Sunday, April 10, 2016

It’s not my Age; It’s my Knees

Yesterday I was blessed to celebrate Divine Liturgy at the Paracletos Monastery located outside of Greenville, SC. Following Liturgy, as is part of the custom of most Greek Orthodox Monasteries, everyone is invited to the refectory for fellowship with the Abbess. Faithful bring appropriate refreshments (fasting recipes etc.) and everyone enjoys listening as the Abbess shares spiritual wisdom.

Since we are still in Great Lent, and this week has been focused on the Cross, the Abbess spoke with great inspiration on the importance of the ascetic life for Christians – the life of the Cross. Throughout the conversation, one topic the Abbess discussed was the important roll prostrations play in our Orthodox life. At the end of about an hour, an elderly woman of 99 years apologized, “All these other things I do, but I can’t do prostrations. Is that ok?” We chuckled as the woman walks with a cane and is physically quite frail. The Abbess said, “Prostrations are for the younger ones. At your age there are other things for you to do.” The woman said, “It isn’t my age; it’s my knees!” We laughed!

Today the Church commemorates Saint John of the Ladder, so named for the famous book he wrote titled, “The Ladder of Divine Ascent." The book is made up of 30 chapters (called rungs on the ladder) that lead to heaven. Step One is “On Renunciation of the World,” and is the beginning of our spiritual journey. We cannot climb to heaven unless we first desire to leave the world behind. This woman “got it” and inspired all of us today. With a cane in one hand and a smile she dared to be frustrated that she was unable to do prostrations.

So many of us half her age search for excuses to not offer prostrations to God in worship. We search for comfort and wealth. We seek the ‘easy way’ rather than the Cross. This old woman knew the important things in life. In her heart she was on her knees in front of God, somewhere we all to spend more time.

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