Wednesday, March 22, 2006

κύριε έλεισον

rublev's trinity, originally uploaded by mincaye.

On page 13 of the BLC Lent & Easter Prayer Guide is printed this icon of the Holy Trinity by the 15th-ccentury Russian painter, Andrei Rublev, over the trisaigon) thrice-holy chant of the Orthodox Church; it has been sung for over a thousand years.

Holy God, holy and mighty,
Holy and immortal,
Have mercy on us.

It's a prayer I intend to memorise, to recite in the manner of the Celtic circle prayer (Encircle me, O God...) at the beginning of the book. I'm beginning to find these written prayers more effective than the spontaneous methods most Christians are used to.

Of Rublev's painting, Henri Nouwen wrote:

The more we look at this holy image with the eyes of faith, the more we come to realize that it is painted not as a lovely decoration for a convent church, nor as a helpful explanation of a difficult doctrine, but as a holy place to enter and stay within... Through the contemplation of this icon we come to see with our inner eyes that all engagements in this world can bear fruit only when they take place within this divine circle.

In some ways, it echoes Augustine's famous saying, "Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee." God is a safe place, a refuge; not just one to run to, but to dwell in. Likewise, God is not in the church, so much as we, the church, are in God.

This Lent, so far, I am finding self-control a very difficult virtue to cultivate. It ought to be a time of restraint, of arresting many of my natural impulses, but I seem to be failing.

But I realise I've been spending less and less time in God's presence, just being there and being still. And this, I'm certain, is the reason. By his grace I am able to try again; by his gift of silence I am able to express feelings for which words are inadequate.

Capote ended with a St Teresa of Avila quote, printed in white words across the black screen:

"More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones."

I pray that I will allow God to use the rest of this season to train me to listen to him more, and speak less; that my prayers will become less and less self-centred and more focused on his heartbeat, that I may learn to say, "Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

By God's grace and mercy alone do we stand on this earth;

Holy God, holy and mighty,
Holy and immortal,
Have mercy on us.

1 comment:

silentsoliloquy said...

I really like that little prayer as well. :)

Not sure if you've come across this already, but I found a cool site that has different versions of the Book of Common Prayer: