On the fifth Thursday of Lent in the Orthodox Churches we chant the service of the Great Canon of St Andrew of Crete. It is a monumental work of hymnography with more than 250 odes, or verses, to which we also add the lengthy reading of the life of St Mary of Egypt. This makes it probably one of the longest services of Great Lent. If one also a counts the number of prostrations performed after each ode, it becomes also one of the most uncomfortable services for any casual observer.
But the length of the service and the physical discomfort of the standing and the prostrations is not the… Continue reading
Tags: church · Cross · East · orthodox · pain · Resurrection · suffering · uncomfortable · West
Visiting Paris, the city of lights, is a wonderful experience, anytime of the year. The boulevards, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower and even more so the great cathedrals: Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, Saint Sulpice and so on, attract visitors like flies. From a tourism perspective it is wonderful to see these great historical churches full of people all day long. But if you cast a closer look and try to find the people that enter to actually pray, you soon realize that the flock is very small for the grandiose size of the gigantic stone and marble monuments.
In contrast, during a recent trip to the same city I’ve been blessed with participating in the… Continue reading
Tags: Christianity · church · empty · full · orthodox · Paris · West
The idea that any Westerner has about fasting is strongly linked with renunciation, with giving-up, with sacrificing something for God. In the Eastern Orthodox Church however, fasting achieves a much richer meaning. Fasting is not only about giving-up, but it is actually more about gaining, about being able to reach things that are possible only through this spiritual exercise.
In a legalistic understanding of salvation some believe that Christ has come on earth to fulfill a duty, to repair an offense that man has brought unto God. His sacrifice on the Cross satisfies this need and mankind enters again in God’s favors. From this perspective fasting is a similar symbol: a personal sacrifice that one makes to step back… Continue reading
Tags: Chocolate · East · Fasting · orthodox · Symbol · West