Elder Thaddeus, a Saying…

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A Prayer of Fr. Sabbas, the Athonite

A Prayer of Fr. Sabbas, the Athonite

O Greatly-merciful Master, Lord Jesus Christ,
the Physician of our souls and bodies,
come and heal me, Your worthless servant.
I have distanced myself from You,
I have wounded Your Goodness and Love.
I have sinned against Heaven and before You.
I have worked all iniquity.
I am utterly bed-bound, barren of every virtue
and bodily or spiritual healthy.
My body is sickened.
My soul is afflicted.
My spirit is weakened.
My will has been overrun.
Everything within me is drowned and suffers.
I have descended to “the lowest Hades”.
Deliver me, O Lord, from the spiritual choking
and the mourning in the depth of my heart,
and the depression which rightly tortures me.
I have worked all sins.
These war against me.
These have placed upon me this unbearable torture.
Have mercy on me, O Lord.
I, alone, am responsible for this desertment
and destruction of my soul and body.
Egotism has ruled over me.
Negligence has enslaved me.
Laziness has deadened me.
Forgive me, O Lord, and heal my wretched soul.
Drive far from me the evil spirit which works within me
and which brings to me this unbearable choking of soul and body.
Drive far from me the weight of depression from my heart.
Free my soul and body from every negligence,
laziness, high-mindedness, bloating,
depression, faithlessness, indifference,
unconsciousness, despair and deadening.
I, myself, have brought all these things upon my soul.
Forgive, O Lord, the multitude of my sins.
Heal me from the multitudes of my passions.
Grant, O Lord, that I might not suffer anymore
on behalf of the passions which rule my wretched soul.
Take up the heavy burden of my sin.
Drive away from me every enemy and battle.
Grant peace, O Lord to my life and my soul.
Cleanse me from every corruption of flesh and spirit,
that I might be able to flee from the evil spirits
which worked this darkness and cloudiness within me,
along with desperation and hell.
Lift me up from my bed of pain, and pallet of evil.
The depression and the fear
and the slavery of my thoughts,
drive away from me.
Lord, let Your will be done as You desire.
With Your Graciousness and Goodness,
trample down my enemies and the old man,
together with its passions and desires.
Lord, let Your will be done within me,
that I might rejoice and exalt, without sorrow,
and with joy follow You and glorify You,
hymning and blessing You unto all the ages.
Visit and strengthen me through Your Providential Power,
that I might glorify and chant unto You, the Compassionate Lord,
together with the Father and the Spirit unto the ages.
You, my Comforting [Jesus],
together with the Great and Surpassingly-Compassionate Father
and the All-Comforting Spirit,
come and find me, among all the trials all the days of my life.
Have mercy on me, O Lord,
and forgive my saddened and distressed soul and body.
You are the Joy and the Light,
the Resurrection and the Life,
the Spring and our Joyous Pascha.
For You told us: “Him who comes to me, I will by no means cast out”.
You are He Who descended to the “storehouses of Hades”,
to seek the lost sheep, that is me.
Have mercy on me, through the intercessions of Your All-spotless Mother,
the All Surpassing Joy of All,
through the power of Your Precious and Life-giving Cross, the Tree of Life,
through the intercessions of the Precious Heavenly Bodiless Powers,
through the intercessions of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel,
through the intercessions of Your Holy glorious and all-praised Apostles,
the Holy glorious and victorious Martyrs,
our Venerable and God-bearing Fathers,
and all Your Saints.
Amen.

Filling the Empty Space With Distraction

Life in the modern age is one that is full of activity. It seems that every moment of our waking lives can be accounted for in some manner of work, chore, or distraction. Every space in time is occupied by something, with little to no room for pause. We can duly expect our work and / or school weeks to be packed with laden schedules- but how many of us start our week on Monday wishing we had a weekend to recover from the weekend? We are constantly on the go, even when we should otherwise be at rest. Accustomed to such busy-ness, it is small wonder that so many of us tend to be ill at ease, restless, or bored when some bit of down-time does in fact manage to crowbar its way into our agendas. There’s a creeping sense of emptiness that brings about a state of mental discomfort, one that presents a need to be filled. And with what do we fill that emptiness? Distraction.

Distraction becomes a balm on the mind to soothe a restless soul- it fills the cracks, the gaps, the emptiness….it gives us a temporary (and artificial) sense of wholeness, whether or not we are actually aware of it doing so on a conscious level. If we are constantly seeking to fill the empty moments with some manner of activity or distraction, we are playing into the hands of the enemy of our souls. This may seem to be a bit of an extreme claim, but it is true nonetheless. In filling every possible moment, we aren’t so much driving away a mundane sense of boredom or restlessness, but are in effect dulling our inherent sense of need and hunger for God and His mercy.  The enemy of our souls uses such situations to entangle us in the worldly, and to intoxicate us with the material so that we don’t actively seek the spiritual. We become so overindulged with distraction that our spiritual hunger and longing is artificially alleviated, and so we no longer seek true sustenance in God, in His Word, or in His Church… it’s analogous to filling up on junk food right before a proper meal (and so, no longer wanting or needing to eat that meal). But it doesn’t truly satisfy our need and so we are soon hungry again…we indulge in more junk or another distraction, instead of fulfilling that need with what will truly satiate it.

In our fallen existence, God allows for emptiness and longing- not so that we can be made to suffer or feel some manner of being punished or mentally / spiritually tortured, but so that we would realize our need for His presence and grace in our lives. God didn’t create us to be puppets, nor does He compel us against our will. Rather, He desires that we seek Him with our hearts and minds, fully and completely. Our longing for God draws us closer to Him. The emptiness we feel makes us aware of our connection to Him and our need draws us closer to Him (and so, we can be filled with His love and grace). Does this mean that we should exclude hobbies or exploring interests from our lives? No. Rather, we need simply to slow down a little (or in many cases, a lot), open up our daily agendas a bit, and allow for quiet, empty moments. These breaks allow us a bit of pause and reflection, and provide some “space” for us to not only feel our longing, but to truly understand that longing for what it is and so seek the right and true sustenance for it: God and His mercy.