The thirty-fourth day of Lent

Saturday after 5 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, the crown and fruit of all virtues, of all growth and effort, is love -- that love which, as we have already said, can be given by God alone-the gift which is the goal of all spiritual preparation and practice. 

All this is summarized and brought together in the concluding petition of the lenten prayer in which we ask "to see my own errors and not to judge my brother." For ultimately there is but one danger: pride. Pride is the source of evil, and all evil is pride. Yet it is not enough for me to see my own errors, for even this apparent virtue can be turned into pride. Spiritual writings are full of warnings against the subtle forms of pseudo-piety which, in reality, under the cover of humility and self-accusation can lead to a truly demonic pride. But when we "see our own errors" and "do not judge our brothers," when, in other terms, chastity, humility, patience, and love are but one in us, then and only then the ultimate enemy--pride--will be destroyed in us.

forward to The Sunday of the Passion, Palm Sunday

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