It has been some time since I have posted on my blog. I have been trying to respond faithfully to the changes life has brought upon me. In doing to I have had to prioritize and make decisions about what is really important. So I have taken an absence to my blog. I am currently working on some content, and should be posting on a more regularly basis. Until then please enjoy this reflection from St. Clement of Alexandria
The perfect person does not only try to avoid evil.
Nor does he do good for fear of punishment, still less in order to qualify for the hope of a promised reward.
The perfect person does good through love.
His actions are not motivated by desire for personal benefit, so he does not have personal advantage as his aim.
But as soon as he has realized the beauty of doing good, he does it with all his energies and in all that he does.
He is not interested in fame, or a good reputation, or a human or divine reward.
The rule of life for a perfect person is to be in the image and likeness of God.
Ok so I have not really spent much time with this blog. It seems that I thought I knew what I wanted to do with this blog, but never really found a way to do what it was I was trying to do. I know that might not make much sense, but it does to me.
Basically I hoped to use this blog as a way of working out thoughts, and struggles. That really never happened. I did share some of my thought and experiences. I am sure that will continue. I guess part of me never really wanted to invest to much time in what I was trying to accomplish on this blog. Knowing that at sometime I would be received into the church, and then ultimately change the format. Or maybe I was nervous to express thoughts and opinions out to the vast faceless internet.
So I am back, and I have BIG plans for what I am going to do. I will be posting thought provoking meditations I hear. I will be posting interviews with various people in ministry I am acquainted with. Who knows yet what else. I am still working that out.
It is impossible to remain forever in a state of spiritual exaltation. God allows certain intermissions in our fervor because He does not wish either to deprive us of the courage by which we climb higher, or to feed the pride which leads us to fall. Let our heart advance on the path along which God leads us.True, these alternations are a painful trial; but it is good for us to know from our own experience that our moments of spiritual exaltation do not depend upon us, but are the gift of God which He takes away when He deems it necessary. If we always retained this gift of God, we should feel neither the weight of the cross, nor our own powerlessness. Our trials would not be real trials; our good actions would be valueless. Let us therefore patiently bear the periods of depression and of aridity of the heart. They teach us humility and the distrust of ourselves. They make us feel how unstable and weak is our spiritual life; they make us turn more often to divine help.In this state of unfeeling dryness of the heart, in the absence of fervent prayer we must be careful not to give up our spiritual exercises, our daily prayers. If we abandoned them we should do ourselves the greatest damage.
We are inclined to think that if we do not feel definite satisfaction in prayer, it is not worthwhile praying. In order to realize how wrong we are in thinking this, it is enough to remember that prayer and the love of God are one and the same. The essence of prayer does not just consist in those feelings of joy, which sometimes accompany it. Loving prayer may sometimes exist without such feelings; and this is a more purified and disinterested form of prayer, since, being deprived of spiritual joy, its goal is God alone.
We may feel deprived of blessed consolations and yet preserve a firm will, submitting to all the difficulties which God sends us, and humbly accepting everything, even the sense of spiritual depression which we experience. If we succeed in enduring our periods of dryness of the heart in such a way as this, we shall find that they are a salutary spiritual exercise.
(From the book: ”Diary of a Russian Priest.” We read from the cover: “Father Elchaninov (was) one of the most gifted priests in the Russian emigration (who) died from a tragic illness in 1934 at the age of fifty three…Deeply rooted in the spiritual and ascetic tradition of the Orthodox Church, Father Alexander was at the same time closely in touch with the intellectual movements of his own day…His writings offer an excellent introduction for Western Christians to Orthodox spirituality as a living tradition of practical value to them in their own spiritual life.”)
Last Sunday we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord, Pascha!
Saturday I had to work a 12 hour shift. I left around 6:45 full of excitement. For that night I was to experience Easter as an Eastern Christian.
I had a basic understanding of what was to transpire. As you know understanding and knowing are two separate things. That night was a night of firsts. It was my first time experiencing Pascha. This was the first Pascha for our church. It was also the fist time any church in our area celebrated in this old Tradition.
I thought about comparing Easter practices East and West. Lucky for you I have just changed my mind on this. I can do that because this is my blog. Also this blog is a journal of my thoughts. Very little editing is done to it. It is my hope that it would be as pure as possible what I am truly thinking the at the time of writing.
The most profound aspect to what transpired that night was not realised until a conversation at a cookout Sunday afternoon. Father and I were sharing thoughts and talking about the events of holy week. We talked about our procession around the town square and court house. (Quick side note. Our parish is a mission parish. At the moment we are in a store front.)
The town is the county seat and has one of those old monstrous castle looking court houses. We made our way around the court house. Singing hymns, carrying candles, icons, and other sacred items one would carry in a procession.
The significance of this procession is multi faceted. For the sake of time I am going to focus on Orthodox Christianity in the frontier. What I had the privilege in taking part of was something that has never been done here before. Prayers and hymns were chanted for the first time. Processions were made on fresh soil. The true faith was displayed for all to see. The fullness of the Gospel is being represented in this small Western town.
Many do not know who we are. They have never heard of Orthodox Christianity. Like the flame that burns bright on Pascha so do we in our little town. It is our mission and responsibility to this community to share the fullness of the Gospel.
Let us move forward with a spirit of love, and a heart of prayer.
Holy week is finally here! I am so excited I just cannot contain it! My first Holy week at an Orthodox Church. Tuesday night (Wednesday morning) was my first experience attending Bridegroom Matins. I had no idea what to expect. Actually that isn’t true. I am very familiar with Western Christianity, and the richness within her. With Ash Wednesday kicking off Lent. To powerful Holy Week services.
Somehow I had it in my mind that things were not so with the Eastern Orthodox. Sure Pascha is wonderful. That’s just it. You always hear about Pascha, but rarely hear about the buildup before Pascha.
Needless to say Tuesday night I was not disappointed. The liturgy was beautiful. The “theme” if you will was thought provoking. The comparison was with the harlot who washed the feet of Jesus and Judas the betrayer.
An all around unworthiness swept over me. It was not something I would consider negative. I would say it was a realization of the destructive nature of sin. Not just sin generally, but my own personal sin. Like the harlot we take responsibility for our sin. We acknowledge our place, and cry out for mercy!
Likewise we see this same story in the publican and the publican and the pharisee. Sometimes I liken myself to the woman at the feet of Jesus. Crying and offering sacrifice (myrrh). Other times I am self righteous and like Judas I sell Jesus out for a multitude of sins.
Today is good friday, and as I type we are ever slowly marching towards 3 o’clock. I was unable to make any other services this week. Wednesdays Bridegroom Matins still echo through me. I anxiously wait for Pascha. Still I do not want to rush through this time. As we enter into the darkness of the death of our Christ.
Life has been going at the speed of light lately. My in-laws are in town, and staying with my family. We took a mini vacation to San Antonio during their Fiesta.
Other news I had coffee with the priest of the Parish I have been attending. We had a smashing good time. I have expressed my families interest in becoming catechumens. I am not sure as to the date but in the near future we will be officially catechumens!
I am looking forward to Palm Sunday. It will be another first in the Orthodox Church. I will post on my experience next week. Also to come a post on the mission train in San Antonio.