SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH

PRAYER

The Prayer of St. Ephraim

 

“O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, 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 transgressions and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages.” (Prostration)

 

Of all the hymns and prayers during Great Lent, there is one short prayer that stands out. Tradition says it was written by a great teacher of spiritual life, St. Ephraim the Syrian. In this prayer we find a kind of “check list” for our Lenten efforts. The prayer reminds us of the negative things we want to rid ourselves of, and points out the positive things we want to embrace. St. Ephraim expressed his love of God as a teacher and poet.

 

The following verses are also attributed to St. Ephraim the Syrian.

 

“The time of my life has been squandered in cares and shameful thoughts. Grant me, O Lord, a cure, that I might be completely healed of my hidden sores. Strengthen me, that I might labor diligently in Thy vineyard, if even only for one hour. For my life in its vanity has already reached its eleventh hour.”

 

“Grant, O Lord, repentance and endurance to the end.”

 

“Blessed is he who always retains in himself remembrance of God, for such a person on earth is like a heavenly angel, constantly celebrating the Lord with fear and love.”

 

“All my hope is in God’s mercy.” “O Lord and Master! O God of heaven and earth! Show Thy favor and open to me the door of repentance, I pray Thee with mine afflicted soul.”

 

From: A Spiritual Psalter or Reflections on God

 

 

When His Grace, Bishop Michael celebrated Divine Liturgy at St. John’s on November 2, 2014, His Grace presented and consecrated a new Antimension, which is a rectangular cloth, usually of either linen or silk, that is decorated with representation of the entombment of Christ and has a small relic of a martyr sewn into it.  Antimension is the most important part of the Altar Table because the Divine Liturgy and other Holy Mysteries cannot be served without it.  The new Antimension in our church now has a relic of the holy New Martyr Ignatius (Bazyluk) of Jableczna in Poland and every Divine Liturgy in our church will now be served on his relics. 

The holy New Martyr Ignatius (Bazyluk) of Jableczna was born in Poland sometime in the 1860’s and received the name Jacob at his Baptism.  Very little is known of his early life or where he was born, but in the period between the First and the Second World Wars he was a monk at St. Onuphrios Monastery in Jableczna.  At his tonsure he received the monastic name Ignatius. 

 

 Father Ignatius was one of the oldest monks in the monastery, and he fulfilled the obedience of ringing the bells for church services.

 

 In September of 1939 the monastery buildings were occupied by German soldiers, and they confiscated the monastery’s food supplies and livestock.  In spite of this, the monks did not close the monastery, but wrote a letter of protest to the commander of the occupying army.  This had no affect whatsoever upon the Germans.

 

On the night of August 9-10, 1942, the guards set fire to the monastery, destroying the inner section.  The monks fled from the buildings and gathered in the courtyard.  The Germans would not allow the fire to be put out, and they threatened to shoot the monks.

 

 A few of the monks were able to escape, but St. Ignatius ran to the bell tower and began ringing the bell to warn the residents in the area about the danger.  He was attacked and beaten to death by some of the soldiers.

 

 Residents of Jableczna arrived at the monastery to help, and they were also detained.  The Germans forced the monks to dig graves, and then they shot everyone in the courtyard.  There were no survivors.  St. Ignatius was buried in the monastery cemetery, but his holy relics were later transferred to the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

 

 Saint Ignatius is regarded as one of the martyrs of Chelm and Podlasie.  He is commemorated on August 9, the date of his martyrdom, and on March 20, the date of his glorification by the Orthodox Church of Poland in 2003.  Through the prayers of the holy New Martyr Ignatius may our Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on us all.

 


 

Prayer for peace  :

 

We pray for Your peace and Your mercy in the midst of great suffering that people are now inflicting on each other.  Accept the prayers of Your church, so that by Your goodness peace may return to all peoples.  Lord our God, remember and have mercy on our brothers and sisters who are involved in every civil conflict.  Remove from their midst all hostility, confusion and hatred.  Lead everyone along the path of reconciliation and peace, we pray You, hear us and have mercy on us.  By the strength of Your mighty arm save Your people and Your Holy Church from all evil oppression; hear the supplications of all who call to You in sorrow and affliction.

 

Oh Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance, grant victory to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries and by virtue of Thy Cross preserve Thine habitation.

 

 

Without Prayer, there is no Spiritual Life!
 

Prayer is always possible for everyone, rich and poor, noble and simple, strong and weak, healthy and suffering, righteous and sinful. The power of prayer is great. Above all, it brings the spirit of God. –St. Seraphim

 

 

A Prayer of Repentance

 

O Lord our God, good and merciful, I acknowledge all my sins which I have committed every day of my life, in thought, word and deed;  in body and soul alike.  I am heartily sorry that I have ever offended Thee,  And I sincerely repent; with tears I humbly pray Thee,  O Lord; of Thy mercy forgive me all my past  Transgressions and absolve me from them.  I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy Grace, to  Amend my way of life and to sin no more;  That I may walk in the way of the righteous and offer  Praise and glory to the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 


 

Prayer is a living reality, a personal encounter with the living God.  The Jesus Prayer is one way for attaining inner prayer.  The Jesus Prayer is usually said as follows:  LORD JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD, HAVE MERCY UPON ME.  The words ‘a sinner’ may be added at the end, or the prayer may be said in the plural, ‘have mercy upon us’; and there are other variations.  What is essential and constant throughout all the forms is the invocation of the Divine Name.  Think only of Jesus and say His Name slowly, softly and quietly.            

 

Being so very short and simple, the Jesus Prayer can be recited at any time and in any place.   It is a prayer that fits every stage in the spiritual life, from the most elementary to the most advanced.  So let us pray:                                           

 

LORD JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD, HAVE MERCY UPON ME.


 


St. Dimitri of Rostov (17th century) states that “Prayer is turning the mind and thoughts towards God.  To pray means to stand before God with the mind, mentally to gaze unswervingly at Him and to converse with Him in reverent fear and hope.”  Theophan the Recluse (1815-1894) continues with:  “The principal thing is to stand with the mind in the heart before God.  This state of standing before God may be accompanied by words, or it may be ‘soundless.’  Sometimes we speak to God, sometimes we simply remain in His presence, saying nothing, but conscious that He Is near us.

 

The Homilies of St. Makarios develop the idea of the heart.  He states that “the heart governs and reigns over the whole body, and when grace possesses the ranges of the heart, it rules over all the members and the thoughts.  For there, in the heart, is the mind, and all the thoughts of the soul and its expectation; and in this way grace penetrates to all the members of the body…..Within the heart are unfathomable depths.

 



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