My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The time has come, and we have entered the period of preparation for Pascha. This time of the Great Fast is offered to each of us as a time of reflection and self-examination in every aspect of our life. If properly executed and we are serious, this time of reflection and self-examination can be a sobering experience.
If we choose to follow the Great Fast our mind immediately tells us, we need to make adjustments to our diet. While dietary adjustments are a part of the discipline, it is only part of a greater whole. St. Basil the Great teaches, “true fasting is rejecting evil, holding one’s tongue, suppressing one’s hatred and banishing one’s lust, evil words, lying and betrayal of vows.”
Consider also the words of St John Chrysostom, “You fast from food, but you allow yourself to listen to many vain and worldly things. You should also fast with your ears. You should fast from listening to things that people say about your brothers and sisters, to lies about others, especially gossip, rumors or harsh words that harm others. Besides fasting with your mouth, you must fast by not saying anything that could harm anyone else. After all, what good is it for you to abstain from meat if you devour your brother?”
As we can see from the words of these Holy Fathers, our daily decisions far exceed what we put in our mouth. We are reminded that if we willingly choose to participate in this preparation period, our every thought and action must be carefully considered. If we choose to participate, we do so in every aspect of our life.
St Anthony of the Desert says, “Every day I say to myself, today I will begin.” It is now time for us to make the decision to “begin”. I pray that we can make this decision to fully participate in every aspect of the Great Fast strengthened by the words of the saints and guided by our Lord.
May our Lord strengthen and guides us so we may truly be ready for His return.
In His Service,