Lenten Journey – Preparation of the Priest

Day #5 of the Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy by Fr. Vazken Movsesian.

On this fifth day of this Lenten Journey into the Divine Liturgy, we end the sessions on physical preparation by understanding the role of the robe, or shourjar. Thus far we have observed the transformation of the priest in the vestry of the church. He has donned new clothes, the very special vestments that are designated for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy.
As the name shourjar implies, is placed around the entire – shourj – body of priest. Here, he prays, “In your mercy, O Lord, clothe me with a radiant garment and fortify me against the influences of the evil one, that I may be worthy to glorify your glorious name.” As this final piece of the vestment set is worn by the priest the intention of the Liturgy is presented. Although the robe is ornamental, bright and colorful, the priest is reminded that it is not for his own glory that this sacrament is being celebrated but for the glory of God.
As a huge shield, the shourjar surrounds the priest with a special energy. This energy is beauty and strength combined. Often these two words are not used together in describing something. In fact we separate them as diametrically opposed to one another. Braun and beauty we say. Or even cruelly, we say beauty and the beast. Here, the shourjar shows us that there is beauty in strength and strength in beauty. Not only is one not exclusive of the other, but in fact a necessary component of one another. The shourjar is radiating as the top garment of the vestment set, and it radiates power over the forces of evil. There is nothing greater nor more powerful than complete beauty, which is an expression of goodness and love. Jesus was the Love and Goodness incarnate, and a testament to strength and power which changed the very foundation of our world – for in fact, the manifestation of that power and strength is in the goodness done through works.  
The lesson for today is that although the priest is standing with beautiful vestments, as a new man, before the altar and congregation, he is there as a servant, to serve something greater than himself. He has removed the old garments and donned a new set of vestments that set him apart from the world as a reminder that the journey is one that transcends the daily rituals of life. Ego has been placed in check. It is not about him, but about the one who is the author of him.

As we prepare ourselves for the journey that is still before us, let us contemplate own newness as we walk. Every article of clothing has a purpose and a mission. So too in our lives, every heartbeat, every eye blink, every muscle and organ of our body has a function and purpose that must be in sync with our feelings, thoughts and soul. We are called to meditate on our uniqueness, our beauty, our sense of wonder… each of us set apart from the other uniquely, only to come back together for the purpose to love one another. 

Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for epostle.net
Background Lent Song: Here I Am to Worship played by Heidi 

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