Lenten Triodion

                                         How to Approach the Lenten Triodion

The Triodion is one of those dishes that is very rich meat. But it is best eaten inside the faith. It is easy to use the hymns to beat one self up, rather than to cleanse one self. It can be a satisfying meal, or it can be used to damage oneself. If that is the only way you can read it, it might be best to wait for a while. Many ills have been justified both against oneself and against others by those who have taken its hymns and not discerned the context

The Triodion assumes a certain level of self knowledge. We realize that we are capable of both extreme good, and extreme evil. We have the potential for both in us. By recognizing our potential for evil, we prevent ourselves from being blindsided by it.
Yes, given the right circumstances and opportunity, I can do just as bad, or worse, than any hitler. Give me enough adrenaline coupled with self justification and I can justify anything up unto and including the end of the world. The Triodion reminds me that I have that potential and points me in the direction of following Christ. It is not self abuse to acknowledge this; it is knowing myself well. Humility means feet on the earth, knowing how I am like the earth. Humility is not nose in the dirt.

The Great Canon will contrast these two. It will present the unrighteous Jew and how we are like that – it will present the righteous Jew and how we are called to that.
It is a bit like Peter, who enthusiastically confessed Christ, but at the courtyard of the high-priest denied him. We are like Peter: we carry in us the potential to be a great saint; we carry in us the potential to deny Christ.

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We have made a Covenant with Death

 

We have made a covenant with Death, and with hell we have an agreement; when the rushing storm shall pass through, it shall not come unto us. For we have made lies our refuge and under falsehood we have hidden ourselves.

Therefore, thus saith the Lord, the Lord: Behold I lay for the foundation of Sion a costly stone, a choice, a corner-stone, a precious one for its foundations and he that believes shall by no means be ashamed. And I will cause judgement for hope, and my compassion shall be for measures, and ye that trust vainly in falsehood, the storm shall by no means pass you by. except that it also take away your covenant of death and your trust in hell shall by no means stand. If the rushing storm should come upon you, ye shall be beaten down by it. — Isaiah 28:15-18

skull Isaiah EE

We have chosen death, from the very beginning. Daily we chose death. We choose distractions of gadgets and things. We become more self centered and narcissistic. We look for new toys, new distractions, new ways of quieting down the noise that comes from within, that comes from the myriad assaults from media, politics, and commercials. We choose the noise over being present to the moment, to the people around us. We choose death in ignoring the people right in front of us. We choose death in ignoring our own hungry souls. The Lenten Triodion has a hymn for the last week of Lent that says, “I see my mind, O Lord, lying always like Lazarus before the gates of repentance, but with indifference I pass it by, and leave it hungry, sick and wounded by the passions. “ (St. Joseph the Studite, Triodion 6th week Monday Vespers)

While we are distracted, our world nears crisis, our countries move towards decay, our economies move to the brink of disaster. Right wing idealogues assure us that everything will be fine so long as we continue our covenant with death, and liberals are too co-opted by the same covenant to raise the alarm (except that they want to disagree on how the details of that death will be executed). We have “made lies our refuge and under falsehood we have hidden ourselves.”

Our covenant with death shall lead us to perdition.

But it is not how it must be. Behold the corner-stone; behold hope and compassion. How do we get there? By ending our cooperation with death; by ending our escape from each other.

We are in this together. We will either cooperate together to end our march towards destruction, or we shall have that destruction be a rushing storm. Can we accomplish this own our own? NO. We can accomplish it through the precious cornerstone, the CHOICE.

We end it by ceasing our war on the sick, the poor, the hungry. We end it by ending our war on the planet. We end it meeting those around us instead of retreating into the temporary pleasures of our gadgets. We end it by ceasing to blame those people over there for what is going on. We end it by repenting. We end it by loving the Image of God in all people, even those we hate. We end it by loving God in the least of these. We end it by nourishing our starving minds (Nous) in encounter with God through communion, through prayer, and through communication with our fellow humans.