‘Do you know why Hannah was so hurt?’: reflections on the Holy Ancestors

The story of Hannah that opens the Prophecy of Samuel has been one of my favourites since I was a child. Unable to have children, Hannah is mocked by everyone around her. Her husband Elkanah, described as an all-around stand-up and devout guy, is actually kind of a jerk: he takes on a second wife Peninnah, who provokes Hannah to tears on account of her closed womb. Elkanah’s cruelty, by contrast, is magnified by its lack of intention: sure, he… Read more

And I, I did not even know it: on the Nativity of the Theotokos

Last night, I walked to Great Vespers for the Nativity of the Theotokos at the temple in Richmond. Much as I love the Theotokos (doubtless, one day I will have to be psychoanalyzed because of it), I have many things to do on weekdays, so I had thought that I would not go. But then, I decided at the last minute to go, and when one decides to go to things on a whim, one does not necessarily have the requisite… Read more

Geography, the writing of the earth: reflections for the beginning of the Byzantine Year

I have a PhD in geography, so it follows that I should have something to say on this Day for the Protection of Our Natural Environment. It is, after all, a big day for our churches: since 1989, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has rung in the new Byzantine year on September 1, and since the publication of the Bishop of Rome’s encyclical Laudato Si’ in 2015, the Latin Church has joined in the fun. Those who know something about geography – the writing (graphos)… Read more

In appreciation of Artur Rosman’s Catholic imagination

My friend Artur Rosman got a job. I don’t know why so many of us were surprised that he did; maybe it’s because we’re more used to having to defend him when he gets defamed, or maybe (and more likely) it’s because he got one at our collective dream school Notre Dame. He’s the managing editor of Church Life Magazine now. He’s going to do a very good job. Some of us were a bit dismayed when Artur announced that… Read more

Writing as a convert

There has been a little bit of a dust-up in the Latin Church recently about converts talking too much, especially about Pope Francis. I am not one to comment on the internal affairs of the Latin Church, and I certainly don’t have much to say about the Bishop of Rome today; his recent ‘magisterial’ comments on liturgical reform, for example, seem to have much more to do with the liturgy of the Latin Church than the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom…. Read more

Some disorganized thoughts on Charlottesville

At the center of contemporary debate about the Charlottesville protests is a statue, at least on the surface. The monument in question is that of Robert E. Lee, Confederate general and Southern gentleman, and by now, we have all heard that Lee never wanted to have a figure of himself anywhere and that the image was put up in Charlottesville during the Jim Crow era of white supremacist segregation. And yet, in a clash between those defending the statue and those… Read more

Race and the passions: musings on the Feast of St Moses the Black, St Augustine of Hippo, and Blessed Gebremichael

Today on the Newer Calendar of the Kyivan Church, we commemorate three African saints: our Venerable Father Moses the Black, our Holy Father Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, and the Holy Martyr Gebremichael, Illuminator of Ethiopia. It would be trite of me to turn this feast into an opportunity for me to reflect on my family’s solidarity with black people. It is, however, tempting. My father, after all, was probably the first Chinese American to be ordained in the Progressive National… Read more

SERIES: Reflections on the Most Holy Theotokos and her Dormition

Over the duration of the Dormition Fast on the New Calendar (August 1-15), I wrote fifteen reflections on the presence of the Most Holy Theotokos in the world. The final post was written last week, just in time for the Feast of the Dormition. The idea came to me because I had written a draft of something on my own relationship to the Theotokos prior to the fast. In fact, I was trying to write a Catholic corollary to my… Read more

The theology of the Dormition (Dormition Fast #15/Dormition Feast)

I started this blog right before the Dormition Fast last year. Because of that, I announced that I wanted, among other things, to write about the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos. This was a new step for me; my previous forays in the blogosphere had been as a surreptitious Anglo-Catholic known as ‘Chinglican’ and as a commentator on contemporary religious happenings – and selectively so, at that. Still, I was encouraged by some of the Eastern Catholics I had met… Read more

The assumption of the people (Dormition Fast #14)

Recently, a priest of the Latin Church impressed on me the significance for the West of Pius XII defining the Dogma of the Assumption ex cathedra. He said that I had to keep in mind the time that Pius XII was writing: it was after the devastation of Europe in the Second World War. Cities had been bombed out, millions were dead, and fascist ideologies had been revealed not only to be bankrupt, but they also take down the world into… Read more

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