burning tares

Altar Cross detail, photo from Holy Cross Monastery website

See Proper 11 (year A)
“wheat and tares”

The burning of the tares begins long before the final day. Sins, mistakes, flaws, all kinds of soul-debris fuel the continually smoldering fire. Once in a while some chunk of the psyche loosens and falls out of hiding, letting in the air and stirring up a new conflagration.

Sometimes you know how far you have come by visiting where you began. Today the interns, a sister, and I went to Holy Cross Monastery to celebrate St. Benedict’s Day. I’ve been an Associate for 34 years and I worked at the monastery for two years during the most distressed time of my life. Always a coming home for me, a visit to the monastery now includes visiting favorite haunts, seeing old friends, laughing, and, of course, eating great food. The worship helped me re-dedicate myself with warmth of heart and very little effort.

During the Eucharist for St. Benedict’s Day, we sang the following hymn by Charles Wesley. (The tune – Hereford – by Samuel Sebasian Wesley is also gorgeous and haunting). I think the “flame upon the altar of my heart” requires the burning of tares from time to time.

O thou who camest from above, the fire celestial to impart,
kindle a flame of sacred love upon the altar of my heart.

There let it for thy glory burn with ever bright, undying blaze,
and trembling to its source return in humble prayer and fervent praise.

Jesus confirm my heart’s desire to work, and speak, and think for thee;
still let me guard the holy fire and still stir up the gift in me.

Still let me prove thy perfect will, my acts of faith and love repeat,
till death thy endless mercies seal, and make the sacrifice complete.

                                                           -Charles Wesley 1707-1788

May your own tare-burning produce a sweet incense, a beautiful flame of love

4 Responses to “burning tares”

  1. Chris Says:

    Wonderful imagery of burning the tares!

  2. claire Says:

    Oh, this is so beautiful it gives me a shiver. Thank you.

  3. Diane Stavrum Says:

    This sounds so romantic and pleasing nonetheless the burning of tares in one’s heart can and usually is a very difficult and trying experience that may just last a long time. Sorry to be party pooper but reality is reality. Lovely hymn and lyrics of course helps to lighten the burn or lessen the burden somewhat. Thank you Suzanne.

    • ammaguthrie Says:

      Ah, but you are so correct, Diane! It’s horribly painful and ongoing and as long as life lasts … it’s a work that’s never done. The road to heaven is a slow burning … but I love the Orthodox idea that the burning itself is us coming closer to God all the time. The Uncreated Light burning burning burning us as we come closer…
      Thank you! -suzanne

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