Friday, March 27, 2009

Living the Faith

One of the great joys of Orthodoxy for me lies in the fact that God is here with us. Orthodoxy speaks of a living faith now -- and is not focussed only on some distant place or time. It is meant to be lived daily at home, at work, at Church, well -- in every moment.

Fr Stephen Freeman (Glory to God for All Things), speaking of this very topic, came up with a short list of very practical, down-to-earth "things" one can do. It is a sort of "devotional action list" that deals with all of life. I think it is a very worthwhile list, and so, here it is:

1. Recognize that though “God is everywhere present and filling all things,” you often go through the world as if He were not particularly present at all and that things are just empty things. When you see this, make it a matter of confession.

2. Always approach the Church and the sacraments (where we have an even more specific promise of His presence) with awe. Never treat the building or things that have been set aside as holy as though they were common or empty. Do not divide your life into two - now He’s here, now He’s not. Syrian Christians traditionally believed that the Shekinah presence of God left the Temple and took up abode in the cross - every cross - and thus had extraordinary devotion to each and every cross. We should never be indifferent to the icon corner in our home. Cross yourself whenever you pass it or come into its presence.

3. Make careful preparation for communion. Always read the pre-communion prayers if you are going to receive communion (and perhaps even if you are not); pray Akathists that particularly focus on Christ and His presence, such as the Akathist to the Sweetest Lord Jesus. The traditional Western hymn, written by St. Patrick, known as his “breastplate” is also a very fine hymn to know. Find it and keep it with you and learn it.

4. Lay to heart Psalms of presence, such as Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” and Psalm 91, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High,” and any others that strike you. Repeat them frequently through the day.

5. Throughout the day - search for God. He is everywhere present, and yet our searching helps us to be more properly aware. In searching, expect to find Him. He delights in sharing His presence.

6. More than anything else, give thanks to God for all things. There is no better way to acknowledge His presence. I Thess. 5:18 (a much neglected verse) says: “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Fr. Stephen is well worth reading in many areas. Read "Glory to God for All Things".

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