St. Mary Orthodox Church

Cambridge, MA

March 2003

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Fr. Antony PortraitChrist is in our midst!

"Instead of the effort to bridge the enormous gap between here and there, between God and my sinful self, we have a movement - direct, intimate, overwhelming, even embarrassing - from God to us.

God wills not to be separated from us, not to be shut out of any corner of our lives."

These inspiring thoughts come from a little book entitled Ponder These Things written by the present Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. How wonderful to be reminded of these things at the beginning of Great Lent.

We may think our Lenten effort is all about making God happy. Or that it constitutes our dutiful sacrifice in order to turn away God's just wrath. Have you ever asked or heard anyone ask of you, "What are you giving up for Lent?" Nothing could be further from the meaning of this Season of Preparation. God needs nothing from us. His '"anger" does not need to be assuaged. The Trinity is not like Zeus given to mood swings and vengeful wrath. The Christian God simply calls us to dare for a little while to allow Him entrance into every corner of our lives; to open the windows and doors, draw back the shutters, do some spring cleaning. In other words, to welcome Him, the One who greatly desires to make His home in us.

The services, the fasting, the acts of charity, the praying are merely tools and certainly not ends in themselves. They enable us to move further, reach higher and dig deeper than we normally do or maybe have ever done before. The discipline of Great Lent challenges us to wake up, wipe the sleep from our eyes and make a few halting, stumbling steps in the direction of God. What we discover is that, like the Father in the parable of the Prodigal Son, He is already rushing to meet us and that the movement we makes is tiny in comparison.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Antony