My beloved spiritual children 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.
By Archbishop Theophan of Poltava (+ 1940)
On How to Keep the Great Lent
The general order and spirit of this time are beautifully expressed in the services and the Lenten Typikon. You have only to immerse yourself in it and to follow the external discipline as much as your strength allows; in this way you will fulfill all that is necessary. Your main concern should be to concentrate your life on God. In order to do this, you must, as far as possible, withdraw from worldly distractions, worldly occupations.
You must keep in mind that life in God has several stages. It begins with a suffering awareness of one's sinfulness; this is followed by a striving to rid oneself of this sinful state, until finally, one attains blessed communion with God. It is especially fitting to devote the first week of Great Lent to the realization of one's sinfulness. The feeling of blessed communion with God comes to us naturally in the days of holy Pascha--we cannot force this ourselves. The strength of this feeling depends on the intensity of the initial experience--that is, our awareness of our sinful state. The rest of Great Lent is a time of gradual ascent from the first stage to the last.
Concerning Fatigue During Prayer and the Purpose of Epitimia
You ask: "What should I do so that extreme fatigue does not affect my concentration during prayer?" As you do not specify whether you are asking about private or common prayer, I will answer concerning both.
When fatigue begins to overcome you during a church service, you should mentally recite the Jesus Prayer (i.e., Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner".) It will help you concentrate in prayer. If you feel yourself getting tired during prayer at home, then you should force yourself a bit. If the fatigue disappears, then it was a temptation for the evil one. If it remains, then you may shorten your prayer; it is better in such cases to pray a bit less but attentively and with feeling.
"At confession Fr. V. told me to do a few prostrations when I notice that I am sinning or am in-attentive. I wanted to ask you about this previously and now ask for your direction."
This is beneficial with a punishment for a misdemeanor in the legalistic sense of the word. It is a spiritual method of healing, having as its purpose a person's deliverance from a spiritual father. (Source: Orthodox Heritage)
A Fatherly Advice
"Special services, special foods, continence, not going to dances and events, all this awakes one to piety and reflection on our present purpose, on the past and on eternity. Seeing in ourselves a falling away from the commandments of God we try to reconcile ourselves to God through repentance and communion of the Most Pure and Life-Giving Mysteries (Sacraments) of Christ, which burn the thorns of our sins. You, when you have not fulfilled this duty during the year, of course will fulfill it during the Fast. The Most Merciful Lord loved us so much, that He gave us, through food and drink, His Most Pure Body and Life-Giving Blood, as a token of life eternal and the incorrupt future feast. Let us offer Him thanksgiving with pure
hearts, lips and acts!" (Saint Macarius of Optina)
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