The Lenten Prayer of St Ephrem the Syrian Part 5
- The Lenten Prayer of St Ephrem the Syrian Part 5
By Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann
These four are thus the negative "objects" of repentance. They are the obstacles to be removed. But God alone can remove them. Hence, the first part of the lenten prayer; this cry from the bottom of human helplessness. Then the prayer moves to the positive aims of repentance which also are four.
Chastity! If one does not reduce this term, as is so often anderroneously done, only to its sexual connotations, it is understoodas the positive counterpart of sloth. The exact and full translationof the Greek sofrosini and the Russian tselomudryie ought to be whole -mindedness. Sloth is, first of all, dissipation, the brokenness of our vision and energy, the inability to see the whole. Its opposite then is precisely wholeness. If we usually mean by chastity the virtue opposed to sexual depravity, it is because the broken character of our existence is nowhere better manifested than in sexual lust � the alienation of the body from the life and control of the spirit. Christ restores wholeness in us and He does so by restoring in us the true scale of values by leading us back to God.
The first and wonderful fruit of this wholeness or chastity ishumility. We already spoke of it. It is above everything else thevictory of truth in us, the elimination of all lies in which weusually live. Humility alone is capable of truth, of seeing andaccepting things as they are and therefore of seeing God's majesty and goodness and love in everything. This is why we are told that God gives grace to the humble and resists the proud.
contd... Part 6