THE GREAT CANON


“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.” (Refrain, Great Canon)


This Wednesday evening in our churches we will be hearing the very long, “Great” Canon of St. Andrew of Crete. It contains many, many words: beautiful lamentations, biblical references, theological insights, and so on, which may be hard to follow. But the refrain to the Canon, repeated throughout the service, is easy to follow: “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.” It reminds me of the simple prayer of the tax-collector in the parable of the Tax-Collector & Pharisee, which “cuts through” all the complicated rationalizations that we intellectual-types, like the Pharisee, tend to erect between us and God’s mercy, by trying somehow to manipulate Him by presenting before Him our “case,” or our idea of our “right” or perfectly “Orthodox” ways of thinking and doing.


Today let me keep things simple, and open my heart to God’s mercy. I give up and surrender to Him, approaching Him with nothing, in my lack of understanding and everything else. Because God has, where I lack. “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.”

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