Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Byzantine Eucharistic Adoration

     For some it is natural to keep God at a distance. This of course is understandable due to our experience with sin. On the other hand, at some point it becomes unacceptable to hold such beliefs especially when realize just how near God truly is. When it comes to this nearness our father St. Symeon the New theologian says that when Christ enters into us He becomes “infinitely” what we are. Consequently, there is no part of us that remains distant from Him. In addition, there is nothing more that God could give to prove this. For through Christ we receive everything that God is and to the point that just as He becomes “infinitely” what we are we become “infinitely” what He is.
     In my opinion when it comes to teaching the nearness of God St. Symeon offers some unique perspective. I could be wrong but very few Church fathers have made such statements that proclaimed God’s union with us in the way he did. For those that don’t know in his theological poetry the saint would go into detail about how his body parts would become God. On the other hand, I remember reading once that he also struggled with feelings of distance. However, when he expressed these things to God the saint came to discover again the reality of God’s nearness. Like the saint we at times might have feelings of distance but for us it is a matter of perception and never a reality. When such feelings come we need to, like the saint did, seek the renewal of understanding God’s nearness. Like the saint, we will find that God will continue to hold nothing back from us.
     When it comes to seeking renewal there is no greater means than the Eucharist. By receiving the Eucharist we again are renewed in everything that God is. No matter what kind of perception of God that we have in the Eucharist there remains a guarantee of total communication. As our faith teaches all of the divine nature is given in the Eucharist. We receive everything that Christ is! In turn, as St. Symeon emphasizes, we become everything that God is. This is something I think that many people neglect. It’s easy to believe that the bread and the wine become God but it is not easy to believe that about us. This in my opinion is another one of those areas that we believe God to be distant.
     Believing that we become what God is by receiving the Eucharist is central to the Byzantine tradition. To this St. Symeon would say, “Do my words seem blasphemous? Then open your heart to Him.”. If we take the saints challenge to open our hearts I believe we will began to experience a greater level of intimacy with God. Since it can help us to realize that God's love truly has no limits for not even the divine nature is withheld from us (2peter 1:4). Also, by doing this we will find the essence of what could be said to be a Byzantine Eucharist adoration. Unlike other forms of adoration the Byzantine tradition invites us to venerate the real presence of Christ within us. For it is only by this mystical presence of Christ that we become partakers of divinity.
     God is never far from us and He really can’t get any closer than He already is. Thankfully, he understands our weaknesses and has many ways for us to discover his love. For me receiving the Eucharist regularly continues to make me more aware of his presence within me. It also gives me the chance to offer everything of myself again to him. Another way of saying this is that the Eucharist for us is a two way street. For by receiving we become what He is just as much as He becomes what we are. No, it’s not just Him giving to us but we get to be cooperate in the mystery. As St. Symeon teaches, “We awaken in Christ's body as Christ awakens our bodies”. 

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