Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
The Journey to the Cross and Resurrection of Christ
For Godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death. II Corinthians 7:10
Good morning Prayer Team!
The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete was composed in the seventh century. It is a dialogue between St. Andrew and his soul. The theme of the Canon is repentance. In the Canon are numerous scriptural examples from both the Old and New Testament about acts that show love for God and acts of sin, and how we must make Godly choices consistently. He compares our sinful state to the mercies of God.
The Canon of St. Andrew is chanted in four parts during the first week of Great Lent and in its entirety on the fifth Thursday (though not in most parishes).
There are several hundred short hymns that comprise this magnificent piece of worship. They read as prayers that touch the soul. Like Saint Andrew, many of us also have a dialogue with our souls. This dialogue occurs in our conscience, where we try to excuse or rationalize sinful behavior, or where we come to understand that behavior is sinful and we need to repent of it. This Canon, and indeed the entire Lenten (and shortly Holy Week) journey is meant to, in part, promote this dialogue within our spiritual self. The hymns and prayers point to the history of people who have made both good and bad choices, to the Lord who showed us the way back to Paradise, and to the Saints who have walked that path.
In the dialogue between us and our soul, which occurs in the conscience, we should also invite the Lord to participate. We should use prayer and the scriptures as tools to aid in the dialogue and to help guide the decisions of our conscience.
The “Kontakion” of the Canon reads as follows:
My soul, O my soul, rise up! Why are you sleeping? The end draws near and soon you shall be troubled. Watch, then, that Christ your God may spare you, for He is everywhere present and fills all things. (Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Indeed, it is the wise person who has a vigilant soul, and who is mindful and watchful of the spiritual things.
From my youth, O Savior, I have rejected Your commandments. Ruled by the passions, I have passed my whole life in heedlessness and sloth. Therefore, I cry to You, O Savior, even now at the end: Save me.
Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
When I examine my actions, O Savior, I see that I have gone beyond all men in sin; for I knew and understood what I did; I was not sinning in ignorance.
Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
Spare, O spare the work of Your hands, O Lord. I have sinned, forgive me; for You alone are pure by nature, and none except You is free from defilement (From the Canon of St. Andrew, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
The point of the canon is not to make us feel sad, guilty or hopeless. Rather it is to awake our hearts, minds and souls to both the depth of our sin and the mercy of God, inspiring us to repent and change, which begins with a spiritual dialogue in between us and our own souls. Invite God into the dialogue through prayer. And have the spiritual dialogue with your soul on a daily basis.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Photo Credit: Pravmir
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