Wednesday, June 09, 2004

"Lord, grant me to see my own sins, and not to judge my brother"

Lord Jesus Christ, King of kings, you have power over life and death. You know even things that are uncertain and obscure, and our very thoughts and feelings are not hidden from you. Cleanse me from my secret faults, and I have done wrong and you saw it. You know how weak I am, both in soul and in body. Give me strength, O Lord, in my frailty and sustain me in my sufferings. Grant me a prudent judgement, dear Lord, and let me always be mindful of your blessings. Let me retain until the end your grace that has protected me till now. ---- St Ephrem's prayer for strength in weakness



Today the Church also celebrates the deacon and doctor, the desert Christian Ephrem the Syrian. He wrote great volumes of prayers, devotional poetry, and works of theology. He was one of the periti at the Council of Nicea, having accompanied his bishop, +James of Nisibis, there. Post-conciliarly, he dedicated much of his writings to the defense and propagation of the rulings of the Council. He also worked against the Gnostics; they were propagating their heresy by writing popular music, Ephrem countered by writing orthodox pop tunes of his own, becoming known as "the harp of the Holy Spirit."

He retired to a cave hermitage in the vicinity of Edessa, continuing to write, and occasionally going to the city to preach. During a famine in 372-3 he coordinated the food distribution, operated a string of soup kitchens, and also opened and ran several hospitals for the ill, until he fell ill, probably a result of overwork, and died in 373.

St. Ephrem's most well-known work, known as his "Great Prayer", isa treasure in my life and I believe it will be fruitful in the lives of all of us.

St. Ephrem's Great Prayer

[Making a prostration]

O LORD, Master of my life, grant that I may not be infected with the spirit of slothfulness and inquisitiveness, with the spirit of ambition and vain talking.

[Making a prostration]

Grant instead to me, your servant, the spirit of purity and of humility, the spirit of patience and neighborly love.

[Making a prostration]

O Lord and King, grant me the grace of being aware of my sins and of not thinking evil of those of my brethren.

For you are blessed, now and ever, and forever.

Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, King of Kings, You have power over life and death. You know what is secret and hidden, and neither our thoughts nor our feelings are concealed from You. Cure me of duplicity; I have done evil before You.

Now my life declines from day to day and my sins increase. O Lord, God of souls and bodies, You know the extreme frailty of my soul and my flesh. Grant me strength in my weakness, O Lord, and sustain me in my misery.

Give me a grateful soul that I may never cease to recall Your benefits, O Lord most bountiful. Be not mindful of my many sins, but forgive me all my misdeeds.

O Lord, disdain not my prayer - the prayer of a wretched sinner; sustain me with Your grace until the end, that it may protect me as in the paSaint It is Your grace which has taught me wisdom; blessed are they who follow her ways, for they shall receive the crown of glory.

In spite of my unworthiness, I praise You and I glorify You, O Lord, for Your mercy to me is without limit. You have been my help and my protection. May the name of Your majesty be praised forever. To you, our God, be glory. Amen.

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