The Spirit Of Exile And The Sin Of Man
Reflections on the sin, ‘fall’, and the sinful condition of humanity
I was enslaved to strangers, an exile in the land of corruption,
and I was filled with shame. But now I return, merciful Lord,
and cry to Thee: I have sinned. 1
Sin consumes the attention of the Christian. This is not due to some morbid fascination with wrong, with death; nor is it on account of a false fondness for guilt. Sin consumes the attention of the Christian because the Christian struggles to live an authentic life: a life of honesty before God and man, comprehending both the great blessings and substantial struggles of a life orientated to holiness in Jesus Christ. Without acknowledging the grace, presence and activity of God in the world and in human life, existence is barren futility; but without acknowledging the reality of sin in the life lived in Christ, through the Spirit and to the glory of the Father, the ‘meaning’ given to life is a fiction, completely detached from true human reality. Life seen in the transfigured Christ, my life seen in the transfigured Christ, is a life that ‘bears the marks of my many transgressions’, even as the resurrected Son shows it to be the pure image of His glory. A true knowledge of man is a knowledge that sees the reality of sin, without fear beyond that which is Godly, and seeks its transformation in the life of the Trinity, revealed to all creation.
For this reason, the testimony of the Church as to the genuine nature of sin—its origins, its character, its scope, its nature—are of paramount interest, and rightly so. There are perhaps no more oft-quoted verses of scripture than ‘If we say we have no sin…’, and ‘I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned…’. In a connected way, no singular passage of the bible receives more sustained reading and attention, at every level, than the account in Genesis of man’s creation and lapse into sin. Perhaps because the modern-day fascination with ‘creation versus evolution’ so often turns to Genesis, the book as a whole (or at least the first six chapters of it) have taken on a special significance in our modern era, and so it is not entirely surprising that questions relating to sin quickly turn to these very pages. Here is found the familiar story of ‘original sin’, taken in the proper meaning of that expression: the first sin, the advent of sin and its origin in the cosmos. Adam and Eve are beguiled of the serpent, and eat of the fruit in disobedience to the Lord. As St Irenaeus writes of that event, ‘Sin then spread out, seizing the entire race of men, until it covered the whole world and there was very little righteousness left in it.’
Yet typical interest in Genesis’ account of sin, is not in fact focused on its advent, but rather on the consequences of sin and the nature of life lived in sin. The text itself, however, says little, if almost nothing, about this matter directly. Genesis 3 is chiefly concerned with the advent of sin. When the early Fathers of the Church in particular comment on this text, they due so chiefly to remind that sin has a beginning, and that its beginning is in creation, in action. It is not eternal, not coeval with God, not a part of creation but a distortion of it. It has come into being, and therefore it can go out of being: and so the icon of the breaking of the bonds of Hades (the icon ‘of the Resurrection’ as most know it) links Christ’s defeat of death to the Genesis account of the advent of death. It had a beginning: now it sees its end, as Christ lifts Adam and Eve into the Kingdom. The text of this book of scripture, in showing that sin and death have a beginning, proclaims that they have an end—and so the Fathers see Genesis as indicating, from the first pages of scripture, the redemption wrought in the Incarnation.
But of the nature of sin, and more particularly of sinful life, Genesis says precious little. It notes that sin equates to disobedience, and that there is a change in the circumstances of life following transgression; but Genesis does not speak directly to a ‘sinful nature’, a ‘fall’, a ‘fallen nature’, to ‘sinful existence’, or any of the common categories of identifying sin and its effects in the cosmos. The tendency to turn to it for guidance on such matters is perhaps a sign of our too-frequent divorce of the scriptures for their liturgical use in the Church; for when the Church comes to speak of the nature of sin in human life, its chief scriptural text is not Genesis’ account of Adam and Eve, but Christ’s account of the Prodigal Son.2 In the liturgical season dedicated to arriving ascetically at a deeper, truer understanding of one’s life before God, and thus God’s actions in and for my life, namely Great Lent, the Prodigal Son is the figure that starts off the quest. A Sunday dedicated to the Publican and the Pharisee sets the framework of true spiritual insight as looking at one’s own sin, not that of another (following the prayer of St Ephraim: ‘let me see mine own faults, and not judge my brother…’): but it is with the Sunday of the Prodigal Son that the human story, the saga of sin meeting redemption, begins to be disclosed fully. The stage of human experience is set in this image, and the whole of Great Lent follows its progress.
