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THE WORD MAGAZINE MARCH 1969 PAGE 3
A MESSAGE FOR LENT AND EASTER
Lent is a stated time for thinking things over. As the Scripture tells us, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” It is good for us to have a time that officially reminds us to take stock of ourselves; we all intend to stop off and do the things we ought to do, but we hardly ever find time for them. When we are told that this is the time, we can accept the invitation and do something about it. If we spent a half-hour every day just thinking over where we are in life and where we truly stand, our Lent would be worthwhile. Out of honest reflection comes truth, and the truth about our own lives is what we need most to know.
Each Lent comes along to remind us that what we are and what we do is not perfect, and that we could make a change for the better. During Lent we do change our accustomed habits a bit: we vary our diet, we try to pray a little more thoughtfully; when we go to church, we see and hear different things than we usually do. The different forms of things speak of a change. In America we do not live our daily lives by the Church’s Calendar, in spite of the fact that we date time from the year of our Lord’s birth. Our lives are regulated in a different rhythm, and yet the rhythm of the Church calendar is aimed at the right kind of life for us. As much as we participate in it, so much are we changed for the better.
Orthodoxy is a religion of the spirit, in spite of the fact that it is classed by scholars as a religion of authority. An authoritative religion it surely is, and one in which authority comes from the top down and not from the bottom up. And yet, it is truly a religion which depends on poetic revelation, and not on legalistic reasoning. It aims to create a right spirit within man, and to enkindle the divine spark within him, so that it may burst into flame and glow with the divine light that knows no night.
The great manifestation of the deathless spirit of Orthodoxy is Easter, the time of the Resurrection, the time of the triumph of the spirit of life and light. This is the time in which the spirit of man comes closest to the realization of the immortality in which he has a share. Of this the Resurrection of the Lord is at once a token and a guarantee. This is one of man’s greatest ideas, and it is a poetic one: millions have believed in it, millions have never heard of it, and millions have not been able to accept it: but each year Easter comes again with the promise of life and renewal, and Orthodox Christians think it is better to accept it than to reject it. With the clearer vision that results from a thoughtful observance of Lent, we perceive the truth of Easter in all its glory, the highest hope of all mankind.
-— METROPOLITAN PHILIP