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Fr. Kyrillos’ Comments and Confessions

(February 2003)

 

Πιστέυω εις ένα Θεόν. Πατέρα, ... Καί εις ‘ενα Κυριον Ιησούν Χριστόν...Θεόν..., εκ Θεού..., Καί εις τό Πνεύμα τό άγιον...

 

I believe in one God, the Father. …And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, … true God from true God… And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father, Who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified…

 

 

These holy words remind us of The Symbol of our Faith. We all should know this by heart, since, together with the ‘Our Father’-‘Πάτερ ημώνare essential for achieving the eternal Salvation granted to us by God through Jesus Christ. The Symbol is knowledge about the Salvation and the ‘Our Father’ is the means of pleading and requesting for it, even when we fail in our faith. We lift our mind and heart to God inspired or guided by the knowledge we have of God. And we know God through the life and words of Jesus.

 

Sometimes we are moved emotionally by the sufferings of the Lord Jesus as man and we think that with this appreciation we correspond graciously to Him. However we forget, or we do not realize, that the most important mission of the Lord to the world was his teaching. That is the knowledge or news that He gave us about our Creator: Who is, What is and How is. Not an easy matter for His creatures.

 

Therefore, with the knowledge that our Creator is also our Father, that the Son of God is also man and that the Holy Spirit of God is our Helper and Comforter, it should make us humbly confident to lift up our minds and hearts to plead for our salvation and for that of the created world. We do this through words, thoughts and, more secretly still, through desires.

 

However, each one of us knows, also, how limited we are in encompassing our prayer. Sometimes, because the vision of our heart holds every thing, event, and the history and the future too in front of us, and we, full of love for it all, present it before our God, asking that all will be different. Other times our vision is reduced to our earthly and temporal needs, like our shortage of money, our difficulties with our husband, wife, children, our health, our success or failure in prosperity, etc., etc. Is that how we shall lift our mind and heart to God? So, we have a problem, we do not know how to pray.

 

Mind you, this is not new, it is a very old problem: how to pray was also a problem for the disciples of the Lord Jesus. Thus put the Lord the art of prayer:

 

“…when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is the secret (place-τώ κρυπτώ) and your Father who sees in secret (τώ κρυπτώ) will reward you openly.

 

And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions… your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.

 

In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father who art in the Heavens, hallowed be Thy Name.

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Mt. 6:6-13.)

 

You and I, finding ourselves two thousands years away from the moment that that teaching was taught, have it transmitted to us by the Holy Mother the Church. In my article of December 2002 I began to show the way the Church teaches us how to beg to be in the presence of God. Even a Service is interrupted to bring us back into His presence and, indeed, towards its end also:

 

We begin blessing and giving glory to our God. We call the assistance of the Holy Spirit of God with “O Heavenly King…” Then we enter in that repetition about the grandiosity of God: “Holy God, Holy Strong, Holy Immortal,” but also mixed with our nothingness and sinfulness, “have mercy on us-Κύριε ελέησον.

 

This remind us also of the great Mystery of the Divine Liturgy when we sing the words from the Prophet Isaiah (6:3-7). The first letter of Clement (from the end of I c. A.D., or very early II c.) says that we should assemble together with this prayer “in concord, with full consciousness of our duty” (paragraph 34). That is with all due care and attention of our mind in our heart. Then we continue,

 

All-holy Trinity, have mercy on us,

Lord, cleanse us from our sins.

Master, pardon our iniquities.

Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities for your name’s sake…

 

And so on. As I wrote in December “slowly and surely we enter into the presence of God, our Creator and Father, our Redeemer, our Judge, our Brother and Saviour, our Helper, Counsellor, Comforter and King.”

 

I would have liked that the reader of this article would do so in conjunction with the one published in the Newsletter of December, both are complementary to each other, since in them we comment on those introductory prayers to any one of our Services. They should be used also in any private and personal prayer. I like to insist in the methodical effect they have to put us in the great presence of God, the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

 

The Bishops, Priests and Teachers of our Christian Faith have not only the duty to teach these prayers but, also, the duty to guide our people in how to pray them with due care and attention. I have to confess that it is a very sad fact that our Psalters-and our selves, the priests and deacons, also-run over them with such emptiness of heart and attention that it would be better if they omitted them all together. At least, then, we would not give to our Holy God that offence. I have no doubt that our Judge, Jesus Christ, in the Day of Judgement, shall demand of the Bishops and us, the Priests, not only how we have prayed them but also how we have allowed our Christians to mispray them, through rushing them and having given them little attentive devotion. They should be said by all the people together with one voice and not by a lone voice.

 

Next month we shall begin, again, Great Lent. We should prepare diligently during February. Let us examine our lives to change them to conform to the teaching of the Lord. Let us visit our spiritual father make confession of our sins and listen his guidance to improve our life of prayer, our kindness to others and let us become stricter in our repentance, changing our carnal thoughts and feelings into spiritual ones.

 

I’ll see you next month… God willing!

 

© Fr. Kyrillos Leret-Aldir.

 

 

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