A Season of Lent: Sorrow to Wholeness

Everything human must have in it both joy and sorrow…

And now, come to help me, an orphan. Put in my mouth persuasive words in the presence of the lion and turn his heart to hatred for our enemy, so that he and those who are in league with him may perish. Save us from the hand of our enemies; turn our mourning into gladness and our sorrows into wholeness. (Est C:12, 14-16, 23-25)

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. (Ps. 130: 1-2)

Lenten Prayer: God our Father, Creator of the world, almighty and merciful, out of love for us You sent your Son into the world as the doctor of our souls and our bodies, look upon your children who, in this difficult time of confusion and dismay in many regions of Europe and and now our country, turn to you seeking strength, salvation and relief, deliver us from illness and fear, heal our sick, comfort their families, give wisdom to our rulers, energy and reward to our doctors, nurses and volunteers, eternal life to the dead. Do not abandon us in the moment of trial but deliver us from all evil. We ask this of Thee, who with the Son and the Holy Spirit, live and reign for ever and ever. Amen. Ora Pro Nobis

Queen Esther and her people were presented with a situation that warranted great despair and sorrow – she and her people were to be executed. But were it not for the balance of joy – the knowledge that she had a God, a heavenly Father, to appeal to for help, sorrow would have eclipsed any hope in a hopeless situation. As her prayer ends, Esther recognizes a strength that Chesterton writes about that identifies the Christian from the Unbeliever: “Joy, which was the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian…joy is central and sorrow is peripheral” (Chesterton, Orthodoxy).  Let us remember that fasting and repentance have an aim: to turn our sorrow into the wholeness of joy and our mourning into gladness.

“It is said that Paganism is a religion of joy and Christianity of sorrow; it would be just as easy to prove that Paganism is pure sorrow and Christianity pure joy. Such conflicts mean nothing and lead nowhere. Everything human must have in it both joy and sorrow;…Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial. Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul.” – Chesterton, The Adventure and the Adventurer, Orthodoxy, 1908

“Joy, which was the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian…joy is central and sorrow is peripheral” (Chesterton, Orthodoxy)

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