Everytime I listen the objection “But is this what the Mission stands for? Charities?” –and it is not rare–, I fee like something cracks inside me, something like what we vaguely call “the conscience”, which we, monks, willingly put to martyrdom. It is actually an act of martyrdom not to respond hotly to this question. Not to go into arraying photos of emaciated kids or offer listings of diseases that for us have been a distant name from the interwar period, usually shining like badges in our vaccination records.
When I get this question, therefore, I answer: “No! This is not what the Mission stands for, our work is the Divine Liturgy and getting as many people around the world as possible to share in it.” But, how do we perceive the world-saving incident of the Divine Liturgy? As a magical action, as a rapture into a different dimension, as a candescent Holy Table fringed by cyclopean walls impregnable by the reality of the world. For it would be only through such a perspective that we could cut off the fact of the Church from the fact of life. Only through such an understanding of a creaseless mission in the form of a sterile preaching can we make the Divine Liturgy a magical act, through which on “through the prayers…” every problem is automatically solved. Only such a misapprehension of the real admission in the timeless of the Kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit converts it into something other-worldly, where the uncreated energies of God act in the geographical space between the Holy Table and the already shut doors.
For me, the Divine Liturgy is the great grafting; grafting this world onto the Truth of God, the testimony of the eternal present of the Kingdom in the fluid present of starvation and death that trembles before future, the truly candescent Holy Table, the beacon of the endless desert, the life-giving grave, the stanchion for the tired unworthy hands and the surface usually dampened by tear of despair. For me, the Divine Liturgy does not end with “through the prayers…”; rather then starts its real extension, the tributary of the life-giving river of the Precious Body and the Precious Blood that ask us to do the obvious: to serve this foreigner as the One who serves us all, to glorify the Creator of the World through the ulcerated body of the leper, the blurry sight of the senior, the unrestrained bleeding of the mother betrayed by its body on birth.
To this Divine Liturgy, to this real sacrament, to this practical and unwritten gospel, I invite you to become Cyrenaeans, coming to the aid of a region where pain is eveyday life. Providing the antidoron of a medicine that is necessary for our clinic, where your love gives to more than 60 people daily the privilege of health. Supporting the efforts for the restoration of buildings, churches and dwellings in places tormented by wild typhoons every year, leaving hecatombs of dead people behind. Offering a glass of water in regions where mud puddles appear to be the only way of survival. Where the call for help is more imperative than ever due to the extensive drought whose solution is a never-never land for the locals who make no more than 1,5 euros a day, when the cost of a drilling may reach 10,000 euros, since the groundwater reserves lie only in depths of more 300 meters. In other words, I invite you to raise the cross of our brother for a little while, to let him breathe, dampen their lips, rest and then to walk along them till the end…
With drops of sweat, we strive to plant hope in this barren land.
† Prodromos of Toliara