Friday, October 24, 2008

A Prayer of St Basil the Great

O Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, our God, the well of life and immortality, the Maker of every thing visible and invisible, the co-eternal and co-everlasting Son of the everlasting Father, who for the abundance of his goodness, in these latter days, didst put on flesh and wast crucified and buried for us unthankful and ungracious men, and hast by thy own blood renewed our nature corrupted by sin: do thou, O immortal King, accept the repentance of me, a sinner, and incline thine ear to me, and hearken to my words: for I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned before heaven and before thy face, and I am not worthy to gaze upon the height of thy glory; for I have provoked thy goodness, I have transgressed thy commandments, I have not obeyed thy ordinances. But thou, O Lord, since thou rememberest not evil, but art long-suffering and of great mercy, hast not given me to destruction for my lawlessnesses, but hast ever awaited my conversion. For, O thou that lovest all men, thou hast said by thy Prophet, I desire not the death of a sinner, but that he may turn and live; because thou dost not wish, O Master, that the work of thine hands should perish, neither dost thou take pleasure in the destruction of men, but thou desirest that all men should be saved and come to knowledge of the truth. Wherefore even I, although I am unworthy both of heaven and of earth, and of this temporary life, having wholly yielded myself to sin, and become the slave of pleasures, and defiled thine image, yet being thy creature and of thy shaping, I despair not of my salvation in my wretchedness; but, emboldened by thine infinite compassion, I draw nigh. Receive, therefore, O Christ who lovest all men, even me, as the Harlot, as the Thief, as the Publican, as the Prodigal; and take away the heavy burden of my sins, O thou that takest away the sin of the world, and healest the infirmities of men, and dost call to thyself and give rest to those who are weary and heavy-laden; who camest not to call the just, but sinners to repentance: cleanse me from every stain of flesh and spirit; teach me to fulfil holiness in thy fear; that having the witness of my conscience clean, and receiving my share of thy hallowed things, I may be united to thy holy Body and Blood, and may have thee to dwell and abide in me, with the Father and thy Holy Spirit. Yea, O Lord Jesus Christ, my God, may the partaking of thy most pure and life-giving Mysteries not bring me into judgement, nor may I become weak in soul and body by reason of unworthily partaking thereof: but grant me, even unto my last breath uncondemned to receive my share of thy hallowed things, and thereby to receive participation of the Holy Ghost, provision for the journey of eternal life, and an acceptable answer at thy dread judgement-seat; that I, together with all thine elect, may also be a partaker of the spotless good things which thou hast prepared for those that love thee, O Lord, among whom thou abidest and art glorified for evermore. Amen.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Flowers for God

by Fr Sergei Fudel (1901-77), married Russian Orthodox priest, bearer of light and love for the Church during and beyond his years in prison and exile at the hands of the Communist régime

People who believe in God in their own way, yet do not believe in the Church, often say, "Does God really need all this ritual? Why do we have to have all these formalities? We only need love, beauty, and humaneness." A man, on his way to the woman he loves, seeing flowers, buys them or picks them and brings them to her, never stopping to think whether this is a formality or not. Yet this is the very concept of church ritual.

Love for God gives birth to the beauty and humanity of the ritual, which we lay, like flowers, at the feet of God. Faith is love, and the essence of Christianity is to be in love with God and to feel that the Church is His body which has remained with us and lives with us on earth. This feeling expresses itself in actions which we call ritual.

However, if only external and dead action remains, then such action will be sterile and self-deceptive, not only in Christianity but in any sphere of human life, even in science. This truth should be clear to everyone.

Formalism and sanctimoniousness is not Christianity. Each one of us has to move along this long and narrow way from non-Christianity to Christianity, from artificial flowers to live ones.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

To thee, O Mother of God ...

To thee, O Mother of God, victorious leader of triumphant hosts, we, thy servants, delivered from evil, sing our grateful thanks: but since thou possessest invincible might, set us free from every calamity, that we may cry unto thee: Hail, O Bride Unwedded.

Most glorious ever-virgin Mother of Christ our God, bring our prayer unto thy Son and our God, that by thee he may save our souls.

All my hope I lay upon thee, Divine Mother, preserve me beneath thy protection.

O Virgin Mother of God, despise me not, a sinner, who seek thy help and thy intercession; for in thee hath my soul hoped; have mercy upon me.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

On the Mother of God

by Jacob of Serug (451-522)

O cloud of mercy, which is full of hope for all the world, all the earth which had been ravaged was pacified by it.

O ship of riches in which the Father's treasury was sent to the poor in a needy place and it enriched them!

O field, which without a ploughman yielded a sheaf of life, and all creation that had been needy was satiated by it.

O virginal vine, which though not pruned gave a cluster, behold by whose wine creation, which was mourning, rejoices.

Daughter of poor ones, who was mother to the only rich One, behold whose treasures are lavished on mendicants to enrich them!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

From the Syrian Orthodox Church

Open to us, Lord, your great door; O Fountain of all mercy, hear our prayer and save our souls. Shine upon me, Lord, and I shall be light like the day; I will sing your praise in light while I marvel; may the morning awaken me to the praise of your Godhead and I will pursue the study of your word all the day long. With the day may your light shine on our thoughts and may it drive away the shadows of error from our souls. The creation is full of light, give light also to our hearts that they may praise you with the day and the night.

(via The Oxford Book of Prayer, ed. George Appleton)