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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

He died on the cross, and the operative words are the most tragic words of history: He, who is the Son of God, because he has accepted total, final, unreserved and unlimited solidarity with men in all their conditions, without participating in evil but accepting all its consequences; He, nailed on the cross, cries out the cry of forlorn humanity, 'My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?'

People who are keen on exegesis explain to us that at that point He was rehearsing a verse of a prophetic song. If you have seen anyone die a violent death you can't well imagine Him at the last moment rehearsing a prayer He had been taught when he was a little boy! Besides, it is an error of vision -- for it is prophecy that is turned towards its fulfilment, not fulfilment that is supposed to recite words of prophecy. No, it was something real. When Christ said 'My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me', he was crying out, shouting out the words of a humanity that had lost God, and he was participating in that very thing which is the only real tragedy of humanity -- all the rest is a consequence. The loss of God is death, is forlornness, is hunger, is separation. All the tragedy of man is in one word, 'Godlessness'. And He participates in our godlessness, not in the sense in which we reject God, but in a more tragic way, in a way in which one can lose what is the dearest, the holiest, the most precious, the very heart of one's life and soul.

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from God and Man (London: Darton, Longman & Todd), pp. 86 & 87

Friday, October 9, 2009

Prayers of Thanksgiving

We, thy thankful and unworthy servants, praise and glorify thee, O Lord, for thy great benefits which we have received; we bless thee, we thank thee, we sing to thee and we magnify thy great goodness, and in lowliness and love we hymn thee : O Benefactor and Saviour, glory to thee.

We, unworthy recipients of thy benefits and gifts, as unprofitable servants dare to turn to thee, O Master, bringing thee thanks according to our powers, and glorifying and hymning thee, the Benefactor and Creator : glory to thee, O most bountiful God.

O Mother of God, help of Christians, we thy servants, having obtained thy protection, gratefully sing to thee : Hail, purest Virgin, Mother of God, our most speedy succour, ever deliver us by thy prayers from all evils.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Exaltation of the Honourable and Life-giving Cross

We venerate the wood of thy Cross, O thou who lovest mankind, for upon it thou, the life of all, wast nailed. O Saviour, thou hast opened paradise to the thief who turned to thee in faith, and thou hast counted him worthy of blessedness when he confessed to thee crying, 'O Lord, remember me.' Accept us like him, as we cry : We have all sinned, in thy merciful kindness despise us not.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

St Isaac the Syrian

No one ascends to heaven with comfort.

(Quoted by Patriarch Bartholomew in his book Encountering the Mystery)

Friday, June 19, 2009

St Ephrem

Immaculate and pure Virgin Mary, Mother of God, queen of the universe, you are above all the saints, the hope of the patriarchs and the joy of the saints.

Through you we have been reconciled with God. You are the only advocate of sinners and the safe refuge of those who sail the sea of life.

You are the consolation of the world, the ransom of captives, the joy of the sick, the comfort of the afflicted, the refuge and the salvation of the whole world.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Prayer of St Basil the Great

O Lord Almighty, God of Angelic hosts and of all flesh, that dwellest in the highest, and carest for the humble, that searchest the reins and the heart, and clearly discernest the hidden things of men, Light from eternity and ever-existent, with whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning : Do thou, O King immortal, receive our prayers which we, trusting in the multitude of thy mercies, offer to thee at this present time from our soiled lips; forgive us our transgressions which we have committed knowingly or unknowingly in thought or word or deed; and cleanse us from all stain of body or soul. Grant us to pass through all the night of this present life with vigilant heart and sober thought, in expectancy of the coming of the bright and manifest day of thy Only-begotten Son, our Lord God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, in which shall come with glory the Judgement of all men, when to each shall be given the reward of his works : may we not fall away into sloth, but take courage and, being roused to action, be found ready and enter into the joy and the divine bride-chamber of his glory, where the voice of those that feast is never silent, and the delight of those that behold the inexpressible beauty of thy countenance passeth all telling; for thou art the true Light that enlighteneth and sanctifieth every manner of thing, and thee doth every creature hymn. Amen.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Prayer by St Antiokh

