Dear Parish Faithful,
GREAT LENT - The Thirtieth Day
I received some material from St. Vladimir's Seminary yesterday, and included in the packet was the following "Prayer for Virtue" that I am sharing with everyone in the parish. I an not able to determine the source of this prayer, but as the "acquisition of virtue" - a pursuit so dear to the great Church Fathers and other saints of the Church - is so pronounced in our spiritual tradition, I found this prayer a good one to add to my own Prayer Rule, and perhaps others will agree.
Often in the prescribed prayers of the Church, or one written by a saint or pious soul, we are referred to as "unprofitable servants," or something like that. This is never meant to be interpreted as our being depraved or horrible sinners; but rather as an honest acknowledgment - even a confession - that we have not used our God-given gifts in a way that increases the "talent" given to us by the Lord. Such an acknowledgement is a way of teaching us humility, and not to make us feel "worthless" in the eyes of God. We are always meant to be lifted up by God's grace, and never torn down by God's wrath. That is the "Orthodox way."
Have mercy, O Lord, have mercy! For I, your ungrateful, proud, and unprofitable servant have wasted the multitude of gifts you have entrusted to me.
Turn not away from me but open the doors of my darkened heart that the Light of Your Eternal Word may enter it. Shine Your enlightenment upon me. Burn up my sins with the fire of Your Spirit.
O Lord, take me away from myself that I may belong to You. Touch my eyes that I might see You in the face of every stranger. May I, like Abraham, serve strangers and thus receive not only angels but You, the holy, good, life-creating Trinity.
Make me zealous in the pursuit of virtue. Above all, be my guide in offering holy and pure hospitality. Set my feet to run and find the stranger, giving before I am asked with words of gentle assurance. Keep me in readiness to do good to those who can neither repay nor thank me. In their outstretched hands, may I find healing for my wounds and the cure of my soul.
Grant me faithful piety, steadfast love, and progress in the life of Your holy Church, that I too may enter Paradise and glorify Your Name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and forever.