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The Calendars Are Here!

calendarThe 2014 church year calendars have finally arrived! My apologies for the delay… What with the busy-ness of the Christmas season and with moving (and moving further away from the US border) and with getting back into the swing of things when we returned to work, it was harder than usual to slip across the border and pick them up. Next time I think we’ll just pay the extra shipping and get them sent straight to St. John’s. :)

The church calendars will be freely available (one per family, please!) at St. John’s starting Wednesday. The copies of The Daily Lives, Miracles and Wisdom of the Saints & Fasting Calendar that Tim ordered have also arrived – speak to Tim if you want or have ordered a copy.

Christ is in our midst!

I loved this New York Times article that was recently shared with me by a fellow-priest – its deconstruction of the standard English greeting and reflection on how Russians respond to it not only gives insight into Russian culture (and our own), but also highlights how much more universal the ancient Christian greeting and response is, at least between those who share the same theology.

Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be.

A Little More on Sloth

As you know, we refer to the sin of sloth (acedia) quite often during Great Lent, as it is one of the major sins we are wrestling with through all of the Lenten labours we are undertaking. It is most frequently referred to, of course, in the Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian:

O Lord and Master of my life!
Take from me the spirit of laziness (sloth), despair, lust of power, and idle thoughts,
but give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to your servant.
Yes, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions and not to judge my brother,
for You are holy now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

A great description of sloth by Dorothy Sayers was just shared with me today, so I thought I would pass it on and share it with you:

Dorothy Sayers writes: Sloth is the sin that believes nothing, cares to know nothing, seeks to know nothing, loves nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing… and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die (The Other Six Deadly Sins)

Lent, the Great Canon, and the Race of Repentance

Anyone who has been around St. John’s for any length of time will have heard me quote my favourite Desert Father’s story – the one about the old, holy monk whose disciples were gathered around him eagerly awaiting his last words before he departs to go to be with his Lord. His last words, after a lifetime spent in repentance, are, of course, “I have not yet begun to repent.” Sound discouraging? And yet, this is precisely what the discipline of Lent – and the full service of the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, joined to the life of St. Mary of Egypt, which we are about to celebrate here in the depths of Great Lent – enjoins us to do.

We begin our Christian life with repentance – with “metanoia”, the change of mind that is to characterize us as Christians. In repenting, we recognize that we are not what we were made to be – that we have fallen short of the glory of God which we were created to dwell in – and we resolve, with God’s help, to set aside the sin that so easily besets us and to run the race focussed, like Christ, on the joy that is set before us. And then what we find is that we have to continue to choose exactly the same thing, day in and day out – breath by laboured breath, we find we need to set aside the same sins as we set aside with the previous breath; we find ourselves turning aside from exactly the same sins that distracted us the last time we ran this same lap; the race of repentance seems to be the Grouse Grind of painfully laboured marathons!

And yet, somehow or other we find, in God’s mercy, that we reach the end. Not the ultimate End yet, perhaps, but the blessed joy of Pascha, which seems every year to spring at us out of the darkness like one of those unlooked-for blessings: a joyous relief and release which brings us the promise of the Resurrection. For even as we continue in the discipline of repentance that we started with, we find ourselves blessed with the forgiveness that we so long for and the divine Reconciliation that we so desperately need. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Let us persevere, then, brothers and sisters, in the discipline of repentance, that we may once again be blessed, together, with the joy-unlooked-for of the divine forgiveness of the Resurrection!

Christ is born!

Christ is born! Glorify Him!
Christ is born a son of Adam – that He might become for us the new Adam! Glorify Him!
Christ is born a son of Abraham – that all, in faith, may become children of Abraham! Glorify Him!
Christ is born a son of David – that the kingdom of God may be established on earth as it is in Heaven! Glorify Him!
Christ is born of the Virgin – and virginity has become life-giving! Glorify Him!
Christ has taken on human flesh – that all flesh may be subject to Him! Glorify Him!
The bodiless One has taken on a body – that we, united in Him, may embody Him! Glorify Him!
The timeless One has entered time – and all time now touches eternity! Glorify Him!
The all-powerful One is wrapped in swaddling clothes – and our weakness now shows forth God’s strength! Glorify Him!
The all-sustaining One is laid in a manger – and we, partaking of him, taste immortality! Glorify Him!
The newborn’s birth is announced by angels – and shepherds go forth with the Good News! Glorify Him!
The newborn babe is worshipped by wise men – and fishermen, worshipping, are made most wise! Glorify Him!
The baby’s birth shakes the throne of the king – and the servant of all becomes greatest among us! Glorify Him!
Christ is born – and, living with Him, we have life abundantly! Glorify Him!
Christ is born – and, dying with Him, sin and death no longer have dominion over us! Glorify Him!
Christ is born – and, rising with Him, we are reborn! Glorify Him!
Christ is born! Glorify Him!