I had two extremely moving experiences in worship today, one in conjunction with Fr Pat’s sermon, and the other in conjunction with the fact that we stood at the front of the nave this morning.
First, Father Pat was emphasizing (per the Gospel this morning) the touch of God. Through the Incarnation and through the Sacraments, God touches us physically. And just as importantly, God invites us to touch him physically. Father called to mind the prohibition Christ gave to St. Mary Magdalene as she knelt and clasped his feet when he appeared to her after his resurrection. This was followed a week later by Christ’s invitation to St. Thomas, “Put your hand in my side.” Father pointed out that in the Sacraments we have a God who invites us, “Put your hand in my side.” Touch me, the Lord invites. I felt a longing for that closeness. I nearly cried.
And then, today my wife and I tried to stand close to the front, for the sake of the girls and our management of their behavior. We were standing on the left side of the nave, which is to say, directly in front of the icon of the Theotokos. Today like no other day, that icon was alive for me. I cannot say how, but today I felt Our Lady’s maternal presence in such a strong way. I would not have been surprised had she stepped down from the icon to join us bodily, so strongly did I feel her presence.
This may be, in part, due to the fact that I have been defending the Mother of Our Lord being aeiparthenos, ever-virgin, and have been given cause to meditate on the awesome mystery of her who was more physically close to the Lord than anyone who’s ever lived on this earth. It is a fearsome and terribly wonderful thing to contemplate. He shared her blood, and she his. His flesh was her flesh, and she was deified by his.
What a Faith we have, a Faith I was not given fully until I found Orthodoxy. How can one not shed tears of gratitude?