The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Monday, June 04, 2007

Shadows of Forgotten Liturgies

A Pensive (and Hopefully Constructive) Reply to This Post

It’s all in a haze now. The more I am in the world, the more distant all of that seems. There was a time when all I lived for was the liturgy. Even the one year I was in the world between being a seminarian and being a monk, I spent most of my free time hanging out in local Orthodox churches. (And some of them were not so local.) But now it seems like so much escapism, so irrelevant to how I live now.

(…Memento mori. Sure, easier said than done. Do we really know about our mortality until it stares us in the face, about to seize us into the oblivion of our defeat? Is any other thought of death really vanity, a futile attempt to get the angel’s eye view before we finally succumb to worrying about what we will eat, when we will sleep, where we will live, and our own selfishness?)

Many people say that liturgy is the answer. Liturgy is the way we participate in the life of the angels, or so the traditions of the Church go. But I lived this for much of my short adult life, and it REALLY doesn’t work like that. If only, these people would say, our churches could be little pieces of heaven that put us in the sublime before we open the doors of the church again and go back to the mundane pace of our lives, maybe we would be more “spiritual”. I say that this is highly unlikely.

Can liturgy be prevented from being one entertainment, one distraction, amidst others, in which one can pick and choose the flavor of the one you experience? Is this what liturgy should be about?

Liturgically, I have seen the seventh heaven. I have been in ceremonies that could make the hardest heart crack with tender compunction. But you are always brought back down, and sometimes the crash is very, very hard. And now, thankfully, I barely remember them most of the time. Life itself must be my liturgy now. You cannot live in the doll house.

“My grace is sufficient for thee.”


At 6:52 AM, Blogger 123 said...

I agree that Liturgy is only important IF the connection to the rest of life can be found. Without that connection, Liturgy is simply distraction and performance, a pageant. I think the connection lies in the similar connection between fasting from foods and the fleeting delights of the senses, and fasting from sin. "What good is it to fast from meat when we devour our brothers?", St Basil the Fool yelled while eating meat on the steps of the Cathedral on Holy Friday.

At the same time, world as liturgy is in danger of despair given all that we see son contrary to liturgy - there's more unrestrained sin and license in the areligious world to my eye. We need a vision of what things 'really', a foretaste of the consolation to come. We need to be able to see that Jesus was not simply the man from Nazareth, but that he was also the Word a shown forth on the Mount of Transfiguration. And yet, Jesus did not agree with Peter that it would be good for them all just to live there in that glory, so they went down the mountain - and He set his eyes on Jerusalem and His Passion. Both seem necessary.


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