Vespers December 23

Kontakion for the Eve – The 3rd Tone
Today the Virgin is coming to the cave/ to give birth to the eternal Word,/ Rejoice at the message, O earth;/ with the Angels and Shepherds give glory/ to Him Who was willing to be seen as a Child/ while remaining God throughout all ages.

For awhile before taking up the Benedictine Office through the Monastic Diurnal I would pray as much of the Byzantine Office as I could by using the Dynamic Horologion website and/or my Jordanville or HTM Prayerbook. In praying in an Eastern fashion I learned to love the rich symbolism and exhuberance of the Orthodox prayers.

Even though I’m of Russian background on my mothers side of the family and fully embrace that Slavic heritage and piety through icons, in making the sign of the cross from right to left, my fingers in the position of the old believers, my roots on my fathers side run deep into the ancient kingdom of Wales in the a West, and having grown up in a thoroughly Western and American context I cannot help but be Western in my spiritual life most of the time.

Somehow the reconciliation of East and West is something of an unsolvable koan that runs through my life, something that I actively embrace even if at times it causes agony and tension. There are no simple answers to the issue of the unity of East and West.

Tonight I pray along with my fellow Catholics the final of the O Antiphons, but along with my Eastern brethren I pray the Kontakion above about the sheer mystery of the a Incarnation. Both East and West speak of this unbelievably rich mystery of God becoming man to dwell amongst us.

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