Selections from the Prayers by the Lake

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Selections from the Prayers by the Lake

Postby Theophilus » January 20th, 2009, 1:52 pm

by St. Nikolai of Ohrid and Zica


The chamber of my soul is not aired out, and You, O awesome Holy Spirit, are knocking at the door. Just a moment, while I air out my chamber from its unclean spirits, and I shall open the door for You. For if I opened it as it is, You would not enter into a chamber full of bad odors and would withdraw from my door forever. Just one moment, I beseech You, my most important guest!

Ah my shame and my sorrow, how that one moment is being prolonged! Just a little longer and my whole lifetime on earth will find its place within that moment. Yet You patient­ly wait at the door, and listen to my breathing.

The uninvited guests within me are impudent, they are im­pudent and have multiplied exceedingly. If I try to open a window, they pull my hands back. If I set out for the door to feel Your life-giving presence, they bind my feet. They tie me by force of habit to their foul stench, so that I am afraid of what is fresh and shrink back from what is new. Ah, if only I am not too late to open the door to You!

But behold, even at the price of this life of slavery, I will open wide all the windows and in the name of the Most Pure Virgin and Her Son I will chase out of myself all the malicious masters and tyrants of my soul. And when You enter, You will bring my corpse to life with Your life-giving breath, with Your youthful strength, with Your loving dew.

O Spirit of manly strength, of matinal plenitude and vesperal quietude--You who are lighter than sleep, swifter than wind, fresher than dew, sweeter than a mother's voice, brighter than fire, holier than all sacrifices, stronger than the universe, more alive than life--to You I pray and You I wor­ship; become my companion on the rugged path to the eter­nal blessedness of the Triune Godhead.

O fiery Spirit, You are never separated from the Virginity of Eternity. Pierce my soul, cleanse her, illuminate her, per-fume her with heavenly incense, enter her and make her Your bride, so that the hymn of Divine wisdom may be conceived within her; so that the Eye of eternity may be opened within her.

You arise early and never sleep, teach me to keep watch vigilantly and to wait patiently.
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Re: Selections from the Prayers by the Lake

Postby Theophilus » January 23rd, 2009, 2:52 am

My hope awaits You, Lord.



Expecting You is the only content and meaning of my Tomorrow and the Day after Tomorrow.

The grass expects the dew and is not disappointed. The mountain expects the thunder, and is not disappointed. The mole in the ground expects its meal, and is not disappointed. You fulfill the expectations of all beings.

I am expecting You, and You are coming to meet me. With the same haste that I am approaching You, You are coming toward me.

What is Tomorrow, children of earth, except your hope. If you eradicate all your hope, your desire to see Tomorrow dawn will die.

Do not grumble against Heaven because It does not fulfill all your hopes. Grumble against yourselves, because you do not know how to hope. Heaven does not fulfill hopes but hope. The most sublime and steadfast hope Heaven always fulfills. Do not grumble against Heaven because It does not see the benefits for your family and your factions and enter into your intrigues against one another. Heaven is discerning and merciful. It is discerning for anything good in any faction, and is merciful towards your infirmity, provided that good will accompanies it.

My hope is not an inkling but a certainty that You will come. You promised, and I bear the seal of Your promise in my soul. If You have not come yet, it is not Your fault but mine. You are tender and compassionate, and would not wish to make me ashamed of my unpreparedness. Therefore, You approach slowly, and continuously announce Your coming.

Hopelessness sits idle. But my hope cleans and washes continuously; it airs out and censes the quarters where it will receive You. And it frets day and night lest it forget anything whatsoever that might be pleasing to You. And it continuously calls upon the angels and the saints, the mystery-seers, to show it how to make its cave like Heaven.

My hope has no other partners. I have chased out of myself all other hopes as proven imposters. And now in their place there sprouts only one hope, which awaits You.

