Notebook

At Peace with All

Nikolai Gogol’s Meditations on the Divine Liturgy begin with an account of how the priest must prepare himself to celebrate. He should ‘begin from the evening before to be abstinent in body and spirit, should be at peace with all, and should avoid harbouring displeasure towards anyone. From the evening on, after reading the prescribed prayers, he should dwell with his mind in the altar, […] so that even his very thoughts may be duly consecrated and filled with sweet fragrance. When the time comes, he goes to the church with the deacon; together they bow down before the Holy Doors and then kiss the icons of the Saviour and the Mother of God, after which they bow to all present, by this bow asking forgiveness of everyone.’

One doesn’t just stumble into prayer. Body, heart, and mind must be made ready. That takes time. And requires of one commissioned to celebrate the sacred mysteries utter dispossession. It is good to be reminded.