Wednesday, January 27, 2010

For Prayers Such As This

As the disciples asked Our Lord, “teach us to pray,” so we ask as well. As I have learned from the Desert Fathers and Mothers, simple prayer is often best—done anytime and anywhere, as well as by the devotion of the Rosary (I'm a neophyte admittedly!) and by reading the Liturgy of the Hours. But at other times, while doing spiritual reading for example, I have found prayers such as the one I found today in the Treasury of the Catholic Church.

The prayer below is attributed to St. Ephrem the Syrian, whose feast day is celebrated tomorrow by our Orthodox brethren and on June 9 by the Catholic Church. I wrote once on the pleasure of discovery in our faith. Finding prayers such as these, and sharing them with you, is a pleasure too. Find a quiet place and meditate on the pictures these words paint.

O Judge, whose judgment is righteous, and to Whom is known all that is concealed: condemn me not at Thy righteous judgment, when all secrets will be exposed!

With the tears that she brought to Thee, the harlot destroyed the record of her transgressions. Behold, I too bring Thee a gift of tears. Accept them from me, O Lord, as Thou didst accept them from her.

The evil one has deceived me with his caresses and has taken my mind captive with his seductions. Drive him away from me, who am miserable, O our Lord; snatch me from his hands, that he might not tear me to shreds.

Judge me, O Lord, and settle my dispute with the merciless enemy. He has made me a target for his arrows. According to Thy compassion, may those arrows gore him instead.

Be my helper, O Lord, for I am miserable and have no other helper. And do not let the enemy see me vanquished and mock me, as he mocked our foremother.

Woe is me if all my secrets are revealed and subjected to scrutiny then, when no justification will be considered. My spirit shudders, O Lord, for I hear that fire will consume the lawless, and I am straw and hay. And if Thou O Lord wilt regard my sins, I shall perish.

May Thy goodness, O Lord, that once lifted Thee onto the Cross for the redemption of our race, forestall me who am miserable, that I might be vouchsafed forgiveness of my sins.

Thou, O Jesus, hast redeemed all with Thy blood; and by Thy death hast Thou bound the powerful adversary. Release me from the fetters of the evil one; break his shackles and bonds.

Rebuke him so that he will withdraw from me, who am miserable, that his will might not be realized in me. Bring my will into accord with Thine, O Lord, Who blottest out my sins by Thy loving-kindness.

Do not leave me in the hands of the malefactor, and give him authority over me; for Thou hast prepared Thy flesh and blood as food for me, and Thy Cross in imprinted on my brow.

Strengthen me, O Lord, for I am infirm. Blot out my transgressions, for greatly have I sinned. Make chaste my senses, that they might submissively and unwaveringly follow Thy royal path.

May Thy light shine in my thoughts; may they be illumined by Thy rays, and may Thy magnificent radiance gladden them, for Thou art the sun that irradiates all.

Cleanse our stains with Thy hyssop, wash our sores with Thy blood, and sanctify the secret workings of our thought with Thy body.

Praise be to Thee, Who hast redeemed the human race which had perished, lifted it upon Thy shoulders and carried it into the house of Thy Father.