As we complete another year and begin a new one, there are many people to thank. And it’s a time to look back also to our founding.
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As often happens when a new bishop comes to town and tells everyone that they have been doing things wrong, particularly with regard to prayer and liturgy, the people of Constantinople would have none of this. They had called Mary “Mother of God” for years and were not about to change because of some bishop’s theological qualms.
Not an easy journey, in fact one filled with hazards and dangers, stones and pitfalls, but a worthwhile one, offering as a gift to us the birth of a child, the Jesus Child, Emmanuel, God with us.
Liturgy in non-liturgical spaces illuminates the qualities of gathering for the privilege of offering liturgy, and embracing the fact that Christian identity need not be shaped solely by a particular parish community.
The use of antiquated liturgical languages for the liturgy is part of the problem; the Church needs to devote energy to thinking and praying about the other parts of the problem.
Sometimes I think of the mystery of the Incarnation—central to Advent and Christmas—as God deciding to enroll in the “Human Being 101” course. Not because God didn’t grasp what it was like to be fully human, but because WE didn’t grasp that God fully knew our human experience. So, in the person of Jesus, God lived among us and knew our joys and hopes, our griefs and anxieties first-hand. And we still unfold and celebrate that mystery in our own day-by-day living as members of Christ’s Body.
When we leave here today, filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit, we will confront the message lingering from Black Friday: buy things! Gather possessions!
The question posed to Orthodoxy concerns the exercise of ministry in orders known and recognized by the Church, not the invention of something new.
In both Joseph and Mary we see a single-heartedness, a purity of intent, a devotion to their child Yeshua bar Yussef, even before his birth. It is the very stuff that covenants, and vows, and ministries are made of. Their living of the beatitude “blessed are the pure in heart” does not mean that they were never confused, or were never afraid, or never doubted. Certainly they each had moments that we would all recognize as frail humanity in action. But in their love—of God, of their child, of each other—they also knew the fullness of Emmanuel, the God-with-them.
Paulist Evangelization Ministries has come out with a new app for Living the Eucharist, a popular parish-based program that has expanded to include offerings for Advent/Christmas.