Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday (2) Prayer of St. Ephriam

In the Western Christian calendar, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and occurs forty days before Easter (excluding Sundays). It falls on a different date each year, because it is dependent on the date of Easter; it can occur as early as February 4 or as late as March 10.

On this day ashes are placed on the foreheads of the faithful to remind them of Christ's sacrafice, of the sorrow they should feel for their sins, and of the necessity of changing their lives. The practice, which dates from the early Middle Ages, is common among Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Episcopalians, and many Lutherans; it was also adopted by some Methodists and Presbyterians in the 1990s.

St. Ephraim the Syrian (AD 305-373)

O Lord and Master of my life,

give me not the spirit of laziness,despair,

lust of power, and idle talk. (prostration)

But give rather the spirit of sobriety,humility,

patience and love to Thy servant. (prostration)

Yea, O Lord and King,

grant me to see my own transgressionsand

not to judge my brother,

for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages.

Amen (prostration)

Scriptures for reflection for ash wednesday this year
Joel 2:1-2,12-17

Isaiah 58:1-122

2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10

Matthew 6:1-6,16-21

Psalm 103 or 103:8-14

see Living water ancient well ash wednesday (1)


Dan said...

I love Ephraim the Syrian. I highly recommend "The Spiritual Psalter" which is a small book containing excerpts from his writings. I hope that this saint becomes better known among Christians in the West.

Brad Culver said...

Thanx Dan appreciate your response.. i'll have to track down "the spiritual Psalter". I plan on doing a thumb nail sketck of his life down the road.. bless ya.. thanx again.

Dan said...

I found a couple of excerpts from "A Spiritual Psalter" on the net. I am posting them here, along with a link to a bookstore where the book is available. I try to share this book with those who I think may find in it a treasure.

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.

From A Spiritual Psalter by our Holy Father St Ephraim of Edessa, the Syrian; excerpted and arranged by Bishop Theophan the Recluse according to the manner of the psalter of the Old Testament.

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


I Can Control Neither Myself nor the Enemy. Help Me, O Lord!

No one can heal my disease except He Who knows the depths of the heart.

How many times have I set boundaries for myself and built walls between myself and sin! But my thoughts transgressed the boundaries and my will tore down the walls, for the boundaries were not secured by fear of God, and the walls were not founded on sincere repentance.

And again I knock at the door, that it may open for me. I do not cease to ask that I may receive what I request; and I know no shame in seeking Thy mercy, O Lord.

O Lord, my Savior! Why hast Thou forsaken me? Have mercy on me, O only Lover of mankind. Save me, a sinner, Thou only Sinless One.

Wrench me from the mire of my iniquities, that I may not be forever sullied by them. Deliver me from the jaws of the enemy, who roars as a lion and desires to swallow me up.

Rouse Thy strength and come, that Thou mightest save me. Beam thy lightning and disperse his power, that he may be struck with fear and flee from Thy face, for he has not the strength to stand before Thee. As soon as he perceives a sign of Thy grace, he is taken with fear of thee and withdraws from such with shame.

And now, O Master, save me, for I flee to Thee!

Sorry for the long post...


Brad Culver said...

No prob.. this is great.. bless ya Dan