Lately, it seems as though there is less and less respect, respect about a great many things.
I don’t want to glamorize or give more air time or credence to the new porno movie coming out today, but that is one example of no respect. The man has no respect for the womanhood, or humanity, of the woman. I remember how privileged it felt to share in the Divine process of procreation. Becoming a mother is the one time you cooperate fully in the procreative process with God. God creates all life and He created a life in me..my children. How awesome is that? This new round of Hollywood madness (and now literary madness as well) has cheapened the physical relationship between a man and a woman. Unfortunately, due to this “success” in the book world, there is now a lot more of this style of writing. In all genres, and it still has no respect, most especially for women and for the union of man and wife.
I just read an article about Tabernacles being desecrated. So much so that the local Bishop has ordered all of them in his area closed. No more adoration. No more keeping the light on because we know Jesus is home, and we can walk in and chat with Him. We can even drive by and know He is present. No more serenity and peace, just being in the same room with Him in a chapel. Once again, because no one has respect. I don’t mind if you do not believe in what I believe in. I do not mind that you even dislike what I believe in. But I offer you the respect of your beliefs and I just want the same in return. I’m not here to shove my beliefs or opinions down your throat. I just want to practice my faith. There is no need to destroy the property of a church, or desecrate the Tabernacles within one. You can voice your opinions in so many other ways, that would perhaps be even more fruitful and cause more people to stop and think. Even those of other faiths decry the desecration of another church, be it in their belief system or not. Radical actions by a radical few do nothing to bring others to their point of view. Please stop.
There are also people out there who share so much, we sort of wish they would not. Sharing things that should be kept within their family, or their faith family, at best. Far too much blatant reality and sharing, from my point of view. Which brings us to blogging. Some people share far too much on blogs. I have been guilty a time or two myself, and have tried to rectify that trend in my writing. I feel that when you hope to share your faith and when you hope to bring others over to what you believe, you put your best foot forward. You don’t disrespect fellow worshippers with poor descriptions of events, sharing your dislike of what happened and continues to be a point of irritation for you. That does not make anyone want to join you on your journey. It turns people off, and turns them away.
In our faith tradition in the east, we have lots of opportunity for worship. We have (in most parishes) evening Vespers, morning prayers, and we have Divine Liturgy. In most eastern parishes, there is one Divine Liturgy a weekend, because we want all our faith family together, worshipping at the same time. In lots of churches, there are so many services offered, you would never have to see the same people twice. Nor hear the same music or chant twice. Never have to scurry for the favorite pew seat, because it changes so often. (We all have people we know who sit in particular places all the time. And heaven forbid someone should come and take their spot in Church…knowingly or unknowingly. I move around all the time, just to keep people on their toes). We have so many opportunities to live our life of faith, with our community, that we should be so very grateful. And there are plenty of times when we can worship as a family outside of formal worship, as well as with friends outside of Church time itself. But we also need to attend and respect the times we are together.
For our tradition, a feast is always prepared with a fast. And there are readings galore for every feast. If you attend regularly and read outside of Church, no Saint’s feast day or Holy Day should ever catch you by surprise. We always lead up to it with readings and fasting. There are many days we fast in our tradition, and many days that we celebrate with fervor, for long periods of time. We believe a feast begins at sunset the day before. So we start, for say, Easter Sunday, in the afternoon of Saturday. We come together in the evening and we stay together until the sun rises and we share our first taste of meat together. In fact, for the three days until Easter, called the Triduum in the West, we are rarely apart. Lots of people plan vacation days from work for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Saturday night prior to Easter Sunday, and then a day of rest for Easter itself. Many of our friends also take the following week, Bright Week, off work to recuperate and enjoy Easter. In the Melkite tradition, it is my favorite time of year. The Lenten evening services are incredible and I have felt God so closely during those moments of total prostration and prayer, enveloped by the sound of my priest’s voice and the cloud of incense over all of us. The Presanctified Liturgy is, for me, like a moment of Heaven on Earth. Very special moments for me. Getting into the habit of spending time in the presence of God can change your outlook on time, itself.
In the eastern Churches, we believe that the moment you step into the Church you have left the world of Chronos (looking at your watch) and into the world of God, Kyros. It is in Kyros that we loose ourselves in the worship of God and time as we know it ceases to exist. We flow through the worship services, surrounded by chant and incense, and are quite often amazed at how much Chronos passed us by while in the Temple with God. If you are current on the readings leading to these longer services, and you understand the whys and wherefores of the Liturgy itself, Chronos has little to no affect on you. If you drag the world in with you, constantly worrying about what is going on outside, fussing over worldly details, Kyros will become lengthy and bothersome, and in fact, you won’t really have entered into an authentic experience of Kyros. You will loose the essence of God’s time and be stuck in the world. Of course, sometimes the world intrudes (diapers need changing, little ones need comfort, or you just have to use the restroom!!) and they cannot be helped. I recall a father of many, behind me in the pew one Sunday, handling a variety of upset kids. Criers, fussers, generally cranky kids. And I turned around at one point and saw him cradling a baby, eyes closed, swaying to the movement of the chant, reciting the prayers right along with the priest. His face was one of utter contentment. He was in Kyros, while dealing with the world’s problems in the person of a crying baby. It can be done, but it requires a determination sometimes to shut the world out.
This viewpoint is not respected by lots of people. They view church as some sort of hour-long drive through where they can get their sacraments and get out, to get on with life. They complain about lengthy services, about times, about requirements of participation. My thoughts are, keep shopping. There is bound to be a church that will cater to your whims and wishes. Which is not very Christ-like! However, God only asks us to worship Him for an hour a week. Anything we do over and above that is gravy to our souls. One lousy hour. Okay, on a feast day, it may be 3-4 hours. It is truly not much when you look at the many hours we waste in traffic or in lines for things like coffee. It comes down to your devotion and your priorities. And you can complain, yes. Feel free. God listens to our joys as well as our sorrows. But respect the faith that you are sharing. Don’t turn people off or away by not respecting the very place you turn to for your “God time.” Perhaps investigate the workings of the Liturgy itself and try to get into the movements of what is happening each week. You would be amazed at what you thought, versus what is. And if your life just does not have this sort of time available in it, there are places that are faster, simpler, cleaner. I just find it a shame someone would miss out on the beauty of worship that is relatively unchanged for 2,000 years in favor of a few extra minutes of Chronos. Giving up the Kyros moments with God? Not me. I’m so excited for Great Lent and all the Lenten devotions. I respect the chosen faith, that for me, fulfills my needs so much more than I can ever properly share. A Church that has prepared for me for millennia; a Church who knows I need these times to keep my life on track. I am so blessed, and as I said, so excited for Great Lent.
This year will be epic.