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Reflections on Prayer

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Thom Rainer, a prolific Baptist writer and former seminary dean, recently published an article titled “9 Reasons Why Church Leaders Struggle with Prayer.” I’ve thought about the article several times since it appeared about a week ago and decided to record some of those thoughts here. Read the article, then come back here.

In no particular order:

  1. I believe he’s fundamentally correct that many, and perhaps most, church leaders, including Orthodox clergy and laity, struggle with prayer. I know this has been true for me at several points, and I hear of it often from others. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

July 30th, 2013 at 8:30 am

Down with Delusion

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The excerpt from St. Ignatius Brianchaninov in the preceding article was taken from a longer article in an issue of Orthodox Life from 1980. Holy Trinity Publications has graciously provided a scan of the original, along with permission to publish an electronic text of it here at the Orthodox Leader.

I encourage all visitors to read this full article carefully (i.e., much slower than “web speed”). St. Ignatius makes many helpful points regarding how delusions first appear to the fallen mind, how they then develop, and how they are especially common among “beginners” on the spiritual path.

As he says, “The most dangerous and most incorrect method of prayer is when he who is praying fabricates, on the strength of his imagination, dreams or pictures, borrowing them ostensibly from the Sacred Scriptures, but in actuality from his own sinfulness and self-delusion.”

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

May 17th, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Lies and Leadership

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A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame.” -Proverbs 13:15

First and foremost, I remind readers of this site that the primary goal here is not to report on details of any particular scandal. Rather, the blog exists to discuss matters of leadership in the Orthodox Church. To that end, the recent conflict within the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America provides much material for reflection on leadership.

The most recent events in the scandal – primarily the release of confidential emails between Archpriest Joseph Fester, Bishop Nikolai (Soraich), Mr. Rod Dreher, and others – have turned everything upside down. I am not surprised at the names of the principals of I had already deduced the identities of two of them solely by their words and actions, prior to the revelations from the ugly emails. What is of greater concern now is that a site devoted to “truth” is, in fact, built upon lies. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

May 4th, 2011 at 12:08 am

The Word is Out

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Pastoral obligations prevent me from commenting on it at the present time, but the newest post at concerning the founders of is required reading, regardless of what you make of the contents.

In the event goes offline, I’ll do my best to get my own archive of the site’s contents up and running here.

Don’t forget to pray.

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

April 30th, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Iniquity for the Children

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“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” -1 Corinthians 14:33

I start today’s brief post with a couple of Scripture passages that pertain to our current situation in the OCA. Please read them now, rather than skipping over them to get to my comments below. If you’re not reading the Scriptures regularly, you’ve got no business even thinking about this situation.

And the Lord passed by before [Moses], and proclaimed, “he Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” -Exodus 34:6-7

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  –Ephesians 4:1-3

Most of the readers here already know of the situation that has developed between Metropolitan Jonah, the Holy Synod, and the Metropolitan Council. Like me, most readers know little beyond what has been produced by two web sites and a couple of less-than-edifying mailing lists.

The basic trajectory was an internal dispute within the Holy Synod, followed by a leak by a former bishop with less than honorable intentions, a lot of other chatter and documents, and, in the end, the Metropolitan himself postponing the spring meetings of both the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Council. Since that time, the Holy Synod has been quiet, as has the Metropolitan Council. Perhaps they’re all talking privately, but that’s generally no problem (absent a legal gag order).

Nonetheless, the continuing spitefulness from the retired bishop in a public forum, the ongoing conjectures and accusations from a site claiming to be committed to the truth, resolutions from a diocesan council, more negative gossip in the various mailing lists and discussion fora, has served only to sow discord and distrust in many corners of the Orthodox Church in America.

This discord is already having tragic consequences. The distrust is daily making it more difficult for our leaders – the bishops of the Holy Synod, the esteemed members of the Metropolitan Council, the officers and administrators in Syosset – to be reconciled. His Beatitude talked pointedly about the role of discord prior to his selection as Metropolitan: “If we can build that community of love and respect, seeing how our passions have distracted us from that living communion with God, have turned us against one another, and have created all sorts of hostility between–well, we just saw it, between the body of the All-American Council and the Synod of the Bishops. … Between the Synod of the Bishops and the Metropolitan Council–talk about a sick dysfunctional situation!”

Indeed. We are quickly moving to a position where each of us will be at each other’s throats, every part of it built on suspicion, accusation, and, saddest of all, falsehood. Such would be a position that makes reconciliation and resolution nearly impossible. (Of course, all is possible with the Holy Spirit, but human freedom can and does interfere.)

In spite of the difficulties within the Holy Synod, our bishops appear more united, and more cohesive, than they have been in decades. But, if this continues, we can expect a return to the old order of parochialism, meanness, and dysfunction. We can expect a return of the manipulators and thieves who stand ready to gorge themselves on money and sin amid the chaos. They will not be easily pushed out, if the last go-round was any indication. Once again, our own children will grow up distrustful of Christ’s own Church, and even more individuals – men, women, boys, girls, those enslaved to their passions, those who’ve never known a god willing to take on human flesh – will not hear the Gospel. Our sins will be visited upon our children, and our children’s children.

Lent is half over. We have spent these preceding weeks listening to all of this, distracting ourselves from holy things in favor of the trashy fare of the checkout lane.  It’s time for us to let our leaders pray (and even repent) rather than respond to the darts being hurled at them. It’s time for us to pray ourselves. I encourage each of us to add twelve metanias (prostrations) and accompanying prayers to our prayer rule for each time we think on this affair in the course of the day, simply to ensure that prayer is part of our deliberations.

I have written this in haste, and I ask your forgiveness for editorial sins and for any offense it causes. Kyrie eleison.

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

March 31st, 2011 at 9:26 am

What to do about a bad priest?

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Since secular work, house blessings, and kids’ school projects have conspired to slow down the next segment of the Making of a Priest, I thought it might be worthwhile to point out that St. Theophan the Recluse (1815-1894) addressed the question of “What to do about a bad priest?” well over a century ago. (Many thanks to Fr. Justin Frederick for translating the original.)

Read it: What to do about a bad priest?

As you work your way through it, consider St. Theophan’s counsel in light of many reactions today to poor leadership. Readers are invited to weigh in in the comments.

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

January 26th, 2010 at 10:20 am

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