Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Fellow Concelebrants,
Now we can relax into the joy of Paschal-tide, our efforts in Great Lent and Passion Week have brought us to this joy. The season past has been very different for us this year but, hopefully, we are now better equipped and with a deeper understanding of withdrawal, isolation and prayer ( Hesychia).
Although we now relax the Fast, we must not relax the life of prayer. Prayer is well defined by St Gregory of Nyssa, The Theologian:
Prayer is intimacy with God and contemplation of the invisible. It satisfies our yearnings and makes us equal with the angels.
Angels live rejoicing in the presence of God and we are called to be in-tune with them. Prayer gives us the same intimacy with God and especially now that Christ is Risen. He shared our life by becoming human and when He retuned to his Father’s throne, he did so in the form of a man. This is the message of The Ascension. When we stand in prayer with Him, we stand at the throne of God with intimacy and with greater understanding of the invisible. It is this continual standing in the invisible presence which is at the heart of prayer and ensures that we are standing firmly on good solid rock.
We are still within the orbit of Coronavirus, Covid19 and we stand (and clap) in
thankfulness for the dedicated staff of the NHS, sadly, for many, only partially protected. We hear of the shortage of masks and gowns and other protective clothing but of equal, and perhaps greater importance, is the need of spiritual and psychological protection. Standing in intimacy with God is the only full protection which a human being needs. Psychological health soon follows. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have made efforts to highlight this. After speaking with many NHS workers, they find that these dedicated staff are returning home burdened by the trauma they have lived through, carrying into their private lives, the stress of the work they have undertaken. We hear of the need of protective clothing, but is there also need for good psychological support. The Cambridges emphasize the importance of catharsis and stress relief, to which we add the importance of spiritual wellbeing. It is full spiritual, psychological and physical protection which is required.
We, also, have to take care of ourselves in like manner. Yes, care which is spiritual.
psychological and physical. In Paschal-tide, a time of relaxation from fasting, we must not relax from prayer, prayer which is ‘intimacy with God and contemplation of the invisible’. From this flows all our wellbeing. It is the key to life as we go forward.
We continue our physical isolation for the time being but soon ‘We’ll meet again!’.
for ‘Christ is Risen!’
Parish of S Aidan and St Chad, Nottingham
Deanery in Archdiocese of Thyateira