The Church’s image of sin, of sinful existence, is not chiefly an image of Adam and Eve expelled from paradise, but an image of a child far from his father, longing for his true home. It is not chiefly a paradigm of fall—though it is not always opposed to such imagery—but one of exile.
The exilic nature of sin
The Sunday of the Prodigal Son, the second Sunday of the Triodion, contains what are perhaps the Church’s chief texts on the nature of sin, and the effects of sin in human existence. It is one of the great deficiencies of modern Christian discussion, that Orthodox do not more readily turn to these texts in addresses of sin, for they set out the paradigm of the sinful condition as one of exile, more powerfully than almost anywhere else in the Church’s sacred corpus.
One of the most potent images of this exilic nature of sin comes in the first exapostilarion at matins. Having completed the Canon, the reader proclaims:
The wealth of grace that Thou hast given me, in my wretchedness I have wasted sinfully. All to no purpose I have left my true home, and as the Prodigal I have scattered my riches deceitfully among the demons. But now on my return accept me as the Prodigal, merciful Father, and save me. 3
A number of characteristics, common to the language and style of the Triodion overall, but especially relevant to this day and theme, are notable in this hymn. Firstly is its use of the first person. The Prodigal Son is a paradigm of me, and in the hymn it is I who speak. I have wasted what God has given; I have left my true home; I have scattered my riches. The parable told by Christ is assumed into the life of the faithful, so that its story becomes my story—and this is central to its testimony. Above all else, usage of the parable in the Triodion is meant to confirm that it is, in some sense, a ‘universal autobiography’ of every human person, bound up in sin, seeking redemption in Christ.
A second characteristic is the hymn’s focus on the imagery of departure, exile, and return. The lot of the Prodigal, which I am told is my lot, is one of blessedness that has been wasted, departed from. The gifts of the Father have been squandered, and the embrace of His grace discounted as I move on to other things, preferring to ‘scatter my riches’ among the demons, among the world, among my own passions, rather than maintain them in His embrace. The imagery here speaks of blessings, not withdrawn or removed, per se, but wasted; and a condition of estrangement from the Father not wrought as a punishment or condemnation, but as my own departure from Him.
Yet, as a third characteristic, this same hymn stresses that the state of estrangement from the Father and His blessings is unnatural. ‘All to no purpose have I left my true home’. The true lot of human life is union with God: the departure into sin remains always and ever unnatural, counter to the authentic state of creation. This is stressed in a hymn from the matins Praises:
As the Prodigal Son I come to Thee, merciful Lord. I have wasted my whole life in a foreign land; I have scattered the wealth which Thou gavest me, O Father. Receive me in repentance, O God, and have mercy on me. 4
Life lived in sin is life lived ‘in a foreign land’, far from one’s ‘true home’. To live in sin is to live as a stranger—not to God, for none is a stranger to God, but to one’s true self. One lives as a stranger to the creature God has fashioned him to be, and to the cosmos God has fashioned for him; and so the very earth that God fashioned as a paradise, a haven, becomes a strange, foreign, barren place.
The ‘wasting’ of the grace of God causes one to become a foreigner in a foreign land, not because the land has changed, but because I have changed. My squandering of the Father’s gifts effects me above all else, so that I am found to cry out:
Ruled by corrupting thoughts, I am full of darkness and separated far from Thee, and I have lost all possession of myself, O merciful Lord. Therefore save me as I fall before Thee in repentance. 5
I have ‘lost all possession of myself’. Created, called and blessed as ‘good’, I have been handed the whole creation—this is the human story in Adam, placed in Paradise, receiving and naming the creatures of the earth as their ‘lord’. Yet this I have rejected, not by forcibly, in some single fiat, dismissing it, but by squandering, wasting, misusing.6 I have allowed thoughts of love to become thoughts of lust, thoughts of proper lordship to become lusts for power: and so I find myself ‘ruled by my corrupting thoughts’. God charged Adam first of all to be lord over his own will: to submit it to God and His guidance, and only then to exercise it in creation. But I ‘have lost all possession of myself’. Like the Prodigal who, for his time, preferred the mire of the pig stall to the warmth of his true home, I have become so consumed with my own corruption that I prefer darkness to light. In this condition I fulfil the word of the Gospel, that the Son ‘came unto His own, but His own received Him not’ (John 1.11).
