Sunday, March 01, 2009


Thy grace hath risen, O Lord, the illumination of our souls hath shone forth. Lo, now is the acceptable time; the season of repentance hath come. Let us cast down the works of darkness, and put on the works of light, that we may pass the great tempest of fasting and reach the summit of the third-day Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Savior of our souls. - The Aposticha for Forgiveness Vespers

I told Elijah, if I never stopped Mary from gorging on sweets - if, when every time I caught her with her hands in the brown sugar bag, with mouthfuls of sugar dissolving on her tongue and dripping from her lips like syrup, I did nothing but stand by and watch her attempt to feed an insatiable desire for that which, in the long run, will make her sick. Part of loving her is enduring her protests, her disappointment at being separated from passions empty and addictive. I know that it is very difficult to understand, at your age, how a parent saying 'no' and 'not now' is, believe it or not, an act of mercy.

This afternoon, after Liturgy, we gathered again as a congregation to bow before one another, to ask forgiveness of one another, to begin, as a community, to take part in Great Lent. We will fast from meat and dairy, we will remove from our daily routines distractions loud and numbing, we will attend services breath-takingly, hauntingly, beautiful in preparation for the Feast of Feasts, for the Resurrection of our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

If you knew me, how impulsive I am, you'd understand how very trying, how very necessary is this period, this gift from God, this deliberate separation from my greedy, forgetful, self-centered spirit passions empty and addictive. You'd know why pausing, why emptying my mind of frivolous stimuli, my stomach of foods heavy and rich, will inevitably bring me to my knees in frustration in despair over my own lack of discipline. I will be forced to come to terms with my dependence on Christ's compassion, to face head on truths I usually push away: my lust for earthly treasures, my obsession with comfort, my mortality.

Yet even in the midst of intensive repentance, we, the Church, anticipate with renewed zeal, the moment when Life will conquer sin and hell - our victory over death through the sacrificial love of the Holy Trinity. We wait and watch for the Bridegroom so as not to be off flitting and fretting about when at last He arrives in all His splendor and glory. By stretching ourselves spiritually, emotionally, physically, we'll find the joy at having arrived at the empty tomb (finally!) that much more satisfying and triumphant.

Quiet now, quiet. I ask for your prayers and forgiveness. For my haughtiness, my vanity, my apathy, my laziness, I am truly, truly sorry. May God bless you and keep you in His perfect, His redemptive, His incomparable peace.


Pres. Kathy said...

May you have a blessed and fruitful lent.

Jo'El said...

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