When You come You will bring me the richest gifts. With You, O Victorious One, will come my victory over all boredoms and worries. With You will come light, and health, and strength, and wisdom and the complete fulfillment of all human expectations from the beginning to the end of time.

In truth, the people with many hopes, that exclude You, sit on the mountain and wait for the sun to rise from the West.

But I stand facing the East, and I know for certain that the sun will soon be born. For I see the dawn becoming rosy.

Others plant dry rods in the ground, and hope for greenery and fruit. But over my field I sowed living seed, which is turning green and bearing fruit.

My hope in You is not a myth but a certainty--as certain as the fact that the sun must rise from the East and that good seed, when sown on good soil, must sprout.

The field is Yours, and You are the sower and the seed.

Come, O Lord, my hope awaits You!
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Re: Selections from the Prayers by the Lake

Postby Theophilus » January 24th, 2009, 3:03 am

The Father looks from Heaven and sees me covered with wounds from the injustice of men, and says: "Do not take revenge."*

On whom shall I take revenge, O Lord? On a portion of the flock on its way to slaughter?

Does a physician take revenge on patients, for cursing him from their death bed?

On whom shall I take revenge? On the snow, for melting, or on the grass, for withering? Does a gravedigger take revenge on those descending into the grave?

On whom shall I take revenge? On simpletons, for thinking that they can do evil to someone else in the world besides themselves? Does a teacher take revenge on illiterate children for not knowing how to read?

Eternity bears me witness, that all those who are quick to avenge are slow to read and comprehend the mysteries of vengeance.

Time bears me witness, that all those who have taken revenge, have accumulated poison in themselves, and with poison they have blotted themselves out of the book of the living.

In what way can you avengers boast before your adversaries, except by being able to repeat their evil? Are you not thereby saying: "We are no better than you?"

God bears me witness: both you and your adversaries are equally reckless and equally incapable of good.

I have seen a cherry tree stripped of its bark and set fire to by children, yet it gave its ripe fruit to those same children.

And I have seen cows, which men tormented with heavy burdens, patiently give milk to those same men.

And tears welled up in my eyes: why is nature more compassionate to men than man is to his fellow man?

Nature bears me witness, avengers: a man is more power­ful than those who do him evil only when he is powerless to repeat their evil deeds.

There is no end to vengeance, and the heirs continue the work of their fathers and then depart, leaving it unfinished.

Evil races along the wide road, and from each new duel it gains strength and territory, and it multiplies its retinue.

A wise man gets off the road, and leaves evil to race [with itself].
A piece of bread silences a barking dog more swiftly than a pile of stones does.
He who taught men: an eye for an eye -- also taught them how they would all be left blind.

On whom shall I take revenge, my heavenly Father? On a portion of the flock on its way to slaughter?

Ah, how wretched are all evildoers and avengers! Truly, they resemble a flock on its way to be slaughtered and, unaware of where they are heading, they butt horns with each other and perpetrate a slaughter before the slaughter.

I do not seek vengeance, my Father; I do not seek vengeance, but seek rather that You grant me a sea of tears, so that I can bewail the wretchedness of those who are on their way to slaughter, unaware of where they are heading.
________________________________________________________
*Cf. Matt. 5:38-42 and Rom. 12:19
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Re: Selections from the Prayers by the Lake

Postby Theophilus » January 25th, 2009, 1:53 am

O my only Beauty!


You pour out light over the darkness, Lord, and colors and shapes emerge. You bend Your face over the abyss, whose name is Nothingness, and the abyss tries to depict the beauty of Your face in shadows. All creation expresses You the way the abyss dreams of You.

My lake is also beautiful while the peaceful face of the sun remains bent over it. And... Read More all those who pass by praise the beauty of my lake. But as soon as the sun hides its face, my lake becomes dark and abysmal. And no passerby ever offers any praise for the lake except in the presence of the sun or the sun's radiant companions.