This is the condition of sin, described by the parable of the Prodigal Son. While it has its origin in disobedience (and sin is always an act, never a thing: this is the testimony of its advent in Genesis), its effect on human life is to foster a misuse of that which God has given. Grace is ill-received and ill-spent, though never ill-bestowed. One demands the Father’s inheritance, and squanders it among the swine. And the more this takes place, the more the human person looses sight of what is true: of the very reality of his being. He begins to see the darkness as preferable to the light, lost to himself. He is separated from his Father, not because of the Father’s anger or retribution, but because of his own departure from the Father’s embrace; and he remains ‘separated far from Thee’, not because God wills or demands that he remain afar off, but because he elects to be there by his own will. And so the chief characteristic of the exiled child is not his punishment, but his foolishness.
Foolishly have I run away from Thy glory, O Father, wasting in sin the wealth that Thou gavest me. Therefore with the words of the Prodigal I cry unto Thee: I have sinned before Thee, compassionate Father. Accept me in repentance and make me as one of Thy hired servants.7
Humanity does live under a ban as the result of sin, but it is the ban of its own foolishness. It is foolish to waste the gifts of God; foolish to turn from his presence; foolish to debase oneself with the passions. When the Prodigal Son at last ‘comes to himself’, when he sees his true condition amongst the swine, what he beholds above all else is the utter foolishness of his lot. He is here not because of his Father’s wrath, not because of some oppressive legal constraint, but because, in his foolishness, he has chosen to make these his own surroundings.
Nonetheless, foolishness has real consequences. It may be foolish to depart from God, but it is also deadly. Freedom allows tremendous power, and freedom misused brings tremendous loss. And so the consequences of human foolishness are dramatic. They are hymned as such in the matins Canon:
I am wasted with hunger, deprived of every blessing, an exile from Thy presence, O Christ supreme in loving-kindness.8
And more potently still in vespers, where the hymns on Lord, I have cried… speak of the truly Orthodox sense of exile and fall:
Of what great blessings in my wretchedness have I deprived myself! From what a kingdom in my misery have I fallen! I have wasted the riches that were given to me, I have transgressed the commandment. Alas, unhappy soul! Thou art henceforth condemned to the eternal fire.9
The sinful wasting of the blessings of God, ultimately serves to deprive the human person of those blessings. These are not withdrawn by God, but by the person himself: ‘in my wretchedness, I have deprived myself’. These hymns disclose genuine exile—that state of departure and deprivation from God’s presence. They speak, too, of an authentic understanding of a ‘fall’: not as the loss of some perfect state or perfected condition, but the fall from a kingdom. I have run from my Father’s house, departed the Kingdom that is my own. I am condemned by my evil deeds, an outcast from the Kingdom of God by my own acts. I have ‘fallen’, not as a condition of my being, but as a state of my exiled living. I live not the life God has fashioned for me. And so I am charged to hymn:
O loving Father, I have departed far from Thee; yet forsake me not, neither reject me from Thy Kingdom. The evil enemy has stripped me and taken all my wealth; I have wasted like the Prodigal the grace given to my soul. But now I have arisen and returned, and to Thee I cry aloud: Make me as one of Thy hired servants. For my sake on the Cross Thou hast stretched out Thy sinless hands, to snatch me from the evil beast and to clothe me once again in my first raiment, for Thou alone art full of mercy.10
It is Christ, with His arms outstretched on the Cross, that reveals the true condition of human exile in sin. It is the sinless hands of the Lord that reveal the true sin of my own hands—the sin of my own making. The enemy is at work, he has ‘stripped me and taken all my wealth’, yet it remains I who have departed far from God.
The Orthodox Church perceives man’s sinful state as this condition of exile. It is not by chance that the Sunday dedicated to the Prodigal Son, who is the chief image of our exile, also sees in the liturgical singing of Psalm 136: the great hymn of Israel’s exile in Babylon. These words, too, like those of the Prodigal in the Gospel, are meant to become our words. It is significant that they are sung after the verses of the Polyeleos at matins, itself a great and triumphant hymn of God’s mercy. This is the moment when, in many monasteries, the corona and hanging lamps are set in motion, swaying in the Church above the heads of the faithful, a visual reminder of the angelic orders joining in the hymn of God’s faithfulness. ‘He giveth food to the hungry… he remembered us when we were in trouble… his mercy endureth forever!’ This is the nature of God. Acknowledging this, the season leading to Lent then causes us to look at our own state before Him: seeing and hymning God’s unfailing mercy, we then sing—in solemn tones—of the nature of our exilic estrangement from Him. It is a condition that, as the Polyeleos has just made clear, cannot be one that ascribes evil or our sorrow to God, but which is born of our departure from him, our abiding exile. So the great psalm, which is familiarly set in the first person:
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down; yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion.’
