Cluttered Body: 2 March

Evagrius Ponticus points out: Happy the man who thinks himself no better than dirt.

Reading: Matthew 5:3

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


Standing for long periods, bowing frequently, kneel­ing on stone-cold floors, and touching one’s head to the ground are common in Eastern Christian worship.  To a western mind this all seems shocking. We are ingrained with the notion that it is wrong to bend the knee to any man. So why to prostrate ourselves before the God who has invited us to stand before him as reconciled sons and daughters?

The Rule of St. Benedict prescribes a harsh-sounding punishment for a monk who has been temporarily excom­municated from worship and communion for serious faults. Says Benedict,

He should lie face down at the feet of all as they leave the oratory, and let him do this until the abbot judges he has made satisfaction. Next, at the bidding of the abbot, he is to prostrate himself at the abbot’s feet, then at the feet of all that they may pray for him.

Esther de Waal explains that this regulation is intended to make sure there is "true repentance, a recognition of what sin does to others and to God, as well as to oneself."

These acts then are symbols of obedience and acts of reverence to the Most High God. But they are also outward and visible signs of our ever-weak, ever-sinful human condition. They indicate that we recog­nise, however ruefully, what we would be without Christ. They acknowledge what we so often are, living as we do in a cloud of distractions and forgetfulness.


I’m going to find lonely place where I can kneel for ten min­utes without interruption. I’ll try to ignore any physical signs of discomfort and sim­ply focus on quieting my mind.


Lord I have have wounded others and failed to give you reverence. I have failed to love. Please forgive me.