This is the final blog in this series quoting and commenting on hymns from the Sunday before Great Lent which commemorates the Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise. The first blog in the series was entitled The Expulsion of Adam & Eve from Paradise (Hymns). The blog immediately preceding this one is Matins Texts of The Expulsion of Adam & Eve (9).
The Matins Canon for the Sunday commemorating the Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise sets a tone for all of Great Lent and gives meaning to Lenten abstinence and fasting. Adam and Eve’s lack of self control proved disastrous for all creation: the very beings that God appointed to have dominion over creation and to be His mediator with creation fell from their exalted post. The humans created to have dominion over the rest of creation, listen to a created animal about how to become like God, instead of listening to the Creator! They freely and willfully submit themselves to creation rather than exercising dominion over it. The end result is the humans become subject to their own physical limits and to death. The humans attempted to grasp hold of divinity, but fell from their highly exalted closeness to God and ended up just being one more part of God’s created order – mortal like all other creatures and unable to lift creation up to God, except in sacrifice!
ADAM CRIED LAMENTING: WOE IS ME!
THE SERPENT AND THE WOMAN HAVE DEPRIVED ME OF MY BOLDNESS BEFORE GOD,
AND I HAVE BECOME AN EXILE FROM THE JOY OF PARADISE
THROUGH EATING FROM THE TREE.
WOE IS ME! I CAN NO MORE ENDURE THE SHAME!
I ONCE WAS KING OF ALL GOD’S CREATURES ON EARTH;
NOW I HAVE BECOME A PRISONER,
LED ASTRAY BY EVIL COUNSEL.
I WAS ONCE CLOTHED IN THE GLORY OF IMMORTALITY,
NOW I MUST WRAP MYSELF IN THE SKINS OF MORTALITY,
AS ONE MISERABLE, AND CONDEMNED TO DIE.
WOE IS ME! WHO WILL SHARE MY SORROW WITH ME?
BUT, LORD AND LOVER OF MANKIND,
YOU HAVE FASHIONED ME FROM THE EARTH AND ARE CLOTHED IN COMPASSION://
CALL ME BACK FROM THE BONDAGE OF THE ENEMY AND SAVE ME!
Adam and all of humanity cannot lift themselves to heaven – even repentance cannot achieve that end. The Fall of humanity through willful disobedience stripped humans of what enabled them to be in God’s presence. Unable to save themselves, humans who wished independence from God found themselves in complete need of God’s mercies. Great Lent is that time in which we commemorate our fall and experience our fallen condition through fasting, self denial, humility, forgiveness, repentance, begging for God’s mercy, through charity and through the symbols and imagery of exile, nakedness, shame, dependence on God and the cross.
“But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Keeping Great Lent neither earns nor maintains God’s love for us. Rather it reveals to us the true nature of our condition, in order to humble us, for only then do we realize the true extent of God’s love for His creation and the meaning of God’s grace.