The Way of Masculinity: Tradition, Ferocity & Quest

Feast of St Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem

Christ_Square.jpegI RECENTLY read two books with very different articulations of masculinity: The Way of Men by Jack Donovan and the book that launched John Eldredge's ministry, Wild at Heart. I want to distill what they share in common, where they differ, and where I fall.

Donovan is a self-confessed atheist who nevertheless draws material and inspiration from religious (often though not exclusively Christian) and Classical... Continue Reading

One Hundred Paper Smiles

Feast of the Holy Great Martyr Photine, the Samaritan Woman

Mother_Teresa_Square.jpegI'M BLESSED to be a part of a group of women who study the lives of saints and wise women (artists, writers, mothers, and more) who have walked the ancient paths of holiness. My friends and I study them because we believe they have a great deal to teach us about renewing our lives and living our faith in a... Continue Reading

Heaven Favors the Crown: An Apology for Monarchy

Feast of St Agathus, Pope of Rome

King_David_Square_2.jpegALTHOUGH I am unable to attend the Great Conversation on "Who is currently the best candidate for the President of the U.S.A.?", I would like to respond to the question about whether or not the movements behind Trump and Sanders constitute a desire to return to monarchy, as well as the question of whether or not the right leader can provide a moral... Continue Reading

The Mercies of Sister Age

Feast of Leo the Great, Pope of Rome

M.K.F._Fisher_Square_2.jpegONE OF THE chief joys of the Eighth Day Institute and its associated bookstore is being one with a community of readers. An early book that put a name to this community was John Ruskin's Sesame Seeds and Lilies. One can find in this work an outline of the secular communion of saints that saved me in my early years. To say... Continue Reading

Liturgical Hermeneutics, Part 2: From Baptismal Experience to a Theology of Trinitarian Deification

Feast of St Meletius, Archbishop of Antioch


PATRISTICS PROFESSOR Basil Studer notes that in both of Irenaeus’ extant works—Against Heresies and On the Apostolic Preaching—salvation is a work “accomplished by the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit.” The attentive reader of both works, Studer continues, “will not fail to notice how consistently [Irenaeus] refers to the action of Father, Son and Spirit in the history of salvation.”... Continue Reading

Liturgical Hermeneutics, Part 1: Liturgy as Object, Source & Canon for Theology

Feast of St Agatha the Martyr

Liturgy_Square_2.jpegTHE RUSSIAN Orthodox theologian Fr. Alexander Schmemann is probably most known for his work in liturgical theology. His passion for this subject was driven by his perception of a divorce between liturgy and theology. In fact, he argued that this split is the only reason liturgical theology ought to exist. In his words, liturgical theology developed solely “because theology ceased to seek in the... Continue Reading

An Old Letter from Wendell Berry

Feast of St Xenophon and His Companions

Doom_with_Berry_Square_rev.jpgWHILE FILING Wendell Berry's letter from the symposium, I leafed through older letters and rediscovered another one I'd like to share.

In January of 2008, while teaching at Northfield School of the Liberal Arts, I initiated a tradition that continues to this day at Northfield: January School. These days, students attend January School at Northfield. But when I organized it in 2008, we... Continue Reading

A Letter from Wendell Berry

Feast of St Agathangelus the Martyr

Berry_Square_3.jpegI'VE WRITTEN Wendell Berry on a number of occasions. He has always responded. He has even graciously conveyed kind words about our publications: "I've been reading in the publications you sent me and improving my mind. Thank you."

The last time I wrote him, I invited him to speak at our sixth annual symposium. Here's an insightful snapshot of the explanation he gave for... Continue Reading

Material Religion: Christianity & the Veneration of Matter

Twelfth Day of Christmas and the Eve of the Theophany of Our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ

Sophronius_Square.jpgCHRISTIANITY s a material religion. Everywhere you turn in the Christian tradition, the material world is adamantly affirmed. And every part of it plays a part in the cosmic worship of our Creator.

We see this throughout scripture. From the very beginning, in the creation account, God says His creation is “very good.”... Continue Reading

Toward a Christian Geo-Centrism

Eleventh Day of Christmas and Synaxis of the 70 Holy Apostles

PtolemySystem_Square.jpegTHE "OBJECTIVE VIEW” which we attempt to find through science and philosophy is not possible; consequently it falsifies whatever conclusions we derive from it. This is especially true in the contemplation of our own planet. If we seek a detached and objective vista from which to solve the ecological crisis, we have already failed. Detachment is death. Gathering data,... Continue Reading

Of Gardening, Wendell Berry, the Church & Sacraments

Tenth Day of Christmas and Feast of St Malachai the Prophet

Berry_Square_2.jpegAROUND SEVEN years ago, living in an apartment in Chicagoland, I read Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry. Two weeks later it occurred to me to start a garden. Then it occurred to me that I might move home to Kansas.

