St. Ephraim, Schmemann, and Lent

Posted on Mar 6, 2020

O Lord and Master of my life,
take from me the spirit of sloth, despondency, lust for power, and idle talk.
But grant unto me, Thy servant,
a spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love.
Yea, O Lord and King,
grant me to see mine own faults and not to judge my brothers and sisters.
For blessed art Thou unto ages of ages.

St. Ephraim the Syrian

The great Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann provides a thorough explanation of this prayer. He concludes:

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.

Schmemann’s entire explanation is a great meditation unto itself during this holy season.