Day 39, things and prayer
After dinner last night, I sat a moment in the refectory with Fr Zacharias. I commented on the Scripture verse on the handle of his cane, “Thy right hand upholdeth me,” that Orthodox Christians often think to make such connections between Scripture and common things.
Fr Zacharias said that we can make that kind of connection all the time. Fr Sophrony did so with many things. As he closed the door to the refectory behind us, he moved it back and forth and said, we can say, “Open to me the doors of repentance…”; when we wash our hands, we can say, “I will wash my hands in innocence…”. Everything can be accompanied by a prayer.
The prayers that accompany the gestures of the Liturgy are not inherent to the rite, but they were added later, so that no gesture is unaccompanied by a prayer.
He told me that when he used to serve as acolyte to Fr Sophrony, when they served Liturgy in the old chapel, the altar table was very small, and after the Gospel reading there wasn’t room on the Holy Table to put the Gospel book on it and unfold the antimens, so Fr Sophrony always handed him the Gospel to put on a table in the corner. And Fr Zacharias found that every time Fr Sophrony handed him the Gospel and he would lay it aside, he would say the verse from the long Psalm, “Your word burns exceedingly, and your servant loved it” [Ps 118.140 LXX]. That’s the way the prayers of the Liturgy develop.