Friday, July 22, 2011
You are what you eat
A few years ago, when Debbie (my wife) finally decided that I wasn't crazy about this Orthodoxy stuff, we started visiting each Saturday at Holy Cross Mission Parish (OCA) in the Greensboro, NC area, where Fr. Christopher Foley serves as priest. Fr. Christopher took much time and effort to help us in our journey, even driving an hour (one way) to our home to both bless our house, as well as to begin our catechumenate.
While we were blessed in many ways by Fr. Christopher (and still are), one of the best things he did for me was to loan me a copy of Fr. Alexander Schmemann's For the Life of the World. As I began to peruse this little book, my world was rocked!
Of course there are many things in that book worthy of talking about, but the thing that jumped out to me was Fr. Schmemann's comment about people absorbing what they ate and becoming what they ate. No doubt, many of you remember the old saying that "you are what you eat." This is common knowledge. Our grandmothers told us that. If you eat junk, your health becomes junk. If you eat healthy food, your health is improved.
For Orthodox Christians, it is even more important. We are able to consume the Holy Mysteries, which are the true body and blood of Christ. We are what we eat. We become imbued with Christ. He is absorbed into our very selves. How? I don't know - that is why we call it a mystery.
I do know that as we moved closer and closer to Orthodoxy, I was almost beside myself with anxiety. I just almost couldn't wait to receive my first communion. It literally hurt to attend the Divine Liturgy each week and not be able to consume the Eucharist. Talking with a close friend during that time, I mentioned to him that I was so excited that in a few weeks, I would be able to finally eat. I would be able to taste and see. I would become what I ate.
I won't lie and say that my attention doesn't waver on occasion. After hundreds of Divine Liturgies since our being received into Orthodoxy, some Sundays I am more focused than others. But the truth is that I am still excited to receive the body and blood each week.
Some days, I think I see progress in my becoming what I eat. Some days, I realize that I am failing miserably. But regardless, I trust the promise of God that I will become what I eat.