Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
Christ is in our midst! He was and is and ever shall be. Ο Χριστός έν τώ μέσω ημών. Και ήν και έστι και έσται.
THE LENTEN PRAYER OF SAINT EPHRAIM THE SYRIAN
O LORD and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, faint-heartedness, lust of power, and idle talk (prostration). But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to thy servant (prostration). Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own faults and not to judge my brother, for Thou art blessed from all ages to all ages. Amen (prostration).
Lord have mercy (twelve times). [Then the prayer of St. Ephraim is repeated with only one prostration at the end].
Please note. --This prayer is said daily throughout Holy and Great Lent, and on Wednesday and Friday of the week preceding the Great Fast.
On March 6th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics and Teachers of Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: 42 Holy Martyrs of Amorion in Phrygia; Finding the Precious and Holy Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ by Saint Helen the Empress; St. Hesychios the Miracle-worker.
THE HOLY FORTY-TWO HOLY MARTYRS OF AMORION. These holy Martyrs, men of high rank in the Roman (Byzantine) army, were taken captive when the city of Amorion in Phrygia fell to the Moslem Arabs in 838 A.D., during the reign of Theophilos the Iconoclast. Among them were Aetius and Melissenus, the generals; Theodore, the chief of the imperial ceremonial bodyguard; Craterus, the eunuch; Callistos, Constantine, Bassoes, and Theophilus, who were military officials; and certain others who held important positions. Because of their experience in war and their virtue, the Moslems did not slay them, but tried by all means to convert them to Islam and have them to fight in their own campaigns. They kept the holy Martyrs shut up in a dark dungeon in the city of Samarra in Syria, threatening and abusing them, making promises of glorious rank and magnificent riches, keeping them in hunger, oppression, and darkness, not for a few weeks, or a few months, but for seven full years. Finally, unable to break the courage and faith of their captives, they beheaded them in the year 845 A.D.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Fourth Tone
Thy Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee, received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since they possessed Thy strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Orthros Old Testament: Isaiah 5:7-16
Vespers Old Testament 1: Genesis 4:8-15
Vespers Old Testament 2: Proverbs 5:1-15
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"We, whose bodies have become the temple of God through the Spirit, and in whom the Spirit dwells, must be clean, or at least be in the process of being cleansed, and remain always undefiled, contenting ourselves with permissible pleasures. We must make haste to attain purity and chastity and avoid fornication and every uncleanness, in order to rejoice throughout all ages with the pure Bridegroom in the unsullied bridechambers. By the prayers of the Ever-Virgin, Most pure, All-Glorious Mother who bore Him in virginity for our salvation, now and forever and unto ages of ages. Amen. (Saint Gregory Palamas)
THE PRAYER OF SAINT EPHRAIM THE SYRIAN
by Father Joseph
"Lord and Master of my life, do not give to me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power and idle talk."
Here we recognize that God providentially provides everything. We pray that these temptations and passions are taken from us even as we pray in the Lord's Prayer, "lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one." Sloth is the beginning of a sinful condition. We were created for work and work in cooperation with the Creator. Sloth is a thief, for if we eat from the work of others we steal from them, living as parasites and we do not have a share in the dignity that comes because we are co-workers with our God.
Sloth and laziness are a misuse of the talent entrusted to us. We feel quite naturally within ourselves that we are wrong and this leads to despair. We feel despair because the God-given gifts and energy are wasted and misused. Instead of becoming strong in faith and works of mercy we habituate ourselves to a parasitic way of life, that is, we live by the labors of others. This brings us no peace nor joy and this results in a lust for power thinking that a position of leadership and power will spur us on to a more fulfilling life. With the lust for power comes idle talk. The endless need to talk is really an exercise in falsehood and cover-up whereby we think that if we talk long and loudly enough about our accomplishments or worth that this will convince others (and maybe ourselves). We also will slander our neighbor, thinking that if he looks bad then we will look good by comparison.
"But grant unto your servants the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love."
We pray for the spirit of chastity, sometimes translated as continence or self-control. We are praying for integrity of body and soul. We are praying for wholeness whereby what we say, what we think and believe, what we do and what we feel are united. We pray that this fallen disconnect and division in our personality will be unified under the leadership of a healthy soul. We pray that our bodies and all that we are will be spiritual and that our souls will not become carnal by our disorderly desires.
This prayer leads us to humility because this is a life-long struggle that can be accomplished only with God's help and grace. This contradiction within us is a fierce and stubborn reality that is overcome only by the humbly of heart that makes room for God to act.
"Yea, O my Lord and King, grant that I may see my own transgression and not judge my brother. For you are blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen."
Here we pray for the courage to take responsibility for our failings and not use our brother as an excuse for wrongdoing. We do not justify our sins and we do not put ourselves above our brother. We acknowledge the Lordship and sovereignty of our God Who has created us with a free will and we acknowledge our freedom to choose the good that leads to the Kingdom and glorify eternally the goodness and blessedness of the only true God.
We close assuring you of our prayers for you in the Great Fast. We pray that your fasting, prayer and almsgiving will be as the Publican and not like the Pharisee. We pray that together we might reach the day of the joyful Resurrection of Christ Our God. Amen. Geronda (Elder) Sampson of Russia
"The drunkard, the fornicator, the proud--he will receive God's mercy. But he who does not want to forgive, to excuse, to justify, consciously, intentionally [...] that person closes himself to eternal life before God, and even more so in the present life. He is turned away and not heard." Saint John of Kronstadt
"Often during the day, I have been a great sinner, and at night, after prayer, I have gone to rest, justified and whiter than snow by the grace of the Holy Spirit, with the deepest peace and joy in my heart! How easy it will be for the Lord to save us too in the evening of our life, at the decline of our days! O save, save, save me, most gracious Lord; receive me in Thy heavenly Kingdom! Everything is possible to Thee! O Lord, Who hast mercy upon all, take away from me my sins, and mercifully kindle in me the fire of Thy Holy Spirit. Take away from me the heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh, a heart of love and adore Thee, a heart to delight in Thee, to follow and enjoy Thee, for Christ's sake. Amen. [Saint Ambrose of Milan +339-397 A.D.]
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God