top of page
  • Writer's picturefrdavid7

Lent Day 38 - Wednesday

“O almighty Master, who hast made all creation and by thine inexpressible providence and great goodness hast brought us to these all-revered days, for the purification of soul and body for the controlling of passions and for hope of resurrection.”

Yesterday I read the whole ambon prayer of the Presanctified Liturgy, the prayer at the end of the service.  Today I just wanted to read the first sentence, because that’s the part that touches me every year.  As I pray that prayer, especially the first week of Lent, I always see the faces of those who celebrated Pascha with our community last year, but have fallen asleep in the Lord and will not be physically present with us this year.  There was a man in our parish who used to come to every Presanctified Liturgy to help me behind the altar, which is almost necessary for the proper celebration of the Presanctified.  Although the doors are closed for the first part of the service, the priest is not simply sitting in the altar, waiting for the chanter to read all those psalms.  Not at all.  The transfer and reverence of the presanctified gifts takes place at that time, and it’s a rather complicated process.  Having two people back there is the only way to do it properly.  Of course, it’s possible without two, and I’ve been doing it for several years now by myself since he’s gone, but I always think of that man when I pray the first part of the ambon prayer.

And frankly, I also think of myself.  Of course, that’s what the prayer is talking about – those of us who are in the church at that moment: “by thine inexpressible providence and great goodness hast brought us to these all-revered days.”  In other words, you must give thanks to God that you’re alive to struggle through another Lent.  The prayer doesn’t ask us to remember those who have died over the course of the previous year, but rather to take note that we ourselves have not been one of them.

Indeed, if you knew this Lent would be your last, would you keep it any differently?  The Presanctified Liturgy’s ambon prayer reminds us: there is nothing to say that this will not indeed be your, or my, last Lent.  There are no guarantees for any of us.  I see this several times a year – someone gets sick and dies who you would never, never have guessed would have any health issues whatsoever.  Sometimes there are accidents, although those are more rare.  Everyone is amazed and shocked and some even wonder (and this is a healthy part of the process of grieving) if our faith helps us at all.

The remembrance of death is a powerful weapon in the Orthodox Christian arsenal.  To paraphrase St. John Climacus, the one who has been told by the doctors that there is no hope for survival doesn’t care what’s on TV that night.  But, and this is the Fr. David addition, the one who thinks he has plenty of time to repent and strengthen his faith without hesitation skips church to see an important game.  Facing death is a help to our faith and to our relationship with the living God, our Creator.

The Presanctified Liturgy bids us consider the fragility of life in the ambon prayer: “O almighty Master, who hast made all creation and by thine inexpressible providence and great goodness hast brought us to these all-revered days.”

As we come to this the 38th day of the fast, I pray that both of us, my beloved, finish Lent this year with our hearts full of hope, and our steps firmly placed in the marks of the saints of old, that we may celebrate Christ’s resurrection with joy and grace, Amen.

3 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Lent Day 40 - Friday

The lights are all turned off in the church, as they are at the beginning of the night service on Great and Holy Saturday.  The priest ascends the pulpit, and begins: “What thing is this?  Today there

Lent Day 39 - Thursday

“Enable us also, O good One, to fight the good fight, to complete the course of the fast, to preserve inviolate the faith, to crush underfoot the heads of invisible serpents, to be accounted victors o

Lent Day 37 - Tuesday

“O almighty Master, who hast made all creation and by thine inexpressible providence and great goodness hast brought us to these all-revered days, for the purification of soul and body, for the contro

Comments


bottom of page