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.


Posted on June 23, 2011, in Reflections and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Blessed words for you and for us – and their words went out into all the earth. And books and scones to boot! Refreshment for mind body and soul. Wonderful!

    I am reminded in your writing from Essex the words of a chaplain’s wife who had spent 3 years in Scotland. You learn that one does not ‘undress’ for bed, but rather to ‘dress well’ for bed!

  2. Very insightful, Fr. Michael!

    It remembered me, together with Melissa’s commentary, two texts of a friend of mine, the most spiritual priest I know. I translated them from Portuguese to English through Google Translator. I’ll quote first two good parts:

    “There is no thing or action that can not be transfigured by berakah, even the physiological needs: “Be blessed Lord our God, King of the world, who formed man with wisdom and have created channels and holes in it … Be blessed Lord, who cares for the creatures so wonderful. ” This prayer opens the physiological needs of an important new mission to the Christian, while the current culture tends to trivialize the realities of life such as marriage, birth and death, the man of God may prevent a new force that transforms everything, everything consecrating God, the source and origin, cause and reason of all things”.

    (From “Berakah”: )

    “We must rediscover the value of sacred signs and symbols, starting with the most sensitive and visible, such as clothing and vestments, gestures and words. Urge correct ideologies that want to reduce these ritual symbols to an expression of social status. It is necessary, conversely, to recognize its original value. The vestments and rites reveal another identity, expressing the need for a different spiritual and bodily attitude before a particular situation. From there, the sacred symbols of their meaning on all design movements exist. I cite examples. Blessed Cardinal Schuster went to sleep even when wearing a special black dress, to show himself to his continued dedication. He was a Benedictine, but archaeological findings at the time of the persecutions they found that some communities of lay men and women, participated in worship with sacred garments.

    The costumes, gestures and way of life have a function “epiphanic”, that is, revealing the mystery of God. That’s how you live is a “apofânico” which is a loss of their identity, existence of a “mysterious vision,” ie, involved an identity with the divine. Also, the liturgical colors indicate how we should conform ourselves to the mystery we celebrate”

    (From Secularism.- how to self-heal?”: )

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