A Light, a strange, secret Presence that draws us to itself

O GLADSOME Light of the holy glory
Of the immortal, heavenly, holy, blessed Father – O Jesus Christ.
Now we have come to the setting of the sun, and behold the
evening light,
We sing praise to God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
It is right at all times to worship Thee with voices of praise,
O Son of God and Giver of Life; therefore all the world glorifies Thee.

(At Vespers daily)

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THIS then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

1 John 1:5-10

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Elder Sophrony Sakharov (1896-1993)

Elder Sophrony Sakharov (1896-1993)

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SIN is not the infringement of the ethical standards of human society or of any legal injunction.

Sin cuts us off from the God of Love made manifest to us as Light in Whom there is no darkness at all (cf. I John 1.5).

To behold one’s pitiful reality is a heavenly gift, one of the greatest.

It means that we have already to a certain extent penetrated into the divine sphere, and have begun to contemplate – existentially, not philosophically – man as he is in God’s idea of him before the creation of the world.

The horror of seeing oneself as one is acts as a consuming fire. The more thoroughly the fire performs its purifying work, the more agonising our spiritual pain.

Yet, inexplicably, the unseen Light gives us a sense of divine presence within us: a strange secret presence that draws us to itself, to a state of contemplation which we know is genuine because our heart begins to throb day and night with prayer.

Archimandrite Sophrony Sakharov, in “His Life Is Mine”, pp. 41-42.

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IF thou shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, Lord who shall stand? For with thee is reconciliation.

GRANT unto me a thought of repentance, grant also a longing for compunction in my lowly soul. Wake me from the slumber of horrid blindness, and drive away the darkness of sloth, and scatter the darkening of despair, so that this poor wretch may lift his head, and I might cleave unto thee, O Word, and walk in the paths of thy will.

FOR thy name’s sake I waited patiently for thee, O Lord, my soul waited patiently for thy word, my soul hoped in the Lord.

O CHRIST, who alone art ready for peace, O forbearing Word, who alone dost surpass what is good, I fall down before thee, O thou of tender pity, I beseech thee warmly, I am crying out to thee, begging: I have full sinned, save, save me the prodigal in thy tender pity, that I might cry out to thee with thanks. O Lord, grant me pardon, and I shall walk in the paths of thy gentle heart.

FROM the morning watch until the night, from the morning watch let Israel hope in the Lord.

ALL that I have sinned against thee, in words and in deeds, my God, and in my conceits, I lay it all before thee, I tell it unto thee now: for I have busied myself this day, and all its hours, but I have come to the nightfall full of wickeness: whence I fall down before thee, crying out: O my Master, Master and Saviour, I have sinned, pardon and save me.

At Vespers for Mondays, Tone 2 (this week’s tone). My amateur translation from Analogion.

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A monk prays before the icon of the Panagia Portaitissa in the Iveron Monastery, Mount Athos

“The unseen Light gives us a sense of divine presence within us: a strange secret presence that draws us to itself, to a state of contemplation which we know is genuine because our heart begins to throb day and night with prayer.” A monk prays towards the sanctuary and before the icon of the Panagia Portaitissa (“Keeper of the Gate”) in the Iveron Monastery, Mount Athos.

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Theotokion

WIPE away the vileness of my wretched heart, O Theotokos of whom all sing hymns, and throughly cleanse its every hurt and wound dealt by sin, O Pure Lady. Give rest unto whatsoever is restless in the eye of my heart [nous], so that being saved, though but an unprofitable servant of the Household, I might magnify thy queenly power and thy great succour.

Cross-Theotokion

THE sun beheld thee, O thou that lovest mankind, and the moon also, as thou didst hang upon the tree, and hid her rays, O my Christ the Sun of Righteousness; and the foundations of the earth were thoroughly shaken by fear of thy might; but thy Mother, wounded in her tender heart, cried out to thee, “O Jesu, who dost surpass what is good, glory be to thy tender-hearted pity”.

At Vespers on October 24 (today), the Feast of the Holy Great Martyr Arethas. My amateur translation from Analogion.

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