Contemplation on the 1st hour of Great Friday (1)

Why didn't He defend Himself? Why was He silent?

The Lord became the defender of truth, and came in silence before Pilate, on behalf of truth which had been oppressed (John 18:37-38). Others gain victory through making defenses, but our Lord gained victory through His silence, because the recompense of His death through divine silence was the victory of true teaching. He spoke inorder to teach, but kept silent in the tribunal. He was not silent over that which was exalting us, but He did not stuggle against those who were provoking Him. The worlds of His accusers, like a crown on His head, were a source of redemption. He kept silent so that His silence would make them shout even louder, and so that His crown would be made more beautiful through all his clamor.

Nativity of Christ

He became a servant on earth; He was Lord on high. Inheritor of the height and depth, Who became a stranger. But the One Who was judged wrongly will judge in truth, and He in Whose face they spat, breathed the spirit into the face. He Who held a weak reed was the scepter for the world that grows old and leans on Him. He Who stood [and] served His servants, sitting, will be worshipped. He Whom the Scribes scorned — the Seraphim sang “holy” before Him.

“How Many Times Have I Promised, Yet everytime I failed to keep My word….”

Grant forgiveness, O Lord, send also strength. Convert me, that I might live in sanctity, according to Thy holy will. Sanctify my heart that has become a den and dwelling-place of demons.

I am unworthy to ask forgiveness for myself, O Lord, for many times have I promised to repent and proved myself a liar by not fulfilling my promise. Thou hast picked me up many times already, but every time I freely chose to fall again.

Therefore I condemn myself and admit that I deserve all manner of punishment and torture. How many times hast Thou enlightened my darkened mind; yet every time I return again to base thoughts! My whole body trembles when I contemplate this; yet every time sinful sensuality reconquers me.

How shall I recount all the gifts of Thy grace, O Lord, that I the pitiful one have received? Yet I have reduced them all to nothing by my apathy — and I continue on in this manner. Thou has bestowed upon me thousands of gifts, yet miserable me, I offer in return things repulsive to Thee.

Yet Thou, O Lord, inasmuch as Thou containest a sea of longsuffering and an abyss of kindness, do not allow me to be felled as a fruitless fig tree; and do not let me be burned without having ripened on the field of life. Snatch me not away unprepared; seize not me who have not yet lit my lamp; take not away me who have no wedding garment; but, because Thou art good and the lover of mankind, have mercy on me. Give me time to repent, and place not my soul stripped naked before Thy terrible and unwavering throne as a pitiful spectacle of infamy.

If a righteous man can barely be saved, then where will I end up, I who am lawless and sinful? If the path that leads to life is strait and narrow, then how can I be vouchsafed such good things, I who live a life of luxury, indulging in my own pleasures and dissipation? But Thou, O Lord, my Saviour, Son of the true God, as Thou knowest and desirest it, by Thy grace alone, freely turn me away from the sin that abides in me and save me from ruin.

The text presented here is of the 120th 'Psalm' in St Ephraim's Spiritual Psalter. 

Great Lenten Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian

O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despondency, lust for power and idle talk. Prostration

But grant unto me, Thy servant, a spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love. Prostration

Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see mine own faults and not to judge my brothers and sisters. For blessed art Thou unto ages of ages. Amen. Prostration

O God, cleanse Thou me a sinner 12 times with Prostrations

Contemplation on the 6th hour of the Eve of Great Friday (2)

"His sweat became like great drops of blood…" (Luke 22:44) 

He sweated to heal Adam who was sick. "It is by sweat of your brow," God said, "that you will eat your bread." (Gen 3:19) He remained in prayer in this garden to bring Adam back to his own garden again.

When to Pray?

It is good…to pray always and not to lose heart, as the Lord says, And again the Apostle says, ‘Pray without ceasing’, (Lord Jesus Christ Have Mercy On Me) that is by night and by day and at every hour, and not only when coming into the church, and not bothering at other times. But whether you are working, lying down to sleep, traveling, eating, drinking, sitting at table, do not interrupt your prayer, for you do not know when he who demands your soul is coming (death approaching…). Don’t wait for Sunday or a feast day, or a different place, but, as the Prophet David says, ‘in every place of his dominion’.

Whether you are in church, or in your house, or in the country; whether you are guarding sheep, or constructing buildings, or present at drinking parties, do not stop praying. When you are able, bend your knees, when you cannot, make intercession in your mind, ‘at evening and at morning and at midday’. If prayer precedes your work and if, when you rise from your bed, your first movements are accompanied by prayer, sin can find no entrance to attack your soul.