Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Faithful Saying

We Orthodox pray this prayer of St. John Chrysostom just before each time we receive communion:
I believe, O Lord, and I confess that thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who didst come into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. And I believe that this is truly thine own immaculate Body, and that this is truly thine own precious Blood. Wherefore I pray thee, have mercy upon me and forgive my transgressions both voluntary and involuntary, of word and of deed, of knowledge and of ignorance; and make me worthy to partake without condemnation of thine immaculate Mysteries, unto remission of my sins and unto life everlasting. Amen. Of thy Mystic Supper, O Son of God, accept me today as a communicant; for I will not speak of thy Mystery to thine enemies, neither will I give thee a kiss as did Judas; but like the thief will I confess thee: Remember me, O Lord, in thy Kingdom. Not unto judgment nor unto condemnation be my partaking of thy Holy Mysteries, O Lord, but unto the healing of soul and body. 
I've had that bolded phrase in my head for a few weeks now. 

It's from the 1 Timothy:
15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. (KJV)
St. Paul just zeros in at the end there, doesn't he?  All of a sudden, he's not talking in generalities.  In his mind and before God, he is the chief of sinners.


Yes.  But the Church grabs those words and gives them to me to say every time I receive communion.  Every time.  Doesn't matter what's going on in the world.  Online.  Next door.  Upstairs.  Doesn't matter.

When I come before God to receive the gift of His Son's body and blood, mine is to examine my own sins. While not bringing myself to complete discouragement over my flaws, I should simply be concerned with my own salvation.

I cannot claim this to be my first reaction to division or disappointment, not remotely.  In fact, more often than not, I reach that line and I simply fail to comprehend it.  But through its presence at every liturgy, Christ in his mercy allows this phrase—this prayer—to penetrate my mind and heart.

Eventually, I remember.  And though I don't understand, I pray it as the Church directs.  I rest in her judgment.

Two verses after that verse in 1 Timothy, I find this:
17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (KJV)

1 comment:

  1. Yes, you've nailed it. It is SO hard for me to make myself believe that I am the chief of sinners. I say it and think, nah, I'm not so bad, not nearly as bad as so-and-so. I hold the phrase firmly in front of me, say it and try to believe it. I pray one day I will.

    (And I am SO sorry it has taken me so long to comment! Certainly no reflection on the quality of the post!)


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