Seeing as how I was determined to bask restfully in the light of Christmas for another week or so, attending the local monastery for a midweek communion service seemed the perfect sort of activity. The Body and Blood of the Savior is the best food, one of the limitless Holy Mysteries God has given for our life and salvation.
At the monastery they are on the Old Calendar, so the Nativity Feast is still more than a week in the future. But our parish church, to which they are attached, is New Calendar, and we are all used to the differing dates for these feasts and commemorations. The nuns are happy to greet us general parish folk with “Christ is born!” even though they are waiting a bit longer to say it among themselves. And we are happy to step back thirteen days and be with them in the Lord who is timeless.
My godmother sent me an online Advent calendar, which I opened on December 24th or so. She said the Nativity is timeless. And I got that feeling during my visit among the mixed calendarists. As Father Stephen says here, “He is the Feast of Feasts,” and the substance of our faith, no matter what age we live in. I’m glad I happened to see Fr. Stephen’s blog before publishing my little report on the monastery visit, because he says so many things clearly that I barely grasp with my mind, but am experiencing in the Church.
To speak of ourselves as living “in-between” [the Resurrection and the Second Coming] is to place history in the primary position, relegating the Kingdom of God to a lower status. It is the essence of secularism. The Kingdom of God is not denied – it is simply placed beyond our reach (as we are placed beyond its reach). The Kingdom, like God Himself, is reduced to an idea.
Living “in-between” is part of the loneliness and alienation of the modern Christian. Things are merely things, time is inexorable and impenetrable. There is an anxiety that accompanies all of this that is marked by doubt, argument and opinion. Faith is directed towards things past or things that have not yet happened.
In earlier postings on faith, I have noted that faith is more than an intellectual or volitional exercise. It is an actual participation (koinonia) with the object (or subject) of faith.
In the Eucharist we all were partaking of Him Who is our Faith, and were experiencing in Him the Nativity, the Cross, the Resurrection, the Second Coming — our whole salvation history — even as we know that at the level of earthly time, the Second Coming is still ahead. That is definitely a Mystery.
After the service many of us pilgrims stayed for a lenten lunch. I remarked about some bright orange squash on the sideboard and the nuns told me how it volunteered itself in service to them last summer. Ordinarily they like to have a big garden, but not many young women live there and it is increasingly hard for the community to do the physical work; this year they didn’t get much planted, though they have plenty of space.
Behold, a squash plant sprouted and spread its vines vast and wide, bearing several giant fruits, which we agreed look like a cross between a Hubbard and a Butternut. For the meal they cooked part of one, and then split another open to send pieces home with several of us. I started this blog post mostly to tell about the amazing squash, but I got carried away as is common.
Last week Kate made a wonderful Curried Butternut Squash Bisque the day after she flew in for the holidays. I might cook it again with this blessed squash — it was very tasty served plain — and if I do, I’ll post the recipe.
Christ is born!