By now, I’m sure everyone has read the story of my friend Chase Padusniak, who was deceived by the online Twitter persona of a young Catholic woman with whom he thought a spark of romance could burst into the flame of love. The complete disappointment of this relationship is heart-breaking to even read. I cannot imagine what it must be like for Chase. I remember that we met online shortly after I posted once on my Facebook on Simone Weil. As another of Weil’s closest readers, Artur Rosman, also said recently on Facebook, ‘This broke my heart.’
I do not know what to say to him, so I have said little about it today. But it occurred to me that today is also the Leave-Taking of the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin. In the Byzantine Churches, feasts last for a time, and the last day of the feast is known as the ‘leave-taking,’ the day when we say good-bye to the feast and savour it one last time before moving on to the next event in the calendar (the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is coming up!). Chase and I are both Byzantine Catholics; that is what made me think of this event.
I read this Ambo Prayer for the Nativity of the Theotokos – the prayer said from among the people as the Divine Liturgy wraps up – and it felt especially right for Chase, as well as all who have been fooled by persons seeking to deceive and thus need to be loved more than ever, taking joy in the one who wraps us in the protection of her maphorion (her veil):
O eternal Master, above all being, Christ our G-d, You see and rule all creation, You are a G-d who works miracles and make the unexpected come to pass; and You alone accomplish great wonders. O Master, Saviour of those in despair and doubt, You hear sincere prayer, and You generously grant the desires expressed in supplication. You changed the sorrow of the barrenness of Your servants Joachim and Anna – united in blameless marriage – into the joy of childbearing. You gave them a beautiful child, a shoot growing from the root of Jesse, mystically foretold by lips divinely inspired. From her You would bring forth the glorious and righteous flower, the first fruit and fulfillment of all that is good. Now You, the source of all generosity and light, the bestower of riches, have brought forth the Virgin who gave birth to You. You have made this the birthday foreshadowing grace and salvation for all. As we partake of Your divine mysteries and deifying Liturgy, deliver us from a sterile barrenness in good works and deem us worthy at all times to make virtue our offering to You, that we may have the right to a place in the land of the just in Your kingdom. Free us from bitter and continual warfare, relieve all oppression and lift the yoke of slavery, that all may be free from tyranny and judgment. Bless Your people and protect Your inheritance, save us from all temptations of the enemy and from all affliction. Increase the glory of people under the law of Christ and insure their well-being. Give them earthly and heavenly gifts and an abundance of crops, for You provide, and, indeed, create all that is good.Through the prayers of Your all-pure Mother and our Lady, and all the saints, with whom we give worship and adoration to you, together with Your eternal Father, and Your life-giving Spirit, both now and ever and for ages of ages. (The Divine Liturgy: An Anthology for Worship, p. 681-2.)
Be loved, Chase. May our Lady, the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin, encompass you with her maphorion, and may you feel the love of her Son glowing from within your heart even in the midst of this darkness.