Devotion for Saturday, December 30, 2023
The Rt. Rev. Archimandrite, Msgr. George Appleyard
Tuesday before Ash Wednesday
An Invitation to Prayer
Today, if we hear his voice,
let us not harden our hearts. [Cf. Ps 94/95:8]
—Let us answer the invitation to Lent.
I am tired from my groaning.
I wash my bed every night—
I drench my bedding with my tears.
I am blind with indignation;
I am exhausted with all my enemies.
Get away from me all you who do evil
because the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my supplication,
the Lord has accepted my prayer.
May all my enemies be disgraced and confounded,
may they be quickly repelled and utterly shamed.
A reading adapted from Basil’s Homily on Detachment, 2
Brethren, it is necessary and useful for all of us to ready ourselves like travelers or athletes. Once we have planned how to make the trip as convenient as possible for our souls, we should press on to the end of the path. David the prophet called life a path (in psalm 118/119). He had good reason to use this image for human existence with its joys and its sorrows. Those really eager to reach their destination complete their trip step by step, always following one with another. Those to whom the Creator has given Life reach their destination by setting out immediately, leaving the past for the future. Doesn’t the present life seem like an endless road to you, and a journey divided into stages? For each traveler it begins with our mother’s labor and ends at our grave. Everyone goes this way, some quicker, some slower. Some pass through all the stages of this life, and some do not. Unlike the roads that go from city to city, which you can get off, that is not possible on this road of life. Nor can you speed up your journey nor interrupt it. From the moment we are born this road seizes us and compels us onward, and we cannot turn back.
Lord Jesus, you identified yourself as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Guide me by your Holy Spirit to make this journey of my life with you along your way, your road. And as I keep this Lent, in this year, as a sign of my intentions for that greater journey with you for the whole of my life, let me be your companion who keeps stride with you in good circumstances and bad, and may I finally arrive at the gate at the end of the path that opens to Paradise. Amen.