But how can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.
Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, ‘Raze it, raze it, even to the foundation thereof.’
O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed: happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.
Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.
Our exile is born of our departure from God, and makes us foreigners to ourselves, foreigners in a ‘strange land’ of sin and disunion. We may pretend, for a time, that this is our true home and that we can go about life as normal within it; but eventually we come to ask, ‘how can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?’ This exilic existence strives to seem ‘normal’: it makes demands of song, of joy, of contentment and pleasure. It entices. In its spell, we treat it as home, and attempt to wring joy out of its darkness—just as the Prodigal took fleeting pleasure in a lavish life, and even in the muck of his pig stall. But eventually, like him, God gives grace to ‘come to ourselves’, and we remember our homeland. ‘And then we sat down, and we wept when we remembered Zion’.
The spread and ‘second-nature’ of sin as exile.
This ‘coming to ourselves’, this weeping for the memory of our true home, is the beginning of true repentance. But before the analogy of the Prodigal Son comes to speak fully of repentance and redemption, it also teaches something of the universal nature of our sinful exile.
‘Lo, there is not one righteous man left, no not even one.’ This scriptural proclamation has summarised human experience for centuries. All the world is mired in sin. Why is this so? Speculation has given birth to extreme varieties of explanations—some constituting major dividing blocks between Orthodoxy and other religious traditions. ‘Fallen nature’, taken as a kind of ‘changed nature’ after a ‘fall’, has long been one method of offering explanation for sin’s universal spread; yet the Fathers have resisted this explanation forcefully. The natures God creates, the human nature He has fashioned, cannot be altered by man. It is created good, in each and every person. Sin distorts the how, but not the what of human existence. But then, why its universal spread?
The paradigm of the Prodigal Son in exile gives the portrait of the Church’s answer. Exile may be freely sought, may indeed be the result of our own carelessness and foolishness; but it is binding in its force. We become so accustomed to our life in exile, so forgetful of our ‘true home’ and our true selves, that we become, in the words of the hymns, ‘mad’ through our delusion.
Utterly beside myself, I have clung in madness to the sins suggested to me by the passions.11
It is madness to cling to sin, and the more one clings to sin, the more its maddening effects influence one’s behaviours. The passions become active enemies, provoking lust for gratification and satisfaction, and the human person becomes ever more entrenched in his sinful ways. The folly of choosing darkness over the Light becomes a habit, and the habit becomes powerful, working a kind of power over one’s mind. This is the ‘madness’ of sinful living, which promotes further sinful living. It causes the foreignness of exile to seem normal, comfortable, so that we crave that which drives us yet further from God. And so the foreignness of sin becomes a master, and we, in our foolishness, its slaves.
The wealth of blessings which Thou gavest me, heavenly Father, have I wrongly wasted, and I have become the slave of strangers.12
The exilic nature of man’s sinful condition is ultimately one of slavery. This is most potently stated at the Fourth Canticle in matins:
I have become enslaved to every evil and in my wretchedness I have bowed down before the demons that provoke the passions; through heedlessness I have lost possession of myself. O Saviour, heavenly Father, take pity on me as I flee for refuge to Thy many mercies.13
This ‘losing possession of oneself’ lies behind the slavery of sin. One is enslaved by the loss of true life bound up in Christ, and the passions that take over control of the rebellious will become masters of the enslaved person. The ‘strangers’ of sin and exile become friends, and dominant, domineering friends at that. Sin takes on a force, since I madly accept its authority and crave its presence. Despite the fact that it never satisfies, in my madness I continue to crave that which only ever binds me more firmly in my sorry state.
I have wasted the wealth which the Father gave to me, and in my wretchedness I have fed with the dumb beasts. Yearning after their food, I remained hungry and could not eat my fill.14
Sin is universal, since it becomes a ‘second nature’ to a people in exile. Unlike the Israelites of Psalm 136, we do not lay aside our instruments and lament instead of singing; rather, we play on as of this lot were righteous, acceptable, normal. Through the depth of our madness, we become ever more enslaved to the power of our own wrongdoing, until we begin to ‘forget Jerusalem’, our true home and life. And then, as the psalm prophesies, we suffer the consequences of our enslavement. ‘Our tongues cleave to the roofs of our mouths… our own hands forget their cunning.’ We forget true words, and truth itself; we forget our genuine calling, our real nature, thinking this exilic existence to be itself our ‘natural’ state. Occasionally, we catch glimpse of God’s truth—we see our sin momentarily for what it is—and we cry out about our sinful life, as the Israelites did of their neglected city: ‘raze it, even down to its foundations!’ But we are ensnared in our sin, and the devil seeks every opportunity to maintain his stronghold.
