O Lord and
Master of my Life,
Do not abandon me to a spirit of idleness
and idle talking!
But rather bestow your grace upon me your servant,
the spirit of chastity, humility,
patience and love.
Yes, O Lord and King,
Grant me to see my failings
And not to condemn my brother,
O You who are blessed from ages to ages.
This prayer is attributed to one of the great
masters of the Oriental spiritual tradition: Saint Ephrem the Syrian.
It could be presented as the prayer ‘par excellence” for the Lenten
It is prayed with a prostration (a deep bow or a falling to one's knees)
at the end of each of its three parts.
In its simplicity, it underlines very well the aspects of repentance that
make up the essential points of our conversion during the Lenten Season.
It starts by presenting four negative points that are obstacles to
spirit of idleness
spirit of discouragement
spirit of ambition
The spirit of idleness is the most dangerous for
spiritual life. The evil spirit impedes our desire for good to develop and
bloom. It persuades us, seeing the repetition of our faults, that change
is impossible. This idleness is at the root of all sin since it poisons
spiritual energy at its source.
The result of idleness is discouragement expressed in acedia.
Father Provincial of France in his blog gives a fine explanation of
acedia: "I dont know if you comprehend this sentiment that eats away
at religion and is called acedia by the Greek Fathers? It is a
very devious evil that invades the heart of a monk to the point of his
losing interest in the things of God. Psychoanalysts who explore illnesses
of the soul might call it depression. But acedia is a kind of
distaste, a boredom with the things of God. The monk, the religious, is no
longer attracted to prayer, to a relationship with God in prayer. Ignatius
of Loyola called this "distress"."
When our life is not centered on God, it invariably becomes egotistical
and centered on oneself. Then, the road is wide open for the spirit of
ambition that brings us to look at reality only according to our own ideas,
desires and needs.
By excluding God from the center of our life, we
achieve a truly spiritual murder that ends up in spiritual suicide.
Spiritual suicide consists in this: blocking the word of God that makes us
live. We are left with only our words, empty and useless, which become
nothing more than sterile talking.
These four negative aspects are the obstacles to eliminate; but it is only
by the grace of God that we can accomplish this.
"bestow on me your servant the
After realizing our human helplessness, prayer points out the positive
goals of the road to conversion, also four in number:
Chastity is opposed to the desire for possession in
my heart. It helps me understand my life in its totality. Chastity lets me
recognize that left to myself alone I cannot realize the real desires of
my heart and that everything in my life comes from the gratuitous goodness
The total vision of life, a fruit of the spirit of chastity, brings about
the virtue of humility that lets me see and welcome truth, that is to say,
to remain with open hands before God with the realization that we have
nothing and that all is given to us.
Chastity and humility are followed by patience.
The spirit of ownership pushes us to want everything right away without
ever being satisfied. We constantly live with the anxiety of wanting to
realize our desires without ever finding them fully satisfied. Patience is
the fruit of experiencing that God never deceives us and that true
happiness is found only when we take the time to live our life with a deep
and integral vision.
The road to conversion is fulfilled by the virtue of love that is a gift
of God and the goal of every spiritual effort.
Lenten road finds its summary in the final request inviting us to pray
to the Lord as follows:
me to see my failings and not to condemn my brother."
Pride is the source of evil and all evil stems
The Lenten road leads to the foot of the cross of Christ, where we
recognize our limits, our need to be healed through His mercy and
become in our turn merciful to our brothers.