The sixteenth day of Lent

Saturday after 2 Lent

Saturday is the Sabbath, the last day of the week, the day on which Genesis tells us that God himself rested. The busy lives which so many modern people lead leave little time for rest, let alone silence, contemplation, or prayer. Lent, with its movement towards simplification and the elimination of that which is unnecessary and that which enslaves us, is an opportunity for us to recover space in our lives that "putting away all earthly anxieties...our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to [God's] people in heaven." We urge that these Lenten Sabbaths be days to pause for both rest and contemplation and we suggest a very simple Sabbath exercies: recitation and contemplation of the lenten prayer attributed to Saint Ephrem the "Syrian. This prayer holds a central place in the Orthodox observance of Lent where it is said every weekday at services and is also used privately by the faithful. As our object is simplicity and freedom from burdensome exercises, our Sabbath exercise is a continuing reflection on this prayer, aided by a brief commentary by Fr. Alexander Schmemann on one or two points of the prayer. 

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 errors and not to judge my brother;

For Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.

 

The Lenten Prayer of St Ephrem the Syrian
By Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann

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. Ephrem the Syrian.... Why does this short and simple prayer occupy such an important position in the entire lenten worship? Because it enumerates in a unique way all the "negative" and "positive" elements of repentance and constitutes, so to speak, a "check list" for our individual lenten effort. This effort is aimed first at our liberation from some fundamental spiritual diseases which shape our life and make it virtually impossible for us even to start turning ourselves to God....

Finally, idle talk. Of all created beings, man alone has been endowed with the gift of speech. All Fathers see in it the very "seal" of the Divine Image in man because God Himself is revealed as Word (John, 1:1). But being the supreme gift, it is by the same token the supreme danger. Being the very expression of man, the means of his self-fulfillment, it is for this very reason the means of his fall and self-destruction, of betrayal and sin. The word saves and the word kills; the word inspires and the word poisons. The word is the means of Truth and it is the means of demonic Lie. Having an ultimate positive power, it has therefore a tremendous negative power. It truly creates positively or negatively. When deviated from its divine origin and purpose, the word becomes idle. It "enforces" sloth, despondency, and lust of power, and transforms life into hell. It becomes the very power of sin.

These four [sloth, faint-heartedness, lust of power, and idle talk] are thus the negative "objects" of repentance. They are the obstacles to be removed. But God alone can remove them. Hence, the first part of the lenten prayer; this cry from the bottom of human helplessness. Then the prayer moves to the positive aims of repentance which also are four.

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