This Daily Devotion is to help our members and others reflect on the understanding of Christian service to our Lord.

Devotion for Sunday, March 21, 2021

The Rt. Rev. Archimandrite, Msgr. George Appleyard

The Fifth Sunday in Lent

The First Sunday of the Passion

An Invitation to Prayer

O Cross of the Lord, shine in splendor
that your rays may enlighten our hearts.
—For we have been kept from the trap through you,
and bequeath a share in celestial joy!

Psalm 106/107:8-14

Let them acknowledge to the Lord his mercy
and his marvels for the human race.

He satisfied an empty soul,
he filled a hungry soul with good things,
sitting in darkness and the shadow of death,
held fast in poverty and chains,
because they scoffed at God’s words,
ridiculing the plans of the Most High.

So their hearts were humbled by their exertion;
they grew weak and there was no help.
They cried out to the Lord in their affliction
and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them out of darkness and the shadow of death
and broke apart their chains.

A reading adapted from Basil’s Long Rules, Question #6, cont.

In such a quiet place we could wipe away the stains of sin by assiduous prayer and persevering meditation on the will of God. It is impossible to gain proficiency in meditation and prayer, however, when a storm of distractions is dragging the soul around and infusing into it anxieties connected with the affairs of this life. Can anyone ever fulfill this command, “If anyone wants to follow me, that person must completely disregard himself.” Yes, we have to give up our selves, pick up the cross of Christ and follow him in this way. Self-denial means forgetting the past completely and surrendering one’s will—a very difficult, if not to say impossible, task to achieve—while living amidst the customary promiscuity of the world. Beyond that, the social interaction demanded by living in such a climate is an even greater obstacle to shouldering the cross in order to follow Christ. Readiness to die for Christ, the mortification of one’s body on earth, readiness for every danger which might befall us on behalf of Christ’s name, detachment from this life—all this is part of taking up one’s cross, and so we consider the obstacles arising from a life in society a major impediment.

A Prayer

May I begin this week of Lent, O Lord, with real fervor as we prepare for the feast of palms, remembering how you arrived in Jerusalem in the power of your divinity to vanquish death. May we offer you our virtues for palms, and may our hearts prepare to sing to you, Hosanna to the one through whom the world was created and by whose blood it will be redeemed! Amen.