Blog Posts

Shunamite with Son and Prophet Elisha

Whenever I’m given a choice about reading one of the fifteen Old Testament passages during the Holy Saturday service, I always say, I’d really like to read #12! Is there any chance I could be assigned #12?

In the Eastern churches, that reading recounts the story of the Prophet Elisha and the wealthy woman who offers him hospitality, first giving him some food as he passed by and then building a guest room for him. (You can find it at 2 Kings 4: 8-37.)

Empress Theodora

The first time I met Empress Theodora was in Church History class. I found her fascinating, and I will show you why.

Empress Theodora is a saint in the Church, and her feast day is remembered on June 28 in the Syriac Orthodox Church. She was the wife of the Byzantine emperor Justinian. She lived during the sixth century and died in 548 AD. 

There are two versions of her origin story - where did she come from and who were her parents? The Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Church have differing accounts of her background.

Theotokos Praying

Since praying is one of the cornerstones of Orthodox spirituality, we are always on the lookout for ways to get better at it. This week’s blogger developed her prayer rule in an unexpected place. She has found a practice that works for her even while she, like all of us, is confronting these uncertain times. Are there ideas here that could work for you?

St. Moses the Black

On Thursday morning, June 18, I saw on the calendar that the Syriac Orthodox Church remembered the feast day of St. Moses the Abyssinian. This caught my eye especially because of the week the Axia Women Board was praying the Canon of Reconciliation every night. When I looked further, I realized that this was another name for St. Moses the Ethiopian or St. Moses the Black.  I later discovered that “Abyssinian”  is a former name of Ethiopia.  However, this was not the first time I have heard of his name. I recall hearing his name mentioned when I was at seminary.  In my first year, the students of St.

Emmaus House breadmaking 3

I first encountered “antidoron”—the bread distributed after Holy Communion— as a 17-year-old. I was spending the summer with the family of a priest in Patras, Greece, as an exchange student. He would bring home these big round loaves, stamped with an abstract design from his work at a local cathedral and they would slice it up and eat it with meals. It was blonde, rather coarse and dry, so I never asked for much. To me, bread was for toast or sandwiches; rice is what you ate with meals. But but this six-person family, living on a priest’s small stipend, were glad to have it and went through several loaves a week.

SS Peter and Paul blog post

This piece models the kind of self-examination that those of us who are not people of color need to undertake in this moment in the United States. But of course such metanoia (repentance) should only be the starting point that leads us to penitent action. As St. Paul himself says, "Faith without works is dead" (James  2: 17). In this case, the change in thoughts needs to be backed up with active lifestyle change and action involving learning from and about people of color's achievements, actions, struggles, and oppression. We must learn to hear their voices while actively listening and acknowledging what they say regardless of how it may sit with our preconceived notions.

Irina Itina as a young woman

A few weeks ago we published a post by Amber Schley Iragui about an iconographer, Heather MacKean, who turned out to be her church sponsor. That made us start asking around about other women and their godmothers. Here's what a Woman of the Week from earlier this year, Nadia Kizenko, had to say about hers. In the photo below, you see Nadia (left), with Irina (center), and her own mother.

Godparent choices can be prophetic. My godmother, Irina Itina, was my parents’ neighbor in the Bronx, one of the few godparents they picked who was not related to either of them. That act introduced me to the notion that one could choose company not out of blood, but out of affinity.