Apr 2019

Beloved in Christ,

As we complete the Great Fast and draw nearer to the Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, let us take the time and effort to focus on the goal. What is our goal? Is it just to celebrate the historical event of Jesus's resurrection 2000 years ago? No. Our goal is the result of that resurrection - new life with Him, which does not end.

So, how do we prepare for eternal life? How do we get ready to live forever in the presence of God? How do we ensure that our experience of that life is one of joy, where there is no pain, sorrow, nor suffering? Well, it helps to involve ourselves as deeply into the prayer life of the Church! After all, the church is the Kingdom Already-Come. This of course means going out of our way to attend more services during (and after) Great Lent, but also turning up the volume on our own personal prayer life. Neither can exist without the other. We Christians pray together, which improves our communal relationship with God and with each other, and we pray privately, which softens our hearts and makes ready the soil for the seed of the Gospel to take root.

During Great Lent, we have several hundred beautiful and compunctionate prayers; but one stands out. Written by St. Ephraim the Syrian, the following is our Lenten creed:

O Lord and Master of my life, do not permit the spirit of laziness and meddling, the lust for power and idle talk to come into me.

Instead, grant me, your servant, the spirit of prudence, humility, patience and love.

Yes, Lord and King, give me the power to see my own faults and not to judge my brother.

For you are blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.

By repeating this prayer - and meaning it - we root out those things which sully our souls, and allow the Grace of God to flow into us. We acknowledge who is our Lord and King, who has the power in this relationship, and we ask him to reveal to us our sins instead of those we see in other. This allows us to truly repent, to turn our consciousness back to God. Facing him, we can truly call him "blessed unto the ages of ages." And, unto the ages of ages we will bless him who has blessed us - if we have prepared ourselves to do so.

So, let us be like war-horses and charge into the fray with discipline and strict focus. Let us repeat the Lenten Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian over and over, allowing the distractions to pass by us as we pursue unending joy, life with our Resurrected Lord, and let us worship him in humility and love - forever.

Wishing you all a fruitful conclusion of the Great Fast and preparation for Eternal Joy, I remain,

In the Love of Christ,

+fr. Patrick