My newly acquired email friend Scott wrote me recently to briefly share his and his wife’s experience with Forgiveness Vespers and the Canon of St. Andrew. If my memory serves – and oh how often it does not – they are going to be received into the church prior to Pascha this year (you will of course comment here Scott and correct me if I am mistaken?) and so much of these Lenten happenings are pretty darn new to them…well hey what am I saying they still seem pretty darn new to me too. Let’s face it…the regime of Orthodox Lent is pretty foreign to all of us converts – especially for those of us whose previous traditions had no understanding of a Lenten period whatsoever.
Anyway, Scott echoed my sentiment regarding the love I sensed for all that surrounded me during Forgiveness Vespers – the People, the Faith, the Traditions, even the building and the Institution of the Church itself (uh-oh…scary, huh?). And Scott said something that struck me when he mirrored this sentiment: he never felt such a love for any “denomination.” I pondered this for a while and then as I was reading Schmemann’s Great Lent I came across the end of the introduction in which he reminds us that the Church, which bestows to us the gift of Lent and Pascha, is our Mother.
Now this is a pretty foreign concept for us dyed in the wool protestants. But it is a common line of thinking in the Orthodox Church (as well as in Roman Catholicism if my memory serves – please see disclaimer above), and so it sent me to contemplating how this is true in my life. All I can really come up with is the fact that Mom’s are nurturers…they feed us, raise us, and guide us. And as I look at the vast body of Holy Tradition that the Church hands down to us, I can see how these many things – even things that I would have in the past thought unnecessarily extravagant (you know: all the “bells and whistles”) - are in fact critical and intended to feed us, raise us, and guide us. All we need do is set aside our wants, perceived needs, and desires and then we can see – in humility – how our Mother is indeed maturing us. This is particularly intriguing to me as I prepare to go to confession tonight before the canon.
Of course, we are talking about the Body of Christ, and though I do not profess to understand what exactly that means, I am certainly learning to love that Body.
Thanks Mom…and thank you God for giving us the “pillar and ground of Truth.”
...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 8:12 AM [+]