February 12, 2009


We’re getting ready for the Feast of the Presentation of Christ Jesus in the Temple. Our featured book this past fall was Churchly Joy, a collection of sermons by Father Sergius Bulgakov. Here’s a passage from Father Bulgakov’s homily for the Presentation:

In the nation chosen by God, a blessed elder had been prepared for the meeting with the Lord. This elder had devoted an entire life of ascesis, prayer, and faith to waiting for this encounter; and now his prayer for his peaceful departure from the world merged with his prayer for this meeting. And this prayer was heard, and it was promised to the righteous Simeon by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord…And having met the God-Man, he took Him in his arms, blessed God, and said “now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace.” The hour of his departure from the world had struck, for his eyes had seen the salvation awaited by him. His farewell hymn was a divinely inspired confession of faith in the Savior, a confession that had never before been pronounced on earth, and, thus, according to the Evangelist, Joseph and His mother marveled at the things Simeon said about him.

I don’t know about you, but writing like that just makes me want to pray. It’s that good.

Speaking of prayer, the other day, I was reading a nice article in the current issue of Orion. Orion is one of the magazines that we keep on hand, so, the next time you are in the store, grab a cup of your favorite tea, pick up the January/February number, and read the piece by Anthony Doerr; it’s called “Am I Still Here? Looking For Validation in Wired World”. Here’s an excerpt:

Yesterday—and this is embarrassing—I checked my email before leaving for work and after I got to work, and I checked it every now and then during the day at work, and, after bicycling home from work, a total distance of two miles, I checked my email again…It’s disconcerting,It’s shameful… but checking email or tinkering around on Facebook or reading snippets about Politician A on Blog B is…about asking the world a very urgent question: Am I still here?

Like I said, the article is quite good—and very funny—but it starting me thinking about how Christians should validate themselves. In his letter to the Colossians, St Paul states that we are “dead” and that our “life is hidden with Christ in God”. So that means we aren’t going to get what we need from a blackberry or an iphone or the internet. Because when we ask that basic human question, “Am I still here?”, we’re not asking primarily about our presence in this world (which is only temporary, anyway); what we are asking about, what we really want to know, is whether or not we are present in the Kingdom.

And the way we gauge that is through prayer. In the Holy Gospels, Christ Jesus says we should “pray always’; in his epistles, St Paul says we should “pray without ceasing.” So I’m thinking that we should be praying at least as often as Mr Doerr checks his email.

fr. aidan

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