‘Without embittering and embarrassing others’

‘Without embittering and embarrassing others’ April 1, 2014

After the World Vision dustup last week and personal and professional confrontations, it’s good for me to return to a prayer I try to offer as often as I recall it.

“Teach me to act firmly and wisely,” it goes, “without embittering and embarrassing others.”

That can be a tall order, especially these days when important controversies take place without the benefit of in-person conversation and connection.

I’ve been praying that prayer with varying degrees of effectiveness since late 2008 or early 2009 when I first purchased a copy of A Manual of Eastern Orthodox Prayers, published originally by the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius.

The ecumenical group, formed mainly of Anglicans and Orthodox, included the prayer in their slender volume and attributed it to Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow. But I was delighted and encouraged to hear Fr. Tom Hopko’s recent comment on the prayer.

It turns out that Philaret was friends with the Catholic archbishop and poet François Fénelon. The prayer was his. Philaret translated it into Russian. Years later it was retranslated into English and included in the Sts. Alban and Sergius prayer book.

So here we have in the very transmission of the prayer an example of its answer — Catholics, Orthodox, and Anglicans together offering both the words and a model of peace.

There are things worth arguing about, Lord knows. But, Lord, help us do so without embittering and embarrassing each other in the process.

Here’s the full text of the Fénelon/Philaret prayer:

O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely upon thy holy will. In every hour of the day reveal thy will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul, and with the firm conviction that thy will governs all. In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforseen events let me not forget that all are sent by thee. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering or embarrassing others. Give me strength to bear the fatigue of this coming day with all that it will bring. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray thou thyself in me. Amen.

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