The texts of the Triodion make clear the connection of this slavery to the ongoing work of Satan and the demons. From the Canon:
I have bowed down miserably to the pleasures of the body and have become wholly enslaved to the demons that provoke the passions; and I have become a stranger to Thee who lovest mankind.15
I have departed far from Thy commandments and in utter wretchedness I am enslaved to the deceiver.16
I have wasted and spent all Thy riches, O Lord, and in my misery have become the servant of the evil demons. But, compassionate Saviour, take pity on the Prodigal, cleanse me from filth, and give me back once more the robe of Thy Kingdom.17
The Christian is reminded that, though his sin stems from his own disobedience and his exile from his own departure from the Father, nonetheless he does not struggle without a tempter. The languish of exile is exacerbated by the deception of the devil: the delusion of foolish madness is reinforced by the ranks of the one whom the Fathers prefer to call ‘the deceiver’. That the false life of exile is true life, is the deception the devil struggles at all cost to maintain. The slavery I have brought upon myself, receives a slave-master in Satan, and I become doubly ensnared.
Yet it is here that the hymns disclose the great hope of the Prodigal’s story. At a blessed moment, the Prodigal Son ‘came to himself’, saw the genuine nature of his lot, and repented. The hymns, too, stress this awareness, and this cry for change. ‘Compassionate Saviour, take pity on the Prodigal’. My slavery may be more than I can overcome, but there is One who can overpower its force.
Return and restoration
The message of the Prodigal Son is that sin fashions exile, and however deep and demonic that exile may become, exile is nonetheless something from which one may return. The power to effect this return may be lost to us in our ‘madness’ and slavery to the passions, but Christ enables their defeat. The return from exile is granted through the Cross and the empty tomb. And just as the Prodigal found himself, not shunned by his Father on his return, but embraced in paternal love and compassion, so the Church tells her faithful to cry to the Father’s Son:
Open Thine arms, O Christ, and in loving-kindness receive me as I return from a far country of sin and passions.18
The father of the parable is a foreshadowing of Christ: with his arms outstretched awaiting the return of his son, he images Christ with His arms outstretched on the Cross, receiving the faithful who flee to Him. It is the love of the Son that draws His creatures out of exile, back to the Father’s embrace. In this manner, the Son becomes, in a most real sense, the true and only Way into the Father’s Kingdom. This is hymned in one of the most poetic images of the Triodion, of Christ as ‘pilot’ out of sin:
The depth of sin ever holds me fast, and the tempest of transgressions overwhelms me. Pilot me, O Christ my God, to the haven of life and save me, King of glory.19
It is the Son Himself who guides sinful man from his exile to the embrace of the Father. It is Christ incarnate who ‘pilots’ the human person to redemption. This involves the departure from sin, and the transformation of human life in renewed union with God. So Christ is not only pilot, but also husbandman: He who takes barren earth and makes it fruitful. As is sung in one of the matins katavasia:
O God, Thou husbandman of all good trees and fruit, make fruitful my barren mind in Thy compassion.20
The barren mud of sinful living, becomes fruitful in Christ. The lost soul, wallowing in exile, is piloted to the Father. And so I am prompted to speak to the Father the hope of my own heart, echoing the very words of the Prodigal on his own return to his father’s house.
Our Saviour teaches us every day with His own voice: let us therefore hearken to the scriptures concerning the Prodigal who became wise once more, and with faith let us follow the good example of his repentance. With humbleness of heart let us cry out to Him who knows all secrets: We have sinned against Thee, merciful Father, and are not worthy ever again to be called Thy children as before. But since Thou art by nature full of love for man, accept me and make me as one of Thy hired servants.21
The intention of the Prodigal is to become our own intention: to seek the Father’s mercy in genuine repentance. This is a repentance that sees and admits of the foolishness of exile, of the wasting of God’s blessings, of the madness of transgression and the weakness that ensues from it; and which seeks nothing other than humble forgiveness. And it is precisely because the story of the Prodigal frames in the Church’s vision of sinful life and redemption, that it is able to make bold in the promise of Christ.
