Friday, February 13, 2009

A Reflection on Lent

To read about my journey in Greece click here

A Reflection on the Lenten Period

Lent is a time where I can really evaluate myself reflect and truly dedicate myself to being a lover of Christ, a true Orthodox Christian. With the induction of Lent, everything gets quieter, clearer, and I see the things in my soul that were truly impeding my journey towards Christ. Every second seems to have deeper meaning and deeper feel. And the body becomes awake, no more meat, dairy oil- all of the true spices of life can the body satiate for and reward itself, for what exactly? It is a time of love, a divulging of all that is sinful, and replacing it with Christ. He, the true lover of humanity and ultimately myself- is the only knower of all my sins, previously confessed AND the sins that haunt me now. And for all of my faults He loves me, accepts me, and shows me to His abundant mercy and love, which makes me want to shed all of these ‘worldly cares’ and taste the kingdom now. He is the answer to my life, and He is the one to guide me. The one who allows me, a child who walks but does not know where he goes, who makes absolutisms about things that he hardly knows about, and makes wild accusations about things and violates all who trust me.

The Value and Desire of Lamenting

I found that I grew up in a rich suburb- that gave us no opportunities to live a full life. Yes we lived a full life in the best sense of the word, new cars and new clothes, fancy cars and fancy attitudes. But the true cycle of life we did not endure, the part of life that we all yearn for- suffering.
What truly does it mean to suffer? Suffering, ultimately- is the crying, the pain that is not initially physical, but emotional, psychological- that in turn affects the physical. Convulsing, staring at ourselves in the mirror and asking why? And getting no answers. Screaming at the moon and asking it to scream back, cursing God and laying in bed; for hours and days that never seem to end nor do we want it to. And to this end we contemplate ourselves by first asking God to make it go away, and then asking ourselves if we can make it go away by inflicting our own death by our own hand.
And for all my happiness- the only ‘tasting of the sweet and not the sour’ (happiness and no sadness) leaves a lasting impression on us who have tasted the Heavenly Kingdom already; in the simplicity of our parents love, and experienced its perfection in way we were able to grow in such a place that allows us to grow in any direction- in any way.
But often we turn to self inflicted suffering (our sin), and certain disappointing events in our lives we are left broken. A shell of ourselves, a shell of what we knew- a shell of what we thought we could be. With no hope of redemption but just a blank emptiness of selfish life, asking, wanting and waiting to be filled with the masterpiece that was our one true fantasy- broken hearted, lonely and lost.
Though lamentations to our God our savior in we truly find a path to Him laid with intimacy, trust, compassion, recovery, truth, expulsion of fear, interior quietness, calm. All of these are a foundation for the greatest love of all: Your love for Christ and an acknowledgement of the love that Christ already has for you.
But what is lamenting exactly? It is an expulsion of everything that is contrary to human nature, contrary to the human soul that we have been afflicted with: sin and the pain that comes with it. It is a releasing of this pain in prayer and asking that Christ takes them from us. There is no perfect prescribed way, (I do it privately in prayer in my icon corner towards my God, the Panagia and the Saints) but it must be done in order that we have a true relationship to Christ.

Truly, at the beginning of lent is the time to express our pains of this life to our Lord

Now is the time to lament, now is the time that we truly understand and empathize with the woman who anointed Christ’s feet with the precious oil and cleaned them with her tears.

to read click
(Luke 7:37-50)

Now is the time to lament, that we associate with the Publican and understand that we yes we are sinners of this world asking for Gods mercy

to read click
(Luke 18:10-14)

Now is the time to lament, and once again look from Christ on the tree as Zacchaias in wonder and awe of our King, and allow him to come to our home (our soul) from this day forth and forever more.

to read click
(Luke 19:2-10)

Now it is time for us to lament, to come home, home to Christ as the Prodigal Son (Daughter).

to read click
(Luke 15:11-32)

Lamenting to Christ; a crying out, an expulsion of the pain and sorrow of our sinfulness coupled with our strains and stresses of the world is necessary for us to have a true relationship with Him. It is an opportunity to become connected with Christ, and to share every pain and every sorrow with your Father in Heaven. This is the true beginning of our Lenten journey.

Lent is the time to acknowledge to God that we have gone far from him, far in a far-off land and that we must come back and meet him on this journey of “joyful sorrow” towards the Resurrection. We must meet Christ now here at Lent so that we can know the true meaning of the Resurrection. The Resurrection (Pascha): The center of our Orthodox Christian faith.

Lent Reflection- Conclusion

Lent is a time where Christ and I come together, and I become many of the characters in the bible of repentance- and beg Christ to come into my heart and soul, to forgive me for all that I have done and to come into my soul to dwell forever.

Lent is a strenuous journey, one filled with more prayer, more fasting, more love for my neighbor, and a true look at my sinfulness. It is a time that I relent- because I am giving up some freedoms- freedom from foods, and freedom to sin.

With removal of sin in our lives, the increased use of the Jesus Prayer (click), an increased emphasis on the spiritual life, an emphasis of our Christian values and beliefs, turns us into an incredible human beings that experience the metaphysical spiritual journey: the way of Christ.

Lent is a journey that is tough and difficult, but an experience that I will never relinquish, and although I once sighed at the challenge, I now look forward to a time where all things will be clearer, all things will be quieter, and my focus can be on Christ our Savior!

Don’t miss your opportunity to become closer to Christ like you never have before on our annual Lenten pilgrimage to Christ and his Resurrection!

I recommend one book that truly had an amazing effect on my understanding of Lent, and will definitely make your journey deeper and more meaningful

click to see

Great Lent by Alexander Schmemman

it is a great read for your journey- enjoy!

To read about my journey in Greece click here

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