Христос посеред нас! Christ is amongst us!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we are now beginning our Great Lenten Journey, I want to share with you the prayer of St. Ephraim. You may or may not be familiar with it, but either way it is a prayer that we all should begin to incorporate into our daily prayers during Lent. The Prayer is as follows (for the sake of explanation I have broken the prayer into three parts and italicized the font):
O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk.
With this prayer we immediately recognize the sins and states that we as humans often fall into and are difficult to stay away from, they are:
Sloth – sloth is essentially laziness but with sloth also comes an attitude that no change is possible, so why bother trying? It is the very state people fall into that make them question everything with “What for?” or “What’s the point?”. As Christians, sloth is so easy to fall into and is usually the root of others sins.
Despair – this is one of the most dangerous of sins to have on our hearts. It is the inability to see, or worse impossibility, to see anything in a positive or optimistic light. In this state, we are unable to connect with Christ who is the Light of our world. Despair is suicide of the soul.
Lust of Power – As odd as it may seem the first to sins mentioned (Sloth and Despair) lead to Lust of power. When we lose the desire to be with God and the ability to see goodness in Him and in our lives, what remains is a desire to fulfill that life through selfish means. We become self-centered, only desiring self-satisfaction. In this state, our neighbors and loved ones are looked upon as lowly or subordinates and we begin to have no love or respect for anyone but ourselves. If despair is spiritual suicide, Lust of power is spiritual murder.
Idle Talk – This sin is the means by which all others sins gain their power in our lives. As much as it is important during Great Lent to consider how we are fasting and what we are no longer putting in our mouths, it is ten times more important to also consider the harmful and damaging things that can be coming out of our mouths.
But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to me Your servant.
With the understanding of how we are fallen fully realized, we then ask God to grant us forgiveness through these states:
Chastity – In today’s society this word is often used only in sexual connotations, in light of this a better word may be Whole-mindedness. If the above sins take us away from God through brokenness and an inability to see the goodness that God gives us, Chastity is the state where Christ restores wholeness is us by helping us to see the values of a Christian (or optimistic) life. This is a direct opposite to Sloth.
Humility – a spirit of Humility is the ultimate victory of truth is our lives. It is the ability to put away all lies about oneself, and truly see and accept the things as they are, giving us the ability God’s goodness and love in everything. This is a direct opposite of Despair.
Patience – The only way that we may achieve the above states is through patience as equally as the above states help us to gain patience. God is patient because he sees the whole picture and the depth of everything that exists. As we move closer to God, the more patient we grow as we strive ourselves to see the world not through our own eyes, but through God’s.
Love – the love that is referred to in this prayer is not just the love we have for our loved ones (although this is also very important). It is the type of love that sees no boundaries or obstacles in loving any of God’s creations. It is the ultimate love that God shows for each and every one of us.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my transgressions and not to judge my brother; for blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen.
The prayer ultimately concludes with the final petition that with all of the above in mind that we never fall into Pride. The purpose of Great Lent is to fully examine our how we live our life mentally, physically, and spiritual. When we are able to do this and recognize our own sins, without falling into judgement, we will have succeeded in our Lenten Journey.
If you have any questions on this or any other Lenten topics, please contact me at any time.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Peter Haugen