O loving Lord, once Thou hast rejoiced at the voluntary return of the Prodigal: rejoice now also because of me, wretched though I am. Open Thy holy embrace to me, that saved I may sing the praises of Thy boundless compassions.22
It is the revelation of the Father’s response to the Prodigal’s return, that demonstrates the hope of redemption in the incarnate Saviour. Here is the way out of exile. Here is the forgiveness that leads to union. Here is the love of the Father that exceeds the bonds of sin, of death, of estrangement. Here is the full revelation of sin met with the sacrificial love of the Son:
Brethren, let us learn the meaning of this mystery. For when the Prodigal Son ran back from sin to his Father’s house, his loving Father came out to meet him and kissed him. He restored to the Prodigal the tokens of his proper glory, and mystically He made glad on high, sacrificing the fatted calf. Let our lives, then, be worthy of the loving Father who has offered sacrifice, and of the glorious Victim who is the Saviour of our souls.23
When we speak of sin, and particularly of our sinful condition, we ought to think first and foremost of the Prodigal. It is in his story that we find the contours of our condition in this life, and the redemption offered us in Christ. The Spirit reveals the full work of the Trinity, in response to the genuine condition of mankind’s heart.
For this reason, the ultimate response to the story of the Prodigal Son is prayer, leading to true repentance and conversion. The Ninth Canticle summarises the cry of the heart that hears the story of the Prodigal, the story of itself:
Behold, O Christ, the affliction of my heart; behold my turning back; behold my tears, O Saviour, and despise me not. But embrace me once again in Thy compassion and count me with the multitude of the saved, that with thanksgiving I may sing the praises of Thy mercy.24
This article written Thursday, 4th / 17th April, 2008: New Hieromartyrs Archim. Benjamin and Hieromonk Nicephoros of Solovki. Written for the faculty of the St John Orthodox Academy, California, following a discussion group held in San Francisco on Thursday, 11th April 2008.
1. Matins Canon, troparion from Canticle 5, Sunday of the Prodigal Son. [back]
2. The pre-Lenten Sundays do include a Sunday dedicated to ‘The expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise’ (commonly called ‘Forgiveness Sunday’); but this comes after the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, indicating the extent of man’s exilic separation from divine communion. [back]
3. First exapostilarion from the Triodion. [back]
4. Sticheron at the Praises, in the Fourth Tone. [back]
5. Matins Canon, troparion from Canticle 8. [back]
6. So the troparion from Canticle 1 of the matins canon: ‘The divine wealth that once Thou gavest me I have sinfully wasted. I have departed far from Thee and lived as the Prodigal, O compassionate Father. Accept me now also as I return.’ And the troparion from Canticle 6: ‘I have wasted in evil living the riches which the Father gave me, and now am brought to poverty. I am filled with shame and enslaved to fruitless thoughts. Therefore I cry to Thee who lovest mankind: Take pity on me and save me.’ [back]
7. Kontakion of Matins, in the Third Tone. The thought is similar to a troparion of Canticle 1: ‘O Jesus my God, as the Prodigal Son now accept me also in repentance. All my life I have lived in carelessness and provoked Thee to anger.’ [back]
8. Matins Canon, troparion from Canticle 6. [back]
9. Doxasticon at Lord, I have cried…, in the Second Tone. [back]
10. Doxasticon at the Praises, in the Sixth Tone. [back]
11. Matins Canon, troparion from Canticle 3. [back]
12. Matins Canon, troparion from Canticle 4. [back]
13. Matins Canon, troparion from Canticle 4. [back]
14. Doxasticon at the Aposticha, in the Sixth Tone. [back]
15. Matins Canon, troparion from Canticle 7. [back]
16. Matins Canon, troparion from Canticle 8. [back]
17. Second exapostilarion from the Triodion. [back]
18. Matins Canon, troparion from Canticle 3. [back]
19. Matins Canon, troparion from Canticle 6. This is related to the familiar image of Christ guiding Jonas out of the belly of the whale: ‘I am held fast, O Saviour, in the depth of sin and overwhelmed by the sea of life: but as Thou hast brought out Jonas from the belly of the whale, bring me out from the passions and save me’ (Matins Canon, katavasia of Canticle 6). [back]
20. Matins Canon, katavasia of Canticle 3. [back]
21. Matins Canon, ikos of the kontakion. [back]
22. Matins Canon, troparion from Canticle 9. See also the troparion from Canticle 5: ‘Accept me now, O heavenly Father, in Thy fatherly compassion as I return from evil, and reject me not in Thine exceeding mercy.’ [back]
23. Sticheron on Lord, I have cried…, in the First Tone. [back]
24. Matins Canon, troparion from Canticle 9. [back]