within us all, ready to manifest itself through every moment and action of our lives.  But we can pervert this possibility with our willfulness and pride. 

Let's not do that; that would be bad! 

Instead, let us look at every moment as an opportunity to do something good and to do something beautiful so that we and this world we are meant to care for will become good and beautiful. 

The Gospel lesson today shows us that the way to bless the moment in this way begins not with memorizing the scripture or mastering the rigors of fasting or of tithing everything we have.  The Pharisee did all those things in a way that closed his soul off from grace.  No, we begin as the Publican: with humility. 

On our own, we have nothing to offer the moment that can help it.  We have nothing to share with our neighbor that can benefit them.  We have nothing fitting to offer God that can match His glory.  And so we offer him our humility. 

And this humility becomes an opening through which the grace can flow, and as long as we keep it open – as long as we keep pride at bay and remain attentive to the actual needs of the moment - that grace will transform us and bless everyone around us.  The imagery given to the prophet Isaiah will then be fulfilled: the desert places will become fruitful gardens because we will have watered them with the teats of our repentance and with the Living Water of grace that flows from the open heart of Christ and all His people.       

Direct download: Homily-SanctifytheMomentwiththePublican.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 4:20pm EDT

In this homily, Fr. Anthony draws on the example Zacchaeus to describe the need for repentance and commitment in the life of the Christian.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily-ZachaeusandSalvation.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Tito Coliander's Way of Ascetics.  It's awesome.  We're working our way through it together.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Class_-_The_Way_of_Ascetics_02.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

In this homily given on the celebration of the Trinitarian Epiphany at Christ's Baptism, Fr. Anthony literally goes back to the beginning and then places the celebration of Christ's baptism within the economy of salvation (Lord, I hope the homily was better than that summary of it!).  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily_-_Theophany_and_Orthodox_Sacramental_Theology.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 5:26pm EDT

In this homily on the Sunday after Theophany (Ephesians 4:7-13; St. Matthew 4:12-17), Fr. Anthony talks about the gains made in the spreading of wealth (and the dramatic reduction of poverty) brought about through economic freedom, a freedom that encourages and empowers people to identify needs and contribute to the good of all; and uses that as a metaphor for understanding the St. Paul's call to all to find and exercise their gifts toward the building up of the Kingdom.  Enjoy the show!

Direct download: Homily_on_the_Empowerment_of_the_Saints.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 7:31pm EDT

Tito Coliander's Way of Ascetics.  It's awesome.  We're going to work our way through it together.  Today's class was interrupted by a tornado warning.  We're all okay, but the recorder shut off (I guess it got scared?)!

Direct download: Class_-_The_Way_of_Ascetics_01.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

The Sunday before the Nativity is for remembering and celebrating the lives of the "ancestors of God."  In this homily, Fr. Anthony encourages us to learn charity towards our neighbors based on the way Scripture (and thus the Holy Spirit) interprets the lives of the heroes of the Old Testament.

Direct download: Homily-_Sunday_before_Nativity_OC.mp3
Category:Orthodox Podcast -- posted at: 4:51pm EDT

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