We have a transitional deacon serving at our parish now, and if they were all like him, it would not matter that current seminarians are not as numerous as one might wish.
He's quite, quite brilliant, (although that is the least of his attributes,) I only mention that because the first time I heard him preach Nietzsche and post-modernism and the rejection of Platonism all came up and you could see the eyes of the devout old ladies and the young people and even, I think, one of the priests, just utterly glaze over; and he very quickly found a level that is neither talking down to those who want more meat, nor indigestible to those who are only up to lighter fare (which probably applies to even the most erudite among us, at times....)
And he is charming and kind and extremely good-looking, (in a very innocent, unthreatening way,) which shouldn't matter all that much but just does when a big part of your job is inspiring grade- and middle-schoolers.
But yada, yada, yada, I digress-- what I meant to talk about, the "current reason for hope," is a wonderful series he's been writing in the parish bulletin, called "Perspectives on the Afterlife," (how seldom are we reminded, in other than rote prayers, of the need, the duty to pray for the dead? but that was last week. Again, I digress...)
This week was "Heaven and the Liturgy," and contained these gems:
One of the interesting aspects of the Christian idea
of heaven is the role it plays in informing and sustaining
worship. The public worship of the church represents a
drawing close to the threshold of heaven itself. Worshippers
are encouraged to see themselves as peering through
the portals of heaven, catching a glimpse of the worship of
The liturgy celebrates the notion of being caught
up in the worship of heaven, and the awesome sense of
mystery that is evoked by the sense of peering beyond the
bounds of human vision.
Worshippers have the opportunity of being mystically
transported to the threshold of heaven. Being in a holy
place and about to participate in holy things, they on the
one hand become aware of their finitude and sinfulness,
and on the other gain a refreshing glimpse of the glory of
The idea of liminality – that is, being on the threshold
of the sacred, peering into the forbidden heavenly
realm – is represented architecturally and artistically in
many Greek orthodox churches, especially in the way in
which the sanctuary and the altar are set apart from the
people on account of a deep sense of the awesomeness of
the mystery of God.
As you observe the spatial separation between where
you are sitting in our church and the sanctuary itself, have
you noticed there is a deep sense of the awesomeness of
the mystery of God that is revealed in the Eucharist and in
the Word that takes place there? [yes, yes, I know it's
rhetorical, but answer it, do...] Spend time reflecting
upon how the space and architecture of our church invites
us to peer into the heavenly realm in a way that further
cultivates our Catholic spirituality.