Category Archives: Christian Practice

The Gift of Tears
A Path to Conversion and Enlightenment

by Matt Kappadakunnel

crying woman

In my last article in Public Orthodoxy, I shared a reflection on the Jesus Prayer

An important facet of the prayer—one that I often overlook or speed past—is acknowledging in humility and truth before God that I am a sinner.

We are often afraid to acknowledge our fallen areas and our need for growth. When we are not mindful of the portion of the Jesus Prayer that precedes the word sinner—mercy—our guilt from past wrongs can lead us to shame. We believe that not only did we commit bad actions, but that we are our bad actions and therefore are bad.

The Holy Spirit, however, has a very different trajectory when it comes to sin. 

The Spirit reminded me of two occasions in elementary school when I was harmful to a fellow schoolmate. I experienced tremendous regret for those actions, but the Spirit prevented me from going down the path of discouragement. Instead, I began spontaneously to shed tears for these past wrongs, tears that did not promote sadness but healing, renewal, and gratitude.

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The Jesus Prayer and the Way of This Pilgrim

by Matt Kappadakunnel | Русский

man praying

As an Eastern Catholic, I find tremendous solidarity with Orthodox Christians. One of these areas of commonality is our love for the Jesus Prayer.

I discovered the Jesus Prayer in an unlikely place and from an unlikely source.

In 2010, during my first year of the Jesuit Novitiate, I borrowed JD Salinger’s Franny and Zooey from the community library. I loved reading The Catcher in the Rye in high school and shortly after college, so I was intrigued to read another Salinger novel. 

But I didn’t expect this Salinger novel to have a spiritual impact on me.

Zooey introduced me to the Jesus Prayer. When she explained this prayer to her boyfriend Lane, she enlightened me, and I am sure many others, about the encounter with Christ and the experience of His Peace by praying this simple, ancient prayer.

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Two Kinds of Risk in the Church

by Fr. Richard René | български | ქართული | ελληνικά | Română | Русский | Српски

Steep cliff warning sign

By now, it would almost be commonplace to observe that the COVID pandemic has created (or perhaps, rather, it has apocalyptically exposed) a cultural rift within the contemporary Orthodox Christian community. As a pastor, I have experienced this division firsthand, and I know of other clergy who have lost parishioners as a result of it.

On the one side stand those who have wholeheartedly embraced government-sanctioned restrictions and measures to reduce the spread of COVID. They accept the closure of churches as a matter of course, and once gatherings are permitted, they welcome mitigation strategies such as multiple spoons for receiving communion. On the extreme end, these folks tend to get anxious when they observe any failure to comply with the letter of the health regulations.

On the other side of the rift are those who resist attempts to restrict or shut down access to in-person Church services. They view attendance at the services as an unavoidable risk, inherent to Christian faith. The most extreme of these folks accuse other Christians of moral capitulation or worse, while yearning for the days of the early Church when Christians supposedly took all manner of risks to gather for the Eucharistic liturgy.

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What Palamas Can Teach Us About Trolls

by Matt Kappadakunnel | български |  ქართული | Ελληνικά | Русский | Српски

Internet trolling has, unfortunately, become commonplace even in Christian circles. While at times these trolls are known individuals who get a rise out of provoking anger and controversy, the present trend includes anonymous social media accounts using profile photos of holy images, while spewing responses that are anything but holy.

Last month, Sister Vassa Larin hosted Professors George Demacopoulos and Aristotle Papanikolaou on her YouTube Channel “Coffee with Vassa” to discuss Public Orthodoxy and whether it is “accommodationist.”

In predictable fashion, the trolls came forth.

Without going on a tangent into the specific nature of this Internet trolling event, trolling not only predates social media, but can be found intertwined with Christian history. Even the temptation of Jesus in the desert was a form of trolling (cf. Matthew 4:1-11).

Most recently, I encountered a saint who also dealt with a troll. Following my article on Night Vigil, I became inspired to spend time with the writings of Saint Gregory Palamas, namely Holy Hesychia: The Stillness that Knows God. Therein I learned of the saint’s encounter with a troll (17).

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