by Nadieszda Kizenko
I started reading A Prodigal Saint some time ago, to accompany my reading of Father John’s diary. Then I put both aside to read a book more related to Liturgy.
Time to get back to this one. Even though it’s far from perfect, it seems, with some over-emphasis maybe on some of his personal issues, it’s still a very good scholarly biography (not a hagiography) on a unique character of Russian Orthodoxy.
As I am still in the process of reading it, time has not come yet for a review.
I just would like to share here about a passage (pp.50-51) I read recently and that struck me.
Chapter 2 is entitled Liturgical Innovations. Indeed, even though saint John was totally faithful to the faith and ethos of Orthodoxy, he did introduce some daring innovations in his way of celebrating the sacraments, especially communion and confession.
This was not from a spirit of rebellion or lack of care for the Tradition. Quite the opposite! His boldness stemmed from his very deep sense of God. In his way of living and experiencing the sacraments, his mission meant “transmitting something of his own devotional fervor to his flock.”
We read in his diary (in 1866):
Today I united with the Lord in the sacrament of communion at early liturgy and I became the fullness of Him who filleth all things in everyone. O, if this were so always!–that is, to fill everyone–all hearts.
This is so powerful, and I believe this can be very inspiring for all of us, not just the priest, but all receiving the Eucharist.
When I receive His holy Body and Blood, how often am I aware the One who fills all things abides in me? I can never be totally aware, but do I even have an inkling of it? Next Sunday, after receiving communion, I hope to be present enough to His presence to focus my thanksgiving time on this truth.
To go beyond, alongside Father John, but it is so AWE-some, if He abides in me, by His Grace, I receive and become His fullness.
May I receive the grace to let His fullness so permeate me that through me, He may reach all around me.