Keep Holy things from becoming common!

 

"Lord,  Thou hast accounted me worthy today,  but cast me not away  from Thy sight in that great and notable day when Thou wilt come again."

 

The Last supper http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/lastsupper-01.jpgThis prayer is a synthesis of the first and fourth prayers of Thanksgiving  after Holy Communion.

 

From the first:

"I thank Thee, O Lord my God, that Thou hast not rejected me, a sinner, but hast vouchsafed me to be a communicant of Thy holy Things".

 From the fourth (the entire, short prayer):

"O Lord Jesus Christ our God, may Thy Holy Body, be unto me for life eternal, and Thy Precious Blood for the remission of sins; And may this Eucharist be to me for joy, health, and gladness. And at Thy dread Second Coming, vouchsafe me, a sinner, to stand at the right hand of Thy glory, through the intercessions of Thy most pure Mother and of all Thy Saints".

 

Fr Zacharias[1] recommends that we say this prayer after liturgy to keep it from becoming common to us. This is a wonderful idea.  When I read it, I loved it, but to my shame, did not recognize  it as a synthesis of two prayers that I have said over three thousand times(!) (a footnote enlightened me).

 

We truly miss so much in everything we do because if our lack of attention. Every day,  the way we live is a travesty and tragedy. We are living out the life of the people if the Gergesenes[2], and the people of Chorazin! and Bethsaida[3], who saw the Lord and did not recognize Him.

 

I think about these things often. How many times do we do holy things in a common way? How many times do we zip through the Trisagion prayers, or Psalm 50? How many times does the Lord visit us, and we do not recognize Him, or treat Him as common?

 

I suffer from two maladies, one of which is because of my physical nature, and one because of my spiritual decadence.

 

The physical infirmity is not so important, and even though it is irksome, it will not condemn me[4]. I am easily disturbed and confused by noise and commotion, and therefore, the environment in which the prayers are read is not conducive to my mind processing what my ears hear. Added to that problem is that because I am a pastor, I must greet people as they kiss the cross, and the prayers become a drone in the background, especially is someone is saying them softly.

 

The other problem is much more significant and I have no excuses. I do not always pay complete attention. Even when I am focusing my attention on the prayers, my mind can drift in and out, like a weak radio signal.

 

Years ago, I would go home and say the Prayers of Thanksgiving after Communion alone, even though I had heard them read in church. This was in a different time, when I was a layman or deacon, and did not have so many responsibilities. Those were wonderful moments, and they helped to keep the miracle of the liturgy more appreciated. This practice was a kind of compensation for my maladies. We must creatively find ways to compensate for our spiritual depravity, and find ways to focus on the "holy things for the holy".

 

God help us! We treat as common that which is precious. We must prefer the common over the precious. We must do everything in our power to fight this deadly tendency. this seems impossible, but the Lord has promised us success with impossible things!


 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2013     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

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[1] The Enlargement  of the Heart,  Archimandrite  Zacharias,  pg 93.

[2] The people of the Gergesenes kept swine and the Lord exorcized two demoniacs and allowed to the demons to enter the swine, and the swine went mad and ran down a cliff and were drowned in the sea below. the people went out to the Lord and asked Him to leave them; they should have been repenting and thanking Him for His visitation. They were blinded by their passions, as are wee. See Matthew 8:28-34

[3] Matthew 11:20-21  Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:  (21)  Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

[4] After all, if I cannot process the audible prayers, nobody except my poor sinful self is preventing me from inner silent prayer! I do this often when things are too chaotic for my sensitive ears, but not often enough!