The face of the abyss intoxicates those who do not see the sun bent over the abyss. The beauty of things begins when an onlooker bends his face over them. There is no mirror if there is no face in front of the mirror. But even a face in front of a mirror means nothing if there is no light.

In the light of Your face I pay no attention to any creature.

Without You, creatures and I would not be mirrors of one another, but rather darkness, and an abyss, and an opaque chill.

Creation distorts Your beauty the way a dream distorts reality. Creation torments me just as dreams torment me. For what is creation except dreams of Your inexpressible Reality?

My neighbors say: "We have dreamed beautiful ... Read Moredreams." The universe is my witness when I tell you that you are more beautiful than your dreams. The universe also dreams, and cannot dream enough about its own beauty. O my sleepy universe: as long as a dream dreams a dream, one dream is afraid of another, even if one dream seeks an interpreter and comforter in another. Who is prophesying to whom: the dream to reality or reality to the dream?

O my beautiful universe: dream of Reality and Reality will tell you everything. Admit the Reality, of which you are a dream, and you will awaken, and will no longer ramble about beauty, but will be Beauty.

There is only one Reality and only one Beauty, and it is the reason for your dream.

Do not tell me, children, about the beauty of the stars. If the Lord withdrew Himself from the stars, your mouths would be struck dumb. Stand in the thick darkness by my lake and try to sing to it. Truly you will be struck dumb and remain silent until the sun ... Read Moredawns, until the sun pours its beauty over the lake and gives your speechless throat its voice.

Your face pours beauty over all creation. The universe swims in Your beauty as a boat swims in the sea.

And when You bend over cold ashes, the ashes are transfigured and receive a face.

Bring my heart to its senses, my Lord, so that it may not be captivated by mortal beauty but by You, my Immortal Beauty.

O my only Beauty!

Allow me to see Your Face, just more and more of Your Face.
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Re: Selections from the Prayers by the Lake

Postby Theophilus » January 26th, 2009, 9:12 am

I am offering it to You, my Love.

My love keeps vigil and through vigil it never grows weary. The One, whom I love and whom I await, is coming to me surrounded by a heavenly retinue. How could I be sleeping, and how could vigil make me weary?

I keep vigil over the stories of men and the stories of things, in case I can discern some secret message of my Love. No story interests me by virtue of the story itself or because of the story-teller, but only on account of You.

I do so in the manner that a singer, who loses his own note, begins to listen attentively to everyone else's part, and attempts to recognize his own part. And everywhere he finds some note similar to his part, but nowhere his part completely.

I do so in the manner that a man, who shatters a glass mirror, then proceeds to see his own face in the faces of people, in the faces of animals, and in the faces of all things. And everywhere he finds some feature similar to his own face, but nowhere his face in its entirety.

Thus I too keep vigil over the innumerable voices of the entire universe. And I keep vigil over the innumerable faces in the universe, from the face of the white pebbles by the lake to the starry face of the Big and Little Dippers, to see whether I can recognize the face of my Love. And no one deceives me, rather each tells me whatever little he can of what he knows about You.

When I pose questions to people, I await answers from You. When things speak, I listen to You. When I look at nature, I am looking for You.

When people see me pensive, they suppose that I am thinking about them, while I am actually thinking about You. When they see me loving to labor, they think that I am laboring for people, but I am laboring for You.

When nature hears its name on my lips, it thinks that I am lauding it, but I am lauding You. When I feed a dove, I am offering it to You. When I hug a lamb, I am hugging You. When I smile at the sun, my smile penetrates through all the stars until it meets with Your smile. When I bow down to kiss the white lily, I am dropping my kiss through seven realms onto the footstool of Your feet.

The vigilance of my love goes side by side with the prayer of my faith and the fasting of my hope. And none of them rises

All the activity of my mind serves my faith.
All the activity of my heart serves my hope.
All the activity of my soul serves my love.

When I feed a dove, I am offering it to You, my Love.