My apartment-balcony garden failed. But the idea for the move home took root and flourished. Fewer than six months... Continue Reading

The Sacramentality of Scripture in St Cyril of Alexandria

Ninth Day of Christmas and Feast of St Sylvester, Pope of Rome and St Seraphim the Wonderworker of Sarov

Cyril_Alexandria_Square_2.jpgREJOICE exceedingly, daughter Zion, proclaim, daughter Jerusalem: lo, your king comes to you righteous and saving; he is gentle, riding on a beast of burden and young foal. ~Zechariah 9.9

“Obviously,” St. Cyril says, “in this he now proclaims the revelation of our Savior.” Is that so? Is it... Continue Reading

Creation Ex Nihilo & the Vicarious Humanity of Christ

Eighth Day of Christmas and Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and Feast of Sts Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian

Creation_Square_4.jpegCREATED LIFE does not generate itself. It is beholden to the One who is Life in himself. Humanity is first of all a creature that receives: “then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils... Continue Reading

Catechesis, Sacraments & the Mystery of Conversion

Seventh Day of Christmas and Feast of St Melania the Younger, Nun of Rome

christ-teaching_Square.jpegFOR SEVERAL years, I served as a catechist in Blessed Sacrament’s R.C.I.A. program. R.C.I.A. stands for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. It is the program and process for bringing adults into the Catholic Church. In its purest form, the adults have never been baptized or catechized as Christians. The program and process combines both catechesis... Continue Reading

The Bloody Goat's Head: A Tale of Gift, Responsibility & Sacrifice

Sixth Day of Christmas and Feast of St Gideon the New Martyr of Mount Athos

Angora_Goat_Square.jpegIT HAD BEEN a glorious day thus far; one of those rare, bright July mornings when everything came off without a hitch. The tractor started like it was supposed to, the equipment ran like a dream, and I had managed to do everything the way Dad expected me to do. I was twelve. It was... Continue Reading

Cultivating Soil & Liturgy

Fifth Day of Christmas and Commemoration of the Holy Innocents, the 14,000 Infants Slain by Herod in Bethlehem

Virgil_Georgics_5th_c..jpgAS THE NEW year approaches and we begin once again to think about our annual report to Caesar in the guise of the IRS, my mind always turns to one of the more curious words that the early Church stole from the Greeks: liturgy. While it is easy today to understand how... Continue Reading

The Shedding of Blood

Fourth Day of Christmas and Feast of the 20,000 Martyrs Burned in Nicomedia

Elderslie_Farm_Square.jpgWHEN I was twelve I took life for the first time. A quail rising faster than a bottle rocket against the amber grass field was suddenly lifeless as the echo of my gun rang into the morning air. Some eighteen years later I take life in different forms nearly every day. But instead of a sport, it... Continue Reading

Stewards of the Environment: It's a Christian Thing

Third Day of Christmas and Feast of St Stephen, Archdeacon & First Martyr

Francis_Laudato_Square.jpgTHERE WAS much speculation as the world anticipated the release of Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, earlier this year. This was not surprising, as any papal encyclical will rightly capture the attention of the faithful. What was surprising was the perceptible nervousness among Christians regarding what they suspected to find in it, and the... Continue Reading

Learning to Think Twice About Sacraments

The Second Day of Christmas and the Synaxis of the Holy Theotokos

Prayer_Rope_Square.jpegA WISE rabbi offered me this radical truth, way back in the 1970s: “Most people think once in their lives.” It is indeed a great gift, he confessed, to discover a single truth to orient one’s life, to making it the lodestar and true north of one’s existence. “Rare is the person,” he added, “who thinks twice.” What... Continue Reading

Sophia at Christmastime

First Day of Christmas and Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and Feast of the Adoration of the Magi: Melchior, Gaspar & Balthasar and Commemoration of the Shepherds in Bethlehem Who Were Watching Their Flocks and Came to See the Lord

Sophia_Square_3.jpgBUT GOD chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame... Continue Reading