Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Kyrie Eleison

Lord have mercy. The more I appreciate and comprehend the true beauty and love of the forgiveness that Our Father sends through His Anointed, so much more clearly can I see my own sinfulness, and the tragic effect of rebellion against the Almighty in day-to-day life.

"Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord."

The real danger is that, discovering the fullness of our rich Faith through study, I begin to develop a merely academic relationship with God. Faith turns into knowledge when we forget that Christ, the Way and the Truth, is not only the messenger but is himself the very message itself.

"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness."

This loss of the spiritual and intimate side of the Christ life awakens in me the worst temptation. In the Gospels, Jesus reserves special scorn and vitriol for the hypocrites, the Pharisees and the scribes. The temptation is that, being knowledgeable of heresy and sin, I am all too often tempted to whitewash over my own transgressions and iniquities in order to come across as my own perception of a "good Christian".

"And the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes towards heaven; but struck his breast, saying: O god, be merciful to me a sinner."

So I acknowledge my sin. Please, dear reader, don't be fooled by my whitewashed sephulcre. As I am sure you know "all have sinned". I am currently trying to reinvigorate my diminishing prayer life. I think I will try to avoid the pretentiousness of the Divine Office for a little while; that might only inflate my already swollen ego. I have found great comfort in the "Jesus prayer", which I would recommend to anyone; the echo of the publican's prayer is both mournful and hopeful, and the Holy Name reminds me that we have hope in Christ.

"For neither doth the Father judge any man, but hath given all judgment to the Son."

The rather magnificent icon just above is a symbol of both fear and hope for sinners such as we. We are afraid, because we know that the Perfect One will judge us against His most exacting standards of Faith and Love, and because we know that some will be burned as darnel in the furnace. On the other hand, it is a symbol of hope, because we will be judged by the one who is our brother in Baptism and Faith. Jesus the Anointed is the Gospel, with the love of a brother and the infinite wisdom of the Omniscient He shall judge us, and we may be saved by that Gospel. The symbols of the Evangelists remind us of this.

"Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace."

So I will have faith in Him, pray for His mercy, and trust the one who is Message and Messenger.

Kyrie Eleison,

Christe Eleison,

Kyrie Eleison.


James M said...

Hey brother, salutory stuff you are writing but I don't think there is anything pretentious about you praying the Office. We live in an age that has difficulties with tradition, beauty, authority and humility...but that is the problem of the age we live in not the Office.

Although I don't know your situation, my oar being stuck in on a reflex reckons stick with it, even if you think you are getting nothing out of it...such a prayer is pleasing to God.

la mamma said...

I'd stick with it too, Augustine. I think I know what you mean, for I too love reading about God, His saints and his church for its own sake and if I'm not careful, my 'spiritual reading' can serve only to feed my own curiosity or my own intellectual / spiritual pride. However, why let go of the Office? I love the thought that when praying the Office, I'm uniting my feeble efforts with the prayers of priests, religious and increasing numbers of laity throughout the world. 'The voice of prayer is never silent' and all that. At least hang on to Compline, won't you? Say it for others' intentions, if it bothers you... Mine, for example (pop over to my blog to find out why)!

Augustine said...

Hmm... I may try to continue with Compline for now. Thanks for your comments :-)

Moretben said...

Christ is with us! Thank you for this post. Staying close to the "faith of the fishermen" and not allowing it to become eclipsed by the philosophers is what we all need. More heart; not less "head" precisely, but more "head-in-the-heart".

May I also recommend the Prayer of St Ephraim?

O Lord and Master of my life!

Take from me the spirit of sloth,
faint-heartedness, lust of power, and idle talk.

But give rather the spirit of chastity,
humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.

Yea, Lord and King! Grant me to see my own errors
and not to judge my brother,
for Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.

Augustine said...

Couldn't have put it better myself. The faith of the fishermen. Simple. Mysterious. Humble. With this in mind its easier to see why ours was at first a Church of peasants and slaves...