The twenty-second day of Lent

Saturday after 3 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....

Then the prayer moves to the positive aims of repentance which also are four....

Chastity! If one does not reduce this term, as is so often and erroneously done, only to its sexual connotations, it is understood as the positive counterpart of sloth. The exact and full translation of the Greek sofrosini and the Russian tselomudryie ought to be whole-mindedness. Sloth is, first of all, dissipation, the brokenness of our vision and energy, the inability to see the whole. Its opposite then is precisely wholeness. If we usually mean by chastity the virtue opposed to sexual depravity, it is because the broken character of our existence is nowhere better manifested than in sexual lust -- the alienation of the body from the life and control of the spirit. Christ restores wholeness in us and He does so by restoring in us the true scale of values by leading us back to God. 

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