Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Cross Stands While the World Turns (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press)

Have you ever come back from Mass or Divine Liturgy and felt a little disappointed with the homily? I admit that I have, more than once sadly. It is an unfortunate reality that cannot be avoided. Sometimes there's a guest speaker or a stewardship pitch. Other times, the priest might have had a busy week, and pulled one out of his archives, that might be a bit outdated. What do you do when you feel less than fed by the homily? You have two options. You can either stew over it and gripe about it, or you can do what I do and reach for a book of homilies. I have several, just because I am always trying to soak up other perspectives on specific passages or Feasts. One that I recently picked up is called The Cross Stands While the World Turns.

The Cross Stands While the World Turns is a book of homilies divided into three sections, "The Paschal Cycle," "The Nativity-Theophany Cycle," and "The Theotokos Cycle." In total, there are thirty-five homilies in this book. Most of the homilies are taken from Sundays throughout the Orthodox Church Calendar and the Twelve Great Feasts. The only Feasts days I see missing are Pascha and the Transfiguration. The beauty of this book is that it is not one you have to read all at once or in order. You can pick up this book at any time of the year, turn to the appropriate Sunday, or major Feast Day and be treated to a beautiful homily.

After reading homilies related to the Nativity season, I started thumbing through the book looking for one to jump out to me. Lo and behold, "Antipascha: St. Thomas Sunday," did just that! Poor St. Thomas gets a horrible rap. He will forever be mislabeled as doubting, just like Mary Magdalene will always be mislabeled as a prostitute. In Fr. Behr's homily, he seeks to redeem St. Thomas. "His doubt, and his inquiry, is not out to disprove, but to confirm. There is, indeed, a world of difference between a doubt that is seeking confirmation and a doubt that is basically skeptical. As the Fathers and medieval theologians put it: faith seeks understanding." You'll find insight like this in all of his homilies, as each one is well-researched and well-crafted.

This was a very-enjoyable book and one that I will keep at prominent and easy-to-reach place on my bookshelf. I had a hard time putting it down after reading the homily for one day, and oftentimes found myself reading additional tales just to absorb Fr. Behr's knowledge. The biggest complaint I have with this book is that there was no homily for Pascha. Another minor complaint is that there is no introductory material for each of the three cycles, I referenced in the first paragraph. These complaints, however, do not detract from the wisdom contained in this book and did not cause me to downrank the book either. 5 stars!

This book was provided to me for free by St. Vladimir's Seminary Press in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!