Beloved in Christ,
The God of our Fathers and creator of all revealed himself to us, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - One God. The second person of the Trinity, the Son and Word of God, came down to us and took on all that is ours so that he might sanctify it with his life, death and resurrection. His ministry began in his 30th year, and he spent three years preaching and healing the people before his Passion. He was brutally killed, and laid in the grave for three days - and then rose from the dead, conquering death by his own death.
The number three appears throughout the history of human interactions with our creator. And it is even written into the code of our own programming. When He created us in His image and likeness, God made us of three distinct but inseprable “parts” - Mind, Body, and Soul. Each of these parts is able to interact with the world in its own way, but also, each would be terribly hindered if it was on its own, without the assistance of the other two. Together, when there exists peace and unity between the three, the result is a human being hurtling toward its perfection - union with God. This is perhaps the most beautiful thing we can experience in this world; the fire of sainthood pouring from a person who loves and lives in Christ.
We must not become lazy though, disregarding any one of these three aspects of our selves. For example, if you want strong muscles you have to brush your teeth. If we ignore our teeth, they’ll rot out and we will not be able to eat the foods that keep us healthy and allow us to grow strong. Likewise, if we want to perfect our entire self, we must pay close attention to our bodies, yes, but also to our minds and our souls. And inevitably, care for one benefits the others.
This February coincides with the beginning of our preparations for Great Lent and Holy Week. We begin using the Lenten Triodion - the book of the “Three Odes”, so named because it contains the hymns that form the backbone of the Orthros services for the season (called the “Canon”), each composed of three sections. The Sundays of the Canaanite Woman, The Publican and the Pharisee, and the Prodigal Son, all fall in this, the shortest month of the year. In a three-part exercise routine, we first exercise our mind in these preparatory weeks, then our body in the austere fasting of Great Lent, and finally our soul in the services and joyful-sorrow of Holy Week.
The end result? The exuberance of the Paschal light, radiating from all of us. But it must begin with our minds. Let us use our minds to think about who we are in relationship to God. Are we beyond his reach, or do we dare to draw near despite our perceived separation, like the Canaanite woman? Let us think of how we relate to Him. Is it by boasting of how good we are, like the Pharisee, or the humility and repentance of the Publican? Do we dare return to Him though we have taken Him for granted, like the Prodigal Son - and so enjoy the feast of our Father’s table?
While the Great Fast is yet to start, let us prime our efforts and embolden our body to do its share by beginning in contemplation of the truth of our existence, who we are, and what God asks of us.
I pray that we will all be strengthened for the coming ascetic labors, and that we might begin to perceive God by opening the eyes of our minds to His revelations. May He always bless us and keep us close.
With love in Christ,