Archives For Eastern Orthodoxy


“Knowing Him Comes Gradually”

A review of
Giver of Life:
The Holy Spirit in Orthodox Tradition

Fr. John W. Oliver.
Paperback: Paraclete Press, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Josh Wallace.

I often find myself in the last scenes of John’s Gospel. First I am with Jesus’ followers in the upper room, bewildered by the ordeal of Jesus’s crucifixion, hearts harboring the faintest hopes of a rumored resurrection. Suddenly, though the doors are bolted shut, Jesus stands among us, raising wounded hands to bless us. And though the doors are bolted shut, he sends us out with the same purposes for which his Father sent him.

Next, Jesus breathes on us the Spirit, to comfort and encourage, to authorize and to empower. “Receive the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit, the ongoing presence of Immanuel, God with us, our share in Christ’s baptismal anointing, the love of Christ which compels us to unlock our doors and go out as ambassadors of reconciliation. Jesus’ has given us his Spirit.

Then I read chapter 21: Peter says, “Let’s go fishing.” Commentaries on this passage tell me that the apostles (for Jesus has indeed sent them) needed time to understand the full significance of their commission. Apparently. Only after Jesus shows up on the beach, after he shares breakfast with his friends, after he pulls Peter aside for a private conversation do we begin to realize with Peter the Spirit’s work: Jesus said to Peter, “Follow me” (John 21:19).

Two thousand years later, I am still with Peter on the beach, slowly coming to realize who this Spirit is, his intimate participation in the life of God, the life of Christ. Father John Oliver in Giver of Life: the Holy Spirit in Orthodox Tradition leads his readers in a similar patient, gradual unveiling of the Spirit’s significance. Continue Reading…


“A Dearly Loved Melody”

A Review of
The Jesus Prayer:
The Ancient Desert Prayer
That Tunes the Heart to God.

By Frederica Mathewes-Green.

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

The Jesus Prayer:
The Ancient Desert Prayer
That Tunes the Heart to God.

Frederica Mathewes-Green.

Paperback: Paraclete Press, 2009.
Buy now: [ ]

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me”  — The Jesus Prayer.

The Jesus Prayer - F. Mathewes-GreenI have long been captivated by the writings of Frederica Matthewes-Green, one of today’s most widely-read writers of the Eastern Orthodox Tradition.  Her works, infused with a rich flavor of Church history, always serve as poignant reminders that we as God’s people are a part of a long tradition of faithfulness.  Thus, my interest was piqued when I heard of her newest book The Jesus Prayer: The Ancient Desert Prayer That Tunes the Heart to God.  Having just seen the title, I was a little wary – as I often am of books with titles like this one – of this book just offering another religious technique (in the specific Jacques Ellul sense of that word, i.e., as a mechanical means that ensures an end). But in the opening pages of the book, Mathewes-Green allays my concerns, describing the praying of the Jesus prayer as a practice that helps you “hone your ability to discern God’s presence” (x).  Recognizing the challenge of “praying without ceasing,” Mathewes-Green proposes the praying of the Jesus prayer as a means to draw us more fully into a life of prayer.

Continue Reading…