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Fighting Words?

Fr. Freeman writes with sobriety about the danger of turning liturgical praises into apologetic weaponry:

Being Orthodox means living with words like "pillar and ground of truth." Or singing gleefully in a liturgy, "We have seen the True Light, we have found the true faith." In the wrong hands such words can be dangerous indeed. They are true enough, but such truth can be uttered well only as praise to the Living God, rarely as apologetics or as "war words" in our confused scene of Christianity. Uttered in "battle" if the little dust-ups that occur hither and yon can be called such, these words take on the fearful character of "that by which we will be judged" (Matthew 12:36).

Read more here

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Lifting Up

I found myself in the midst of a moderate amount of angst and depression the other evening. As no distraction seemed appealing or even possible, I sat down on my bed and focused on the nagging chaos that danced about my heart and mind. I realized that if there was a place to be - a place of healing - it was in a sanctuary, during liturgy. I pictured the vested minister, raising the elements high above his head, and as Christ was lifted up I knew that I too would be lifted up with him.

There is a lifting up, an exaltation in the liturgy that pulls a person out of himself and ushers him into the throne room of the Father. It is a salvation, a liberty from man's own inward and downward pull. At the little entrance the Gospel book is elevated in the hands of the priest and proceeds about the room - always above our heads. The Gospel is then proclaimed, shouted from the rooftops, if you will. What we experience here is not the gazing down of the head to study, but the lifting up of the head to receive the One Who Is To Come. It is the necessary cry of good news.

Likewise, the elements of Holy Communion are lifted high, presented to God.  The Son is offered up and we are offered up in the Son.  For in baptism the Father made us little Christs, and we offer ourselves in the Son because our identities are no longer viable apart from his.  The Father accepts the Son, and in his Son, he accepts us.  "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me", lifting us up with him as well.  We need only recognize our unity with the Son of God, a unity most severe.
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Alive and Improving

By God's grace, here I sit! The procedure went well and my body is getting used to carrying medical equipment inside of it, and the pain is manageable. Thank you for your prayers.
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Surgery Friday

Prayers would be appreciated as I undergo surgery this Friday morning.  I'll be put to sleep and the doctors will work to retrieve a kidney stone.  Essentially, the procedure involves passing a little laser and basket up through the ureter and into the kidney, where the stone will be shot at with the laser to break it apart, and then pulled out in little pieces by the basket (thank the Lord I'll be sleeping).  A stent will be left inside of me for a week or two.  This stent is somewhat of a tube, running from my kidney through the ureter and out...well...the rest of me....which is designed to help with drainage and urination.   All in all, the procedure is not very serious, but it will be uncomfortable, and prayers for patience, endurance and quick recovery would be wonderful.  I'll post again next week with an update.

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More

(Forgive me for expounding on a very common theme as of late.  I'm in the midst of a new understanding of my own failures, and writing about them seems fitting).

Our hearts become hardened by sin and we begin to neglect that each person around us is our salvation, that Christ is everywhere, filling all things, and that he gives himself to us in Holy Communion so that we might recognize Him everywhere else.

Ultimately, the immense curse and spiritual danger of our sin is that it blinds us.  In our gluttonous self-absorption we cannot see others as Christ.  For if we were willing to admit that God was so near, so physically present as our neighbor, then we wouldn't have the courage to keep on sinning.  If we were to realize that as vessels of Christ, our neighbors are holy, then we could not ignore them.

It is our selfishness that isolates us from others; our hearts harden; Jesus is ignored and once again placed into the tomb as the resurrection is forgotten.  There does not anywhere in this world exist a merely "personal" or "individual" sin - all sin is a denial of God, thus it is a denial of every human being.

Whatever you did to the least of these, you did to me...
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The Liturgical/Iconographic Argument

We prove God’s existence by worshiping Him and not by advancing so-called proofs. We have here the liturgical and iconographic argument for the existence of God. We arrive at a solid belief in the existence of God through a leap over what seems true, over the Pascalian certitude. According to an ancient monastic saying, “Give your blood and receive the Spirit.”  -Paul Evdokimov

Fr. Stephen begins with the qoute above, and then elaborates here.
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Being Children of the Day

The imperative then, is to obey.  To realize that we have not joined a group whose goals involve doing well, or getting by, or finding comfort, but who are being made into the very Christ of God.

We are thus not called to be "moral people", but to be the Sons of God, the Children of the Day, the Children of the Light.  These terms can find no synonyms in our sterilized and vapid culture, our self-help religion.  These are mythical terms, terms of the imagination whose explanations can only be found in actions of love and sacrifice, foolish stands and disarming honesty.  

The Children of the Day live knowing that when the Son of Man comes in all his glorious light, meager affirmations and correct creedal recitations, barren of love and of hope and of faith, will be as darkness.
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Good Writing Causes Bad Writing

He who reads too much fine fiction will inevitably be drawn into the delusion that his life too, deserves a brilliant ongoing narrative.  Sadly, this will almost always begin in a mundane moment, as in the coffee shop, where our bewildered reader finds himself narrating his own journey back to his seat, with the sun moving through the window with excruciating purpose, rays filtering through the roasted-scents that poured fourth from my shaky cup... Flee!   Do not continue this narration! 

And to think, I almost lost myself to this nonsense at a Dunn Brothers this weekend.