Vouchsafe (Καταξίωσον, Сподоби, make/deem us worthy), O Lord, for us to be kept (φυλαχθῆναι, сохранитися) this evening without sin…” (Prayer, Byzantine Vespers)

A puzzling choice of words, isn’t it? The first word of this prayer, ”καταξίωσον,” most often translated as “vouchsafe,” involves this idea of us being made/deemed “worthy,” that is to say, “esteemed” and “dignified.” So, “to be kept without sin,” to make the healthy choices this evening, in God’s light, rather than the unhealthy ones, is dignifying. And we all know this to be true, from experience: If, this evening, I choose to over-eat, or over-drink, or under-sleep, say, if I binge-watch some Netflix-series until late into the night, I do tend to wake up feeling rather “un”-dignified and, somehow, of less “worth” to myself and others.

My main point here is, the above-quoted prayer does not mean that God is the One Who sometimes sees us as having “worth,” and sometimes doesn’t. This prayer, like any prayer in our beautiful Tradition, is not there to instruct God, or to change His “mood” toward us. God is unchangeable: He always loves us, always wants good for us, and is always giving us the freedom and opportunity to choose light over darkness. The prayer is there to teach us to speak with Him in the proper terms, and in light of His life-giving truths, – like the simple truth that making healthy choices this evening is dignifying. So let me not rob myself of the “worth” my Creator invariably attaches to all of us, having called us into existence, and continuously calling us to share in His kind of being. Let me choose light over darkness this day, and this evening, making healthy choices in God’s light. Because I, like all of us, am “worth” it.

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