Thursday, March 15, 2018

Great Lent: 'What is this Struggle?'

Dear Parish Faithful,

GREAT LENT - The Twenty-Fifth Day

Here is a remarkable passage on Great Lent that may well serve as an Orthodox "pep talk" as we are well pass the midpoint of the Fast, and perhaps well past the enthusiasm of the opening days.

What is this struggle? Not to walk according to one's own will. This is better than the other works of zeal and is a crown of martyrdom; except that for you there is also change of diet, multiplication of prostrations and increase of psalmody as in accordance with the established tradition from of old.
And so I ask, let us welcome gladly the gift of the fast, not making ourselves miserable, but let us advance with cheerfulness of heart, innocent, not slandering, not angry, not evil, not envying; rather peaceable towards each other, and loving, fair, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits; breathing in seasonable stillness, since hubbub is damaging in a community; speaking suitable words, since too unreasonable stillness is profitless; yet above all vigilantly keeping watch over our thoughts, not opening the door to the passions, not giving place to the devil.
We are lords of ourselves; let us not open our door to the devil; rather let us keep guard over our soul as a bride of Christ, unwounded by the arrows of the thoughts; for thus we are able to become a dwelling of God in Spirit. Thus we may be made worthy to hear, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
Quite simply, whatever is true, whatever noble, whatever just whatever pure, whatever lovely whatever of good report, if there is anything virtuous, if there is anything praiseworthy, to speak like the Apostle, do it; and the God of peace will be with you all.
- St. Theodore the Studite (9th c.)

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