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Meditation on the Holy Sabbath, by Marcus Heinrich Bresslau (1852)


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Be welcome to me with thy soothing tranquillity, thou day of sober and joyous rest, for in thee germinate undisturbed the sacred blossoms of silent virtue; and the soul, removed from the tumult of the sensual world, readily listens to the lovely voice of religion. When in the diverting bustle of life my heart forgets the high purpose of human existence—when enticed by vanity, it strays from the path of the good—then, receive me, Thou comforter, in Thy holy shades; that in Thy lap I strengthen myself for the gladdening performance of my sacred duties. When I become weary on the rough road, on which secret passions cripple or paralyse the power to exercise good and noble deeds; when, with this weak feminine heart, which, alas, but too often is overcome by vanity, I feel ashamed how grievously I sinned against the Father of all: be thy sacred calmness, day of holy rest, my comforter and protector! But I also will never waste thy hallowed hours in senseless, indolent, mental vacancy, but ever devote them to the highest purposes attainable on earth, so that I may be elevated to that nobility of the mind which will draw me nearer to the Eternal, the ideal of all virtues, and which will easily raise me above all sorrows of the times. Then shall I be able to say with consoling confidence: I have in letter and spirit, observed the divine commandment revealed on Sinai — “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,”[1] Exodus 20:8  then shall I with assurance await that blessing with the All-merciful vouchsafed to all those who do not desecrate the Sabbath in any way, nor profane it by sanctioning any unholy work.

This prayer has been tagged as “problematic” owing to its explicit expression of a notion of feminine weakness, among other prejudicial inferences.





1Exodus 20:8



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