"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
C. S. Lewis

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Love Revealed



Love Revealed

I
 know that I have a tendency to “discover” those things that are already obvious and known to all others. Nevertheless, better that I “discover” them late than not at all. 


There are all sorts of details common to any love relationship—tender new love, loving marriage, a healthy family, or a healthy, loving parish. In the marriage or budding relationship, we may speak of love expressed by “special little things” done by each for the other. Such things bring a special gratitude to the moment as they convey one’s devotion and love. For example, perhaps one buys the other flowers for no particular special occasion, or opens the door for the other at every opportunity. And there are certainly counterparts to these in the family and the parish.


Yet, ultimately, enduring and genuine love is not communicated through these acts. As nice as flowers or a card may be, they can never, by themselves, convince another of unflagging devotion. Genuine love, the sort that is self-sacrificial, enduring, genuine, and rises above our own reward, is conveyed moment by moment, in our every-day interaction. The tone of voice we speak in, the look in our eyes and upon our face, the timbre of our voice in common communication, our deportment in every instance of interaction—these all communicate far more than truckloads of flowers come special delivery. If we do not communicate love at this level where we live, all the “special little things” are unconvincing. This applies to the parish community as much as the marriage. Such self-sacrificial love is uncommon.


Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things,” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
I     I     I
Private notes of a priest, October 2001

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Mystery Divine




I
 must always remember that I come to the Divine Liturgy not to receive, though I do receive, but rather to give, though I have nothing to offer. How can the vessel offer anything to the potter but the utility it was crafted for? Yet, what little I have, my love, I am compelled by my heart to pour out to God, which is the very act of worship, an act of self-emptying from poverty. Worship, of course, is not something our Beloved demands. It is only and simply the natural response of a grateful heart toward the Giver of unconditional and infinite love. “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest…. I tell you that if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out (Lk. 19:37-40).

This, this unwarranted love offered to me, is what compels my heart to prepare as I may in my poverty, and move me to action, for the moment out of time which is the Divine Liturgy and the receiving—the receiving of God Himself in the Holy Mysteries. Certainly when I expect a beloved and eminent dignitary to come and stay in our home, I occupy myself making all my earthly, material things as lovely as possible, cleaning every space, putting in order every little detail. Though my home is humble, as much as it is in my power, I make it fit for my Guest. This is nothing more than a labor of honor and respect, a labor of love, a joy in action. 

In like manner do I strive to prepare the temple of my soul to receive our Most Beloved, Most Highly Exalted and Honored Guest. He deigns to dwell within me and so I do what I can in prayer, silence, Confession, and fasting, as much as is within my feeble flesh to do, to prepare a stable where He may dwell.

When the moment of unspeakable Mystery finally arrives, I do not approach as though I were about to buy my weeks groceries, mind scattered, concerned for every worldly matter, but rather I approach in fear and trembling knowing that a stable is no fit place for the King of kings. But at the moment, at that very instant another great Mystery beyond comprehension is revealed—Love is everything, Divine Love does not require a majestic palace to be exalted, and God, the Divine, is Love.
Love is everything. “Love is the fulfillment of the Law” (Romans 13:10). “Faith, hope, and love… the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13). 

By His Grace, by His indwelling, by His humility, may this Mystery take seed in my heart and I learn to have such love for my neighbor.

Private notes of a priest, September 2001