A Prayer

Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic, Serbian bishop who spoke out against Naziism, was arrested, and taken to Dachau.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Enemies have driven me into your embrace more than friends have.

Friends have bound me to earth; enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.

Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world.

Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath Your tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless and do not curse them.

They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world.

They have punished me, whenever I have hesitated to punish myself.

They have tormented me, whenever I have tried to flee torments.

They have scolded me, whenever I have flattered myself.

They have spat upon me, whenever I have filled myself with arrogance.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Whenever I have made myself wise, they have called me foolish.

Whenever I have made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were a [fly].

Whenever I have wanted to lead people, they have shoved me into the background.

Whenever I have rushed to enrich myself, they have prevented me with an iron hand.

Whenever I thought that I would sleep peacefully, they have wakened me from sleep.

Whenever I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life, they have demolished it and driven me out.

Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to the hem of your garment.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Bless them and multiply them; multiply them and make them even more bitterly against me:

So that my fleeing will have no return;

So that all my hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs;

So that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul;

So that my heart may become the grave of my two evil twins: arrogance and anger;

So that I might amass all my treasure in heaven;

Ah, so that I may for once be freed from self-deception, which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life.

Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself.

One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends.

It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil in the world: friends or enemies.

Therefore bless, O Lord, both my friends and my enemies.

A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand. But a son blesses them, for he understands.

For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life. Therefore he freely steps among them and prays to God for them.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.


post-lent blues

March 29, 2008

So I’ve been having a bit of a crisis this week after Easter. 40 days of Lent was a good challenge, and I was able to go without coffee the whole time (except Sundays). It was a good goal to have.

However, after a really wonderful and meaningful Easter, I felt a bit empty afterwards. Then, after a lot of thought and listening to an excellent podcast, I realized the problem. I had focused so much on Lent as an end in itself, and too little on Lent being a way of becoming more disciplined and self-denying throughout the year.

Our life in Christ is one of discipline and self denial, but too often we think once we learn a lesson or reach a certain plateau or mountaintop, that everything’s going to be easy from there. I can’t really believe that anymore. I have to live a daily life of self-denial and constantly put my flesh to death so that I can participate in God’s life, and not act like His enemy. It’s so extremely hard, but at the same time, so totally rewarding that Jesus can honestly tell us that his burden is easy and his yoke is light. My burden this week at times felt so heavy, as if I were carrying it alone. For some reason, I didn’t feel that way during Lent. Maybe it’s because I knew I was denying myself…….

This prayer from the Eastern Church helped me through Lent; it’s by St. Ephrem the Syrian. I think I need to continue to pray it daily, throughout the year:

O Lord and Master of my life, keep from me the spirit of sloth and discouragement, lust of power and idle chatter.

Instead, grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience, and love.

O Lord and King, grant me the grace to be aware of my sins and not to judge my brother; for You are blessed now and ever and forever. Amen.

St. Ephrem

I think it speaks for itself. I need to pray more prayers like this:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that

I think I am following Your will

does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please You
does in fact please You.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that, if I do this, You will lead me by the right road,

though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore I will trust You always

though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and
You will never leave me to face my perils alone.


ladder of divine ascent icon