Entries with tag peace .

Prayer of Saint Philaret

The Orthodox Church places prayer at the core of the Orthodox Christian life. The Church offers us the Book of Psalms, the “Our Father” that Christ taught us, various liturgies, devotional prayer services to various saints, and private prayers written by the saints. All of these prayers guide us closer to Christ by giving us words to say when we can’t quite seem to find them. Over time, these prayers shape the words we use in times of need and inspire the conversation we have with God at all times.

 

In recent years, a prayer written by Saint Philaret the Metropolitan of Moscow (1782 – 1867) has come into popular use as a prayer for the beginning of the day. Here is the prayer in whole:

 

O Lord, grant me to meet the coming day in peace. Help me in all thing to rely upon Your holy will. In every hour of the day, reveal Your will to me. Bless my dealing with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words, guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by You. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray You Yourself in me. Amen.

 

Prayed daily, this prayer helps us reorient our attention from the world’s distractions and passions and towards a focus and trust in God. Saint Philaret calls us to look at our inner world, to align our will with God’s, and to be attentive to how we interact with those around us.

 

1. Serenity and our inner world

 

The first thing this prayer is concerned with is our inner world. We ask in this prayer that God grant us the peace we need for this day. We ask Him for help in treating everything with peace of soul, instead of with anxiety and stress. How often do we wake up anxious, beginning the day already feeling behind schedule and worried? If only we could discover this peace on our own (the right meditation practice or the right quiet place in nature); if only we could fix ourselves! But instead of our peace, we need the peace of God which is beyond all understanding (Philippians 4:7), a peace not like what the world can offer, a peace that casts out our fear and calms our troubled hearts (John 14:27).

 

As God calms our anxieties, He also gives us strength when we are not strong enough to stand. In this prayer, we ask God for the strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day. We don’t ask God to strengthen us tomorrow, we just ask for His help today “with all that it shall bring”. This implies we are also willing to trust that God will be with us in whatever situation we might encounter today. We are not alone.

 

We also ask God to guide our thoughts and our feelings. We are so often pulled this way and that by our emotions and thought life, but Saint Philaret reminds us to ask God to be our guide in everything. We even ask God to give us the words to pray. And as this prayer helps us to rely on God, it also calls our attention to His will.

 

2. God’s will and our will

 

So much of the Christian life is trying to bring our will into alignment with God’s will. Theologians and poets, rich and poor alike, all struggle with accepting God’s will at certain times, especially in times of suffering and difficulties. As Orthodox Christians, we neither believe in a God who can be manipulated by man (if we only pray correctly) nor a God who holds us like puppets on strings (where we have no control over our choices). Instead, we seek to know what God’s will is each day and then strive to live in accordance with that will.

 

Saint Philaret gives us the words to ask God to reveal His will to us and that we will then rely on His will in everything. But in moments of weakness and in moments of distress, we might lose that conviction that God is still with us at all times. So we ask God for the assurance that His will governs all things.

 

Finally, we give up trying to be in control by asking God to direct us and to help us bring our will to match His. We stop trying to run our own show and make a decision to let God be our shepherd and our guide. We give up control over what we cannot control and trust that God will take care of the outcome. As we let go, it opens us up not only to a better relationship with God, but also with our neighbor.

 

3. Our dealings with others

 

Just as we need to be aware of our inner life, and to meditate on the will of God, we also need to be cognizant of how we relate to and treat others. The prayer next asks that God will bless all of our interactions with our neighbor. In the stillness of our morning prayers, we ask God to help us not to forget that everyone in our lives can help us grow closer to God – even the most frustrating person – but how they do so depends on us. This is why we ask God to remind us that all are sent by Him. It changes our perspective from seeing others as pests to agents of God’s will in our lives.

 

It’s easy to be sure of our own “rightness”. We see that all too much today. What’s harder is to let go of being right and to live humbly in relation to others. At times we might need to be firm, but we always need God’s discernment in learning how to speak as God would have us speak. So we ask God that we “act firmly and wisely” but with the important caveat that our relations with others be “without embittering and embarrassing” them. Saint Philaret leads us then to approach our dealings with others with humility instead of with pride.

