|Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes - Spiritual Nourishment for the Soul - April 2002||Last Modified March 3rd, 2002|
The Lenten Prayer Of St. Ephraim The Syrian
During the period of holy and Great Lent, which actually began this year on March 18th, the prayer written by St. Ephraim is said frequently. It is truly a prayer on which each and every one of us should carefully mediate, as in many ways it reflects the pattern of our own everyday lives. Allow the prayer into your heart and mind, meditate upon it, and it will inevitable speak to you in some way or another. In fact it is a like a warning to us; we need to spiritually be on our guard, avoiding the temptations that each day brings, and making amends for our failings, first by recognizing them, and then bringing them before our Lord God with humility and contrition. All of us should now take part in this richly rewarding prayer, reflecting upon it spiritually, and asking ourselves how we can overcome our weaknesses and faults. In most cases each of us can relate to this prayer, allowing it to raise such issues in our hearts as, for instance: Have I been, perhaps, impatient? Have I allowed my mind to wander off into dangerous or forbidden thoughts? Or the prayer can illuminate the state of our relationships by making us realize "I did not really show love to my brother, who is indeed also the servant of our Lord, and is precious in the sight of the Lord, just as we are precious in the sight of the Lord also, as His servants." How many of us have fallen into the trap of judging others, even our own brothers - whether our own family, our relatives, our neighbors, our friends, our church, and even our priest? We are truly quick to judge as individuals, and what this prayer of St. Ephraim expresses so well is that we must not judge our brothers, but rather to forgive them. When we do so (in humility, recognizing our own faults) we are then blessed by our God, and can truly offer up humble prayer before Him, living up to the virtuous pattern for our lives that He has shown us. It is true, too, that so often we have become slothful, and even faint-hearted, in our prayers, meditations and readings. This season of Great Lent reminds us to be awake, alert, concentrating anew on the Glory and that has been been revealed to us. There is a similar danger that we might have been led into seeking to be "more important" or "more influential" - even "lording it" over our brothers and sisters! Isn't it so easy, and so displeasing to our Lord God, for us to fall into idle talk and gossip? These and similar things act like a block before us, preventing us from seeing that what we should really be doing, during this period of Holy and Great Lent, is seeking to overcome these faults, and learning to be loving Christians! Now you have read this, the block has been removed and the truth has become obvious! Let us all take advantage of this rich period of time given to us, by going to Church to pray, and praying steadfastly at home. Let us all, with great love in our hearts, go to Church more frequently - as the Church offers for us more services during this time of the 40-day fasting period, and Holy Week, eventually leading up to the joyful celebration of our Lord's Holy Glorious Resurrection, which is commemorated in the Holy Orthodox Church this year on May 5th. This is not only a period of time to pray in Church, and to pray at home, but also to reflect upon the spiritual writings of the Church. There is such great wealth here for us, starting with reading the Holy Scriptures, then the lives of the saints and martyrs of our church, and the teachings of the Holy Fathers. It really is a high time to read the spiritually rewarding materials available from our Church, putting aside secular books and shutting off the T.V. Stop and reflect on that which will help us understand more about our Lord God and His Church. Today we have an abundance of Orthodox sources: some we can find on the internet, others in our local parishes who have book stores, and lending libraries. There are many fine Orthodox bookstores around the country equipped to help us to know more about the teachings of our Holy Orthodox Church and Faith. It is also time to perhaps learn more about the Prayer Of The Heart, also familiary known as the Jesus Prayer, and once again we can learn about this spiritually rewarding prayer either from our spiritual father, as well as obtaining this prayer rope to do the Prayer Of The Heart, or also by obtaining books on this subject. One of the best ways to begin to learn about this prayer is to read the inspiring book: The Way Of The Pilgrim. Get this book and be blessed. Then again, Great Lent is also a time to go to both Holy Confession and Holy Communion. The Church has frequent Liturgies during this period to help us to prepare ourselves. Ask your spiritual father in your parish what prayers you should read before going to Holy Communion, and the prayers you should read afterwards. Finally all through Holy and Great Lent there is the emphasis on fasting, in which we not only watch what goes into our mouths, but just as importantly what comes out! Watch how we speak to one another - it is with love, or is it with faint-heatedness, lust for power and influence, with nothing but idle talk? Or do we have spirit of chastity, and humility? Do we act with patience, and have love for each other? This is a time to look at our own errors, and not to judge one another, but instead to love each other, and give due honor in glorifying our Lord God in prayer, and seeking out humbly our repentance. What a blessed time this is for us all! Let us now begin humbly, and with love to pray. We can do it when we love one another, and love our Lord God, Who loves us all! A Blessed spiritually rewarding Holy Great Lent, and our Almighty God bless us all during this journey to Holy Pascha. Pray for me, as I humbly pray for you! Peace to your soul!O Lord and Master of my life
Humbly In Christ Our Lord,
+Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
Content written/compiled by Reverend Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes.
(c)2002 Reverend Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes