Dear Parish Faithful,
[We have now entered] the forty-day fasting season that leads us toward the Feast of the Lord's Nativity. Every year the radical nature of the Incarnation should startle us by its very mysteriousness and by the depth of the love of God that it so marvelously reveals.
Every household should plan out its own "domestic strategy" of prayerful observance of the fast. This strategy is one of the tools that we use in the "spiritual warfare" that is always being waged, often under the surface of normal daily life. Sensitivity to this spiritual warfare means that we are not unduly distracted or lost in the rush of daily affairs to such an extent that we forget about our relationship with God outside of Sunday's Liturgy. It means that we are concerned about the health and well-being of our souls as much as that of our bodies. It further means that we do not continually put off or postpone our return to God under the excuse of being overwhelmed with life's problems.
The Nativity Fast is thus an essential tool in reawakening our zeal for God, and a commitment to repent and return to the "one thing needful." On a more focused level, it will protect us from turning the Christmas season into a whirlwind of shopping, spending, eating and drinking. We will learn patience and self-discipline as we await the Feast to fully celebrate. And it will mean that we will be able to identify ourselves as practicing Orthodox Christians.