 

*****

 

When we are anxious and stressed out, when we are pursuing our own will instead of God’s, when we are pitting ourselves against others, we will not have the eyes to see and the ears to hear how God is working in our lives today. The prayer of Saint Philaret, like all of the prayers of our Church, helps us to slow down and to bring attention to this present moment. For it is here and now that we can encounter the living God. Today, we can know the peace of God, we can pursue the will of God, and we can see God at work in our lives through our neighbor.

 

Have you ever incorporated the prayer of Saint Philaret in your morning prayers? How might praying this short prayer help you to see that Christ is present with you, even in the stress of today?

 

 

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Sam is the Pastoral Assistant at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He grew up in Powhatan, Virginia and studied International Affairs and Spanish at James Madison University. Sam received his MDiv from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in 2013. He loves food, languages and good coffee.

Photo Credit: depositphotos

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Talking is Important: The Formation of the United Nations

The United Nations began operating 71 years ago today, following the second of two world wars that killed up to 100 million people around the globe.

As those conflicts dwindle further and further into the past and out of our collective memories, we forget the toll that kind of death had on humanity. While the number of Americans who died was relatively low, entire generations were lost in other parts of the world.

The Soviet Union lost almost 14 percent of its population, Poland 17 percent and Germany 8 percent, just to name a few.

The United Nations was established to prevent another such conflict, and was the successor to the post-World War I League of Nations that itself failed to do the same thing.

By most accounts, the UN has been rather successful. Despite high-profile conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and Israel, the number of people killed in wars is close to its lowest point since 1946 (when World War II ended).

Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker told the Wall Street Journal a few years ago that “we may be living in the peaceable era in the history of our species.”

But the United Nations doesn’t exist simply to prevent war. The 195 countries that are part of the UN also collaborate on other important issues.

In 2015, world leaders adopted 17 sustainable development goals that include ending poverty, eliminating hunger, providing quality education and ensuring gender equality, among other things.

Hundreds of other organizations—called “nongovernmental organizations”—also have roles at the UN, along with its 193 member states and 2 observer states.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has been an accredited NGO at the UN since 1985, and takes an active role in advocating on the behalf of refugees and migrants, against human trafficking, and in favor of the right to clean water worldwide.

The UN experiment of the last 71 years has shown just how effective open communication can be in resolving conflict.

The Charter of the United Nations took force on Oct. 24, 1945.

Andrew Romanov is a Fellow at the UN for the Department of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (un.goarch.org).

The Archdiocese is an accredited Non-Governmental Organization at the United Nations through the Department of Public Information (UN DPI) and has General Consultative Status under the Economic and Social Council of the UN (ECOSOC). It has been actively working at the United Nations for 30 years.

Being in the World but Not of the World

As Christians, we grapple with the idea of being in the world, but not of the world. If we are set apart as holy for God, then we are no longer meant to be like all the rest. It was the willingness to be different that made people notice the early Church. It was this willingness to give up even one’s own life instead of sacrificing to other gods, or to call Caesar their Lord, that has inspired generations of Christians ever since.

 

But what about being an Orthodox Christian today in 2016? How do we grapple with being a religious minority in a society with its own religious history? How involved should we be in the political process and how vocal should the Church be on issues in society? And more personally, what should our own lives look like if we are intentionally trying to live in the world but not be of the world?

 

Here are three things to work towards in our personal effort to be in the world but not of the world.

 

1. Be willing to go without

 

The world inclines us towards excess, to have everything we want when we want it. But Christ calls us to find our satisfaction in Him and to trust Him to meet our needs. The Church gives us the discipline of ascesis – ascetic effort – as a way to train us from self-centeredness to selflessness. To move from thinking of ourselves first to thinking of others first and ourselves less.

