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a passionate repentance

"The liturgical service takes place on earth, but it belongs to the…

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may God stand
"The liturgical service takes place on earth, but it belongs to the realm of heavenly realities. In fact it was not instituted by a human being or an angel, but by the Spirit Himself, so that those who are still living in the flesh should think of performing the service of angels. O what mercy, O what love of God for human beings is at that moment grasped by the hands of all and does not hesitate to give Himself to anyone who wants to embrace Him and be bound to Him. He Whom the eyes of faith perceive is possessed by everyone."

St. John Chrysostom.

My devotion is not constant. That to me is the most damning charge I can level against myself. That I come and go with fervor, blowing now hot now cold. And in truth, that's probably more objectionable to God than if I just blew all hot or cold.

And it's not that I care less. Or that I'm *bored*. It's that there's this sense of stillness. Not in a good way, just this sense that the words that came to life just a little while ago in the liturgy are nothing more than words now. That I don't love them for what they really *are*, but for the music, or the incense or the candlelight. Or something.

Oh, yes, part of me is so ready to sneer that Orthodoxy is just another fad. Like being pagan or being a vegetarian. That I'm going to drift from one thing to the next for the rest of my life. And that's terrifying to me. I don't want that. That's the death of the soul right there, always searching for new sensations, new thoughts and feelings, and never moving below the surface.

But don't I also damn myself with that sneer? Don't I also *make* it come true, by being so afraid that it will come true? I don't want to be a dabbler. I want to be like Lucy and Peter and Edmund, in Aslan's country, in the final battle. Moving ever further up and deeper in. And I have a feeling that I can, but I have to push. I have to get beyond this Sargasso sea where nothing moves, and the wind does not stir.

I discovered that I don't like fasting. Well, no, that's not true. I *like* fasting. I don't like how my hands shake or how I feel dizzy, and I don't know how to get beyond that. If I could get beyond that, and stop feeling so stupid and weak, when I'm in NO danger of starving, not if I fasted for forty thousand years, I think I wouldn't mind feeling hungry at all.

I cozen myself into doing things, into breaking a true fast, and eating an abstinent meal. Into having some trail mix. Into drinking loads of tea. And that's not right. That's not how it works.

Okay, enough self kicking. I've indulged in everything else, and I am NOT going to indulge in despair. Tomorrow is a new day. And tomorrow I will do better. I will work *better* not just harder. I will not let my head be turned by ennui. I will go further up and deeper in.

And I'm going to start tonight.
  • Is this really indulging despair, though, or are you legitimately looking at those things that are proving to be obstacles?

    It takes exploration, to truly make it work. It takes digging, and really looking hard at what your habits and tendencies are. If you tend toward dilettantism, then it's not indulgence to look at that and be upset or angry with yourself over it- it's a legitimate stumbling block on the path you've chosen for yourself.

    Fasting is hard. I've never successfully completed one, but then, I've never had a faith-based reason for doing it. I think expecting perfect success from yourself the first time through it (in this context, at least) is a standard you shouldn't be *too* hard on yourself for not meeting. I'm not saying excuse it- I'm saying recognise that it's your fledgling effort, and don't let it dissuade or discourage you.


    I'm always here to talk, you know, if you need it. Just nudge me.
  • Please, if you get a chance, read CS Lewis - any of his books. The Screwtape Letters is an odd one. letters from a senior devil to his nephew who is a junior tempter. It is all inside out, of course, but in it he explains about how they trick humans into believing all emotions are forever, but that it is natural and normal for things to change, in cycles. Actually, now that I think about it, the junior tempter's subject is a young man who has recently converted -- very apt for you!
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