Great Lent isn’t a fight against the body – it’s a fight for the body!

The Lenten Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian is said frequently during the services of Great Lent. It can be included—with prostrations—in one’s daily personal prayers as well. It is customary to follow the prayer with 12 metanias and the prayer “O God cleanse me a sinner and have mercy on me.” A metania is a half bow or lesser prostration. We involve our bodies in our prayer. Our spiritual fathers teach us: Christian asceticism is not a fight against the body, but for the body. For this reason, the whole man – soul and body repent.

The Church has experienced this prayer of St. Ephraim as richly rewarding to the Lenten journey. It is short and direct, it is negative and positive, it convicts and liberates. It places before us the human passions to look out for (sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk) and the Godly virtues to win (chastity, humility, patience, and love). These passions and virtues involve our bodies as much as they do our minds and hearts—and so too does our Lenten journey. Our journey involves our minds, hearts, bodies, appetites, possessions, time, etc . . .

Question: What strikes you about the lenten prayer of St. Ephraim?

“To serve God is bliss itself.” St. John of Kronstadt

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