There were some who wanted to start Lenten Book Club, since I just got this book (Great Lent by Fr. Alexander Schmemanns) this past Friday. I found the book to be very moving, inspirational, meaningful, profound, so why not start with this book. Perhaps it will motivate others to buy it as well.
So I guess the process by which we can benefit from this book. Is they will do it in an orderly fashion, Lord Willings. We will start with the Introduction and move from chapter to chapter. We will quote the moving passages from the book, that moved us personally and expound on it. Our feelings about it and perhaps why it was insightful. Although I am not Baptized, then many or most of you are, therefore it should stop you all from commenting on what you read.
Bishop Kallatos Ware said, "Through Chrismation every member of the Church becomes a prophet, and receives a share in the royal priesthood of Christ; all Christians alike, because they are chrismated, are called to act as conscious witnesses to the Truth. 'You have an anointing (chrisma) from the Holy One and know all things.' (1 John 2:20)" (The Orthodox Church p 279)
So knowing this, one should not be scared to comment what they feel.
So the moving points to me in the Introduction:
Fr. Alexander Schmemanns says, "Lent is a spiritual journey and its destination is Easter."
Easter, is a celebration of the "new life.....(which) has been given to us, to all those who believe in Christ. And it was given to us on the day of our Baptism..........Thus on Easter we celebrate Christ's Resurrection as something that happened and still happens to us. For each one of us received the gift of that new life and the power to accept it and to live by it."
It is interesting that he calls it a gift. Which means God did not have to lead you to the truth or allow us to be born to family who happen to be Christian, God could have made us part of the other 4 billion people on the planet. And we should be thankful for this gift. There are two types of thankfulness.
Thankfulness of the tongue and thankfulness of the limbs. How many of us are only thankful with the tongue but neglect the limbs???
Fr. Alexander Schmemanns speaks about this he says, "....In fact we live as if Christ did not rise from the dead, as if that unique event had no meaning whtsoever for us?"
He says, "Indeed we live as if He never came."
Thankfulness of the limbs, is that we obey our Lord.
Fr. Alexander Schmemanns says, "If we realize this, then we may understand what Easter is and why it needs and presupposes Lent."
Fr. Alexander Schmemanns says, "The entire worship of the Church is organized around Easter, and therefore the liturgical year...."
He also says, "We are challenged with a vision, a goal, a way of life, that is so much above our possibilities! For even the Apostles, when they heard their Master's teachings, asked Him in despair: "but how is this possible."
It is not easy, indeed, to reject a petty ideal life made up of daily cares, of search for material goods, security, and pleasure, for an ideal of life in which nothinbg short of perfection is the goal: "be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect."
A man can only be perfect if allows the Christ and the Holy Spirit to work through them. You on your own can do nothing. For Christ said, "without Me you can do nothing.' (John 15:5)"
You have to draw Christ toward you. With proper faith and this is brought upon you by proper intention. Remember the woman of Canaan in Matt, "Great as your faith and the child was made whole."
Fr. Alexander Schmemanns says, "This is where Great Lent comes in. This is the help extended to us by the Church, the school of repentance which alone will make it possible to receive Easter.... as our enterance into the 'new.'"
Fr. Alexander Schmemanns also says, "Therefore Easter is our return every year to our own Baptism, whereas Lent is our preparation for that return..."
Feel free to comment and bring out another other significant statements by Fr. Alexander Schmemanns.