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OCMC News - Let My Prayer Be Set Forth Before You As Incense

by Jennifer Rice (Posted 11/7/2017)

OCMC News - Let My Prayer Be Set Forth Before You As Incense
Please continue to pray for the faithful of Guatemala and for the all of the missionaries who are serving them in the name of Christ!

The doors to our parish in Aguacate remain open throughout the day, waiting to offer its embrace and a place of refuge from the world to pray. Young and old, men and women from the village release from their hearts what weighs heavily upon them before Christ, the saints, and the heavenly powers in seeking their intercessions.

One recent evening was no exception. Before Vespers, I entered through the doors to notice that, during the day, someone lovingly added several delicate white roses to the icons of Christ and the Feast of the Annunciation, greeting all upon entering the narthex. The church interior is dimly illuminated by the warm glow of a handful of candles as reminders of the prayers offered during the day. As I proceeded further into the sanctuary, I noticed a young mother kneeling before the iconostasis in front of the Theotokos, with a type of blanket called a cargador (carrier) wrapped about her to secure a young infant sleeping on her back and an older child quietly sitting on the wooden bench. She was sobbing, and I felt helpless, wondering what I might be able to do to ease her pain.

After a few moments of looking mostly at my feet, my attention gravitated to the mother’s corte, an ankle-length woven skirt that is secured in place by a woven belt, which is part of the traditional dress for Mayan women. Her corte was colorful and vibrant. Depending on the intricate woven designs, it can take a couple of months to create the necessary amount of fabric to make a corte, and each are a work of art in their own right. The corte is also a unique way to stay connected to one's ancestry, since the designs and colors in the skirt identify its origins and, thus, the village of the family from where its wearer originally comes. I pondered how the interlacing yarn, which forms such an intricate pattern, functions as a way to remain connected to one’s family, even when circumstances in life might cause otherwise.

I returned my gaze to the iconostasis to focus on the icon of the Theotokos. Although I might not have been familiar with the specific circumstances that brought her to tears, I could pray alongside and for this young mother, as “when God wants to have mercy on someone, He inspires someone else to pray for him, and He helps in this prayer” (St. Silouan the Athonite). Prayer not only strengthens our relationship by bringing us closer to Christ but also connects us to one another. Our prayers are like the yarn joined together to create something beautiful beyond ourselves. As Fr. Thomas Hopko writes in the second volume of The Orthodox Faith: “We go to church to be together, to sing together, to meditate on the meaning of the faith together, to learn together and to have union and communion together with God.”

Our prayers for each other are so very important. Pray for this young mother; and pray for me as I seek to serve these dear people with the love of Christ.

Lord, I have cried to You; hear me. Hear me, O Lord. Lord, I have cried to You; hear me. Give heed to the voice of my supplication when I cry to You. Hear me, O Lord.

Let my prayer be set forth before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Hear me, O Lord.

–Hymn from Vespers

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Prayer for Missions

God of truth and love: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Hear our prayer for those who do not know You. That they may come to a saving knowledge of the truth, and that Your Name may be praised among all peoples of the world. Sustain, inspire, and enlighten Your servants who bring them the Gospel. Bring fresh vigor to wavering faith; sustain our faith when it is still fragile. Continually renew missionary zeal in ourselves and in the Church, and raise up new missionaries who will follow You to the ends of the world. Make us witnesses to Your goodness full of love, full of strength, and full of faith for Your glory and the salvation of the entire world. Through the prayers of all the missionary saints, Have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
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