The Prayer of St. Ephraim and the “Bright Sadness” of Lent

“Of all lenten hymns and prayers, one short prayer can be termed the lenten prayer.    Tradition ascribes it to one of the great teachers of spiritual life-St. Ephraim the Syrian.

O Lord and Master of my life!   Take from me the spirit of sloth, faint-heartedness, lust of power, and idle talk.
But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King!  Grant me to see my own sins and not to judge my brother; For Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.

~ From Great Lent by Fr. Alexander Schmemann

“A journey, a pilgrimage! Yet, as we begin it, as we make the first step into the “bright sadness” of Lent, we see – far, far away – the destination. It is the joy of Pascha, it is the entrance into the glory of the Kingdom. And it is this vision, the foretaste of Pascha, that makes Lent’s sadness bright and our Lenten effort a “spiritual spring”. The night may be dark and long, but all along the way a mysterious and radiant dawn seems to shine on the horizon. “Do not deprive us of our expectation, O Lover of man.”

~ From Great Lent by Fr. Alexander Schmemann

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Reflections from “The Lenten Spring”

“Open to me the doors of repentance, O Life-giver,
for my spirit rises early to pray towards Your holy temple,
bearing the temple of my body all defiled.
But in Your compassion purify me by the loving-kindness of Your mercy.

Lead me on the paths of salvation, O Mother of God,
for I have profaned my soul with shameful sins
and have wasted my life in laziness.
But by your intercessions deliver me from all impurity.

When I think of the many evil things I have done, wretch that I am,
I tremble at the fearful day of judgment;
but trusting in Your loving-kindness, like David I cry out to You:
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your great mercy!”

(“The singing of these verses begins with the first pre-Lenten Sunday, that of
the Publican and the Pharisee, and continues throughout the entire season.)

~ From The Lenten Spring by Fr. Thomas Hopko

“The lenten spring is welcomed by Christians in the Church. It is greeted as the sanctified season consecrated to the correction, purification and enlightenment of the total person through the fulfillment of the commandments of the crucified God. It is received as the time for battling with evil spirits and blossoming with the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22). It is accepted as “the great and saving forty days” set apart for complete and total dedication to the things of God. It is the “tithe of the year” which tells us that all times and seasons belong to the Lord who has created and redeemed the world.

~ From The Lenten Spring by Fr. Thomas Hopko

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Metropolitan JOSEPH on American Orthodoxy

“We have the particularity of various lands and nations of origin, but our identity as Orthodox Christians stems from our confession of faith and the baptismal font where we derive our “birth from above,” and so we can charitably call every man our brother, since Christ made us all to be renewed in Himself.”…A personal encounter and a continuous intercourse with the Living God. The ultimate goal…is precisely the holy man and the holy community, i.e. the Holy Church, and just the holy system.” We live now in a perilous state in society in general, both morally and intellectually. We need to be ready to reach out to everyone, with confidence that we can address their need for spiritual healing with the Holy Gospel.

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Frameworks for Youth Ministry by Gregory Abdalah

Youth Ministry should provide an environment within which our youth can encounter Christ, It should create an atmosphere that facilitates the development of their personal relationships with Christ, Once a relationship with Christ has been developed to provide opportunities for the fostering of that relationship. Our youth are seeking out community wherever they can find them, not knowing where to look. When the Liturgical Life becomes the center of the community. It is then, we can began to help them to realize their Liturgical Discipleship. Considering each from the viewpoint of Liturgical Discipleship, we would understand them as Baptism-the roots of Liturgical Discipleship, Chrismation-the sign of Liturgical Discipleship, Eucharist-the expression of the Liturgical Discipleship. The anaphora prayers aren’t for God. God knows them all already, liturgical prayers are for us. Liturgy is joy Why would keep that joy way from our Youth.

Youth, generally speaking, are narcissistic, and each successive generation seems to be more and more so. Read more.

 

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Reflection on the Feast of Our Lord’s Nativity

I will give thanks to Thee, O Lord, with my whole heart;
I will make all Thy wonders known
In the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord!
They are studied by all who have pleasure in them!
His work is glory and beauty, and His righteousness endures forever.
–Christmas Day, 1st Antiphon (Psalm 111:1-3)

Truly, “Great are the works of the Lord!”

He sees a world filled with suffering and He Himself voluntarily suffers to make a path to healing.

He sees a world dying and He Himself dies to bring resurrection and unending life.

He sees a world in darkness and He Himself enters that darkness to bring a divine light that can never be extinguished.

He sees a world in bondage to the forces of evil and He submits Himself to that evil in order to destroy it forever.

The God Who is “ineffable, inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible and eternally the same” empties Himself of power and divine privilege. He becomes a weak, fragile human being in order to share fully in our broken existence and in so doing offers the possibility of a life in communion with Him, with each other, and with all creation.

+TIKHON
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada

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