St. Mary Orthodox Church

Cambridge, MA

March 2019

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

One of my favorite Orthodox writers was the eminent lay theologian from Paris, Olivier Clement. He had such a command of the vision, history, and theology of the Church that I often go to his wonderful book THE ROOTS OF CHRISTIAN MYSTICISM for inspiration and as a valued resource.

He wrote a sentence that helps to ground me when I grow sick of the divisiveness, fear, and hatred that I see on the news. It has a simple and powerful message. He wrote, the whole of humanity "forms, so to speak, a single living being." One of the desert fathers, those intrepid saintly men and women, said that he struggled all his life to see "all humanity as one."

The Franciscan theologians had a slightly different perspective on salvation. The Catholic West tied salvation entirely to the Cross, the Lord's death and resurrection. The Franciscans tied it to the Incarnation without, of course, leaving out the other. The point is that it is not just the Crucifixion that saves, but the whole of the Lord's life.

St. Irenaeus of Lyons called this idea "recapitulation." In his words, "what was not assumed, was not saved." The Incarnation is God's embrace of all things, humanity, yes, and also matter, and the spaces in between. In this embrace creation is transformed into sacrament. God unites. He does not separate. The Incarnation is one of our "proofs" of this.

We are extensions of the Incarnation. God's hands are our hands. God's feet are our feet. We have the choice to make his life our life, his words our words, his will our will. The choice is ours. Will we live our lives in a way that unite or divides, that heals and not hurts, that seeks to understand and not condemn? Will we choose to incarnate God in this world or not?

With love,
Fr. Antony