Monday, February 15, 2010

“Let us all make haste to humble the flesh by abstinence”

“Let us all make haste to humble the flesh by abstinence, as we set out upon the God-given course of the holy Fast; and with prayers and tears let us seek our Lord and Savior. Laying aside all memories of evil, let us cry aloud: We have sinned against You, Christ our King; save us as the men of Nineveh in days of old, and in Your compassion make us sharers in Your heavenly kingdom.”
This hymn from the Vespers of Forgiveness held in Orthodox Churches throughout the world last night leads our minds to the proper understanding of the Great Lenten Journey. We have embarked upon a journey of humility as the Publican and repentance as the prodigal. We gathered last night to seek forgiveness from God and each other as an act of spiritual cleansing for the Great Fast. Today is “Clean Monday” and is a day of strict fast. If one is able we should abstain from all food today as an offering to God for the love and forgiveness He has bestowed upon us.

We cannot earn God’s love with works of fasting and charity. We can only express our love for Him in our actions toward each other and ourselves. Let our fasting be done in secret as an offering to God rather than other people and Our Father “who sees in secret will reward us openly.” (Matthew 6.18)

My brothers and sisters, embrace the Fast as preparation not only for the celebration of the Greatest Feast of the Resurrection, but as preparation for battle with the evil one who will stop at nothing to trick us to turn our backs on God. We are at war with evil and we have been blessed with the discipline of fasting to train our flesh for the battle.

Let us present our bodies “as a living sacrifice to God, holy, acceptable to God.” (Romans 12.1)

Have a blessed and fruitful Great Lent

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