In the Midst of Summer!
Dearest Spiritual Ohana,
Summer is here! Doesn’t it always seem like it is always Summer in Hawaii, with the ever-present tropical warmth and the usual expected abundance of sunshine?! In months of June, July and the next several months following, there are very few hints of chilly nights and mornings. The days grow a tad bit longer with the sun rising 5ish in the morning and setting a little after 7ish in the evening as we approach and pass through the summer solstice, the lengthiest day of the year. The birds begin chirping at the crack of dawn (not so pleasant if you want to get a little more sleep). We have opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities, a little later into the evening. These are some of the notable dynamics that take place over the Summer.
Transitions in our lives also take place over the Summer: school is out and the children are home for a few long months, the students reach a new milestone and are in the process of being promoted to the next grade or year in school, other students graduate and move on to the next stage in their lives, the Sunday School Program at the Church takes a break, and the Church returns back to a more regular, more fixed schedule after completing the Moveable Festal Seasons of Triodion, Great Lent, Holy Week, Pascha and Pentecost. The Book of Ecclesiastes sums it all up: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”
The Liturgical Life in the Church also has a time and a purpose. Upon the completion of every Divine Liturgy, we are each purposely called to action by “living the liturgy after the Liturgy.” Sunday is the major, most appointed time we are called to be present at the Divine Liturgy, besides the occasional weekday Feast Days, to come together and participate in the “work of the people” (this what “liturgy” literally means) in corporate/communal prayer as the Holy Spirit is present in making the bread and wine the very Body and Blood of Christ. Without your participation in this service of the Divine Liturgy, the priest cannot be present alone in the Consecration of the Holy Gifts. Your presence is important, as our Lord says, “For where two or three are gathered together in My Name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20) The “liturgy after the Liturgy” is our work and important mission to live out our Orthodox Christian Faith in every aspect of our lives in the world, day in and day out, to “commend ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.” For wisdom in how to accomplish this practically in our lives, I turn to a few of the Holy Fathers and Saints who are our ever-present intercessors, friends and companions in guiding us in our spiritual lives and journeys.
One Anonymous Desert Father says the following: “‘Show me how a person worships and I will tell you what he believes.’ This ancient dictum is a basic truth of our Faith. In observing the prayers of a people, we are intimately involved in their very personal attachment to the Lord. As we listen to their heartfelt pleas, we are drawn into what is important to them and what they with to say to their God, and what they wish to say about Him. The Fathers of the Church knew that there must be order in Church worship, but more importantly, the Fathers were aware that after verbal prayer one must ask and seek out those who are precious to the Lord– the poor, the disheartened, the lonely, those beset by all sorts of trouble and spiritual disease. After prayer and entreaty, the true Christian must take his faith into the world and put it into practice. Only then may he take the name of Christian with all honesty and truth. What is true worship? Prayer which is brief in words but abundant in subsequent actions. For if your actions do not exceed your petitions, then your prayers are merely words, and the seed of the hands is not in them”
St. Isaac the Syrian says this, “Let yourselves be persecuted but do not persecute others; be crucified but do not crucify others; be insulted but do not insult others; be slandered but do not slander others. Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Such is the sign of purity. Suffer with the sick. Be afflicted with sinners. Exult with those who repent. Be the friend of all, but in your spirit remain alone. Spread your cloak over anyone who falls into sin and shield him. And if you cannot take his fault on yourself and accept punishment in his place, do not destroy his character.”
“Living the liturgy after the Liturgy” is what our ultimate purpose in this life is: to be people dependent on God through prayer, by most importantly being people of action in bringing the Presence of Christ before all the people we encounter everyday in our daily lives.
A Blessed and Joyous Summer to All!
With Love in Christ,
Sunday after Holy Cross; Nikitas the Great Martyr; Philotheos the Righteous; Bessarion of Larissa; Righteous Father Symeon, Archbishop of Thessolonica; John the New Martyr of Crete; Afterfeast of the Holy Cross; Porphyrios the Actor