“O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power and idle talk. But grant 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.” (Prayer of Saint Ephrem)
Great lent calls not only for self-examination but preparation. It is a willingness to stare inwardly into one’s self and compare that to the truth of the Gospel. Are we willing to accept what we see and then actively work to correct these faults in order to prepare for our Lord’s resurrection and ultimately, His judgment? How fortunate we are as Christians that we do not have to wonder by what things we will be judged. Christ was explicitly clear on this. A profound passage in Matthew Chapter 25 takes us to Judgment Day where our Lord separates His sheep, those who will inherit His kingdom, from the goats, who will not, and He tells them by what measure we would be judged.
“I was hungry and you gave me food.”
“I was thirsty and you gave me drink.”
“I was a stranger and you took me in.”
“I was naked and you clothed me.”
“I was sick and you visited me.”
“I was in prison and you came to me.”
Our Lord did not ask how much you fasted; He did not ask how many times you went to Church; He did not even ask how many times a day you prayed; He simply will look into your heart and into your actions. Judgment Day is everyday and it is clear that it is love for fellow man and the expelling of evil by doing good that will put you on a Christ-like path. Most certainly, going to church, praying, fasting, and all other forms of worship are essential, especially in Great and Holy Lent. They build our spirit by bringing us closer to God and the community of His faithful. Moreover, you see the great need for this community when you realize you can not do all these things yourself.
So how do we “come to someone in prison?” This commandment is virtually impossible today. And even if you wanted to visit a prison, chances are you could not visit someone inside. It is for this reason Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry (OCPM) created the Matthew 25:36 Fellowship: to give all Orthodox Christians the ability to visit Him in prison and fulfill His commandment “I was in prison and you came to me.” We seek to accomplish these commandments of Christ as a Church.
By joining the Matthew 25:36 Fellowship you enable the training of clergy and lay volunteers. You will also provide Icons, Study Bibles, Prayer Books, Correspondence Courses, and Devotional Materials. In addition, prison libraries will be stocked with OCPM materials and new Study Books (especially geared towards women which are greatly needed), DVD’s and Icons can be created. Most importantly, you will fulfill Christ’s mandate to visit Him in prison!
To join or learn more, please visit us at: TheOCPM.org
God Bless you and your family during this holy Lent!
The OCPM Team