O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk. But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant. Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages. Amen.
— Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem
John 3:1-10 CEV
There was a man named Nicodemus who was a Pharisee and a Jewish leader. One night he went to Jesus and said, “Sir, we know that God has sent you to teach us. You could not work these miracles, unless God were with you.”
Jesus replied, “I tell you for certain that you must be born from above before you can see God’s kingdom!”
Nicodemus asked, “How can a grown man ever be born a second time?”
Jesus answered: “I tell you for certain that before you can get into God’s kingdom, you must be born not only by water, but by the Spirit. Humans give life to their children. Yet only God’s Spirit can change you into a child of God. Don’t be surprised when I say that you must be born from above. Only God’s Spirit gives new life. The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going.
“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
Jesus replied: “How can you be a teacher of Israel and not know these things?”
Great mysteries are they, of which the Only-begotten Son of God has counted us worthy; great, and such as we were not worthy of, but such as it was meet for Him to give. For if one reckon our desert, we were not only unworthy of the gift, but also liable to punishment and vengeance; but He, because He looked not to this, not only delivered us from punishment, but freely gave us a life much more bright than the first, introduced us into another world, made us another creature; ‘If any man be in Christ, saith Paul, he is a new creature.’ What kind of ‘new creature?” Hear Christ himself declare; ‘Except a man be born of water and of Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.’ Paradise was entrusted to us, and we were shown unworthy to dwell even there, yet He hath exalted us to heaven. In the first things we were found unfaithful, and He hath committed to us greater; we could not refrain from a single tree, and He hath provided for us the delights above; we kept not our place in Paradise, and He hath opened to us the doors of heaven.
— St. John Chrysostom, “Homily XXVI on John 3:6”
Prayer of Response
O Lord, never more do I want to offend you, or do anything against your goodness, which has so bound me to you. Nevermore will I stray from your commandments even though I were to suffer a thousand deaths.
— Catherine of Genoa