1. THE PRAYERS OF THE FAITHFUL
1d. “Defilement of Flesh and Spirit”
Before the Great Entrance, the priest recites the second prayer in which he asks God to cleanse our souls and bodies “from defilement of flesh and spirit”. But what is this defilement?
According to the Bible, there was a time when the first man lived in paradise. There, he enjoyed the blessings of the natural creation with a pure heart. He was clean from sin. There was no infection. Everything was pure. But when man did not obey to God’s commandment and sinned, his sin like an invisible virus attacked his body and spirit and a horrible pollution started. Sin makes man unclean before God.
First his soul was infected by pride and selfishness. This infection attacked the body which became the instrument of the soul in various sins. A soul full of corruption gives orders to the body to execute them. A man uses his tongue to tell lies, gossip, slander, filth and he bears false witness. With his eyes he sees shameful spectacles. With his ears he hears corrupted words. With his hands he steals and kills. With his legs he runs to sinful places. In general, all the members of his body work for sins he is ashamed to even mention.
St. John Chrysostom observes that he who commits carnal sins feels that his body is dirty and wants to wash himself immediately with plenty of water. But a thousand baths, showers and waterfalls can’t purify him. Corporal infection has progressed into the very least of the fibers and cells of his body.
But soul can sin without the body’s cooperation. It sins with evil wishes and cunning thoughts. It sins in the secret and unseen depths of the inner world, where man’s eye can’t see. He might be in church, he might hear holy chants, the Gospel and sermon but if he is not careful, his thoughts will slide away and go to sinful persons and acts. The body which is in the church remains clean but not the soul.
This is the “defilement of flesh and spirit” which St. Paul the Apostle asks us to avoid: “let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor 7:1). The priest asks God to purify him and the faithful. So, being clean in body and soul to participate in the Holy Sacraments and be made worthy to enter the heavenly Kingdom.