Orthodox America

  Lenten Meditations

With grateful souls let us accept the Fast: for by the power of the Spirit it makes the stubborn passions to whither, and gives us strength to do the works of God; it makes our mind ascend to heaven, and gains for us the forgiveness of our sins from the God of all mercy.

 As Christ has taught us in the Scriptures, a pure fast means the putting away of sin, the rejection of the passions, love for god, attentiveness in prayer, tears of compunction, and acts of mercy to the poor.

 Let us kill the passions by abstinence, and through fasting let us make our spirit mount on wings to heaven; and let us cry with contrite hearts: We have sinned against Thee, O God; in Thy compassion forgive us.

 O my soul, because of fasting Moses beheld God: because of fasting Elijah rode in the chariot of fire, and Paul was taken up to heaven. Therefore let us fast from evil and we also shall be taken up on high, gaining freedom from passions.

 Restraining the passions with the bridle of pure fasting, let us all strive to raise our mind in perfect faith to holy contemplation. Let us despise the pleasures of this earthly life, that we may gain the heavenly life and divine illumination.

 The holy Fast enriches our heart, and makes it by the power of God increase in virtue, like a full ear of wheat. Let us therefore fast with gladness in these holy days, and so receive sanctification.

 In thine idleness, my soul, why art thou become a slave of sin? And in thy sickness why dost thou not run to the Physician? Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the true day of salvation. Rise up and wash thy face with tears of repentance, and make thy lamp burn brightly with the oil of good deeds, so that Christ our God may grant thee cleansing and great mercy.

 The grace of the Fast shines upon us, driving out the darkness of sinful self-indulgence. Behold, now is the accepted time and the day of salvation. Let us bring forth fruits of repentance and we shall live.

 Elisha, so it is written, after fasting brought the dead child back to life: let us also fast, killing all our carnal thoughts, that in the Age to Come we may receive eternal life. Keeping a spiritual fast, O brethren, let us speak no lies with our tongue, not giving our brother cause for scandal; but through repentance let us make the lamp of our soul burn brightly, and let us cry with tears to Christ: Forgive us our trespasses in Thy love for mankind.

 O miserable soul, abstain from the passions and be saved. For abstinence from food is not acceptable as a fast, unless we also correct our faults. In this season of repentance, let us stretch out our hands in works of mercy; and then the ascetic struggles of the Fast will bring us to eternal life. For nothing saves the soul so much as generosity to those in need, and almsgiving combined with fasting will deliver a man from death. Let us do all this with gladness, for there is no better way, and it will bring salvation to our souls.

The judgment is at hand: give heed, my soul. Be attentive to thy conscience, doing what is right, and it will always keep thee uncondemned. For if we have ourselves exercised judgment in this present life, we shall not lack witnesses to plead on our behalf at the Judgment in the Age to Come, when the guilty are condemned.

Come, ye people, and strengthened like Samson by fasting, let us destroy the demon of gluttony as he destroyed the lion; but let us take care lest the Delilah of our passions deceive us and laugh us to scorn.

 As David armed himself with faith, so let us arm ourselves with humility; and as he overthrew Goliath, so let us overthrow our arrogant mind, and cut down the hosts of passions.

Putting off the loathsome garment of self-indulgence, let us put on the shining robe of abstinence, and so in joy and glory let us  come to the brightness of the Redeemer's Resurrection.

 By fasting Elisha gave back to the Shunammite her child alive. From this let us learn, O brethren, how great a blessing is the Fast, and how it is a grace given by God.

 Moses, having found in fasting a means of purification, spoke with God who alone is pure. O my soul, be purified by fasting, and so draw near to the God of love.

 O brethren, let not one of us be sunk in idleness and sloth. This is the time for work, the hour of solemn festival. Who, then, is wise and in one day will gain eternal life?

 Keeping in mind the fearful judgment seat, my wretched soul, always guide thy steps to the accomplishment of the Redeemer's will.

 Once in Babylon fasting made the Children stronger than the fire. Be not fainthearted, O my soul, but follow their example, and thou shalt quench the fire of sensual pleasure with the dew of the Spirit.

 Roll back from my humble soul, O Christ the Word, the heavy stone of grievous slothfulness, and raise me from the tomb of insensitivity, that I may glorify Thee.

 Having completed the forty days that bring profit to our soul, we beseech Thee in Thy love for man: Grant us also to behold the Holy Week of Thy Passion, that in it we may glorify Thy mighty acts and Thine ineffable dispensation for our sakes, singing with one mind: O Lord, glory to Thee. Selections from the Lenten Triodion, Supplementary Texts, Mother Mary and Archimandrite Kallistos Ware, trans., Monastery of the Veil of the Mother of God, Bussy-en-Othe, France, 1979.