The Lenten Prayer of St Ephrem the Syrian Part 6
By Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann
Chastity and humility are naturally followed by patience.
The "natural" or "fallen" man is impatient, for being blind to
himself he is quick to judge and to condemn others. Having but a
broken, incomplete, and distorted knowledge of everything, he
measures all things by his tastes and his ideas. Being indifferent
to everyone except himself, he wants life to be successful right here
and now. Patience, however, is truly a divine virtue. God is patient
not because He is "indulgent," but because He sees the depth of all
that exists, because the inner reality of things, which in our
blindness we do not see, is open to Him. The closer we come to God,
the more patient we grow and the more we reflect that infinite
respect for all beings which is the proper quality of God.
Finally, the crown and fruit of all virtues, of all growth and effort,
is love -- that love which, as we have already said, can be given by
God alone-the gift which is the goal of all spiritual preparation and
All this is summarized and brought together in the concluding petition
of the lenten prayer in which we ask "to see my own errors and not to
judge my brother." For ultimately there is but one danger: pride.
Pride is the source of evil, and all evil is pride. Yet it is not
enough for me to see my own errors, for even this apparent virtue can
be turned into pride.
Spiritual writings are full of warnings against the subtle forms of
pseudo-piety which, in reality, under the cover of humility and self
-accusation can lead to a truly demonic pride. But when we "see our
own errors" and "do not judge our brothers," when, in other terms,
chastity, humility, patience, and love are but one in us, then and
only then the ultimate enemy--pride--will be destroyed in us.
Contd... Part 7