O Almighty Lord, Word of the Father, Jesus Christ, who art thyself perfect, for thy great mercy's sake do thou never depart from me, thy servant, but ever abide in me. O Jesus, Good Shepherd of thy sheep, let me not fall into the disobedience of the serpent, nor leave me to the will of Satan, for the seed of corruption is in me. Do thou, therefore, O Lord God whom we worship, O Holy King Jesus, preserve me while I sleep with thy unchanging light, thy Holy Spirit, wherewith thou didst sanctify thy disciples. Grant, O Lord, even to me, thy unworthy servant, thy salvation upon my bed; enlighten my mind with the light of the understanding of thy holy Gospel, my soul with the love of thy Cross, my heart with the purity of thy Word, my body with thy passionless passion; preserve my thought in thy humility, and rouse me at the fit time to glorify thee. For thou art glorified above all, with thy Eternal Father and with the most Holy Spirit for evermore. Amen.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Staretz Silouan of Mount Athos

It is one thing to speak of God; it is quite another thing to know God.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Points to Remember

(from Archbishop Paul of Finland's The Faith We Hold, p. 90)

When you pray you meet the holy God in person.

In order to succeed in your life of prayer, try sincerely to make your conscience clear in relation to God, your neighbour and earthly possessions.

Nevertheless, do not hesitate to approach God in prayer, however bad you feel yourself to be; all our sins are but a drop compared to the ocean of God's love.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Our Inmost Self

It is just as impossible for a man to prevent thoughts as it is to stop the wind by spreading one's cloak. That is what an elder told his disciple. Nevertheless there is something essential that can be done. The elder explained it in the following parable: "You are walking along a road and come to a place where there is a restaurant. Enticing odors of food come from the restaurant. But still it rests with you whether you go in and have a meal or pass by." By enticing odors the elder meant involuntary bad thoughts that enter our consciousness. We can stop to examine them: then we "go in"; in other words, we take a liking to them and admit them into our hearts. Thus we have already sinned in our thoughts and hearts. But we can also "pass by," in which case the evil thought or image that passed our consciousness is not considered a sin.

Archbishop PAUL of Finland, The Faith We Hold (SVS Press, 1980), p. 68

Sunday, May 31, 2009

After Holy Communion

Freely Thou hast given me Thy Body for my food, O Thou who art a fire consuming the unworthy. Consume me not, O my Creator, but instead enter my members, my veins, my heart. Consume the thorns of my transgressions. Cleanse my soul and sanctify my reasonings ...

Show me to be a temple of Thy One Spirit, and not the home of many sins. May every evil thing, every carnal passion, flee from me as from a fire as I become Thy tabernacle through Communion ...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Prayer before Holy Communion

I believe, O Lord, and I confess that Thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who camest into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first. I believe also that this is truly Thine own most pure Body, and that this is truly Thine own precious Blood. Therefore I pray Thee: have mercy upon me and forgive my transgressions both voluntary and involuntary, of word and deed, committed in knowledge or in ignorance. And make me worthy to partake without condemnation of Thy most pure Mysteries, for the remission of my sins, and unto life everlasting.

Of Thy Mystical Supper, O Son of God, accept me today as a communicant; for I will not speak of Thy Mystery to Thine enemies, neither like Judas will I give Thee a kiss; but like the thief will I confess Thee: Remember me, O Lord, in Thy Kingdom.

May the communion of Thy holy Mysteries be neither to my judgment, nor to my condemnation, O Lord, but to the healing of soul and body.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Prayer to the Most Holy Trinity, by St Basil the Great

Arising from sleep I thank thee, O Holy Trinity, that, for the sake of thy great kindness and long-suffering, thou hast not had indignation against me, for I am slothful and sinful, neither hast thou destroyed me in my transgressions : but thou hast shown thy customary love towards man, and hast raised me up as I lay in heedlessness, that I might sing my morning hymn and glorify thy sovranty. Do thou now enlighten the eyes of my understanding, open my ears to receive thy words and teach me thy commandments. Help me to do thy will, to hymn thee, to confess thee from my heart, and to extol thine All-holy name, of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, now and for ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Wisdom 15:1-3

But thou, O God, art gracious and true, longsuffering, and in mercy ordering all things,

For if we sin, we are thine, knowing thy power: but we will not sin, knowing that we are counted thine.

