Thursday, March 21, 2013

'The Springtime of the Soul' & 'The School of Repentance'

Dear Parish Faithful,

According to the calendar it is already Spring.  However, I presently remain somewhat skeptical when I am outside in the cold.  From what I understand, it may take a few more days before I am fully convinced that Spring has arrived. Be that as it may, we should realize that it is no coincidence that Great Lent falls primarily in the Spring, for we believe that Great Lent is the “springtime of the soul.”  Awakening from the slumber of sin and “the winter of our discontent,” we enjoy the renewal of life that both Great Lent and the paschal mystery promise to our interior lives as that same renewal is manifested outwardly in the world of nature.  It was the Russian philosopher, Nicholas Berdyaev, who said that “the grass grows and the flowers bloom within the Church.”  For it is within the Church that we learn that the cyclical renewal of nature is a “sign” of the once-and-for-all event of the Resurrection of Christ. The Resurrection is a springtime mystery.

The “springtime of the soul” arrives through repentance, so to change our metaphors for the moment, we also refer to Great Lent as the “School of Repentance.”  Our one true Teacher is Christ, but we also learn from the great saints.  The saints were disciples - which means “students” - of the Lord and they learned well and now pass that living Tradition down to us in various forms.  The “classroom” is the church, and the perfect “text” that teaches us about repentance, while simultaneously leading us into the spirit of true repentance, remains the Canon of Repentance by St. Andrew of Crete.  As a saint of the Church, he is also a teacher “certified” by Christ Himself.  (Our “homework” is to put into practice what we have learned in the classroom).  We again had excellent attendance yesterday evening for the third part of the Canon – many who returned for another evening together with some new “students” who came to learn the meaning of repentance from the prescribed text.  No one returns home untouched by this profound meditation on repentance.

One more opportunity yet remains for a final session in this “school of repentance” this evening, as we will chant the fourth and final part of the Canon of Repentance beginning at 7:00 p.m.  Think of taking advantage of a “free education” while it is being offered.  Hopefully for those who are busy during the day, a “night school” class is preferable.

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