Category Archives: Spirituality
There is nothing more important to the eternal well-being of a young Christian than making God a priority when you are young. Your whole Christian life will be shaped by choices you make now. Indeed the Christian person you grow up to be is built upon the foundations you lay in your youth. What you do now matters. If it matters that you do your school work well, and keep out of trouble, then it matters a hundred-fold more that you are deepening your relationship with God now. How precious these years of your youth are. It is almost impossible for a young person to realise their value until they have passed. An older person often looks back with many regrets because it is not possible to begin again. Our choices in youth affect us for the rest of our lives, and even into eternity.
Over the course of the last few months we have been considering what it is to be someone whose life is given over to prayer. We saw in our first study that the practice of prayer, and growth in the virtues and in holiness must go hand in hand. To pray does not excuse us from ascetic effort. There is no special form of words which will suddenly transform everything about us. The one who wishes to practice prayer must be committed to a life time of struggle against our own will, against the passions, against the influence of the world around us, and against the wiles and snares of Satan himself.
To begin to pray is to set our hand to the plough, and we will not create a straight and firm furrow in the soil of our heart if we keep turning backwards and looking to the life we have left behind. And we have seen that to pray does indeed require us to leave our old life behind. Abba Isaac teaches us that to pray requires us to put aside all thought of earthly things and to turn towards God with thankfulness and humble worship.
In our first study together we considered the context in which our Lord’s instruction to his disciples on the subject of prayer took place. We saw that it was set into a series of passages in both the Gospel of St Matthew and St Luke which are concerned with the sort of person we are. I would now like us to continue in our study of these passages from St Matthew and St Luke and consider especially the words of the prayer which our Lord Jesus Christ taught his disciples.
Father Peter Farrington spoke on the text 'Greater than all the herbs' (Matthew 13:32) at a British Orthodox Study day at Mickfield, Suffolk. Father Peter asks what is required of us as Orthodox Christians if we would see the Church grow as God desires, and he encourages all to have an enthusiasm for their faith.
Today is the joyful feast of Pentecost. It is the day in the year when we especially commemorate with thanksgiving the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Christ who had remained faithful, and continued to gather together both through the despair of the cross, the joy of the resurrection and the hope of the ascension. Of course it is also a time for us to give thanks for the continuing outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church, and even upon each one of us, unworthy though we know ourselves to be....
This podcast has been produced as part of the Orthodox Monasticism course being provided by the London School of Orthodox Christian Studies. This course, together with others being offered, is an online, distance learning course, open to students of all ages, background and international locations. Please visit the London School of Orthodox Christian Studies website for more details.
In this podcast I would like us to consider one of those groups which seems to have been an early precursor of the Orthodox monastic life. These are the less generally well known community known as the Therapeutae. They are described to us by Philo of Alexandria and certainly existed at the time of Christ.
The first podcast considering the intermediate state of the soul after death showed that the Fathers of the early Church were unanimous in teaching that the soul continued to exist apart from the body after death, and was in a conscious state of awareness. Over the next series of podcasts on this subject Father Peter Farrington will examine the teachings of some of the most important Fathers in some depth. In this podcast the views of St Severus of Antioch, one of the most important Fathers of the Oriental Orthodox communion, are examined through passages from a selection of his letters. St Severus is shown to be absolutely clear in his insistence on the continuing existence of the soul after death, and in its conscious state of awareness.
This podcast contains some brief considerations on Orthodox Monasticism. It particularly refers to the fact that monasticism in Eastern Christianity is not monolithic. It does not have exactly the same forms and practices in all places and at all times. The podcast also looks at the influence which monasticism has had, and continues to have, on the development of the spiritual life of the Orthodox Churches. There is also reference to the monastic experience in Russia and the Persian Empire.
The London School of Orthodox Christian Studies is now accepting registrations for the course on Orthodox Monasticism. More details can be found on the LSOCS website - click here
As the season of Great Lent is about to begin the Church leads us to consider the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ on prayer, fasting, and other works of charity, which should characterise the Christian life. This homily reminds us that our Lord speaks of 'when we fast', not 'if we fast'. Fasting is not a miserable exercise, but one which leads to light and joy and the experience of God.
I am an Orthodox Christian because I believe that the Gospels are reliable eyewitness accounts of the life of Jesus Christ. The modern view which held that the Gospels were all written well after the time of any who had known Christ is now widely discredited. Indeed even those who are willing to pull the Gospels apart realise that it is not possible to ignore the role of eyewitnesses in the creation of the Gospels. In this podcast I explain why I believe that the Gospels are credible and reliable, and why I think it is entirely reasonable to trust their authors.
St Jacob of Serugh is a Syrian Orthodox writer of the 5th and 6th centuries who is especially famous for his poetic homilies, many of which remain untranslated into Western language. There are portions of his work which deal with the Eucharist and this podcast studies them to discover how we should understand the Eucharist, and how we can best participate in it for our salvation.
The influence of modern Evangelical Protestantism in the lives of many Orthodox, and even in some congregations, is a feature of 21st century Orthodox development which is often criticised. Many of those who find greater value in Evangelical practices and spirituality rather than in the Orthodox Tradition do not have an adequate appreciation of either Protestantism or Orthodoxy. As a convert to Orthodoxy from Evangelical Protestantism, Father Peter Farrington is ideally placed to be able to question the fascination among some Orthodox with heterodox Christianity.