June 21/ July 4 2009. 4th Saturday after Pentecost
Harsh is death, yet, when thou didst unite Thyself to it, having become divinely hypostatic though the Virgin, Thou didst destroy it. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, the God of our Fathers. (Sunday, Tone 3, Matins Canon to the Theotokos, Ode 7, Sticheron 2)
Almost every service, and especially at vigil, I hear something that I have heard many times before, as if for the first time. Vespers and Matins especially among our many beautiful services, have this marvelous way of restating the truths and dogmas of our faith in new and poetic ways, and sometimes there is a blessed moment, when my poor soul feels completely invigorated, as the body does when it passes from drowsiness to full alertness, and I hear something that has truth in it that is too beautiful for words. My soul knows that however beautiful the poetry is, it is just an approximation of the things to come, because, after all, our poetry is attempting to speak with unspeakable words.
For some reason, these moments mostly come in the last half of vigil. I think this is because we need to put time and effort into prayers, and only after the body is a little tired, and the mind has been removed from the clamor of the world for a good while, is the soul the most receptive to hearing and understanding holy things.
This is one of the reasons I insist on serving vigil. I do not know how I could be saved if I did not serve it, because I need as many moments of spiritual clarity as possible, to enlighten my darkness. As a pastor, I know that I am not so very different than my flock, and they all need these moments too. If I serve, than perhaps I will be enlightened by degrees, and in turn pass something useful to my flock, and some of my flock, if they develop the good habit of standing in vigils, will have these moments without any intervention on my part except for making the service available. It goes without saying that if we did not serve matins this evening, nobody would have had any chance to have a clarifying and purifying moment from the hymns of matins on this 4th Sunday after Pentecost, Tone 3, 2009.
I have many thoughts that go through my mind when something in the service touches me. Sometimes I wish that I could turn some of them off, but I am a pastor, and am always thinking of my flock. I also think these multiple thoughts are related to my unhealed as of yet passions. The more holy we become, the more simple our thoughts are. My thoughts are rarely simple!
Priest Seraphim Holland 2009. St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas
New Journal entries are posted on our BLOG: http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime
Archive of Journal Entries: http://www.orthodox.net/journal
Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL were the text was found. We would love to hear from you with comments!
 2Co 12:2-4 KJV I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. (3) And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) (4) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.