 

One of the most accessible forms of ascesis for an Orthodox Christian living in the world is fasting. Are we willing to go without meat and dairy twice a week? Are we willing to give up our right to have the privilege of eating these things during Lent and Nativity Fast? On Sundays, we have yet another opportunity to go without: not eating or drinking before Liturgy in expectation of receiving Christ who satisfies every hunger and thirst.

 

Fasting teaches us to be willing to go without something good so that we can focus on Christ. It prepares us for other times when we’ll be asked to go without for the sake of Christ. For example, if we want to be a part of that sports team that has practices and games during Liturgy, we’ll have a choice to make. Will we be willing to give up our seat on a bus for someone, let our friend have that last cookie, or share our money with a stranger? These are just a few of the small ways we can go without for the sake of love.

 

Our willingness to go without can serve as a witness to our neighbor that Christ fills us more than anything the world can give us.

 

2. Peace in the chaos

 

Is there anything but “Breaking News!” on the news anymore? We’re constantly bombarded by the need for immediate information, immediate responses to texts, e-mails, online posts, immediate reactions to our instagram posts. On top of that, social media then becomes our forum to debate every topic with passion.

 

Where are all the calm and collected to bring peace to this chaos? If we are turning to Christ in prayer, if we are getting our strength from regular participation in the Eucharist and confession, Christ can work through us to bring about that peace in chaos. But do our friends know us as just another passionate person, no different from the rest of the crowd? If our actions and words (online and offline) reveal that we aren’t too different, then we need to discern how to find peace, hope, and acceptance.

 

The world doesn’t need more passionate people trying to vet their own will, it needs more of the peace of Christ breaking through the noise to reveal His presence.

 

3. Not conforming to labels

 

There’s nothing like an election season to get people to grab hold of their favorite worldly labels. In the noise of who’s right and who’s wrong, we’re so quick to align ourselves as staunch this or staunch that. But while the world tries to convince us of its wisdom, we have a gospel that reminds us of the wisdom of the cross (1 Cor 1:18, 3:19).

 

St. Paul urges the church members of Corinth not to label themselves as belonging to Apollo or Paul; their identity is found in Christ (1 Cor 1:12-13). Our primary identity is in Christ as members of His Body, the Orthodox Church. If Christ is not primary in our lives, we are accepting some label the world has given us.

 

This isn’t to say that we have no other identity in this world (gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, etc.) but that those identities are not primary for us as Orthodox Christians. Our identity as Orthodox Christians is like the glasses through which we see everything else in our world. It’s through this lens that we interpret and view everything else.

 

So in the realm of politics, we have to be careful not to think that any one political party can ever represent the teachings of the Church. If a Christian finds a political party's platform nearly 100% lining up with their personal opinion....they should probably look deeper within themselves to see if their opinion is the world's or of Christ. As much as we would love to have a party which represents Christ and His Gospel, it doesn't exist. When we try to force the fit, we force Jesus out of the equation.

 

*****

 

We as Orthodox Christians are called to be the light of the world, the leaven in the dough. But we need to be in the world in order to bring light, to bring that something different that makes the dough rise. So our call to be countercultural isn’t to be anti-culture; it’s a call to have a discerning mind in relationship with our culture.

 

Being in the world but not of the world means that Orthodox Christians are willing to stand apart from the crowd as a witnesses to Christ. Does our life speak as a witness for what Jesus has done in our lives? If we’re not sure, then we can begin today to be willing to go without, to be a person of peace in the midst of chaos, and to put Christ first among the labels the world gives us.

 

How has fasting helped you to be in the world but not of the world? What do you do to help bring peace in your relationships? How much do you conform to the world’s labels; does your identity as a Christian come first?

 

Want more from Y2AMSubscribe to our email list and get weekly tips for your spiritual life every Monday! And you can support Y2AM even more by becoming a monthly Patreon supporter. As little as $1 a month can help us continue the work we’re doing.

 

Sam is the Pastoral Assistant at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He grew up in Powhatan, Virginia and studied International Affairs and Spanish at James Madison University. Sam received his MDiv from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in 2013. He loves food, languages and good coffee.

Photo Credit: depositphotos

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