(Prayer 42)
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Re: Selections from the Prayers by the Lake

Postby Theophilus » January 29th, 2009, 4:07 pm

Thou hast filled thyself with peace, O Glory of the realms on high, and the anger of all lands cannot shake Thy peace.

Among mortals there is little peace; therefore anger has gained in strength.

Anger makes its nest in the breast of arrogance and murder lies in the breast of anger.

All sins tend to murder, and none stands so close to murder as anger.

One-eyed earthly laws do not punish anger, because they do not see that anger kills. But Thy discerning law, O Glory of the realms on high, calls anger murder.

I have striven, in sunlight and moonlight, to penetrate the mystery of Thy law and, once my striving began to wear away all my worldly hopes, I began to perceive how my anger towards neighbors was killing me.

The children of anger are slaves, while the children of peace are sons. Therefore Thy wisdom speaks to men and reiterates to them: Be sons! A son looks into the face of his father, and turns his own face towards that of his father. When he sees peace in his father's face, how can he distort his own face with anger, and yet not turn his gaze away from his father?

Anger brings infirmity into both the one who is angry and the one against whom the anger is vented. And infirmity is the precursor of death.

A wonder worker does not work miracles among children of anger, for the children of anger bring infirmity unto him.

O my neighbors, why do you feel stronger among those who love you, and weaker among those whom your presence angers? Is it not because the former add to your life by love, and the latter take from it through anger?

It is therefore my delight to be constantly with thee, O Glory of the realms on high. For only in Thy presence I neither kill them nor they me.

Just as drop after drop of water wears away even the hardest stone, so anger wears away the life of two people.

Like a murderer waiting in ambush with a knife, so anger turns in a proud heart.

Truly, arrogance knows that it is guilty; therefore it places anger at the gate, to act as its sentry.

Arrogance knows that it is sinful; therefore it has found itself an advocate in another sin.

Fill my heart with humility, O Glory of the realms on high, with the humility of the angels before Thy throne, for humility gives no abode or resting place to anger.

Grant me the humility of a son, and I shall be ashamed to become angry at slaves or kill slaves. Arm me with Thy peace, that the anger of the children of anger will not be able to confound.
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Re: Selections from the Prayers by the Lake

Postby Theophilus » January 30th, 2009, 1:37 am

The cypress is green in both summer and winter. Basil is fragrant in both summer and winter. Lambs are slain in both summer and winter.

Beware of wolves, when they attack you, one from the front and another from behind. But be even more wary of two sins: fearing sinners and scorning sinners. For your greenness will vanish like the greenness of a willow. And your fragrance will turn into a stench. And your humility will become arrogance. And sinners will call you their namesakes.

You who are righteous: sin is weakness, and to be afraid of sinners is to be afraid of weaklings. A sinner is terrified of the dead righteous man within himself, and twice as terrified of a living righteous man outside himself.

Do not be terrified of someone, who is twice as terrified of you.

Is not the Lord the courage of the righteous? Is not the Lord Almighty the general of the righteous hosts? Truly minute is the righteousness of those who stand with the Al-mighty and yet fear the all-unmighty.

If your justice is God's justice, your power is a divine power. In the beginning divine power seems to sinners to be weakness, for it is excessively meek, gentle and longsuffering. But in the end, when divine victory comes, sinners see with horror, that their house has been undermined by underground water, and is sinking down with no way back.

Like grass, God's victory grows slowly and silently. But once it has grown, one can no longer trample it or mow it.

Sinners are a flock without a shepherd; you are not. And if your shepherd leaves you, he does not leave you to abandon you, but to sift you in a fine sifter. Your shepherd will return soon, and you will die of shame for betraying him.

You who are righteous, sin is a sickness, and to despise sinners is to scorn the sick. He who gives of His own health to the sick, multiplies his own health.

Scorning sinners undermines the health of one who is healthy.

Sin sits at the table of those who are afraid to sit at the table of a sinner. Sin enters the home of those who are afraid to enter the home of a sinner.

