Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

As there is not a single superfluous word in the Church's Divine Services, it is especially necessary at the time of the singing of the Litany of Fervent Supplication (the "Ecumenic Petitions") to pray to God most fervently, from the very depths of a most contrite heart, as we are reminded at the very beginning of the litany by the words: "Let us all say with our whole souls and with our whole mind, let us all say...."

St. John of Kronstadt

We would do well to have St John's phronema when preparing liturgical texts or celebrating the Divine Services, especially when tempted to view "economy" in terms of brevity, 'simplification', and removal of the "unnecessary". If we are truthful in claiming we desire to stand on the right hand on the Day of Resurrection, spending a few extra minutes in Church should not be a burden. Father Paul Tarazi recalled that once when he was asked why we chant "Lord, have mercy" forty times, that he replied, "Forty? Why not Four hundred times?!" When I find myself bored in church, I should ask myself why does it seem so to me, not why is it taking so long.

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