Prayers by the Lake - 4



My elders taught me, when I was a youth, to cling to heaven and earth, lest I stumble. For a long time I remained a child, and for a long time I used to lean on the crutch that they gave me.

But once eternity flooded through me and I felt like a stranger in the world, heaven and earth snapped in two in my hands like a frail reed.


O Lord, my strength, how frail are heaven and earth! They look like palaces built of lead, but they evaporate like water in the palm of the hand in Your presence. Only by their bristling do they conceal their frailty, and frighten uneducated children.

Get out of my sight, suns and stars. Sunder yourselves from the earth. Do not entice me, women and friends. What help can I receive from you, who are helplessly growing old and sinking into the grave?

All your gifts are an apple with a worm in its core. All your potions have passed through someone's entrails many times. Your garments are a cobweb that my nakedness mocks. Your smiles are a proclamation of sorrow, in which your feebleness is screaming to mine for help.

O Lord, my strength, how feeble heaven and earth are! And all the evil that men do under heaven is an admission of feebleness and—infirmity.

Only someone strong dares to do good. Only someone who is nourished and watered with You, my strength, is filled with strength for goodness.

Only someone who sleeps in Your heart knows rest. Only someone who plows before Your feet will enjoy the fruit of his labors.

My childhood, nourished with fear and ignorance, came to an end; and my hope in heaven and earth vanished. Now I only gaze at You and cling to Your gaze in return, O my cradle and my resurrection.

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"As the Prophets saw, as the Apostles taught, as the Church has received, as the Teachers express in dogma, as the inhabited world understands together with them, as grace illumines, as the truth makes clear, as error has been banished, as wisdom makes bold to declare, as Christ has assured, so we think, so we speak, so we preach, honoring Christ our true God, and his Saints, in words, in writings, in thoughts, in sacrifices, in churches, in icons, worshiping and revering the One as God and Lord, and honoring them because of their common Lord as those who are close to him and serve him, and making to them relative veneration. This is the faith of the Apostles; this is the faith of the Fathers; this is the faith of the Orthodox; this faith makes fast the inhabited world."
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