This Great Lent I bought a book to read during this 40 day journey. It is an older book republished by Ancient Faith Publishing called Pilgrimage to Pascha. It is a devotional with a meditation on each day as well as “Font of Wisdom”, sharing quotes from saints.
On this day, Tuesday of the Second Week of Great Lent we read Genesis 4: 8-15. The meditation on this day is based on this passage and I found it so applicable to our journey to becoming kindlers of joy. I want to share it with you. This is nearly the whole devotional for Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent.
Most North Americans view the US as a country built by rugged individualism. But all too often, promoting individualism can hinder a sense of community. Growing up with this embedded cultural heritage, US citizens are taught to keep their noses out of each other’s business and to preserve individual right s at all cost.
At best, this societal norm might keep folks from becoming overbearing busybodies. At worst, it promotes isolation and noninvolvement, splinters communities, sparks intransigent political debates, and impedes opportunities for folks to resolve disagreements in a communal, respectful fashion.
Ironically, social media has further dulled our natural need to be social creatures. We fill hours with virtual conversations and often with virtual bullying, name calling, and argumentative diatribes.
This is not the way God meant human beings to live. He created us to be social beings, needing one another, helping one another, and supporting one another. God Himself is not an individual but a community of Persons, a Trinity one in nature and undivided in purpose.
Cain’s cynical question to God in today’s Scripture reading—”am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9)—is crucial to understanding how God wants me to live. If I am a Christian, then indeed, I believe we are keepers of one another. Saint Paul admonishes, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4).
I am created to complement others. Only in being the keeper of my brothers and sisters do I understand who I am as a person. Only through interaction do I discover my weaknesses, failings, and needs, as well as my talents and purpose.
Font of Wisdom
In his work The Ascetic Life, St. Maximus the Confessor (580-662) calls upon Christians to band steadfastly together in order to fight a common foe, Satan. He urges enlisting God as a helper while “banishing from ourselves the evil and unclean spirits.” He writes:
Let us, who are harassed one by the other, grant pardon one to another, since we are all warred upon by the common enemy. Let us withstand our bad thoughts, calling upon God as our ally.
The saint summons Christians to heartfelt love, sincerely leaving behind double-minded intentions and granting pardon to all. He exhorts his disciples to treat as brothers and sisters “ those who hate and abominate us, that the Lord’s name be glorified and manifest in its joyfulness”—for, he says, quoting St. Paul, “we are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25).Pilgrimage to Pascha page 40-41
He created us to be social beings, needing one another, helping one another, and supporting one another.And St. Maximus the Confessor urges us to band together to fight!
Let us band together and become Kindlers of Joy! Helping one another and supporting one another.
Let me end by sharing a hymn from Vespers tonight… (also shared in the book but I found the original version from the Lenten Triodion Supplement –St. Tikhons Press)
May this season of the fast be one of gladness for you.
Have a blessed week!