great canon


The Great Canon

The Following is an excerpt from Great Lent, by Alexander Schmemann
From Chapter 4: The Lenten Journey

[The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete] can best be described as a penitential lamentation conveying to us the scope and depth of sin, shaking the soul with despair, repentance, and hope. With a unique art, St. Andrew interwove the great biblical themes-- Adam and Eve, Paradise and Fall, the Patriarchs Noah and the Flood, David, the Promised Land, and ultimately Christ and the Church-- with confession of sin and repentance. The events of sacred history are revealed as events of my life, God's acts in the past as acts aimed at me and my salvation, the tragedy of sin and betrayal as my personal tragedy. My life is shown to me as part of the great and all-embracing fight between God and the powers of darkness which rebel against Him.

The Canon begins on this deeply personal note:

Where shall I begin to weep over the cursed deeds of my life?
What foundation shall I lay, Christ, for this lamentation?

On after another, my sins are revealed in their deep connection with the continuous drama of man's relation to God; the story of man's fall is my story:

I have made mine the crime of Adam; I know myself deprived of God, of the eternal Kingdom and of bliss because of my sins....

I have lost all divine gifts:

I have defiled the vestment of my body, obscured the image and likeness of God....
I have darkened the beauty of my soul, I have torn my first vestment woven for me by the Creator and I am naked....