March 2011 Letter
Lent has begun, named by the holy church fathers: spring of spiritual life. And because “fasting and prayer without humility is like an eagle with broken wings”, says St. Macarius the Great, we take this opportunity to remember some sayings of the Fathers about prayer, seeking the opportunity of lent to focus on our prayers:
- “People say if you do not feel inclined to pray better not to pray. This is fraud and bodily sophistry, for if you will pray only when you have an eagerness for prayer, you will never pray, because the natural tendency of the body is against the prayer … you will not be able to work for your salvation if you do not force yourself” (St. John of Kronstadt).
- “Learn how to pray and force yourself to do so. At the beginning it will be hard for you, but then whenever you force yourself it will become easier for you to pray. Everything in the beginning needs man to force himself to it” (St. John of Kronstadt).
- “In order to retain a little water warm, it is not enough to put only once on fire, but it needs to be related to frequent or sustained fire, otherwise it loses the warmth and regain its first coolness. Thus, the heart should be ignited during the day with the fire of divine love through prayer to retain the warmth of its emotions last so that its zeal may last and not cool down again” (St. John Chrysostom).
- “Prayer in itself as a talk with God is the greatest blessing, while asking and requesting of Him is a secondary thing that changes from day to day. Therefore the merciful Lord does not respond quickly to our requests so as not to leave our prayers and be distracted by the small gifts and so losing the blessing of standing before God and talking to Him” (Bishop Ignatius).
- “Arrange time to pray a personal prayer other than the Psalms, but do not invalidate the Psalms” (Saint Isaac the Syrian).
- “Prayer should include four elements: worship, thanks, recognition of sin, and asking for salvation” (St. Basil the Great).
As usual, we include with our monthly letter the weekly schedule of masses in surrounding churches, giving you the opportunity to attend in any church.
We ask you to remember the church, its priests and all its services in your prayers, and may the blessings of St. Mary & St. Mercurius & the Holy Lent be with us all.
Fr. Youssef Halim & Fr. Luke Istafanous
Belleville, March 1, 2011