Monday, March 23, 2015

Victory to our princes

We  are creatures of the weather, as to our temperament, our thoughts and emotions, as much as the ‘flowers of the field’ are. The warmth and light of the sun softened by a gentle breeze, and we open, we feel happy, at peace, ready for work or play, secure in the present moment. Awakened in a cold, gray morning, rain driven by a chill wind battering against our window, and we close, we would rather go back to bed, forget work and the world if we can, or our thoughts drift on the morose depths of suffering, our own or those of our neighbors.

Today is that second kind of day. The first days of spring are taunted by another week of winter, and I am taunted by the murderous world around me—not on my doorstep, but far away—by the knowledge that I have been spared the suffering and death that is happening at this very moment somewhere to people who do not deserve it, who like me want to just ‘live and let live’ but cannot. All my thoughts, musings, all my Lenten struggle, everything about me is silenced as mere insolence in the face of what is happening to those others, the real passion-bearers.

The beginning of Lent coincided with an intensification of the war in the Middle East. My first thoughts, ‘How can we celebrate a joyous, holy Pascha, sing all those songs of Christ’s victory over death, when this war is going on?’ continue to plague me. Everything we do in the Church revolves around us, it seems, as if we were people deaf and blind, unaware, in our divine worship, of the catastrophic world swirling around us outside the walls of the temple.

It could be different. In our divine worship, our hearts could be offering to God prayer with tears of sorrow and sympathy for those of our own body—the Body of Christ, yes, but even more, the body of humanity—who are daily in danger even unto death. In our holy fast, our stomachs could be aching not for the foods we have determined to deny entry, but with the pain of our pressing concern for the safety of those others, parts of us though far away, our kin.

‘Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour’ (John 12:27), the prayer of Christ as He goes to His voluntary and sacrificial death, as man not knowing, only trusting in, His vindication, and as God, already flushed with His irreversible victory. Here I am, ‘a worm and not a man’ (Psalm 22:6), as I contemplate all I cannot think, say, or do to justify my existence in the face of approaching finality.

‘For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, unto the ages of ages. Amen.’ Everything done by You, O Lord, everything. ‘Into Your hands, I commend my spirit’ (Psalm 31:5) for there is nothing else I can do. ‘Save, O Lord, Your people, and bless Your inheritance’ for we have been brought very low. Come to us, Lord! Show us the light of Your countenance, and save us! Give victory to our princes…

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