Shadows of Forgotten Liturgies
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.”