Reflections of a convert - Printable Version
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Reflections of a convert - John Charmley - 09-07-2007
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It is a year now since I first visited a BOC Church, and six months since my reception into the Church. Since I know that many of us here are still on the journey which may, or may not, end in Orthodoxy, I wondered whether some reflections might be of wider interest?
In the series of reflections on being a Catechumen the journey to Orthodoxy was the theme; here I would propose to say something about the experiences since then; not, I hope, as an exercise in egotism, but in the hope that it might speak to others.
The first thing to be said is that nothing could prepare me for the experience of the Eucharistic feast within the Orthodox Church. It cannot be described in words of mine - but some recourse to the Fathers might supply the deficiencies in my linguistic capabilities.
In the Mystagogical Catechesis of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, he emphasises that Christ became incarnate so that humankind might be able to receive him. In MC 4:7 he states that the Holy Spirit makes Christ's body and blood present in the Eucharist so that humanity may become the 'sanctuary of God'. Before my reception into the Church I am not sure I could have appreciated quite what this meant; it is different now.
The editor of St. Cyril's Works comments that his phraseology shows how much he was influenced by Alexandrian theology in which:
Quote:the apprehension of the Logos through teaching and contemplation was not unrelated to sacramental communion, but provided a wider context.
For St. Cyril of Jerusalem, as for his great Alexandrian namesake later, Christ came to make us one with God through physical means which provide access to Christ and to God through Christ. The believer is assimilated into Christ through the sacraments as a means of salvation. As St. Cyril of Alexandria writes in his Commentary on St. John:
Quote:When we taste of it, we have that life in ourselves since we too are united (synenoumenoi) with the flesh of the Saviour in the same way that the flesh is united with the Word that dwelt within it.
Within the Church it is possible to experience that fulness of the Faith in which teaching and contemplation and sacramental communion are linked with that process of theosis. Suddenly this last notion can be experienced and not just thought about. So often one reads that Orthodoxy has to be experienced, not just studied; it is essentially an experiential Faith - and that is the greatest blessing that has come to me through my reception into the Church.
It is not the only one; but to those, and to other experiences, one can come later - should it be thought useful.