Whoever turns back from his way, in order to avoid meeting a sinner, returns home laden with sin.

At every gate of your soul post a sentry, lest arrogance invade your temple. For if it enters, it will at once blow out the candles of all your virtues; and you will be like a wineskin filled with wine, when it is punctured with a needle.

Brief is this day of life, but true life knows no night.

Whoever dies of sin during this day, will die a death that knows no day.

You who are righteous, pass one course after the next without a break. Whoever completes one course in righteousness, will be enrolled by the Lord in more advanced and more difficult ones. The sinner suffers from a lack of education, the righteous man suffers from studying. But truly the travail of the righteous man is sweeter than the travail of the sinner, just as returning to one's homeland is sweeter than residing in a foreign country.

O compassionate Heavenly Mother of God, protect all those who have set out on the way of righteousness, lest they fear sinners and lest they scorn sinners.

Lest their fear make them God-betrayers, and lest their scorning of sinners make them manslayers.

Lest their quasi-righteousness be merely a pinnacle, from which they will fall even further downward to their destruction.

(Prayer 80)
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Re: Selections from the Prayers by the Lake

Postby Theophilus » January 31st, 2009, 1:15 am

My Lord is the One who resurrects. He resurrects the dead from morning until dusk, and from dusk until dawn.1

What the morning buries, the Lord brings to life in the evening; and what the evening buries, the Lord brings to life in the morning.

What work is more fitting for the living God than to resurrect the dead into life?

Let others believe in the God who brings men to trial and judges them.

I shall cling to the God who resurrects the dead.

Let others believe in the God, who does not even draw near to the living when they call upon Him.

I shall worship the God, who holds His cupped ear even at cemeteries and listens, to hear whether anyone is crying out for resurrection or for the One who resurrects.

The gravediggers dig graves and are silent. The Lord opens graves and shouts.2

A mother places her daughter in a grave, the Lord takes her out of the grave; the Lord is a better mother than the mother.

A father covers his son with soil, the Lord uncovers him. The Lord is a better father than the father.

A brother buries his brother, the Lord resurrects him. The Lord is a better brother than the brother.

The Lord has neither tears nor smiles for the dead. His whole heart belongs to the living.

The world mourns for their kindred in the cemeteries, the Lord seeks His own with a song and awakens them.

Resurrect my soul, O Lord, so that my body might also be resurrected. Dwell in my soul, and my body will become Your temple.3

My neighbors ask with anxiety whether this body of ours will be resurrected.

If you have denied yourself once and for all, and no longer live for yourself, then your body is already being resurrected.4

If your body is a temple of the Most High God, then the One who resurrects is within you, and your resurrection is already being accomplished.

Our body changes with age, throughout our lifetime we have called many bodies our own. Which of them will be resurrected?

Perhaps none of them. But you can be certain that if you have had a body which expresses the Word of God clearly, it will be resurrected.5

My Lord who resurrects, does not resurrect death, because death was never alive.

You are the One who resurrects and You are the resurrection, for You are life.6

Only the seed which contains You is resurrected, and that seed which is of You.7

You will only bring to life that soul which now lives by You and not by the world.

You will only preserve that body, which has begun to be filled with the Holy Spirit during this time.8

That which is of the Living God in the graves, will be resurrected into life.

No one can resurrect the dead except the Lord, and no one can rise from the dead except the Lord.

For He is in His holy people. Truly, He is in His living people, both in the grave and out of the grave.

_________________________________________________________

1. "Jesus said... 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live"' (John 11:25).
2. Cf. John 5:24-30 and 1 Thess. 4:13-17.
3. Cf. 1 Cor. 6:19.
4. Cf. Gal. 2:20, Rom 6:3-11, and Col. 2:12.
5. Cf. 1 Cor. 15:35-57.
6. Cf. John 11:25.
7. Cf. John 12:24.
8. Cf. Phil. 3:10-11, 20-21.


