December 28, 2017

“Live without cares, judge no one, vex no one, and honor everyone.” – St. Ambrose of Optina “There is your brother, naked, crying, and you stand there confused over the choice of an attractive floor covering.” – St. Ambrose of Milan I often say it, but I’ll say it again: it is the martyrs, confessors, and riff-raff who keep Christianity alive in my heart. By profession, I’m a “scholar”; much of my life is spent reading arcane texts, quibbling over… Read more

December 27, 2017

Christmas time is when we cry out in joy at the announcement of a birth that goes by many names: the Incarnation, the Nativity, the Coming of the Lord. But, as the coming Feast of the Holy Innocents may remind us, death and life are never far apart. Christmas carries with it the stark price of children’s blood and the Incarnation inevitably leads to Golgotha, only to be reversed in the rising on the third day. It is in this… Read more

December 26, 2017

In the West, today marks the Feast of St. Stephen, deacon and first-recorded martyr. Tomorrow, for those Eastern Churches using the Gregorian or Revised Julian calendars (including my own Ruthenian Church), will bring the same celebration, a day to reflect on the first man to “fight the good fight,” to win the stephanos, the crown of martyrdom. December 26th is a state holiday in many countries, especially in Europe, a day to mark the ongoing joy of the Christmas Season,… Read more

December 25, 2017

These are the words with which my Church greets the birth of Christ: Christ is born! The traditional response is slavite Jeho, or “glorify Him!” Slight variations obtain, depending if you’re Russian, Ukrainian, or whatever other Slavic Byzantine tradition one might happen to be, but the point is always the same: God dwells among us; let us offer Him His due praise. This is, in a way, impossible. We cannot offer God all that He deserves. If we could, He… Read more

December 22, 2017

This seems an obvious statement, but, as with all things obvious, it’s only so when it counts, counts for the one speaking anyway. Our culture is obsessed by the idea that language shouldn’t be allowed primacy of place, especially when it comes to offense. In fact, there’s a whole Oxford Dictionaries entry on “snowflakes”: The Trump presidency has intensified the war of words between those people who voted for the billionaire businessman and those who oppose his policies. One term… Read more

December 12, 2017

These sorts of pieces often begin by letting the reader know where the word “nice” comes from. As a medievalist, I especially should delight in bringing this little bit of half-forgotten knowledge to light. It comes to us from the Latin “nescius,” meaning “ignorant” (itself coming from “nescire,” “to not know”) by way of French. By the late 12th century, it meant “silly” or “stupid.” One can observe its transition from its initial meaning to the one we know today… Read more

December 6, 2017

Twitter and Facebook have made it more than clear that Latin Advent has begun. Devotionals are being posted, prayers recommended, and all sorts of exhortations are circulating through the digital world. It occurred to me that many people (you treasured few who waste bits of your time reading my work!) might not know much about the Byzantine version of this liturgical period, a preparatory time second only to the Great Fast (before Pascha, also known as Easter) for those of… Read more

December 5, 2017

Most of what I write for this blog deals with, naturally enough, Catholicism. Sometimes I write reflections; other times I focus on socio-political questions. At times, I just address whatever of interest is going on in the Church. But every now and then, since I’m a graduate student, I weigh in on academia. This is one of the times. You see, a lot has been written about the GOP tax plan. Almost everyone knows something about it. What has received… Read more

December 4, 2017

“To coerce a man is to deprive him of freedom—freedom from what? Almost every moralist in human history has praised freedom. Like happiness and goodness, like nature and reality, the meaning of this term is so porous that there is little interpretation that it seems able to resist.” – Isaiah Berlin Being American, I can’t help but hear the words “freedom” and “liberty” a lot. Every sporting event, never mind every communal gathering, finds its beginning in our national anthem:… Read more

November 20, 2017

It may seem rather odd for a Catholic to juxtapose these two terms, to place the Faith alongside a word that’s most often taken to mean a misguided viewpoint, even a self-serving way of seeing. Many would say that the whole point of becoming Catholic is to enter into a relationship with Christ and His Church. Our goal is to avoid refracted and insufficient ways of seeing, to pursue the greatest good rather than deficient, created ones. Certainly that is… Read more

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