Friday, March 03, 2006

THE GREAT CANON OF ST. ANDREW


'Where shall I begin to weep over the cursed deeds of my life? What foundation shall I lay, O Christ, for this lamentation?'

Those words are found in THE GREAT CANON OF ST. ANDREW- an orthodox prayer, written around 680 a.d., that is said during the season of Lent. Orthodox Christians say this prayer each year as part of their "ascetic labour" of the GREAT FAST (LENT).

I was eating lunch today in my favorite coffee house- The Alektor Cafe' and while there I noticed a book on the counter- First Fruits of Prayer: A Forty-Day Journey Through the Canon of St. Andrew by Frederica Matthews-Green. Father Parthinias, resident orthodox priest and owner of cafe' told me that he and a group of college students are using it as their Lenten devotions this year. This made me want to buy the book, but since I am currently broke, I decided to look up St. Andrew and his "great canon" on the web.

In Matthews-Green's words:
"This complex poem (actually a chanted hymn) was written in the early 700's, and it picked up the adjective "Great" for two reasons: it's extra-long (about 250 verses), and it's majestic. The Great Canon was written by St. Andrew of Crete, a bishop who was initially a monk in Jerusalem. The whole Canon is a kind of "Walk Through the Bible." St. Andrew begins with Adam and Eve and goes all the way through, exhorting himself by applying the stories and characters of the Bible. Reading the Canon helps us see how Christians in the Holy Land, 1,300 years ago, understood the Scriptures. It's a way to time-travel, and actually join them in these ancient Christian devotions."

That's pretty cool. I think I found my Lenten discipline for this year's season. Along with trying to observe morning/midday/evening/and night prayer using a wonderful prayer book, "Venite" (based on BCP) I'm going to incorporate The Great Canon as a meditation. I may flop on this one but my prayer is this:

Lord, may my eyes see you more clearly
may my hands serve you better
may my heart be opened more fully
to embrace you
that i might become more like you
through these practices this season. amen.


may the lord bless you and keep you,
jonathon

3 comments:

John said...

I like it.

You've introduced me to the use of the ancients in meditation and prayer. That's why I'm going to use the Passiusalmar by Hallgrimur Petursson this Lent and let his words play around in my soul.

St.Phransus said...

i had never heard of him before, but did a search about him- he was quite the sh@# in Iceland, apparently.

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