St John of Damascus: The Patron Saint of Eighth Day Institute

Feast of St John of Damascus and St Barbara the Great Martyr

John_Damascene_Square_3.jpegTODAY IS the feast day of our patron saint at Eighth Day Institute. St John of Damascus has played an extremely important role in my life personally and in the development of Eighth Day Institute. In fact, we were originally incorporated as the St John of Damascus Institute.

Given St John's importance, both in the history of the... Continue Reading

Does God Suffer?

Feast of St Proclus, Archbishop of Constantinople

Extreme_Humility_Square.jpegONE OF THE best books I’ve read on patristic theology is The Suffering of the Impassible God: The Dialectics of Patristic Thought by Paul L. Gavrilyuk. The book is a historical study of impassibility, an early Christian doctrine that claims God does not suffer human emotions or feelings.

Gavrilyuk frames his whole argument as an apologetic toward the school of thought that he... Continue Reading

A Great Cloud of Spiritual Mothers

Feast of St Theodore the Studite

Ruth___Naoli_Square.jpegTWO DAYS ago I was grading papers at my desk when one of my students came in to get some help with an essay. We were almost done when she turned and asked if she could ask me a question. Of course, I said. An hour and many other questions later, she finally left my classroom.

Though I’ve often joked that I feel more... Continue Reading

The Great Hierarchy of Being

Feast of St Paul the Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople

Creation_Square.jpg“O God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, our little brothers whom Thou hast given this earth as their home in common with us. May we realize that they live not for us alone, but for themselves and for Thee and that they love the sweetness of life even as we, and serve better... Continue Reading

Unpossessed Possessions

Feast of St Nestor the Martyr of Thessaloniki

Possessions.jpgMY SISTER, brother and I have gone through the process of sorting through our parents’ home preparing for an estate sale before selling the house. Our father died five years ago and our mother is now in a skilled nursing center.

After living in the same home for more than 60 years, my parents had accumulated many things, including furniture, dishes, clothing, documents,... Continue Reading

The Sublime Essay: Why I Delight in Mystery through Manners

Feast of the Seven Holy Martyred Youths of Ephesus and St Cecelia the Martyr

Essay_Square_2.jpegI GET ABSORBED in fiction. I plow through theology and philosophy. I luxuriate in poetry. But I delight in the essay. One self-contained exploration of a thing or an idea that I can digest within the space of an hour or so: that just seems right. And when it’s done well, it’s sublime.

I’m talking about essays... Continue Reading

An Improbable Guide to The Rule of St Benedict

Feast of St Lucian the Martyr of Antioch

Benedict_Square_2.jpgTHE RULE was developed by St. Benedict in the sixth century to govern the lives of monastic communities as they pursued holiness in Christ, and is still widely observed today. What follows is a one-sentence-per-Chapter summary with application to a modern audience of non-monastic vocation. I have retained the original Chapter titles (italicized) from the English edition edited by Timothy Fry, O.S.B.

Prologue... Continue Reading

Benedict Option & Doom Dissertation

Feast of St Thomas the Apostle, Son of Alphaeus

Benedict_Square.jpgJAMES K. A. Smith, a presenter at our Eighth Day Symposium earlier this year, receives our monthly e-newsletter. He emailed me after the most recent issue for a brief word of praise and encouragement.

After reviewing our October calendar, Smith also emailed Rod Dreher, another presenter at both our past 2015 and our coming 2016 symposium. The next day Dreher posted this... Continue Reading

Magic of the Spoken Word: An Apologia for Oral Reading

Feast of St Gregory the Illuminator, Bishop of Armenia

Augustine_Reading_Square.jpegWHY READ aloud to one another? There is a magic to the spoken word, one that involves hearing and experiencing the thing being spoken. Perhaps we could say the same thing of listening to a lecture or a sermon; but these are not quite the same. A lecture or sermon is given (most often) by the person who wrote the words, and... Continue Reading

The Night is Long

Feast of the Falling Asleep of St John the Evangelist and Theologian

Ten_Virgins_Square.jpegTHEN THE kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was... Continue Reading

