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Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Why we NEED to strike our breast, and genuflect, and breath and sing, and make the sign of the Cross, and bow profoundly , and....

A strong and beautiful post by Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault on Beliefnet, about singing the psalms, how vital and how simple and how natural it is.

Do read the whole thing, some great advice for those who mistakenly believe themselves to be "non-singers," although there is also some flat-out misinformation in some of her articles, e.g. For many centuries Latin was the universal language of Catholic Christianity ... Vatican II issued a firm directive toward returning the language of worship to the vernacular; and some fuzzy theology -- but I love this story she tells:
There's a wonderful story from the Eastern Orthodox tradition in which a cynical and intellectual young man came before an old staretz (one of the wise elders of the community) with this question: "Father, I have no faith. How can you help [me have] faith?"

The staretz replied, "Do a hundred full prostrations a day for a month and then come back to me."

Now, a full prostration is one of the great art forms of Eastern Orthodox prayer, in which one extends oneself fully on the ground while saying the words, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me." So this very dubious young man went and did a hundred prostrations a day for a month, and when he came back to the old staretz, he said, "Father, I have found my faith."

This is so because, as the wise old teacher knew, faith enters us primarily through our bodies. It's our bodies that equip us and sustain us to understand and become one with those difficult words of our faith.
How often we experience that, that the mind begins to think, the heart to feel, and the soul to believe that which the body enacts. (The expression "to make love" contains a very deep truth.)

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