For to know thee is perfect righteousness: yea, to know thy power is the root of immortality.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Olivier Clément

We need to discover our own finiteness, and at the same time our longing for the infinite, that we are not self-sufficient, that we have not the source of joy within ourselves, that at every moment we must receive ourselves at the Gospel's merciful hand -- and this word "Gospel" resounds with all the depth of the Unknowable and the wonderful trust of the child discovering his origin. In the Gospel the very root of sin is the pretense that we can save ourselves by our own effort, that we can find security in ourselves and one another. This was the condition the Pharisees had been brought to in the end by their strict keeping of the law. To save ourselves we must give up all security, any notion of being self-sufficient; we must look at the world with wonder, gratefully receiving it anew, with its mysterious promise of the infinite. Everything -- the world, history, other people and myself -- can be a source of revelation, because through everything we can discern, like a watermark, the face of the Risen Christ, the Friend who secretly shares with each of us the bread of affliction and the wine of mirth. To this paradox, that the Inaccessible has allowed himself to be crucified for us to reveal that "God is love," our only response can be one of humility and trust, tearing ourselves away from all that holds us back, in our desire to worship, even in the midst of our suffering. The publicans and harlots enter the Kingdom before the just because they are well aware that they cannot save themselves; knowing the wretchedness of their condition, they are open to the Love that has come within their reach. [...] It is the consciousness of a desire that cannot be satisfied, the inner emptiness crying out to be filled with it knows not what. "The hearts of human beings," says Nicolas Cabasilas, "were made great enough to contain God himself." If they do not contain the Uncreated they will turn their desire toward created objects, and then only nothingness can spring forth, for every person is a gaping space waiting to be filled with God.

(from On Human Being)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

St John Chrysostom

As long as we remain sheep, we overcome. Even though we may be surrounded by a thousand wolves, we overcome and are victorious. But as soon as we are wolves, we are beaten: for then we lose the support from the Shepherd who feeds not wolves, but only sheep.

(from Homily 34 on St Matthew)

Friday, March 6, 2009

St Ephrem the Syrian

Woe is me, a sinner! For because of my weakness I have become defiled, and ever do I defile the purity of my heart. Apathy and slothfulness have shamed the boldness of my heart. Evil desire commands me, like a master commands his slave, and I, like a child, immediately obey with fear. It leads me into sin and this gladdens me.

Woe is me, O Lord! Your grace draws me toward life, but I instead prefer death. You take pains that I might become as honorable as the angels; but I, in my depravity, debase myself. My sins have multiplied, O Lord, and ceaselessly do they multiply and there is no limit to their multitude.

And who will mourn for me or pray for me? Do you, O my Savior, yourself condescend to have mercy on me through your grace and regard me who despair with compassion! For how will I pray to you, O Master, when my mouth is filled with vile words? Or how will I sing praises to you, when my conscience is defiled? Or how will I love you, when I am filled with passions? Or how will truth dwell in me, when I have cursed myself with lies? Or how will I call upon you, when I have not kept your commandments?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Prayer for the Departed

With the souls of the righteous dead, give rest, O Saviour, to the soul of thy servant N., preserving him unto the life of blessedness which is with thee, O Thou who lovest mankind.

In the place of thy rest, O Lord, where all thy Saints repose, give rest also to the soul of thy servant N., for thou alone lovest mankind.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.

Thou art the God who didst descend into hell and loose the bonds of the captives. Do thou give rest also to the soul of thy servant N.

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

O Virgin, alone pure and undefiled, who without seed didst bring forth God, pray thou that his soul may be saved.

With the Saints give rest, O Christ, to the soul of thy servant N., where there is neither sickness, nor sorrow, nor sighing, but life everlasting.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Prayer

O Lord,
when we consider what we are
and remember our mistakes,
then, conscious of our misdeeds,
our thoughts turn
to your terrible day of judgement;
our assurance of a favourable verdict
lies in our one and only refuge
who loves all mankind;
and so it is right
that we pray you now
to grant us
the great gift of your merciful forbearance.

Through the grace, mercy
and all-embracing love
of your only-begotten Son,
to whom with you
and your holy and life-giving Spirit
be all blessing,
now and for ever,
to the ages of ages. Amen.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

St Leontius of Cyprus

Through heaven and earth and sea, through wood and stone, through all creation visible and invisible, I offer veneration to the Creator and Master and Maker of all things. For the creation does not venerate the Maker directly and by itself, but it is through me that the heavens declare the glory of God, through me the moon worships God, through me the stars glorify him, through me the waters and showers of rain, the dews and all creation, venerate God and give him glory.

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(Quoted by Bishop Kallistos Ware in The Orthodox Way, SVS Press, 1995, with the comment that "man is priest of the creation through his power to give thanks and to offer the creation back to God"; op. cit., p. 54)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Prayer at the Beginning of the Day

(by Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow, d. 1867)

O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely upon thy holy will. In every hour of the day reveal thy will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul, and with firm conviction that thy will governs all. In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforeseen events let me not forget that all are sent by thee. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray thou thyself in me. Amen.