I can feel the pace of Lent quickening (it begins to reveal itself in my schedule). I also feel the march of time towards the Day of all Days, the Pascha of our Lord. In my experience, Lent brings not only the discipline of the fast and additional services, but seems to carry with it as well a series of events in my life and in the parish. Rough edges appear. Crises manifest themselves. There are days when getting out of bed is difficult or hearing a phone ring.
But all of these “trials” are occasions for yet more prayer and shout aloud to us: “My Soul, My Soul, arise! Why are you sleeping? The End is drawing near.” (The Kontakion from the Great Canon)
I remember that the witness of Scripture, when it speaks of the Last Days, speak of days of great difficulty and tribulation. As Christ Himself draws near, it’s as if “all hell breaks loose.” I think this is not only so at the End of all time, but at every drawing near of Christ. He is the true Judge of the universe, and to draw close to His presence is to invite judgment into our lives. Things that can be shaken are shaken. Things that need His light begin to reveal themselves as nothing more than darkness. And so we draw near.
But my memory of Pascha, which is itself a liturgical experience of the Last Judgment, is also a memory of the words of St. John Chrysostom’s Easter Oration, that bids all to come – even those who have been heedless. It is a simple, straight-forward presentation of the good news of Christ. And in my joy I see as well just how truly heedless I have been and am overwhelmed that such goodness should still greet me come that great day.
So I offer encouragement to my brothers and sisters. If your Lent is like the ones I know and many others, be patient. The End is drawing near and even your heedlessness will be forgiven.