Let us not despair of ourselves

"Praying in Church", by Theodoros Rallis (1876)

"Praying in Church", by Theodoros Rallis (1876)

Today is the feast of St Cyril, Patriarch of Jerusalem (315-386).

A good and kindly man, for many years he suffered from constant harassment from the Emperors.

His “Catechetical Lectures” are a treasure-house of simple wisdom and encouragement.

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Despair is something the Elders earnestly warn us against.

An authentic compunction given into the heart by God will always be mixed with hope and joy. Anything else must be rebuffed as a trick of the enemy. St Cyril wrote:

GOD is loving to man, and loving in no small measure.

For say not, I have committed fornication and adultery:  I have done dreadful things, and not once only, but often:  will He forgive?  Will He grant pardon?

Hear what the Psalmist says:  How great is the multitude of Thy goodness, O Lord (Ps 31:20)!  Thine accumulated offences surpass not the multitude of God’s mercies:  thy wounds surpass not the great Physician’s skill.

Only give thyself up in faith:  tell the Physician thine ailment:  say thou also, like David:  I said, I will confess me my sin unto the Lord: and the same shall be done in thy case, which he says forthwith:  And thou forgavest the wickedness of my heart (Ps 32:5).

Catechetical Lectures, II. Translation from CCEL.

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WHO is storm-tossed and takes refuge in this harbour and is not saved? Or who is in pain and hastens to this place of healing and is not cured? Creator of all things and Physician of the sick, O Lord, before I am finally destroyed, save me.

Vespers, Sunday Evening. Translation from Anastasis.

HASTEN to open to me your fatherly embrace; like the Prodigal I have squandered my whole life, turning from your pity, O Saviour, to a wealth I cannot spend; do not now despise my beggared heart; for to you, Lord, with compunction I cry, ‘I have sinned against you, save me!

Tuesday Matins. Translation from Anastasis (slightly modified, see Analogion).

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