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