(Prayer 92)
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Re: Selections from the Prayers by the Lake

Postby Theophilus » February 1st, 2009, 2:24 am

O Lord, my soul's most cherished mystery, how light this world is, when I weigh it on a scale with You!

On one side of the scale is a lake of molten gold, and on the other a cloud of smoke.

All my cares, along with my body and its foolish convulsions of sweetness and bitterness-what are they except smoke, beneath which my soul is swimming in a golden lake?

How can I confess to people the mystery that I see through the rings of Your archangels? How can I tell particles about totality? How can fingernails understand the circulation of blood in the body? It is truly painful for one struck dumb with wonder to speak to those deafened by noise.

First comes begetting and then creating. Just as a miraculous thought is quietly and mysteriously begotten in a man, and the begotten thought thereafter creates, so also did the Ultimate Man, the Only-Begotten, appear in You, and thereafter created everything that God can create.

In Your inviolate chastity, through the activity of the All-Holy Spirit, the Son was begotten. This is the begetting of God from above.

As above, so below—the ancients used to say. What happened in heaven happened also on earth. What happened in eternity happened also in time.

You are dear to me, my love, because You are a mystery to me. Every love burns without burning out as long as the mystery lasts. Mystery revealed is love burned out. I promise myself to You with eternal love even as You pledge Yourself to me with eternal mystery.

You have clothed Yourself with seven heavens; You have hidden Yourself too deep for any eyes. If all the suns were to merge into a single eye, they would be unable to burn through all Your veils. You have not concealed Yourself intentionally, O Great Lord, but because of our imperfection. A divided and dissected creature does not see You. You are unhidden only to one who has become one with You. You are unhidden only to one for whom the wall between "I" and "You" has been razed.

O Lord, my soul's most cherished mystery, how light this world is, when I weigh it on a scale with You!

On one side of the scale is a lake of molten gold, and on the other a cloud of smoke.

(Prayer 9)
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Re: Selections from the Prayers by the Lake

Postby Theophilus » February 2nd, 2009, 2:08 am

Onto your knees, generations and nations, before the majes­ty of God! You are quick to fall down on your knees before your bandit leaders, yet you hesitate to fall down on them before the feet of the Almighty!

You say: "Will the Lord really punish us who are so small? If He had made us bigger and stronger, then He would punish us. But as it is, take a look—we are scarcely any taller than a thorn bush along the road compared to the roaring universe around us, yet do you threaten us with punishment by One who is incomparably greater than we are?"

Fools! When your bandit leaders summon you to evil that even causes the universe to tremble, you still say that you are too small. You excuse yourselves by reason of smallness or weakness only when it comes to performing illustrious deeds.

Even if you are small in your own eyes, you are recorded in the book of fate under a great name. Your forefather Adam used to have the greatness of an archangel and used to glisten with an angelic countenance. Therefore, either the reward of an archangel or the punishment of an archangel is designated for you.

When the desire of your forefather creeps into your heart without a sound, the desire to know creation without the Creator, his archangelic countenance darkens like the earth, and his greatness crumbles into trifles—into you, his seed. For he wishes to know trifles and to crumble into trifles, so that he might enter into the trifles, taste them, and test them.

All trifles, all trivia, most come together and turn their face from the earth to the Creator, so that your archangelic forefather may be established once again and so that his face may shine once again with the radiance of a mirror turned toward the sun.

O my Lord and my Creator, establish man as You first created him. This sort of man is not Your work. This sort of man created himself. His name is disease—how was there ever disease in Your hands? His name is fear—how could fear have ever come from the Fearless One? His name is malevolence —how could malevolence ever have come from the Benevolent One?

Fill me with Yourself, O my health; fill me with your eternal matinal light, and make disease, fear, and malevolence evaporate out of me-even as a marsh evaporates in the presence of the sun and is transformed into a fertile field!
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