No Continuing City - Seeking Our Heavenly Homeland

No Continuing City - Seeking Our Heavenly Homeland - Holy Cross Monastery

Woe is me! No more can I endure the shame. I who was once king of all God’s creatures upon the earth have now become a prisoner, led astray by evil counsel. I who was once clothed in the glory of immortality must now, as one condemned to die, wrap myself miserably in the skins of mortality. Woe is me! Who will share my sorrow with me? But O Lord who lovest mankind, Who hast fashioned me from the earth and art clothed in compassion, call me back from the bondage of the enemy and save me.

- Stichera for Forgiveness Sunday Vespers

We begin the Lenten Fast with hymns reminding us of our lost Paradise. God created us in His image and likeness and called us to be in communion with Him. The purpose of our creation is to become gods by grace. Adam and Eve were tempted by the devil and deceived into thinking that deification could come through other means than the way God provided for them. They falsely believed they could become gods through disobedience. And thus humanity was cut off from the communion they once had with God—walking with Him in the cool of the day in Paradise.

The Church sings of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Paradise to remind us that this world is not our homeland. Many ancient cultures believed in a “golden age” when life was brighter all around. The faint echoes of Paradise existed in these myths. But as unbelief has continued to spread over the last few centuries, the world no longer looks to return to Paradise with God. We are too busy trying to make Paradise here and become gods ourselves—once again apart from God’s commandments.

Science and technology are gifts given by God to help us in this life, but too often they are twisted by our passions to further our pursuit of self-love. Today’s prophets of technology promise us a transhuman future, where we are freed from our bodies and attain digital immortality in blissful communion with A.I.  Such hopes betray the deep underlying desire for eternal life embedded in all humans.  It is telling that the most vocal proponents of transhumanism are atheists. When people abandon the Christian faith, they can only imagine a grotesque imitation of the salvation that Christ offers us.

We too can succumb to such illusions when our souls are lulled to sleep by the comforts of the world and the easy satisfaction of all our passions. Lent is a tithe of our time given to us by the Church to wake us out of our of slumber. Our passions are what tie us to this world and make us anxious to stay here. But they are also what makes the earth we live in the antechamber of hell. During Lent, the Church calls greater attention to the remedies for our passions—prayer, works of mercy, and fasting. By these means, we can start to cut the ties we have to all that is fleeting, or at least to see how tied up we really are. We can begin to realize that here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come (Heb. 13:14).

Works of mercy also includes prayer for our loved ones, and Lent is especially designated as a time to remember the faithful departed. We invite you therefore to join us in this labor of the Fast by submitting the names of your reposed loved ones and making an optional offering on their behalf. These names will be commemorated at every Liturgy, Pannykhida, Litia, and Matins for the Departed during the Lenten season.

In the course of our Lenten Journey, we follow Christ to the final days of His earthly ministry. We prepare ourselves for His entrance into Jerusalem, we witness His crucifixion, we keep vigil over His tomb. We eagerly await His resurrection in the early hours of Pascha morning, hearing once again the truly Good News that Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life. Christ’s Passion and Resurrection show us that our ultimate hope lies beyond this world. It is our faith in Christ that overcomes the world. May the joy of Pascha and the hope of the Resurrection keep you through all of the sorrows and trials of this life, until we come to the unwaning day of Christ’s kingdom. Amen.

Submit Names of the Departed

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.