That Which is Bread

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? – Isaiah

Category: Uncategorized

Knowledge and faith

Isaac_of_SyriaKnowledge enjoins all those who journey in its path to investigate, according to its laws, the end of anything before making a beginning, and thus to commence; lest the end of the thing prove unachievable by the limit of human ability, and labor be spent in vain, and lest the thing prove difficult and impossible to realize.
But what says faith? ‘All things are possible to him that believeth,’ for to God nothing is impossible. O unspeakable wealth, O ocean rich in its billows and its marvellous treasures and mighty floods of the power of faith! How filled with boldness, how replete with sweetness and hope is the journey accompanied by faith! How light are faith’s burdens, how sweet its labors!

St Isaac of Syria, Homily 52

A little housekeeping

Good_housekeeping_1908

Fast(ing) Food Department: For a while I maintained a separate blog called Fast(ing) Food. As part of my housekeeping in getting this blog active again, I’ve deleted Fast(ing) Food and moved all of its posts over here.
 If you browse through older posts here and see one about Lenten cooking, chances are that it’s been imported from the old Fast(ing) Food blog.
 Thanks.

Desert Spirituality, but with toppings…

peperonata

Peperonata (Stock photo, not mine)

Fast(ing) Food department: During the Fast, it’s good not only to keep the letter but to simplify and reduce our diet a bit.
 A typical meal for the Desert Fathers might be a bowl of lentils, with salt if they had some. I’m not ready for that, but it’s true that a simple bowl of rice and/or legumes makes a fine Lenten meal once we’ve bowed to our carnal nature and added some flavor.
 I’ve been making a habit of keeping some of this peperonata around. it’s really tasty and can be used as a topping on rice, beans or pasta.


  • Heat up some oil in a big skillet.
  • Add 1 onion, chopped, and 3 bell peppers, chopped. Add salt, maybe 1 teaspoon. You can use green peppers, but the whole thing is much nicer to look at if you use red and yellow peppers. If you want to make it spicier, add black pepper, a big pinch of red pepper flakes, and/or a squirt of Sriracha sauce. Simmer over medium heat, stirring often, until the onion and peppers are softened.
  • Add 1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes. Throw in some of your favorite herbs, whatever they are.  Simmer, stirring from time to time, until a lot of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thick. Toward the end of cooking, stir in 2 or 3 chopped garlic cloves. (Garlic keeps its flavor much better if you don’t cook it for long.)

This is simplified from Martha Rose Shulman’s The Simple Art of Vegetarian Cooking.

Do not call God just

Isaac_of_SyriaDo not hate the sinner, for we are all laden with guilt. If for the sake of God you are moved to oppose him, weep over him. Why do you hate him? Hate his sins and pray for him, that you may imitate Christ Who was not wroth with sinners, but interceded for them. Do you not see how He wept over Jerusalem? …
 Why, O man, do you hate the sinner? Could it be because he is not so righteous as you? But where is your righteousness when you have no love?…
 Be a herald of God’s goodness, for God rules over you, unworthy though you are. Although your debt to Him is so very great, He is not seen exacting payment from you; and from the small works you do, He bestows great rewards on you.
 Do not call God just, for His justice is not manifest in the things concerning you.

– Saint Isaac of Syria, Ascetical Homily #51

An anniversary

Today is the 15th anniversary of the end of NATO’s bombing of Serbia/Yugoslavia in 1999. (It was also the end of NATO’s status as an organization dedicated to the defense of its member nations, none of whom were threatened.) The bombing continued around the clock for 78 days beginning March 24.

I won’t go into the military, political or humanitarian arguments for this campaign, but wanted to note one thing.

In spite of the combined appeals of virtually every Orthodox hierarch in the world, NATO refused to suspend its bombing of Serbia for one day on Pascha of that year, so that the Orthodox people of Serbia might have one day to worship Christ’s holy Resurrection in peace.

God notices these things, though they may not seem significant by the world’s measures. When we look at political events, we don’t often think of God’s blessing nations, or of His withdrawing His blessing from them.

But if you think that things have not been going well for our country in the years since 1999, this might be something to remember.

Let my prayer arise

incense-and-iconWe may liken fasting to a burning coal and prayer to frankincense.
Neither has value without the other,
but together, the sweet savor of their incense fills the air.

— Abba Matta El-Meskeen (Matthew the Poor) in Orthodox Prayer Life

A fruitful Lent to all

Prayer Rope
If a man takes refuge from the tempest in this harbor,
will he not be saved?
If in his agony he kneels before this house of healing,
will he not be cured?
O Maker of all and Physician of the sick,
before I perish utterly,
save me, O Lord.

— Penitential sticheron for Lenten Sunday Vespers, Tone 4