For the last several weeks on Wednesday evening I have been able to attend the service of the Small Paraklesis to the Most Holy Theotokos (by Monk Theosteriktos (known as Theophanes)). The prayers are beautiful, and learning to sing the Odes of the Heirmos is something I enjoy greatly. This evening I did not waver so much, and felt that I was really singing. And Fr. asked me to read Psalm 50. (51 for the western tradition).
As the weeks go by and I learn more and more as a catechumen the more and more I realize and feel grief over my sins. This particular service has become a time that I rely on, a time that is really preparing my heart for the coming Great Lent. In the service, there is one particular prayer I have felt myself especially poured into:
Through the intercessions of the Theotokos, merciful One, wash away my many personal offences.
verse: Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your great mercy; and according to the multitude of Your compassions blot out my transgressions.
Put me not into the hands
Of any human protection,
O our Lady, most holy,
But do now receive the prayers of your supplicant;
Sorrow has taken me,
And I am unable
To withstand and bear the demon’s darts;
Shelter I do not have,
Nor a place to go, worthless that I am;
Lady of humanity,
The shelter of the faithful and their hope,
Do not reject my prayers to you…
This service is also teaching me a great deal about how to follow Christ through the example of the Theotokos. I feel she has been guiding us for a long time. At my old parish, after morning prayer on Fridays, I would almost always light a candle before her icon (thanks for putting her there, Fr. S) and pray for myself and my family (among others) and that we would find Orthodoxy somehow.
Somehow, by God’s mercy and many prayers, we’re getting there.