The twenty-eighth day of Lent

Saturday after 4 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....

The first and wonderful fruit of this wholeness or chastity is humility. We already spoke of it. It is above everything else the victory of truth in us, the elimination of all lies in which we usually live. Humility alone is capable of truth, of seeing and accepting things as they are and therefore of seeing God's majesty and goodness and love in everything. This is why we are told that God gives grace to the humble and resists the proud.     

Chastity and humility are naturally followed by patience. The "natural" or "fallen" man is impatient, for being blind to himself he is quick to judge and to condemn others. Having but a broken, incomplete, and distorted knowledge of everything, he measures all things by his tastes and his ideas. Being indifferent to everyone except himself, he wants life to be successful right here and now. Patience, however, is truly a divine virtue. God is patient not because He is "indulgent," but because He sees the depth of all that exists, because the inner reality of things, which in our blindness we do not see, is open to Him. The closer we come to God, the more patient we grow and the more we reflect that infinite respect for all beings which is the proper quality of God.

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