Wednesday, May 3, 2017

WwW:: Don Quixote

It's been awhile since I've done a Wednesdays with Words post. I often forget or else remember when I don't have the chance to actually post. But today the stars have aligned so here are some words that have impacted me from Don Quixote:

"Recollect, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "that wherever virtue exists in an eminent degree it is persecuted. Few or none of the famous men that have lived escaped being calumniated by malice."

"Men famous for their genius, great poets, illustrious historians, are always, or most commonly, envied by those who take a particular delight and pleasure in criticizing the writings of others, without having produced any of their own."

"... I wish... fault finders were more lenient and less exacting, and did not pay so much attention to the spots on the bright sun of the work they grumble at... perhaps it may be that what they find fault with may be moles, that sometimes heighten the beauty of the face that bears them..."

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Praying in Church

Lots of church this week. My son wants to attend every service and he's pretty close to getting his wish. Mostly he serves in the altar and can attend to the worship with both body and mind. I am not able to participate in the way I prefer; I spend most of my time in the narthex trying to keep the littlest ones from disturbing others who have come to pray. I've heard people argue against bringing little children to church at all. They say that there's no point because you aren't even able to be in church and pray anyway when there's so much in and out activity: shushing, persuading, cajoling and generally just doing one's best to keep boisterous babies from disrupting the service.

Obviously, I disagree. We don't come to church to pray. A slightly less shocking way to say that is to say that we don't come to church purely for the purpose of praying. We come to be part of the Body of Christ.

Yesterday I wasn't sure if I wanted to go to the Holy Unction service. I was tired and I knew my kids were tired. My eldest convinced me by reminding me that if we went last night and this morning for liturgy we would have the opportunity to partake of two sacraments in less than 24 hours. How could I say no to that?

When we arrived last night we hadn't been there for even 5 minutes before I had to take the little ones out. We spent most of the service outside. But we made it back in for the anointing and that was what mattered.

It is a good thing to pray in church; we ought to pray in church. But sometimes we can't. Sometimes it is enough just to be there in body, because what we do with our bodies matters. It matters so much that our God, instead of proclaiming from on high that He would conquer death and set us free, came down to earth in the flesh. He took on a body and He used that body to raze hell and trample on the devil.

I'm sure I have many more services that will be spent outside rather than in. I'm sure that when I am finally able to stay in the nave I will have to struggle with inattentiveness and distracting thoughts. But I will continue to go anyway. And I will continue to strive to put my mind where my mouth is and to pray with my whole self instead of only part. But I must begin by going and by doing and by participating in whatever way I can, no matter how limited. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Smooth Hands Will Never Take the Gate

Uninspired and much too tired
To bleed for the Word today
Oh I want and I need
To walk the narrow way

Give blood to get spirit 
Only soldiers storm the gates.
Do I have the ears to hear it?
Or to keep a warrior's pace?

The servants will be greatest;
But no sweat flows from my pores.
My hands are smooth and the gate is
Taken violently by force. 

~ Peter John Gillquist from his album Real

These are the words I've had running through my head this week. I happened to put on an old album, one I haven't listened to in years, and when this song came I realized that these were words meant for me.

How often I have sat back and complained when things are not going my way. How often I have felt sorry for myself that I keep having to face temptation and struggle. How many times I have relaxed my vigilance because I just don't feel like making an effort.

My hands are smooth because I haven't been trying. But only those who do violence to their passions will take the gate. How can I expect to win a battle I won't even fight? I must arm myself with love and learn to keep watch over my thoughts. I must run from those things that take my thoughts away from Christ. I must give blood. And that's not pretty and it's not easy and it's certainly not fun. But now is the time to run the race. Now is the time to work and build up my treasure in heaven so that my heart might be there also. This is not the time for rest or retreat; this is the time to fight.

Thank God that Lent is upon us! What better time to wake and begin the watch? I know that when we begin to fast the temptations will pile on fast and thick, but thank God! How else could we become seasoned warriors if we haven't had any practice in battle?

Behold, the Bridegroom cometh at midnight.
And blessed is the servant whom He shall find awake.
But he whom He shall find neglectful is verily unworthy.
Behold therfore, my soul! 
Beware, lest thou fallest into deep slumber
And the door of the Kingdom be closed against thee
And thou be delivered unto death. 
But be thou wakeful crying,
Holy, holy, holy art Thou, O God!
Through the intercessions of the Theotokos have mercy on us. 

A blessed fast to all of my readers! May God give you strength and grace to run the race and fight the good fight!