In 2017 Western Easter and Orthodox Easter (Pascha) are on the same day, APRIL 16. Great Lent in the Orthodox Church began February 27. I will use this page for thoughts specific to the Lenten period, hoping to add to it from time to time.
O Almighty Lord, who hast made all created things in wisdom, and by Your inexpressible providence and great goodness has brought us to these all-holy days, for the purification of body and soul, for the controlling of carnal passions, and for the hope of the Resurrection; who, during the forty days gave to Your servant Moses the Tablets of the Law in characters Divinely written by You; Enable us also, O Good One, to fight the good fight; to complete the course of the Fast; to preserve inviolate the Faith; to crush under foot the heads of invisible serpents; to be victorious over sin; and uncondemned to attain unto and adore Your Holy Resurrection. For blessed and glorified is Your all-honorable and majestic Name: of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
“The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts,” St. Gregory the Great, 6th century.
As a man whose head is under water cannot inhale pure air, so a man whose thoughts are plunged into the cares of this world cannot absorb the sensation of the world to come.
St. Isaac the Syrian
THOUGHTS on FASTING from Fr. Stephen Freeman:
….I have seen greater good accomplished in souls through their failure in the fasting season than in the souls of those who “fasted well.” Publicans enter the Kingdom of God before Pharisees pretty much every time.
Why do we fast? Perhaps the more germane question is “why do we eat?” Christ quoted Scripture to the Evil One and said, “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” We eat as though our life depended on it, but it does not. We fast because our life depends on the Word of God, our true life.
I worked for a couple of years as a hospice chaplain. During that time, daily sitting at the side of the beds of dying patients, I learned a little about how we humans die. It’s a medical fact that many people become “anorexic” before death, that is, they cease to want food. Many times family, and even doctors who are not trained in hospice care, become concerned and want to force food on a patient who will not survive. Interestingly, it was found that patients who became anorexic had less pain than patients who, having become anorexic, were forced to take food. (And none of this is about the psychological anorexia that afflicts many of our youth. That is a tragedy.)
It is as though at death our bodies have wisdom we have lacked for most of our own lives. It knows that what it needs is not food but something deeper. The soul seeks and hungers for the Living God. The body and its pain become a distraction and thus in God’s mercy the distraction is reduced.
…. why do we fast? We fast so that we may live like a dying man and in dying, we can be born to eternal life.