My beloved in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
FEASTS AND HOLIDAYS
Saint Paisios of Mount Athos (Spiritual Counsels with Pain and Love for Contemporary Man)
"Let Us, the Faithful, Celebrate a Spiritual Feast"
[This a troparion (hymn) of the 6th ode to the second Canon of the Feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple (November 21st).]
Our Lord Jesus Christ, with His great love and joy which fills the souls of the faithful during His holy Feast days, exalts us spiritually and truly resurrects us. All we need to do is participate in these holy feasts and celebrate them with a spiritual appetite; for once we taste the heavenly wine to which the Saints will treat us, we will become drunk in spirit.
--Geronda (Elder), what must we do to live a spiritual life during these feasts?
--To live through Christ's feasts in a spiritual way, we must keep our minds focused on the holy days themselves and not on the work that we have to do to prepare for them. We should think about the events of each holy day (Christmas, Theophany, Pascha and so on) and say the Jesus Prayer glorifying God in our heart. This way we will celebrate with reverence every feast day of the Church. For most people, who live in the world, Christmas is the time to eat pork, Pascha to eat lamb and the Carnival at the beginning of Lent, the time to throw confetti. But for the true monks, every week is Holy Week. Every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday they experience Holy and Great Friday, that is, the days of the Passion of Christ, and every Sunday is for them Pascha, the Day of the Resurrection. Why must we wait until Holy Week to remember the Passion of Christ? Why should be like people who live in the world? Can't we realize what Christ is risen means, without eating lamb? You see, Christ said, "Therefore be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh" (St. Matthew 24:44). He did not say, "Get ready right now!" From the moment Christ said, "Be ready!" we must all, but especially monks and nuns, be constantly vigilant and ready.
We must study and live through these divine events all the time. When someone studies the events of each feast day, he will be naturally moved to pray with particular reverence. Then, during liturgical services, our mind will be absorbed by the events we are celebrating and we will follow with great reverence the chanting of hymns. When our mind thinks divine thoughts, we get to live through these holy events, and in this manner we are transformed. We think of a Saint whose feast day we are celebrating, and our mind rises higher toward Heaven. And when we keep the Saints in mind, they keep us in mind too, and they come to our assistance. This is how we can start a friendship with them, one that will last forever. And so, even though we may live alone, we will actually share our lives with everybody: with the Saints, the Angels, the whole world. Imagine, being alone, and feeling their company! This is the living presence of the Saints who are God's children and will reach out to help us, their poor brothers and sisters.
Our Saints have shed blood, sweat and tears for the love of Christ. We should always celebrate them with reverence, and they will be there to help us. Every time we hear their Synaxarion "On this same day, we commemorate Saint...," we must rise to our feet, like soldiers standing at attention when the names of their fallen comrades who died heroically are being read. "On this day of the month...soldier so and so...fell in action heroically defending the country in such and such a front."
If we want to really feel the significance of a feast day, we must abstain from all work. On Holy and Great Friday, for instance, the only thing we should be doing is praying. For people who live in the world, Holy Week is full of chores and obligations. On Holy and Great Friday, they will exchange good wishes "Good Pascha! May you live a long life! May your son find a good bride!" This is so wrong! On Holy and Great Friday, I will lock myself in my Kalyvi. Silence will be of great help to the soul during feast days. It's very much like the time that follows the reception of the Great Schema, when a monk or nun will spend a whole week in silence to allow Divine Grace to fill the soul and to appreciate what has actually taken place. In silence, we get the opportunity to rest a little, to study and pray. When a good thought crosses our mind, when we examine ourselves, or say the Jesus Prayer, we will really come to feel something of the divine event celebrated on that day.
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Glory Be To GOD For All Things!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God