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.
CLEAN THURSDAY: HOLY AND GREAT LENT
Thursday in the First Week of Lent
Let us abstain from every pleasure; through fasting let us enrich our powers of perception, and gladly let us drink the cup of compunction, as we sing: O ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord.
Cleansed by the Fast, let us go up into the chariot of the divine virtues, and let us make our mind ascend on wings to the height of heaven, as we sing: O ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord.
ON STILLNESS (Step 27)
By Saint John Climacus
We are like purchased, like servants under contract to the unholy passions. And because this is so, we know a little of their deceits, ways, impositions, and wiles. We know of their evil disposition in our wretched souls. But there are others who fully understand the tricks of these spirits, and they do so because of the working of the Holy Spirit and because of the freedom they themselves have managed to achieve. We in our sickness can only imagine the sort of relief that would come with good health; but they, being healthy, can understand and talk about the weakness that goes hand in hand with sickness.
Stillness of the body is the accurate knowledge and management of one's feelings and perceptions. Stillness of soul is the accurate knowledge of one's thoughts and is an unassailable mind.
Brave and determined thinking is a friend of stillness. It is always on the watch at the doors of the heart, killing or driving off invading notions. What I mean by this will be well understood by the man who practices stillness in the deep places of the heart, while the novice will have no experience or knowledge of it.
A shrewd Hesychast requires no words. He is enlightened by deeds rather than by words.
The start of stillness is the rejection of all noisiness as something that will trouble the depths of the soul. The final point is when one has no longer a fear of noisy disturbance when one is immune to it. He who when he goes out does not go out in his intellect is gentle and wholly a house of love rarely moved to speech and never to anger. The opposite to all this is manifest. (Source: The Ladder of Divine Ascent)
NOT BY BREAD ALONE: FASTING TODAY IN THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN WAY
By Father Peter A. Chamberas
The venerable and sacred discipline of fasting began in the Old Testament (OT), continued into the New Testament (NT), was developed by the early Church into a highly refined spiritual art and remains to this day an integral element in the spiritual life of Orthodox Christians. Although Western Christianity (Roman Catholicism and Protestantism) has over the centuries downgraded the ascetic spirit of the early Church, even to the point of rejecting fasting altogether, the Orthodox Church continues to uphold this Sacred Tradition with great reverence, even when many of her members do not practice this discipline today. The present neglect and misunderstanding over fasting should not be a surprise to anyone, simply because this sacred discipline was always a challenge from the very beginning, requiring constant clarification and reaffirmation throughout its long history, in order to be properly understood and practiced as an essential and important element in a godly way of life. Fasting is, of course about food and what we choose to put into our mouth by way of nourishment for our physical health and well-being, but it is not only about food; it is also about practicing discipline and self-control. Fasting can never be only about physical and natural food; it must always be about that other food of God, the "spiritual" food that sustains our spiritual nature. Fasting then is inseparable from prayer and repentance, obedience to and communion with God. In times past, believers took fasting for granted and generally knew when, how and why they were fasting. Today, as with other aspects of the Sacred (Holy) Tradition of the Orthodox Christian Church, fasting requires some clarification and reaffirmation. By drawing from the Sacred Tradition of the Orthodox Church, this article will attempt to highlight the true nature of fasting and show how it can be practiced today in the Orthodox Christian way unto the glory of God and our spiritual edification.
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" -- Saint John Chrysostomos
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God