Deisis (Novogorod)

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Publican and Pharisee

Let us bring to the Lord the sighs of the Publican * and, as sinners, let us fall down before Him as Master; * for He desires the salvation of all mankind. * He grants forgiveness to all who repent. * For us, He took flesh - though He is God co-eternal with the Father. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Prodigal Son

When I foolishly ran away from Your fatherly glory, * I squandered in evil deeds the riches you had given to me. * Wherefore, I bring to you the voice of the Prodigal: * “I have sinned before You, O compassionate Father! * Receive me repentant and make me as one of Your hired servants.” (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Even a pious person is not immune to spiritual sickness if he does not have a wise guide -- either a living person or a spiritual writer. This sickness is called _prelest_, or spiritual delusion, imagining oneself to be near to God and to the realm of the divine and supernatural. Even zealous ascetics in monasteries are sometimes subject to this delusion, but of course, laymen who are zealous in external struggles (podvigi) undergo it much more frequently. Surpassing their acquaintances in struggles of prayer and fasting, they imagine that they are seers of divine visions, or at least of dreams inspired by grace. In every event of their lives, they see special intentional directions from God or their guardian angel. And then they start imagining that they are God's elect, and often try to foretell the future. The Holy Fathers armed themselves against nothing so fiercely as against this sickness -- prelest.

Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky