Coming in to Pentecost Weekend, my Parish’s Feastday, I was painfully aware of sins. I don’t know if this was the normal “awareness” that we talk about as desirable, but it was very oppressive. Saturday Morning I couldn’t get my mind off of it. In addition to any sexual sins I have to confess – even beyond those you may imagine I have to confess – I am prideful. I am a bully. I hold resentments. These all we floating around my head over and over along with the realization that even if I were to maintain a total vow of chastity from that moment forward I would never be able to escape my ego or the people around me: because, of course, I could be so awesome if people would just go away or else do everything my way.
I didn’t want to go to Confession, and I certainly didn’t want to be there, going to communion. I didn’t want to be there in Church. Of course, Church is the answer here, not the issue. And so singing the memorial liturgy I heard us pray for the departed over and over that God would pardon their sins. I knew – clearly and deeply – that none of us is sinless and all of us require not only God’s mercy, but the prayers of our brethren. This was the meaning of Christian Charity: this Eucharistic prayer, right here, offered for people we love and for people we do not even know, in the mystery of faith,
for those who repose in the faith, forefathers, fathers, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, preachers, evangelists, martyrs, confessors, ascetics, and for every righteous spirit made perfect in faith. Especially for our most holy, pure, blessed, and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and ever virgin Mary. For Saint John the prophet, forerunner, and baptist; for the holy glorious and most honorable Apostles; for Saint(s) (Name-s), whose memory we commemorate today; and for all Your saints, through whose supplications, O God, bless us. Remember also all who have fallen asleep in the hope of resurrection unto eternal life. (Here the priest commemorates the names of the deceased.) And grant them rest, our God, where the light of Your countenance shines. Again, we ask You, Lord, remember all Orthodox bishops who rightly teach the word of Your truth, all presbyters, all deacons in the service of Christ, and every one in holy orders. We also offer to You this spiritual worship for the whole world, for the holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, and for those living in purity and holiness. And for all those in public service; permit them, Lord, to serve and govern in peace that through the faithful conduct of their duties we may live peaceful and serene lives in all piety and holiness.
And for all Mankind.
This most universal action is what saves us: the prayer of the Body of Christ – offered in communion with her Lord and Saviour – is the movement towards salvation that pulls us all in and upward. We have to step out of it for it to fail and even when we’re dead and gone it will be offered for us on our behalf, for all mankind.
That is what I needed to hear, let me step deeper into that river, let me swim further up and further in.