Wicca and Modern Heresies

Exposing Origins and Nature of the Wiccan Movement, from Atlantic Magazine

In all probability, not a single element of the Wiccan story is true. The evidence is overwhelming that Wicca is a distinctly new religion, a 1950s concoction influenced by such things as Masonic ritual and a late-nineteenth-century fascination with the esoteric and the occult, and that various assumptions informing the Wiccan view of history are deeply flawed. Furthermore, scholars generally agree that there is no indication, either archaeological or in the written record, that any ancient people ever worshipped a single, archetypal goddess—a conclusion that strikes at the heart of Wiccan belief. […]

Philokalia Volume 1

St Neilos on Ascetic Discourses

St Neilos contrasts the holy men “who live for the soul alone, turning away from the body and its wants,” the holy men who have no need to flatter the wealthy because they live simply, to those of us who, “instead of courageously struggling against our difficulties, come fawning to the wealthy, like puppies wagging their tails in the hope of being tossed a bare bone or some crumbs. To get what we want, we can them benefactors and protectors of Christians, attributing every virtue to them, even though they may be utterly wicked.” […]

Early Church Writing

St Irenaeus Blog 3 Allegorical Interpretations of Scripture

After Adam and Eve had eaten of the apple they were ashamed and hid, weaving coverings of fig leaves, a rather itchy leaf. St Irenaeus tells us, “Adam adopted a dress suited for his disobedience, awed by the fear of God,” which is the beginning of wisdom, “waiting for God’s coming.” By his dress he admits to himself, “I by disobedience lost that robe of sanctity which I had from the Spirit, I do now acknowledge that I am deserving” of such uncomfortable dress, which tortures the body. God, who is merciful, clothes them instead in a more comfortable tunics of skins of fur. They were then driven out of Paradise and the Tree of Life because “God pitied them and did not desire that he should continue a sinner forever, nor that his sins become immortal.” God set a limit to his sin by imposing death, “so that man, ceasing at length to live to sin, and dying to it, might begin to live in God.” There would be life in Christ, as St Paul exhorts, “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” […]

Philokalia Volume 1

St Hesychios On Watchfulness and Holiness

We must be watchful. “Watchfulness is a continual fixing and halting of thought at the entrance to the heart. Guard your mind and you will not be harassed by temptations. But if you fail to guard your mind, accept patiently whatever trial comes. Watchfulness when practiced over a long period, completely frees us with God’s help from impassioned thoughts, impassioned words and evil actions. . . This enables us to fulfil every divine commandment in the Old and New Testaments and bestows every blessing of the age to come. It is purity of heart, a state blessed by Christ when He says” ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’ Purity of heart is the ground for the vision of God.” […]

Early Church Writing

St Irenaeus Blog 2 Against Heresies

St Irenaeus elegantly summarizes his refutation of Gnosticism, “If Christ was not born, neither did He die. If Christ did not die, neither did He rise from the dead. If He did not rise from the dead, He did not conquer death and abolish its reign. If Christ did not conquer death, how are we to ascend to the light, we who from the beginning have been subject to death? Those who rob man of redemption do not believe that God will raise man from the dead.” […]

Philokalia Volume 1

Philokalia, On the Character of Men and the Virtuous Life

What is our most precious possession? “A virtuous way of life, conforming to God’s will, surpasses all wealth. When you reflect on this and keep in your mind constantly, you will not grumble, whine or blame anyone, but will thank God for everything, seeing that those who rely on repute and riches are worse off than yourself.”(4) “The more frugal a man’s life, the happier he is, for he is not troubled by a host of cares.” We should seek the prosperity that fills our soul rather than our pocket, for chasing after new cars and castles and country clubs will only add to the cares of this world. Should we pray to God to fill our pockets, and should we complain to God when our pockets are not filled, complaining how our prayers are never answered? Should our prayers be a shopping list we hand to God? Thieves can steal our wealth, but never our virtue. Here the Philokalia teaches that we should never consider it a loss when we lose our children, our money, or our possessions, but be thankful for all the God has loaned to us for our use, realizing it could be taken away at any time. […]

Early Church Writing

St Irenaeus Blog 1 Against Heresies, Introduction

St Irenaeus teaches us, “The redemption depends on the real Incarnation, the real suffering on the Cross, and the real resurrection of the flesh. All three of these are a scandal for Gnosticism. On their view, Mary is not really Mother of God, and Christ did not really suffer, NO, the heavenly Christ escaped before the man Jesus suffered, and there can be no question at all of an actual resurrection of the flesh. Underlying this refusal of the flesh and its saving role in the Incarnation is a confusion between the human spirit (nous) and the divine Holy Spirit.” The Gnostics want to replace the Holy spirit with the human spirit. Irenaeus preaches “the salvific character of the Incarnation of God’s Son and Word.” […]

Philokalia Volume 1

St Isaiah the Solitary on Guarding the Intellect

St Isaiah the Solitary “On Guarding the Intellect” gives us this advice, “If you find yourself hating your fellow man and resist the hatred, and you see that it grows weak and withdraws, do not rejoice in your heart; for this withdrawal is trick of the evil spirits. They are preparing a second attack worse than the first; they have left behind their troops behind the city and ordered them to remain there. If you go out to attack them, they will flee before you in weakness.” […]

Stoic Philosophers

The Stoic Socrates of Xenophon

Xenophon’s Socrates definitely sounds Stoic, he sought to die the good Stoic death. “Socrates was so arrogant in court that he invited the juror’s ill-will and more or less forced them to condemn him. His fate was proper to one loved by the gods, because he both avoided the most difficult part of life and gained the easiest of deaths. His fortitude was obvious, since he decided death was the better option, he showed no weakness in the face of death, but awaited it cheerfully.” […]

Ten Commandments

The Decalogue in the Torah, Blog 5, Coveting Tempts You To Harm Your Neighbor

Why does Rambam list these Mitzvoth thus? Is it because Exodus precedes Deuteronomy? This is not a good answer, for when studying Torah we should always favor the interpretation that draws us to Love Adonoy more intensely. Maybe Rambam is suggesting that coveting followed quickly by trying to buy your neighbor’s possessions is bad enough, but laying awake at night desiring and dreaming of your neighbor’s property is far worse. Coveting is perverse idolatry. Coveting counts here for coveting, the looking and the desiring, always precedes adultery. […]