But first, a few notes:
- Today is Mother Theodora's third anniversary of her tonsure as a stavrophore nun (life profession) in our monastery!
- Today is the 50th anniversary of Orientalium Ecclesiarum, the Decree on the Catholic Eastern Churches, an important document from Vatican II. This document has been fundamental in the ongoing renewal of authentic traditions in the Eastern Catholic Churches. The document states, "All members of the eastern churches...are to aim always at a more perfect knowledge and practice of their rites, and if they have fallen away due to circumstances of times or persons, they are to strive to return to their ancestral traditions."
- Please to continue to pray for Moki, who was originally scheduled to enter yesterday evening at vespers. She is recovering from pnemonia and God-willing will enter in a couple of weeks!
- We are about a week into the Nativity Fast. This fast is traditionally an abstinence from meat and dairy products for these 40 days in preparation for the birth of Our Lord. Consider joining with us in fasting in some way in order to let go of your attachments so that you may be better able to receive the great gift of God's love in the Incarnation!
|Mother Theodora's Profession|
It should be a great relief to us that Mary, the one without sin, wasn't expected to prepare herself by herself. She was taken to the Temple to be prepared. In fact, she couldn't have prepared herself. This was something that only God could do.
Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity writes,
"'God,' [St. Paul] says, 'chose us in Him before creation that we might be holy and immaculate in His presence, in love' (Ephesians 1:4)....I must remain 'in the presence of God' through everything...and it is contact with the divine Being that will make me 'holy and immaculate' in His eyes" (Last Retreat, Third Day).Tradition says that at Mary's entrance, Zechariah took her into the Holy of Holies. At that time, there was no greater place of "contact with the divine Being" on earth! It was Mary's living in the Temple, in close proximity to the presence of God, that prepared her to contain Him within her.
For us, this place of contact with God happens in such things as the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments), the Divine Liturgy, in prayer and in encountering Him in others. This contact with God slowly transforms us, especially as we surrender to God's action within us.
St. John Damascene's thanksgiving prayer after Holy Communion says,
"May [Your most pure body and blood] burn away my sins, enlighten my soul, and brighten my understanding. May they sanctify me, making a dwelling-place in me so that I too may be in You forever...."This is beautiful news, but news that is hard for us to accept! We want to think that we can achieve holiness through our own work! May the Mother of God intercede for us and help us to surrender to the great love and power of her Son, who alone can prepare us for all that He asks of us on earth and for all that He has destined us for in the eternal glory of heaven!