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A Morning Prayer In Old Age

I find elements of this prayer morally and theologically and intellectually offensive.  Nonetheless it speaks for me. to my heart, in a powerful way.  My "sin" is knowing what to do and not doing it, just as Ephream saw the spiritual lives of the desert Fatjers  -- Especially St. Mary the Harlot and her uncle Abraham -- as something that he could emulate, but did not.  The prayer is recorded at the conclusion  of Ephream's "The Life of St. Mary the Harlot" in Helen Wadell's The Desert Fathers.

Sorrow on me, Beloved, for these (Mary and Abraham) fell on sleep and with all confidence have gone their ways to God, whose minds were never set on the business of earth, but on the sole love of God.  And i, unapt and reluctant  in my will, abide, and behold winter hath come upon me and the infinite tempest has found me naked and spoiled and with no perfecting of good in me.

I marvel at myself, beloved, how i daily default, and daily do repent; i build up for an hour and an hour overthrows what i have builded.  At evening i say: "tomorrow i shall repent," but when morning comes, joyous i waste the day,  Again at evening i say:"I shall keep vigil all night, and i shall entreat the Lord with tear, to have mercy on my sins;" but when night has come, i am full of sleep.  Behold, those who received their talent along with me,strive day and night to trade with (it), that they may win the word of praise, and rule over ten cities; but i in my sloth hid mine in the earth, and my Lord makes haste  to come, and know not excuse to bring.

Have mercy upon me,... And now be mindful of me, Lover of men, and lead me out of the prisonhouse of my sins....  Remember me that am without defense, and save me, a sinner; and may Thy grace that was in this world my aid, my refuge, and my glory, gather me under its wings in that great and terrible day.  For Thou knowest, Thou who doest try the hearts and reins, that i did shun much of evil and the byways of shame, the vanity of the impertinent ans the defense of heresy.   And this not of myself but of Thy grace wherewith my mind was lit.  Wherefore, Holy :Lord, i beseech thee, bring me into Thy Kingdom and deign to bless me with all that have found grace before Thee, in magnificence, adoration, and honour.  Father, Son  and Holy Ghost.  Amen.



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