Saint Gregory of Palamas Sunday Kontakion – Tone 4
Now is the time for action! Judgment is at the doors!
So let us rise and fast, offering alms with tears of compunction and crying:
“Our sins are more in number than the sands of the sea;
but forgive us, O Master of all,
so that we may receive the incorruptible crowns.”
Marking the second week of Great Lent that commemorates Saint Gregory Palamas, we have entered into the church’s exhortation to act, and to react, to the pressing judgment that is at hand. As the penitential nature of our Lenten Journey prepares us to greet the joy of Christ’s Holy Resurrection, so repentance is the conduit that inspires us to open ourselves to the hope of redemption. Turning ourselves towards inward examination and an increase in spiritual preparation, we discover that the work of repentance inherently implies a change, some action that reflects our desire to progress beyond the foibles of human nature that confine us – but in fact, do not have to define us.
During the season of Great Lent, the Church in her wisdom teaches us to pay even more attention to the Christian virtues of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. But I would like to encourage another virtue in our Lenten efforts, and that is one of action.
Saint Gregory of Palamas, through his application and deep immersion into the monastic practice of Hesychasm, was a living witness that men can become divine through an intense practice of “prayer of the heart,” and that even in this life, human beings can become participants of the uncreated light of God’s divine glory. Hesychasm is sometimes translated as a “calm silence” but imagine the intensity of this practice and the sheer energy that goes into a quietening of the heart and mind, focussing our senses, so that the Glory of the Lord can preside in His full ineffable glory. Here is “action” whose fulfillment can scarcely be described. Of course, as most of us cannot attain such synergy with prayer and oneness with God, the simple question is how can we participate in the divinity of God that we are called to seek? Brothers and sisters, it is through a thoughtful but un-inhibited movement towards service to one another!
Consider this: much of our salvation will be viewed through the prism of repentance that is transformed into action. To repent is not just to feel dissatisfied, but to take a decision and to act upon it. But action is not without cost. How many are times do we hold back when an opportunity for service to others is presented to us? What makes us hesitate – do we hesitate to run headlong towards the Resurrection? We do not! We eagerly reach out to partake of all that is made whole, all that is forgiven, and all that is redeemed. Who would hesitate to taste and experience unending Paschal joy? Yet for us to take action, perhaps we’re unsure how to proceed, unsure how much to “get involved,” possibly uncommitted to a cause, previously uninformed or unaware of a need, or un-used to volunteerism. This is where we must take the conscious steps to consider a need outside of our own experience and that we can, with Gods help, respond actively in faith and love.
As we travel again this year through the purifying experience of Great Lent, there is much to be done in the days ahead. I ask you to stop and think about what you can do – and then always, and without hesitation, do something.
The world and all that is in it is ours to consider. Open your eyes to this knowledge and do not turn back from an opportunity to do an act of service or kindness for someone in need. Not every opportunity will be the right one, but there will be at least one opportunity that will be waiting for you. I will tell you, do not seek to “make a difference.” Let your actions no matter how simple or humble, be the difference. Collect cans of food, serve a meal to the hungry, and pray for the poor and needy. Whether you are an electrician, or a daycare teacher, an insurance salesman, banker, barista, or barber, worker bee or a dreamer – give, offer, donate, gather, feed, work, volunteer, and again, pray. Once, twice, countless times, whatever you can do. In this way, through action, and with intent we become more fully prepared, without hesitation, to run towards and embrace the Joy of the Resurrection.
Vera Proctor, Center Director
FOCUS Minnesota is a local center of FOCUS North America, a national 501c3 nonprofit organization.