The Catechetical Academy: An Experimental Excursion

Feast of St Ariadne the Martyr

Kids_Contemplating_Mountains_square.jpegTHE INITIAL impulse for Eighth Day Institute was an idea to develop a gap-year program. We’ve done everything but develop that idea. However, now that I have a fourteen-year old son and a twelve-year old daughter, along with a fourteen-year old boy my family has taken in, my thinking about the gap-year has expanded. Why should I wait for them to graduate high-school to... Continue Reading

Celebrating Leisure on Labor Day

Feast of St Mammas the Martyr

Square_2-An-Old-Scholar.jpegEVERY YEAR, Americans take advantage of an always desired yet rarely granted Monday off work by heading to the lake one last time, firing up the grill in homage to the unofficial end of summer, or perhaps by trying to complete a lingering project from their Memorial Day “to do” list. But as we observe this treasured national holiday in whatever way we choose,... Continue Reading

Monotonous Autonomy

Feast of the Beheading of the Holy and Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John

heroes-2-IN.jpgIN THE LATE 70s I heard that, on Easter morning, a Catholic priest in Dallas had himself taken up the main aisle of his church, elevated on a fully extended palette loader. Apparently he wanted to teach his flock something about the meaning of the Resurrection. And clearly the priest was a literalistic boob who lacked... Continue Reading

Who I Am

Feast of the Holy Martyrs Adrian & Natalie

Elijah_Square.jpegMY NAME IS Nyleen.

I have had to explain who I am to everyone I’ve ever met. For my entire life.

I spell myself, I alliterate and rhyme myself, I assure people that I really DO have a namesake; I’m not just stitched up from old alphabet parts like Frankenstein.

Because my name is Nyleen.

Lately, I changed my Lacy last name... Continue Reading

Reflections of a Theological Book Editor: The Top Five Books I Edited in 2014

Feast of the Holy Apostle Thaddaeus

Edit_Square.jpegI EDIT theological books for a living. I’m a freelancer, so I work for several different publishers. On average, I edit about fifty books per year. I like to read theology anyway (one would hope, given my line of work), but it’s interesting to read books I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen (though admittedly it’s more interesting—and exciting—to read books I would have chosen anyway).... Continue Reading

Finding the Hidden Treasure: The Discipline of Pursuing Heaven

Feast of the Holy Prophet Micah

Treasure_square.jpegThe kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  ~Matthew 13:44

Our minds rush to the treasure. Who wouldn’t like to discover treasure buried in a field, in a wall, in a sunken galley carrying Spanish gold?... Continue Reading

The Eighth Year: Time to Clarify the Eighth Day

Afterfeast of the Transfiguration and Feast of the Holy Righteous Martyr Dometius

Resurrection_Square.jpgWITH PLEASANT surprise, I recently realized that Eighth Day Institute is in its eighth year of operations. On April 18, 2008, we were incorporated as St. John of Damascus Institute. Two years later, on September 10, 2010, Fr. Paul O’Callaghan (my parish priest and an original EDI board member) suggested we think about changing our name to Eighth Day Institute. With... Continue Reading

This Is a Great Mystery: A Wedding Homily

Feast of the Holy Apostles Archippus, Philemon & Onesimus

Wedding_Cana_Square_2.jpgIN THE NAME of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

“This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and His Church.” These words were written by the Apostle Paul in the first century concerning marriage to the church community of Ephesus. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church. What, pray... Continue Reading

The Bravery Marriage Requires

Feast of the Righteous Fathers Sergius & Herman, Founders of Valaam Monstery

Cana_Weddigin_square.jpgLAST FALL, I attended a wedding for a work friend of my fiancé. It was an unofficiated union for two women who had fallen in love and were deeply committed to each other. In my heart, I wished them well.

But I didn't tell anyone at the time. I didn't want to seem either approving or disapproving; I... Continue Reading

Faith, Hope & Perseverance: The Man at the Pool of Bethesda

Feast of St Agrippina the Martyr of Rome

Healing_Pool_Paralytic_Square.jpgNow there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, which has five porticos. In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for 38 years. When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to... Continue Reading