My dear friends,
I hope and pray that you enjoy the grace of God’s peace and mercy. For none compare to these, necessary and thoroughly perfect, desperately sought by all men on this, the eve of Christ’s great sacrifice. Amen.
I trust you know well the particular part of Scripture which reads, of the Pharisees: “You shall not pray on the street corner as they do; you shall not sacrifice for all to see. Pray in private, so that only God the Father may know your needs and your wrongdoing.”
But I admonish you, as I admonish myself, not to couch your beliefs too severely, lest they be altogether dismissed. Indeed, have we ever prayed because another told us to? If it is so, then it is not truly prayer, but some other thing and most likely the empty mouthing of words from which comes nothing. But true prayer begins in the heart and travels by way of the tongue to the ears of God in heaven.
I say again: It begins in the heart. And God who sees in secret knows its chambers and all within so that not even prayer may make clear things unknown. Prayer, my brothers and sisters, is for us alone and the unburdening of our consciences; God has no need of it, save that we have need of it.
Just the same, do not be so scrupulous that prayer becomes some set ritual which may not be enjoyed in this circumstance or that. Prayer is for us, beloved; we are to use it where prayer will bring us comfort, joy, and peace rendered through the confessions of a genuine, contrite heart. Have no fear of being a Pharisee in that: for if one should see you, what is that to them? But to God, it is everything.
I confess to you, and to the whole company of heaven, that I have failed to bear my heart fully before God in prayer. To God that is nothing: for God knows, even when it is not told to Him. But it is also everything: for God desires to be made our everything, to be intimate with our thoughts and feelings, that nothing is hidden away. It is not the substance which God desires, but the act of revealing, for this is the ultimate in sacrificial love. How painful, how terrifying to give over all to a God we never fully know! But this, my dear brothers and sisters, is the crux and the cross of faith: that though we are weighed down by the evils which we do, in raising them up to God, we know we are forever beloved.
If you have wronged someone, bear it out in prayer; if you have desires that may be offensive, reveal them to God; if you have joys you are unable to express, confess them in the confines of your heart. Trust, my beloved, that God not only knows all, but cares for all, and condemns none. Perhaps we hide our weakness and sin from prayer for fear of punishment. But I ask you: what kind of god would that be who sends his only Son to die for our sakes, out of love most perfect, and would also condemn us for the breach of a simple commandment? Whatever god that is, it is the Golden Calf of deities; it is fickle and capricious, liking not steadfast covenant but the whimsy of human emotion. It is in Jesus the Christ that we learn, most painfully, that we are not born of a temperamental God, but of one surpassing human patience and devoid of human offenses.
Let come the crucifixion, then, my friends, and let us be wiped clean. Through its toil and trial, let us walk the way of the cross with Christ, praying for peace within our hearts. For surely, if it is that God may harden hearts, he may also soften the hardest of them.
Be vigilant, be prayerful, be one with God, and I shall be ever with you on that journey. When it is over, we will stand face-to-face, utmost naked before our God. We will be renewed in all piety and every possible perfection, as it is according to the perfect will of God.
In joy and anticipation, I remain forever yours in Christ,