May They Persevere

Image by Denisbin via flickrImage by Denisbin via flickr

The moment when I became a catechumen in the Orthodox Church is captured on Instagram. There are a few comments about our group of catechumens. One reads may they persevere to the end.” I believe I’ve heard this before in the same, or similar contexts, so I think it is a pretty common saying under these circumstances. When I first read it, I wondered why there was such a strong statement of hope in our ability to run the race. I didn’t understand why this race would be considered to be especially difficult or challenging.

I think I’m beginning to understand the exhortation. There are difficulties which I theoretically understood in my mind, but are now becoming more a part of reality. This hit home when I listened to the homily that our priest delivered on Sunday, 9/10/2023. It was a poignant and powerful homily and one that contained a challenge. The call was to pattern life after the calendar of the church. This is not easy. For most of us (those who live relatively close to church and are in good health), the expectation is to attend no less than three times a week. This, in fact, is considered a modest goal. Throughout the year, there are weeks where the standard three services are but a part of a larger group of worship opportunities.

Though I have regained the gift of good health (thanks be to God) and stand miles apart from where I was two years ago, I still find energy to occasionally be in shorter supply than I would like. I have to pace myself, though my spoons are pretty close to filling a reasonably sized drawer.1 There are times when special events — outside of the church — are calling in competition with those sacred services.2 This comes up more when you have frequent church services. Then there are just the common and not-so-common reasons that people start to miss communal worship opportunities.

Just how much I may have to sacrifice is now dawning on me, and it’s presenting a dilemma that is provoking a lot of introspection. I don’t want to be like the rich young ruler, who walks away disappointed, because I simply don’t have what it takes to make the sacrifice to properly follow Christ.

  1. Those with chronic illnesses that come with fatigue sometimes refer to themselves as spoonies” and refer to the amount of energy they can expend in terms of a number of spoons.↩︎

  2. This happened last week when I had to choose between the Hopscotch music festival and a liturgy.↩︎